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Thursday, July 26, 2012

a blissful marriage

Marriage is as marriage does... Is that how the saying goes? Maybe it's just me, but it seems like there's more to it than that. 

Will and I recently had a friend who was about to be married ask us, "If you could give me any piece of advice about being married, what would it be?" To be honest, we had to think on it for a few minutes. I don't remember exactly what came to mind or if it was even helpful, but it sparked the idea to post some things that we've learned over the past 2 1/2 years of our marriage. We definitely don't have it all figured out, but these things have helped us along the way!

Good advice is all about perspective so we thought it would be best to look at this from two different angles. I gave Will the assignment of coming up with 10 tips for the dudes and I'll be posting 10 for the ladies.

1. Get a dog.
Without a doubt dogs are always a great addition to the family. Dogs provide fun, companionship, cuddle partners, and PLENTY of opportunities to work on patience. You may be tempted to get a cat, but I promise that does not have the same effect (no offense to the current cat owners out there). Having a dog may seem like an unnecessary stress, but in the long run they are great to have around and add much adventure to the every day life.

2. Do It.
Now I know what you're thinking, but this isn't that kind of a blog! By "do it" I mean there is something extra special in working on projects as a couple. This can be as simple as painting a room or perhaps what the trendy call "crafting." Simple projects where you work together with your spouse not only give you opportunities to spend time with your spouse, but also to help, flirt, and show interest in each others hobbies. It's a great way to build a relationship (pun intended).

3. Travel
I believe Willie Nelson knew what he was talking about when he sang that old road song. Getting away as a couple is one of the most helpful ways to strengthen a relationship. Traveling carries a connotation of an elusive get-a-way, but sometimes going down the road for a camping trip can be just as romantic as a weekend at the beach. The key to traveling is simply leaving the world behind for a few days and focusing on each other.

4. Listen UP
Every guy knows that there are levels of listening in every conversation, and we have all mastered the art of being in the conversation without really being involved. For those of you who watch Duck Dynasty, you know that Phil is perhaps the most mastered in this area! But really listening can make a huge difference in a healthy relationship. Don't be anticipating the next thought in your mind or what's for supper, take time to listen. It shows you care and goes a long way. 

5. Be a Man
Nothing drives me more crazy than those husbands out there who feel that it is their wife's job to do everything around the house as they are waited on hand and foot. Being a man is about helping out in every way that you can. Don't assign jobs or blame your spouse for not getting something done. If you see something that needs to be done or that you can help with, then help! 

6. Be Content 
One of the most difficult things about being married is getting on your feet financially. Often even more difficult is the ease of looking around at what other people have and wondering why you do not. A good relationship can't be strengthened by hopelessly hoping for things that you don't really need, but by finding thankfulness for the things that you do have. God has given us an enormous blessing in marriage, and it is important to trust Him in providing the things that you need. The old saying "living on love" is cheesy, but there is a lot of of truth to it. Recognize what you have in your spouse, and you will find that it is of more value than anything the world has to offer. 

7. Date Life
Sometimes I reminisce of the days when Courtney and I were dating, and even the days before that when I was trying to convince her to date me! I pursued Courtney like crazy, taking advantage of every opportunity to spend time with her and get to know her. I used to take books to her locker in high school and I thought it was the best thing ever! But, after the wedding bells ring and life together begins, I often have to remind myself that the pursuit is not over. It is so important for couples to live the date life--striving to know each other more and build their relationship with each other (everybody knows that women are super complicated so there are definitely ways to know your wife better). Take time to intentionally date your spouse, show your affection, and enjoy being with each other.  

8. Show Interest
As a dude, it is clear that the way I think and process things is different that the way Courtney does. There are things that I enjoy, and there different things that Courtney enjoys. The difference is there, but it is important to show interest in what your spouse interests and not just your own. For example, I like to duck hunt, so sometimes Courtney comes with me (well she did one time). Courtney likes to watch things like The Bachelor, so sometimes I watch it with her. It is not that big of a deal to give up a little of your time to show interest in what your spouse enjoys. Be sure to do it with the right attitude and willingness or it does not count!

9. Pray Together
Without a doubt prayer is one of the most important aspects of a healthy marriage. Marriage is designed by God and ordained by God, it is his plan and purpose that brought you and your spouse together. Knowing that, we have to realize the importance of talking to the one who brought you together in the first place, the one who created you for each other. Prayer is a powerful tool that not only draws you closer to God but also closer to each other. When you are open before God and pray with an open heart, you become open to your spouse as well. Prayer allows God to work in our lives and answer our requests. There are a lot of things we need to pray for, always remember to pray for each other.

10. Be Romantic
Candlelight, moonlight, music serenading in the air, ocean waves kissing the shore setting rhythm to an endless love song...well that's all well and good, but it can't happen every day. But you don't have to be in paradise to be romantic. I've learned (and am learning) that little things, thoughtful gifts, kind notes, can be just as romantic as a ocean view dinner. You don't have to spend a ton of money or be the next Shakespeare. Be yourself; find your own ways to be romantic in everyday life. Many guys make excuses for their lack of romanticism (myself included!), but most of the time we make it more complicated than it has to be. Find what makes your spouse light up with a smile, and keep it coming! 

