"Marriage is a compilation of different seasons." That was the advice my mom gave me before my wedding.  I have never heard more true advice.  She elaborated even further.  Sometimes you will both be happy and in love, other seasons are harder with one of you not being so emotionally engaged and others where neither of you are mentally or emotionally there at all. Some seasons you both are trying 100% each, others you are both avoiding putting anything into it.  My personal experience has taught me, that I cannot make important decisions in the tough seasons.  Your judgement is not clear, you are not focused on the right things and you are not keeping your spouses needs in mind.  I have been married for 6 1/2 years, not long compared to a lot of people and long compared to other people my age.  I have learned a lot in these 6.5 years that I would like to share and if it saves even one couple from making mistakes we did, that is an accomplishment.

  1. Keep your expectations realistic.
    I found when I came home each night with unrealistic expectations it ended badly for all parties involved.  Here is an example: If I decided during the day we were going to have a family dinner and then spend time cuddling on the couch all night and he decided he was going to finish building our pantry when he gothome from work. When he got home and started working, I would immediately be upset because my expectations were not met, NOR were they communicated. Sometimes we think our spouses are mind readers but unfortunately they are not.  I have learned to say to him ‘these are my expectations of the night, what are yours’ Its amazing how many arguments are avoided this way.
  2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
    Im sure you’ve heard this a million times before, but honestly communication is where its at.
  3. Don’t talk about anything serious after 9pm ESPECIALLY money!
    Best advice I can give you.
  4. Support their dreams, passions and desires.
    Maybe not all their dreams will come true, or crazy idea's will come to fruition, but when they look back at their life; they need to see YOU as their #1 cheerleader.
    In regards to their passions, my husband for example loves to Rock Climb. I love that he has a passion, and I will support him going out climbing.  When it starts to become more important then our family time, of course I will step in and bring light to that but I will not give him ultimatums or ask him to give up something that gives him happiness, goals and motivation.
  5. Pour into your relationship regardless of what you are getting out of it.
    Men need respect, and we need to give this to our husbands regardless of what is happening on the surface every day level.  Women need love, and husbands you need to give this regardless of how loving you are feeling towards them.  It is a VERY hard, mature and biblical concept to understand and then live out (trust me, I fail at this daily)
  6. Unwritten Expectations
    I will go into this more in another blog, but everyone comes into a relationship and then marriage with unwritten rules they have, and likely don’t even know they have.  When my husband and me first lived together, it drove him up the wall where I left my shoes when I walked in the door. I had NO idea this bothered him OR that he felt like shoe’s belonged in a certain area.  As we come into a relationship with 2 different upbringings, they have moulded us into who we are, and now we are in this marriage and have to adapt into this new life together.  We found it useful to literally sit down and think about what our ‘unwritten expectations’ were and wrote them down. (sometimes they are simple as 'this is where the butter goes' it seems so small but they are those small little things that get under each others skin and build up into bigger things)
  7. Get to know your spouse
    As I said, you are 2 different people so you have 2 different personalities and ways you do things, AND THATS OKAY! What was the most eye opening and helpful thing we did was take different personality and motivation tests.  It really helped us dig deep into knowing what was at the core of each of us and what we need in life.  For example: If we were arguing, my husband used to walk away half way through the fight. I was SO offended by this.  After learning who he was, I learned he needed time to process and think things through and gets very stressed and overwhelmed by confrontation.  Once I learned this, I was able to see him walking away as something he needed and also benefited the outcome of the situation. I am someone who wanted to deal with things immediately so once he learned that about me, he was able to try and communicate to me that he needed that space to process the situation, but would come back in a certain amount of time to deal with the problem.  It was a game-changer in our marriage and something that could have torn us apart without having this knowledge of each other.

These are some things I have learned along the way, and also with the help of some very wise married women who have been put in my life to help guide me along. I hope that some of these tips can help at least one person who is newly married, or getting married because learned these the hard way sucks!

Always remember #thestruggleisreal

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