On Sunday Brandon and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage. I don’t know what I was thinking when I married a farmer in August. The truth is, he is hardly home this time of year because he is holding down two jobs right now and busy. His mind is on different things, he comes home at 9:30 or 10 and goes to bed, gets up at 4:30 and does it all over again. He gets home and he is dirty, tired, and he has put in a long, exhausting day of working two jobs. But, when he gets home and hugs me and talks to the kids while he is eating dinner and listens (really listens to their day) I can’t help but think about how much I love him and appreciate all that he sacrifices to provide for our family. I know that we are where he would like to be. While it can be hard to maintain a home while he is gone for work, and sometimes we feel more like two ships passing in the night, and we haven’t had a date night in a couple of months, I know that I love this man and can’t wait for the light at the end of this tunnel to get here.
The reality is, after 12 years of marriage we have been through up’s and down’s. We have seen each other at our worst, but also at our best. We have been through the hardest days and the best days together and there is no one else I would want by my side. At the end of the day, we entered into this partnership, for better or for worse and vowed to stick together. I am no where near a marriage or relationship expert, and this is what works for us. Here are 12 ways we keep our spark alive, and maybe one of these tidbits might work in your marriage too.
- Make time for each other. Getting a date night in can be tough. Really tough. Going to the movies and hiring a sitter is expensive. We make time for each other every day. We put the kids to bed early and we watch a TV show together or play a quick card game for a bit. We put our phones away for the night and we just spend time together.
- Keep some traditions. After our first year of marriage we were POOR. I was going to college full-time, working very part time, and Brandon was the one working full-time. We were in our early 20’s and wanted to do something special for our Anniversary. Since we had little money we went out for breakfast…at McDonalds, and let me tell you, I will never forget it. I felt like I was eating a 5 star meal. We don’t get each other presents for our Anniversary, but we ALWAYS go out for breakfast. The restaurant might have changed over the years but that love and sentiment is still there. This is our thing, our tradition.
- Learn each other’s love languages. Brandon’s love language is quality time and acts of service. Mine is gifts/gifting and acts of service. Knowing this about each other, we work hard to show each other love.
- Speak kindly of one another. I want everyone to know how much I love Brandon, and I want them to know that he is the best husband, father, friend, and worker. I don’t need them to know my complaints. If we disagree with each other we do it in private.
- Talk it out. Disagreements happen. You are two unique individuals with your own experiences and feelings so arguments are going to happen. Brandon’s grandma gave us the best advice and that was to never go to bed angry. We have stayed up until 2 AM before talking things out but we always talk it out. Always.
- Put God first. I pray for my husband each day and I know he prays for me. We also pray together.
- Put your relationship second. God first, relationship second.
- Kids third. Brandon and I make it a priority to show our kids that we are in love and how you treat someone you love.
- Be friends. We love hanging out with each other. Seriously, I love hanging out with my husband. We go golfing together, fishing, go for drives together, and just really enjoy spending time together doing things we both love.
- Have a life outside of each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We both have friends that we spend time with outside of our marriage. We are not co-dependent on each other. It is healthy to have friends outside of your marriage. Which leads me to my next point…
- TRUST. Trust is the foundation in which we built our marriage. It is EVERYTHING to both of us. It makes us both feel safe and secure. We talk things out and have open communication about everything and trust each other completely. This is such an important foundation that we have built on since we were dating.
- Honor each other. Honor your vows, put your partner’s needs before yours, tell them you love them every chance you get, show them you love them every chance you can (actions speak louder than words). Apologize often, be the bigger person (because fights happen), show grace, show understanding, don’t speak in absolutes (you always/you never). Love each other, and love each other well.
In a world of social media, marriages are made to look like a walk in the park. It is the age of the highlight reel. Marriage isn’t a Hallmark movie or a Romantic Comedy. Marriage is real and raw and sometimes you just want to throw in the towel. Knowing that we are both in this forever makes us fight even harder to make it work and be the best that we can be together.
Wherever you are at in a relationship or marriage, I encourage you to bring out the best in the other person. Show them love and kindness. Show them encouragement and praise, as well as grace. Pray together, work together, and most of all honor each other.
Thank you for reading today. I would love to know what other tips you would add to this list? What was the best piece of relationship advice you received?