We recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and I feel that I can confidently say that my husband and I are no longer newlyweds. Being a newlywed is great because you can make new plans, traditions, and a life together. But I’ve enjoyed this last year inching out of the newlywed stage. With it has come closeness as we have become more vulnerable with our strengths and faults, challenges to continue pursuing each other as life gets busy, and opportunities to evaluate how we want our marriage to impact others.
My favorite thing to do on our anniversary is to pull out our vows and read them to each other again. Each year they seem to be more meaningful and remind us of the purpose of marriage. I’m only three years in, but I know from my own experience as well as others’ that it’s easy to let things slide and to settle into a comfortable routine rather than continuing to put effort into our relationship because it’s easier. So I thought I would share some suggestions for all my fellow married friends to help you continue to make your marriage great!
- Compromise. I have definitely not mastered this — in fact, it’s one of our goals as a couple this year. This is an important one because if there is no compromise, there’s always a winner and a loser, and that’s not a loving relationship.
- See things from their perspective. Accept that there is two sides to every story and everyone will see things differently. No matter how right you feel, it’s crucial to try to see things from your partner’s perspective.
- Say sorry. Don’t let pride get in the way of your relationship. Own your mistakes and mean it when you say sorry – whether or not they say it back.
- Surprise them. Take them out on an unplanned date after work, write them a love letter, bring them their favorite coffee (my husband is great at this). Letting your spouse know you are thinking about them goes a long way.
- Give without expecting anything back. One of my favorite quotes is “marriage is not each person giving 50%, it’s each person giving 100%.” This is so hard to do, but when you’re each giving 100% rather than focusing on only doing “your fair share”, your marriage will be impacted for the better.
- Figure out their love language. Take the time to figure out how your spouse feels most loved, then do it. Don’t love them the way you want to be loved, because everyone is different.
- Know what to say and when to say it. There is a fine line between knowing when to brush things off and knowing when to speak up. I tend to lean on the side of “honesty at all times” and could benefit from taking a step back and evaluating whether or not I really want to say something or when I should let it go, and then figuring out the best time to share. On the other hand, it’s not good to hold everything inside for the sake of avoiding conflict. Find the balance.
- Tell them you appreciate them. Even when they haven’t helped out around the house as much as you want or haven’t met your expectations, find something that you can appreciate about them and tell them. Everyone needs to feel appreciated, and no one is perfect.
- Be interested in their interests. I have a hard time with this one, as Matt and I have pretty different interests. But when I show up to a basketball game or listen to him talk about his classes, even if I have no clue what he is talking about, I’m communicating that I care and want to be involved in his interests, even if they are different than mine.
- Make time for date nights. It’s easy to forget about dates when you do life 24/7 with your partner, but they are still important. Whether you go out somewhere or do something special at home, set aside time for regular dates where you can be intentional about the romantic side of your relationship.
I hope you guys enjoyed my tips for continuing to pursue your spouse! I would love to hear your thoughts too, as I’m sure there are others with much more wisdom and experience than me 🙂