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I got up this morning, looked at my Instagram feed, and got to see a bunch of wonderful photos of weddings, honeymoons, engagements, and wedding planning. Romance is in the air, and I love it. I’m an absolute sucker for seeing people I know fall in love and get married; who isn’t? Well, I’m sure there are some people out there, but I digress.

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Getting married to my husband was, surprisingly enough, one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. I had a few people I know ask me what on earth I was thinking getting married as young as I did. (I was 22.) My husband and I literally spent months discussing if this was the direction our relationship was going before even getting engaged. And after engagement we read books, went to premarital counseling, and then blissfully went our way into our happily ever after. Right?

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Wrong! So very, very wrong. We had a beautiful wedding, a wonderful honeymoon, and then we got home and the work started. We had people tell us how much work being married was, over and over and over, and we believed them… sort of. But we really had no concept of just how much work goes into maintaining a committed marriage until we had to start doing it for ourselves.

We have done so many things to hurt each other’s feelings and cause friction. Some of them are silly like:

  • Getting into petty arguments about where to go for dinner… weekly.
  • Not responding to a text or a phone call, and causing worry.
  • Not paying appropriate attention to something that the other wanted us to look at or hear.

And there are plenty of others which are less silly:

  • Letting little annoyances fester and not discussing them openly with each other, leading to resentment.
  • Getting so wrapped up in our various responsibilities and activities that we have neglected each other.
  • Taking stress from unrelated problems out on each other.

Now it probably looks like we have a terrible marriage after reading that. Here’s the thing, we DON’T. We don’t have the Hollywood Happily Ever After, where all the relationship flaws are magically fixed with a few promises and you sail off into the sunset, roll end credits. What we do have is a constantly growing relationship between two flawed people who mess up plenty, but are COMMITTED to making it work.

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The relationship between a couple is core to the entire family dynamic, and when you become parents, now there is a little person depending on both of you. When we had our first baby it almost felt like we had to start all over with our relationship to keep it healthy. And when we had our second baby, and switched to me being a stay at home mom, we yet again felt like we needed to start over.

My husband and I have been a couple for a little over a decade, and we will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary this May. We have gone through moves, pregnancy, birth, and family drama. One of the biggest things that we have learned through the course of these years is that to keep our relationship healthy we have to practice regular marriage maintenance.

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Just like preventative care for your home, car, and your own physical health, your marriage needs to routinely get a check-up. There are many ways you can give your marriage a check-up:

  • A date night when you sit down and clear the air, focus on any issues you know of and brainstorm solutions.
  • Reading a book on marriage individually, or together, and using it as a guide to develop and work on your marriage.
  • Going to a Marriage Counseling session, or participating in a Marriage Ministry program.
  • Going on a retreat together.
  • Doing a marriage focused Bible study together.

Preventative care is to help diagnose issues in your relationship before they become a major problem; we have found that being proactive about our marriage helps us stay happier and healthier. This will not help with breaking of a marriage vow by adultery or abuse, but it helps with maintaining trust and building the deep and abiding love that is necessary for a happy marriage.

This monthly series my husband and I will co-write focuses on fostering a healthy and fun marriage. I said marriage was work, but I didn’t say it had to be unpleasant, did I?

Here’s a couple of personal tidbits to help inspire you and your marriage!

  • Plan a weekly date night, at home! If you have little kids, like we do, getting out is challenging, but after the kids go to bed, well, that’s magic time! Every Thursday we have a date night after the boys go to bed, when we focus on quality and fun time together.
  • Consider yourselves students. We have learned a lot from the couples at our church who have been married longer than us, and they also have suggested some great resources to improve our marriage. Our church also has a marriage ministry that provides opportunities to get support as well as educational opportunities.
  • Don’t be afraid of arguing with your spouse, but be fair in your arguing; no insults and personal attacks. Instead use terms like “When this happens it makes me feel…” Arguing is actually part of a healthy marriage, if its constructive and not destructive.

 

Read more posts in this series!

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