Marriage is tough, but also extremely rewarding. Ryan and I have been married for 9 years last August and have been through many different seasons of life together.
The easiest time in our marriage was the time before we had kids and the hardest season is right after we have kids. Basketball season can be difficult too because we don’t see each other a lot (Ryan refs college basketball, for those who are new to my blog…he travels a lot). There are some little things and big things we do that help us keep our marriage strong.
Before I get into some different things, the one thing we always do, is keep the D word off the table. Divorce is not an option for us, so that keeps us focused on making our marriage, not only work, but work well. I’m going to be married to Ryan, God willing, until we’re old and gray, so I want to find ways to have a great marriage for both of us and our kids.
3 things I think sum up a good marriage for us are: communication, understanding, and work.
Communication is key in our marriage. I can’t tell you how much better I feel after I’ve talked to him about good and bad things going on. Telling each other our desires, goals, and frustrations puts it out on the table for us to know each other so much better and work on helping the other get where they want to be.
This is also really important when it comes to finance (the #1 cause for most divorces). We communicated our financial goals before marriage (not wanting to go into debt aside from our mortgage) and continue to talk about where we’re going and our monthly budget. If I’m being honest, these conversations are not always fun and even result in heated arguments, but better talked about than not.
Understanding is huge! I always know Ryan is working on our marriage because he tries to understand me. Ryan doesn’t get frustrated with the things that I do, but when he understands what bothers me, he makes an effort to help me out. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about Ryan, and understanding what makes him tick or be happy gives me insight with how to treat him.
We also understand our roles in the marriage. I like to take care of all the domestic duties (cleaning, cooking, kids) and he is the majority financial provider, along with the yard work. He also pays the bills and takes care of major finance related duties. For the first 4-5 years of marriage, he did the budgeting. It was getting too complicated since I made majority of the purchases, so that became my role. I actually highly recommend married couples BOTH budget, at least for a couple of months, to understand that role. I took for granted how difficult that was for him to keep up with my spending and keep us on track. He also knows I hate unloading the dishwasher, so he does that for me when he can. I know he hates when I leave the lights on, so I try and remember to turn them off when I leave a room. And he understands when I’ve had a long day with the kids and will give me some uninterrupted time if needed.
And lastly, we work to keep our marriage strong. Here are some things we do that help our marriage:
- Date nights – During the kid season of life, twice a month would be great, but once a month is good too. We love chilling with a show after the kids go to bed too. During basketball season, we’re lucky to get even a date night once a month. Date nights are such a good recharge though.
- Go to church consistently – I know this one may seem weird, but this keeps us really close to one another and almost is like a relationship check every time we go. Our faith is the foundation of our marriage (I’ll touch more on that below).
- Respect and Love – Men feel valued when they’re respected. Women feel valued when they’re loved. I try and tell Ryan how much I appreciate his working (even though it can be overwhelming sometimes) and let him know I’m proud of what he does. Love and respect is like a catch-22…I give respect, he gives love…he shows me he loves me, I show more respect. There’s a good book (affiliate link) about this if you’re interested.
- Community Group – We just joined a new community group through our church and this is always beneficial to our marriage. Going through life with other Christian couples is really important.
- Celebrate birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries with just the two of us. We do celebrate with our kids and family, but we make sure make a date out of each of these events.
- Serve together – When we serve at church, we do it together. Like our old pastor used to say, “If you’re not serving, you’re swerving.”
- Plan the future together – Weirdly enough, when we plan our retirement, I feel so connected to Ryan and excited about growing old with him. I often wonder what we’ll do when we’re older or what place we’ll go to for coffee.
Those are just a few things we do to work on our marriage. I mentioned above that our faith is the foundation of our marriage. Whenever our marriage is tough (or super good), we can always look in Scripture for guidance. Since we are both believers, our desire is to fulfill our role in marriage as Christ wants us too. I honestly find this so comforting and helpful for us.
Well that was fun to share a personal part of my life and go back through some old photos of us. I can’t wait to read other posts on marriage. I’d also love to hear how you keep your marriage strong, or some fun things you do in your marriage as a couple. I know there are some cool ideas out there, so let me know.