Recently, my husband and I celebrated 12 years of marriage.
Considering that in the US the average marriage only lasts around 7-8 years, I think we’ve done pretty well.
While I’m not a certified marriage counselor I have learned a few things about marriage from my own experiences that I think are worth sharing.
If you are thinking about getting married or are a newlywed I hope that you will take this advice to heart.
Without further ado here are 12 lessons I’ve learned from 12 years of marriage.
1. Everything is not 50/50
With the recent disputes over gender roles and responsibilities taking place in society, I can see how some might agree with this statement.
But what I have learned in marriage is that there are times when one spouse puts in more of the work than the other.
This could be due to illness, finances, work obligations, etc.
Also, each spouse has their own strengths and weaknesses that they contribute to the marriage.
Instead of trying to make everything even you should really be playing to each of your strengths and supporting each other’s weaknesses.
2. Communication is Important
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
I can’t say this one enough.
When we took marriage counseling classes, this point was emphasized to us over and over again.
And now I want to emphasize this point to you here and now.
Your spouse is not a mind reader.
You must learn how to communicate effectively with your spouse.
Poor communication is one of the top 10 reasons why couples divorce.
In my opinion, it should be ranked #1.
All of the other issues infidelity, bickering, unrealistic expectations, lack of intimacy can all be boiled down to poor communication between spouses.
3. Don’t Compare Your Marriage/Spouse
You and your spouse are two unique individuals with your own personalities.
It is unfair for you to compare your spouse or your marriage to anybody else.
Unfortunately, social media makes it very hard not to compare our lives with those people around us.
Especially, when we hit those rough patches in our marriage.
Just remember people usually only post the happy moments of their life online.
You don’t see the argument that was had before that picture was taken or know about the secret text messages that were found a week later.
4.Set Healthy Boundaries
When we first got married I didn’t think much about setting boundaries in our marriage.
However, boundaries are important if you want to have a healthy relationship with other people.
Some boundaries you should set:
- In-Laws (how often should they visit? How much input do they have?)
- Friends (how to handle single friends, past friends of the opposite sex, etc)
- Members of the Opposite Sex (how will you handle interactions with members of the opposite sex, what is respectable communication,etc)
- Social Media (what should be posted? what is oversharing? contacting old girlfriends and boyfriends?,etc.)
- Healthy Sexual Boundaries (what are you okay with? how often?,etc)
These may not seem important, but ask anyone that has an overbearing mother in law, a spouses who is always hanging out with their friends, or the wife that finds flirtatious messages from a co-work on their spouses phone if these boundaries aren’t important.
I can guarantee you that most of them wish they had put these boundaries in place sooner than later.
5. Forgive Often and Quickly
This verse from Ephesians sums up this section perfectly.
In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”Eph 4:26
No marriage is free of arguments, irritations, or disappointments.
You shouldn’t go to bed angry at your spouse if you can avoid it.
Learn how to forgive each other quickly and resolve any issues or address any negative emotions before the end of the day.
Remember your spouse is not a mind reader.
They might not even realize that something they have done has pushed your last button.
Check your emotions and assumptions at the door and talk to your spouse about what is bothering you.
6. Set Realistic Expectations
Sometimes we enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations of our spouse or of what marriage will be like.
Many people are in love with love and do not really understand the commitment and hard work it takes to sustain and maintain a successful marriage.
Before you get married you should talk to your fiance about your expectations.
- What do they expect from you as a wife? Husband?
- How do they think money, bills, and household chores should be handled?
- What kind of marriage do they want?
- What do they think marriage is and how to maintain it?
These are all important questions to ask before the big, “I do.”, but they can also be used if you are already married.
7. Pick Your Battles
My husband hates the way I fold laundry.
And in the early days of our marriage, it was a real issue for him.
We had plenty of arguments about how the laundry should be washed and folded.
However, as we have progressed on our marital journey he has since gotten over it.
We just finally came to the realization that it just wasn’t that big of a deal.
