5 Things I've Learned in 8 Years of Marriage

Photo by Portrait Lane Photography taken in 2013

Photo by Portrait Lane Photography taken in 2013

In 8 years, things can change a lot. I know I normally write about grief, but since I’m married, and we are both grieving, our grief, and our marriage are tied together. There are many lessons to be learned in marriage, and I think back to the day we got married, as a young 18 and 19 year old. We were ready to face married life with all the love and hope for our future that such young people have. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but we have grown a lot together, and changed a lot together. As time has gone on, I’ve realized how the years, joys and sorrows, bring a deeper more mature love into our relationship, rather than such a new exciting and crazy love.

Going through something very difficult like child loss, has shown me a lot. I would say I’ve learned the most about marriage and our relationship in the last few years, as trials and hard things make you really need to communicate, work together, forgive each other, and stand together as a team.

We just had our 8 year anniversary this past week. I’m not promising to be an expert, or that I do everything correctly or perfectly, but I wanted to write about things I have learned in our marriage, that maybe can be of use to you in yours. (In no particular order)

1. Your husbands only job is to be there for you to love him.

This is actually one I've learned fairly recently, and again, I don't promise to be an expert or perfect at any of these. But it's definitely true. If we want to have a happy marriage, don't look for what you need from your husband. Don't look to your husband to fulfill your needs. Don't have high expectations from him. Not because he's a man, but because he's a human, and we cannot read each other's mind. If your husband’s job is only to be there for you to love, all the stress and expectation of what he would be doing for you goes away, and you can take care of yourself what you need.

Then, you can dote on him and love on him because that’s what he is there for. I promise, good things will come back to you if you don’t have any expectations.

2. Communication is essential

There have been a few times we have been talking, thought we can to an understanding or agreement, then re-discussed for some reason and found we had both totally came to different conclusions of our agreement. So even though we thought we were on the same page, we actually weren’t just because of communication.

It's amazing how quickly things can get confused, or escalate into bigger things than they are, just through miscommunication. Learning how each other communicates is very helpful, and taking a breathe and letting the other person explain helps. This is always a with in progress for us, but something I really believe is a pillar in fostering a good relationship.

One thing I've heard said a few times but we have not been very good at doing yet is, when you are discussing with each other, responding back with, “so what I'm hearing you say is….” Or something to that nature. Responding back to your partner with what you have heard, to make sure you are still on the same page with communication.

3. Forgiveness is not optional.

We are all human. When we get married, we are living with another human being who is just like us, full of faults. We take all the good qualities that we love, right along with all the ones that drive us crazy. There is no separating them.

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I remember thinking one time, the first time I realized how love and hate are so much related. I never realized how angry I could get at the person I loved the most. But when I was so so angry, I thought, if I believe divorce was an option, I would probably be considering it right now. I was glad I have a way to forgive, and that I knew that forgiveness, and letting go was an essential part of living together.

In our lives, forgiveness, and being kind with each other, and loving each other in spite of our faults is one of the most loving things we can do for each other. To be seen, heard, and known so deeply yet still loved is amazing.

4. Marriage is not always easy.

Everyone has periods of struggle in their marriage, we just are not always talking about it. It maybe seems a little bit shameful, or for me, it feels like I’m failing at my marriage if we are having a hard time. So it’s hard to talk about. But I know, every married person knows this struggle.

Sometimes it’s easy to get along. Sometimes things flow really well, and being married is the most amazing things ever. And other times. Those are the tough times. That’s when we are quick to anger, defeated, saddened by something our spouse has done. This is when we want to give up. This is where the road gets hard, and a big life circumstance happens that changes the nature of our relationship. It can be anything. It can be disconnection, it can be lies, it can be death and loss, it can be feeling like roommates instead of a loving married couple.

Whatever these things are that are hard, this is when we want to give up. I’ve found, that every time we struggle through this. Every time, we work at trying to figure it out. Every. Single. Time. When things get better, that joy and contentment of marriage is deeper and stronger. It doesn’t mean that it will stay that way forever, it will get hard again, but the struggle is worth it, and your marriage is worth it. And I want you to know that you are not alone in struggling in your marriage. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it to talk about it, seek help if you need, and work through your problems. Every marriage needs work, yours is not the exception.

5. Men want to be respected and women want to feel loved.

There is a really good book called “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs. It’s a really good book that goes into detail about how men and women communicate, and how deeply, a man just wants to be respected, and deeply, a woman just wants to be loved.

This book resonates with me, that when we are offended by our spouse, it’s because for me, I don’t feel like he is loving me, and I never realized for him, it’s because he’s not feeling like I’m respecting him.

This does not mean that men don’t need love, and women don’t need respect. It just tends to be the way we feel in our relationship, unloved, or disrespected. I try to pay attention more now to how I talk to Justin, and how I talk about him. I want him to know that I respect him, and I am happy to be his wife.

The author Emerson writes so much better and in deeper ways that I can about it, so you should really just go read his book!

8 messy and crazy years together! <3

8 messy and crazy years together! <3

Marriage is a constant work in progress, a constant and ever changing relationship that needs to be navigated with care, love, forgiveness, and communication. It is far from easy, and anyone who says it is easy is lying. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it to have that person that you trust, you know is there in your life until you die. That one person who is stable in your life, is an amazing thing to have. Treasure it, because what I’ve learned with loss is it can be gone in a second.

What thoughts do you have about marriage that you can share with me and others? I’m always willing to learn new ideas, and new things I can try to see if they work for us. Share with us below!

Grief is so foreign and full of crazy changes and feelings. I created a little download called “what to expect when you are grieving”. It’s a few things that I’ve heard often from other grieving mamas like you. I want you to know that what you are feeling is normal, and experiencing is a normal part of grief. You can download that below!