1. Laugh Together
With "grown-up" lives now, sometimes you can forget to just have fun together. Be silly. With Will as my husband, laughter comes easily and often. Always try and remember that you're not only husband and wife, you're also best friends. You should be constantly striving to learn more about your BFF!

2. Never Publicly Criticize Your Husband 
Your motto should be to "Praise Publicly." I wish the motto could be to never criticize at all, but let's be honest, every marriage has its issues however big or small they may be. Everyone knows the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Not true. At all. Words hurt probably the worst and this is true when speaking of your spouse in public as well. People don't need to know he didn't put his dirty clothes in the hamper or he leaves dishes out. (Which by the way, Will is amazing at helping out around the house!) All of this is especially helpful in our marriage with Will being a pastor. His leadership and how others view him as a leader is directly affected by our marriage. If I'm always tearing him down and making snide comments at his expense, that will affect his integrity as a leader. On the other hand, if I'm an encourager and constantly give him the affirmation that he needs, then those he leads will also put their trust and confidence in him.

3. You've Got a Friend in Me
We've learned that it's important to spend time with other married couples. Will and I were the first to get married among our group of friends. That was fine and we still spent time with those friends, but there was something that we were missing from not being around other newlyweds. I personally struggled with that frustration for a long time. I can remember having several conversations with Will that contained the words, "Will, I just want friends." Pathetic, I know. For a majority of our marriage, Will has been a Youth Pastor to a great group of teenagers. We love them and we love spending time with them. And as much time as we have invested in them, there is obviously a big age difference and "life experiences" difference between us and the youth group. I prayed and prayed for God to put other married couples in our lives to become close to and spend time with. God answered our prayers and it has been such a blessing to have such close friends. As a married couple, you NEED those relationships in your life. Try to set aside time once a week to go on a double date with those other couples!

4. Don't Try and Change Your Man
I know this has been said many times when referring to dating and the difference in lifestyles between two people, but that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about are those certain habits or aspects of their personalities that you (I) try and control sometimes. For those of you who know Will, or if you don't you can see his personality come through on this blog post, you know that the guy has a sense of humor. That's what he's known for. He's a jokester and loves to have a good time. At times I've caught myself saying, "Ok, Will, you need to be serious when we get there. It's not the time to be joking about everything." But looking back, Will being the one to make everyone smile and laugh is what I love about him. It's also what everyone else loves about him. I've realized that he's smart enough to know when or when not to joke about something and it's not up to me to tell him otherwise. His sense of humor is such a special gift that I've learned to embrace instead of control!

5. Thank Him Frequently
I often forget to thank Will for the little things. There are so many times that I'll come home and the laundry will be done and folded or the dishes will be put away. It's such a common thing for Will to be so helpful around the house that I'll forget to thank him. But one "thank you" goes a long way. It helps your spouse to know that his or her efforts aren't going unnoticed and you truly are appreciative even for the small things!

6. One Expectation
The one most important expectation you and your husband should have for each other is that God comes first. That you love God more than you love each other. Essentially, as you and your spouse grow closer to God, you grow closer to each other. 

7. Don't Worry, Be Happy!
I believe an important part of being a wife is making your husband happy. Seems simple enough, right? He doesn't want to come home to nagging and whining, but rather a hug around the neck and a kiss on the lips! Make him excited to come home at the end of the day. Chances are he's tired and just wants to come home and rest for a little let him! Trust him enough that he'll be a helper around the house without having to nag him about it.

8. Communicate
Easy peasy...Maybe..Ok, maybe not. Sometimes communication can be so difficult. Usually it's the husbands who need help communicating, but us wives could use some work too. (I know I could!) You know those times when something irritating happens, your husband asks what's wrong, and you say, "Nothing, I'm fine." Well, let's all make a pact and try not to do that anymore. What good does it do to pretend like nothing's wrong? No good at all. Just say what you mean and mean what you say!

9. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
This tip is exactly as it sounds: Respect your husband. He needs to feel respected by you in order to give you the love that you need. In the book, "Love & Respect" by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, he writes about the love and respect cycle. "Without love, she reacts without respect, and without respect he reacts without love." So give your man what he deserves and in return you'll get what you want and need! 

10. Date Night
Just as the two of you need time with other married couples, you also need special time with each other. Whether you're going to the movies or just baking together, those special dates will help you "escape" from a busy life and refuel. And it doesn't always have to be up to the man to plan romantic can surprise him too every now and then. Just have fun with it!

Tips that didn't make the cut:
1. Exercise together (because we'd rather eat chocolate chip cookies together)
2. Talk in a British accent (after a while, that just gets plain annoying!)
3. Eat at Taco Bell twice a week (even though there have been weeks where this has happened, we wouldn't recommend it!)

We hope that these tips will help you in some way. And as we said before, we aren't geniuses on marriage...these are just the things that each of us has learned in the short time we've been married!

Best wishes!

Will & Courtney


Anonymous said...

This is so wonderful! So many things to remember on this journey of marriage! I couldn't have said it any better!

Kim said...

Love this Courtney!!!! So true!!!

The Sweetest Thing said...

I love it! It's so well put and makes perfect sense! Marriage takes work but it is totally worth it!

Mariel Collins said...

Such great advice! I love that you got your sweet hubby to join in and give his top ten! Thank you so much for linking up:)


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