There comes a point in your marriage where you learn to just let certain quirks and habits that your spouse does go.
It’s not worth the hassle or the argument.
I can guarantee you that my husband still hates the way that I fold clothes, but it’s not worth fighting over.
Learn which battles are worth standing your ground over and which things to just let go.
8. You Won’t Always Like Each Other
If you take two friends together and trap them in a room for an extended period of time they are bound to get on each other’s nerves.
Marriage is the same way.
There will be times where your spouse just plain gets on your nerves and you just don’t want to be around them.
Trust me it’s normal.
Just don’t stay in that frame of mind.
There have been times when I didn’t like my spouse, but I’ve always loved him.
It was up to me to get to the bottom of these feelings and communicate with my husband when I felt this way.
9. Make Your Spouse a Priority
When you first get married it is easy to make your spouse a priority because it’s just the two of you against the world.
You’re still riding on the love high.
But once the honeymoon is over and you start to settle into real life and a routine it can be easy to put your spouse on the back burner.
Especially, if we haven’t set those healthy boundaries that I mentioned early.
For most women, this gets even harder once children arrive.
All of that love and attention that we used to shower our spouses with is magically transferred to those little bundles of joy that we’ve just brought into the world.
This often leaves hubby feeling left out and cheated because all he gets from us is what’s left after we’ve poured all of our energy into our kids.
10. Schedule Time to Reconnect
Schedule time to reconnect with your spouse physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Set aside time in your schedule once a month to go out on a date alone or with friends.
I have 4 kids so I know finding a babysitter can be a struggle sometimes.
Make time in your schedule for sex.
Once again I have 4 kids if you don’t schedule it, then it might not ever happen.
Plan ahead, but also be open to spontaneous moments.
11. Have Individual and Shared Interest
My husband and I do a lot of things together, but I also have my own interests and hobbies as well.
For example we both like watching anime. This is one of the things that we do together as a couple.
We sit on the couch and nerd up for a little bit.
This allows us to bond and talk about something other than our kids, or what’s happening at work.
I also have my own individual interest like blogging, crocheting, sewing, and reading.
These are hobbies that I can do on my own that give me a sense of pride and ownership.
My husband has his own hobbies like NASCAR, car detailing, and photography.
Our individual hobbies provide something for us to talk about and keep us learning more about each other.
In my opinion, you should always take some sort of interest in your spouse’s hobbies.
It shows that you care about the things that they find interesting even if you don’t like it at all.
Believe me I’ve watched my share of NASCAR races just as much as my husband has patient waited on me in Michael’s as I’ve rummaged through the aisles of yarn looking for the perfect colors for my next project.
I know he has no real interest in yarn, but he does make an effort to ask questions about what I’m doing just like I ask questions about NASCAR.
12.Have Fun Together
Last but not least remember to have fun together.
Always be willing to try new and different things with your spouse.
As I’ve said before marriage is not easy.
You have to constantly put in work to make your marriage a success.
It’s during those tough times in marriage where the two of you need to band together and reconnect with each other.
It always breaks my heart when couples break up because they have grown apart from each other instead of with each other.
But if you make each other a priority, keep learning about each other, and are willing to try new things as a couple you can keep that spark alive in your marriage.
Before I close this post I want to share two more pieces of advice.
13.Always remember that you and your spouse are a team.
Instead of working against each other always strive to work with each other.
The two of you can overcome any trial or circumstance when you work as a unit.
Don’t let anyone or anything come between you guys.
14.Finally, keep God in the center of your marriage.
As each of you grows closer to God you will grow closer to each other.
A three-strand cord is not easily broken.
Especially, if that middle cord is the creator of the heavens and the earth.
Now it’s your turn.
What pieces of advice stood out the most to you? If you could add 1 something else to the list what would it be?
Leave me a comment in the comment section. I can’t wait to see what you all have to say.
As always don’t forget to like and share this post!
Unit Next Time,