Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The 16 Ways I Got Through The First Five Years of Marriage

Right before our first anniversary, I wrote a post about how I got through the first year of marriage. I think that list was pretty great, even now, after we've been married almost five years! I can't believe this month, we will be celebrating our fifth anniversary. I thought I would add to my list and write about how we got through our first five years of marriage.
1. There really isn't a day that goes by that one of us doesn't tell the other what we appreciate about each other. We are very specific. Sometimes, it's what we contribute to the household chores, sometimes it's what we appreciate about the other person as a spouse, sometimes it's what we appreciate about the other as a parent. Sometimes, they are big things and other times they are small, like "I appreciate that you always are the one that cleans the toilets!"
2. I've learned that a day can change right that very minute. Just because you are mad right now, doesn't mean you have to stay mad the rest of the day. Just because you woke up in a bad mood, doesn't mean the rest of the day has to be bad. You can change your mood any time, any where.
3. We try and be very deliberate about spending time with each other without kids, maybe not every day if it's not possible, but a few times every week. Most of the time, it's just time on the couch after the kids go to bed, or maybe we go outside and sit on the patio.
4. I stopped comparing myself to Jason - there are aspects of Jason's personality that I am envious of. He is more patient than I am, he is more levelheaded, he is much more fun with the kids. I had to accept that I am different and offer different things to our marriage and to our kids. I spent a lot of time wishing I was different than who I was and wishing I had more of those qualities, but it occurred to me that one of us had to be like that and the other has to be another way to balance it out. He never tried to make me more like him and I certainly never tried to make him more like me.
5. We realized that both of us handle situations differently when we are stressed, worried, tired, excited, etc. We never expected the other to handle it like we would. When Jason is stressed, he feels it physically in his body, he gets headaches or stomach aches. When I get stressed, I get compulsive about cleaning, or working. I can't expect Jason to handle things the way I do, or visa versa.
6. We found money to get away, even if we just spend one night in a hotel in DFW. No matter how broke we were, we had to take a little for ourselves to give ourselves something to look forward to, as a couple. Having things to look forward to as a couple is incredibly important - be it a musical, a fancy night out, a trip out of town - you have to break up the mundane.
7. We were purposeful in maintaining friendships and relationships with people. We invited people over. A lot. We cooked dinner for our friends, we visited friends, both together and separately. You have to be able to get out of your four walls and each other and invest in other people's lives.
8. We learned how to fight and resolve conflict in front of the kids, but also to learn when it was appropriate to argue in private. We (I) learned not to be disrespectful to each other in front of the kids. We had to teach our kids that it's OK to disagree, respectfully, then how to resolve the issue, then move on with the rest of your day. There were several days we had arguments in our car, then got out, and had a great rest of the day. When we expect kids to "change their attitude," we held ourselves accountable to change our attitudes, too.
9. I learned how to accept a compliment from my husband. Before I had Avery and before I gained weight, taking compliments was easy. After I gained 40 pounds, when I looked in the mirror, there were days I couldn't understand why he thought I was so beautiful. I stopped questioning his reasons and I stopped assuming he was only saying nice things to "make me feel better" or for his own selfish reasons. I just believed that he meant it and when he said, "You are so pretty today!" I said "thanks honey," instead of, "How can you think that, I look so fat!"
10. We have fun together. Lots of fun. Life can get hard, but we still stop and take time to laugh and have a good time with each other. Otherwise, what's the point??
11. We still tell each other every day "I love you" and we still kiss goodbye every time we leave the house. And many times in between.
12. We share things we've learned and our experiences, be it good or bad, with others, especially those who haven't gotten married yet. We don't pretend our marriage is better than it is or worse than it is - what you see is how we are, all the time, even behind the scenes. It gives people hope when they know what you've overcome to get where you are and to see that while things can be bad, it's not what happens in life, it's all about how you handle it.
13. We are very, very, very good at speaking to the other about what we need from each other. We don't take it personally if the other says, "I've seen you too much this week, I need a break!" I think we do really well at communicating then following through on doing what the other person needs.
14. We support each other but don't try to fix each other's problems. I had to learn that Jason's work issues, for example, weren't mine to solve. I had to learn to just listen until he asked for my advice. The same goes with him. Listening, supporting, but not fixing, unless asked to. This is a game changer.
15. We back each other up when it comes to the kids. If we disagree with something the other parent did, we don't say it in front of the kid, we say it behind closed doors. Discipline, bedtimes, eating dinner, whether or not to stop watching TV, it doesn't matter. We are behind each other 100% (in front of the kids) and discuss it if we aren't, in private.
16. Most importantly, God has remained the most important thing. We serve in our church together, pray as a family, pray for each other, and treat each other the way we think God would want us to.
I thought about this - in another five years, Jordan will be graduating high school. That's nuts. These years have flown by, to say the least!

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