About a month before I got married, one of my best friends from high school made me the most precious book to use at showers and my ceremony. She created many pages with lots of wisdom and cute sayings about marriage. She also included a letter, that gave me a long list of advice on marriage that she had learned first hand. Some were sweet, some were hilarious, and some were extremely wise. That letter and book became one of the most precious and treasured gifts that Jason and I were given.
I pull that letter out from time to time and reread it, thinking about all how right she was on so many things. I wanted to share them with you, as well as offer my own learning experiences from my first year of marriage. I think that her thoughtfulness allowed Jason and I to understand a lot of things a lot more quickly than if she hadn't given us this gift. So here is to a list of many things I've learned, some on my own, some from the wisdom of others.
Marriage is definitely a beautiful thing, but it can be even more beautiful when you are willing to learn from your marriage (and your spouse) as you go.
Laughter is essential.
Don't do things in the first few weeks of marriage that you don't want to have as your regular chore. I never took out the trash and now Jason claims it as his job and I never had to say a word. Of course, it is nice to pitch in and help each other once in a while.
Blessed in the flexible (in the serious, non-dirty way of course.)
Don't have any expectations of the other without verbalizing them. Let the other know what they are up against.
Say thank you. Often. Nothing makes one more willing to help the other than a little appreciation.
If he does something to try to help, but doesn't do it right, don't be annoyed with him. Be grateful that he was willing to help in the first place.
Choose your battles.
Fight fair. Know what pushes your buttons, and let the other know. The buttons are things to avoid during a fight. Express your needs to get through the fight. For example, Jason learned the hard way to let me be alone and blow off steam before pushing me to talk things through. If I can't take 30 minutes to breathe, I often say things I will regret in 5 minutes.
You can never tell the other person that they are too cool to be your spouse.
Make the other feel lucky they married you, just like you feel lucky you married them.
Laugh at the little things and keep smiling. It does wonders for your attitude (and your abs!)
Remember why you decided to marry the other.
Make time to do things independently. Embrace a girl's night, or a guy's night.
Have a date night as often as you can. This can be a nice evening out to dinner, a walk around the block, or staying in watching movies and playing board games. Quality time together is essential.
It is easy to get wrapped up in the daily struggles of housework, careers, and other responsibilities. Take at least a few moments every day to hug.
Dance in your kitchen.
Don't change, be yourself. That's who your spouse fell in love with to begin with.
Keep your eyes wide open before the wedding, and half shut afterwards.
Stop keeping score. Just do as much as you possibly can for the other.
Let yourself learn from the other-after all, they are the one that brings out the best in you.
Talk. About everything.
Remember that your marriage is a triangle. If you both seek God, you will always meet in the middle.