Today my husband and I celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary – it’s really our first “big” anniversary since our very first one together. Taking a moment to reflect on these past 5 years, it’s hard to believe how much we’ve gone through together: jobs, graduate schooling, 2 beautiful babies, parenthood, a potential move – and yet, one thing is constant through it all. We are still best friends. But these years have not passed without some good lessons learned…I’m sure I can think of more than 5, but let’s keep it at nice round number 🙂
5 Lessons Learned in 5 Years of Marriage:
#1) Don’t suffer in silence. I love a peaceful, balanced life so I’m not usually a confrontational person, but I am queen of carrying a chip on my shoulder when I’m upset about something. Just ask my husband. I have painfully learned that my angry silence is doing neither of us any good. It boils up inside of me, makes me cranky and almost always leads to a much more heated argument that the situation probably warranted for. And my husband is definitely no mind reader so it’s highly unrealistic of me to assume he’ll magically figure out what’s bothering me. There is no bonus points in marriage for being a martyr so if something is bothering you, it’s easier, quicker and more peaceful to talk it through like the companionable adults you are before it spirals out of control.
#2) Grow old but grow together. I will be the first to admit I very much a different person than I was 5 years ago. Change is inevitable in life and a healthy marriage should encourage growth individually AND together. It can be very easy for two people to lead very separate lives in a marriage and that’s where problems tend to seep in. Over the years, I’ve adapted a more sustainable, greener lifestyle and at times my husband calls me a hippie, but I have included him in my journey through these lifestyle struggles and in turn, he has become my biggest supporter, even when my family thinks I’m a tree-hugging weirdo. He gets my vision, my reasons and is there for me every step of the way, even if I can’t convert him to vegetarianism.
#3) Stay best friends. Five years ago, I married my best friend. That’s why I fell for my husband in the first place. We became very close friends before we even started dating and that’s where I learned about his character, his huge heart and compassion and his sense of humor. And those are the things that made me fall madly in love with him. With kids pulling at my every thought, it can be easy to go through the day without really talking with my husband but it only takes a minute to dance with him in our living room (before our daughter breaks us up) or talk about our days while cooking dinner. He is my #1 supporter, encourager, confidant and best friend. And most importantly, he still makes me laugh. Intentionally or not.
#4) Simply love him and build him up. Men are all about ego and confidence. It may seem stereotypical, but it is very much true. And our husbands just want our attention, love, support and praise. So on his lowest and highest days, just love him. Every day, let him know in small ways and huge ways that you love him. Be there for him. Make sure he knows that he is the center of your world…and if he’s not, put him there. And never talk negatively about him to your family or friends. People say they are just venting, but others don’t forgive and forget the things you say about your husband because they don’t love him like you do. Sometimes the only way people know your husband is through you. Protect him and protect your marriage. Build him up. Always.
#5) Create a God-Centered marriage. My husband and I actually met at church our freshman year and we used to attend church weekly together all throughout college. Our first year of marriage, we did 2 different Bible studies together, which was a great opportunity for us to grow together in our faith. God loves us through our faults and failures and He calls us to love one another the same way through marriage. Loving my husband unconditionally is an extension of the unconditional love God has shown me and is in His perfect plan for marriage. They say the best way to show love to your children is to love their father. I also think the best way to love your husband is to love God. Last, but most importantly, pray for him and your marriage. God knows what you need and knows the desires of your heart for your marriage. He can and does answer our prayers.