Last week my husband, Nate, and I shared our second wedding anniversary. We married in 2013 in the small coastal town of Byron Bay, and returned to Australia to celebrate our own marriage as well as the wedding of two great friends.
The trip gave us time to reflect upon our time as a married couple, something that we don’t do frequently enough during our busy, everyday lives.
Today I’m going to share with you the five key tenets that Nate and I believe have helped our relationship grow even stronger since our wedding day. Then I’ll give you a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ template to help you enter your own marriage with a similar roadmap.
Why you want this
Reflection, love and growth aside, this exercise will also help you write your wedding vows!
Why you need this
Every relationship has its ups and downs. As you get closer to your big day, and wedding stress takes its toll, it can be helpful to remember that the wedding day is just the beginning of an even more exciting journey together.
How to get your fiancé on board
Start by asking! Nate was happy down to sit with me and discuss these ideas — after all, it’s as much about him as it is about me.
Saying that, I did ply him with a breakfast burrito and two lattes, but I like to think he would have enjoyed the exercise anyway!
Five Marriage Lessons From mindbodybride
Teach & Be Taught
You each have valuable individual strengths that you’re bringing to the table. That first year of marriage is a wonderful time to share your strengths and passions with your partner, and be open to what they have to teach you.
It might not surprise you to learn that my husband ate a lot more Taco Bell before he was hitched to my wagon – haha – but on the flip side he showed me that it’s ok to simply relax, and eat popcorn and watch movies, on a Sunday afternoon.
Keep Love At The Center Of Your Disagreements
The reality is that life won’t be smooth sailing all the time, even during that first year of marriage charmingly known as “the honeymoon phase”. Gosh, even if you get through your actual honeymoon without a disagreement you are doing amazingly well!
The secret to managing disagreements is to keep respect at the center of the discussion or argument, even if you don’t agree with what your partner is saying. When you listen (and disagree) with respect you’ll never say something that you later regret, and you’ll be able to move on from any spats quickly and with little impact.
Take Time Together, But Also Apart
I read an interview with a couple who had been married for 40 years and still couldn’t wait to get home each night to talk to share news from the day. The secret to their success, they said, was taking the time to pursue individual interests and hobbies, so that when they are together they have lots of interesting conversation to bring to the table.
I love this idea. Obviously self-development is a big part of my own lifestyle, but I also like being reminded that getting married means creating a team of two individuals, not trying to morph into one.
What I love about Nate is his individuality – the quirks, interests and skills that set him apart from me and other people we know. It’s important that both of us lead independent lives, and then take the time to share these experiences with each other every day.
Work On Your Marriage
Just because you’re newlyweds doesn’t mean you shouldn’t constantly be working on your relationship. I recommend starting by reading “The Five Love Languages”, a book by Gary Chapman (this also makes a great additional gift to newly engaged friends).
It’s also beneficial to set aside time to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship, and even participate in pre- or post-marital counseling. As in health, prevention is better than the cure.
Not to sound cliched, but isn’t this is what it’s all about? You wouldn’t have married your partner if you didn’t have fun together. If you get stuck in a rut, simply remember why you wanted to get married in the first place and all of the fun things you like to do.
Fun can easily get swallowed up by chores, obligations and feeling tired. Prioritize a little bit of fun each day of your marriage.
Your Roadmap To A Successful First Year of Marriage
Now it’s your turn! How has your relationship evolved as you’ve gone from dating to engaged, and soon to be newly-weds? What have you learned and how have you grown as individuals and as a couple? How do you prioritize your relationship and your fiancé, in day to day life?
Answer the five questions below and use your answers as a template to guide you through the final weeks and months of your engagement, and that exciting first year of marriage.
1. What’s three things that you would never change about your partner? What’s one thing that you wish your partner would do differently?
2. What is your most common source of disagreement? How do these disagreements usually get resolved, and how can you get there faster?
3. How often do you spend quality time together without other distractions such as technology?
4. List three things that you like to do independently. How do you share those experiences with your partner?
5. What do you think is the aspect of your relationship that needs the most help? List three steps that you will take to address this.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You!
What do you think of this exercise? I’d love to hear one thing that makes your relationship unique, and one action that you can take to make it even stronger. Let me know in the comments below.