Hi guys, this is a guest post by my friend Hannah Christensen over at Lovely Little Lives while I’m enjoying the snuggles of our new little one. I hope you love it!
That’s how long my husband and I have been married.
In some ways our wedding day feels like ages ago and in other ways it seems incredible that we’ve already been married for that long. So much has happened in our life together, so many new experiences and memories have been shared in just six years.
In our time as man and wife we have changed jobs, bought our first house, had two daughters, suffered the loss of a baby through an ectopic pregnancy, purchased a minivan, created a home and a life that is all our own.
To say it’s been an easy six years wouldn’t be true. We have had our share of sufferings and disagreements, both big and small. We have struggled with parenting, unexpected situations, and figuring out what decisions God wanted us to make. We’ve had to tackle budgeting and family finances. We’ve had to learn how to put up with each other’s quirks and habits. We’ve had to adjust our unrealistic expectations of each other and humbly acknowledge our faults and mistakes.
It’s an ongoing journey of growing and learning how to serve and love each other in the best way possible as two imperfect human beings. We are in no way finished with developing our understanding and unity with one another, but here are a few lessons that we have learned along the way.
Living a life of prayer has helped ground us in our common faith values and given us the grace we need to get through the difficult times. Having God be a daily part of our lives has made all the difference in letting Him direct our decisions and our relationship. As Catholics, we attend Mass every Sunday as a family, and then have designated times where we pray at church individually throughout the week. For instance, my husband stops by a church to pray for a few minutes almost every day on his way home from work. We recite prayers before meals and throughout the day. We say night prayers with our children and then often separately as a couple. We read spiritual books, listen to inspiring talks and then talk about them together.
We do all these spiritual practices because we need them.
When we push God to the back burner, life becomes much harder. We fight more, we have less peace and we get more distracted by all the noise and social standards the world throws at us.
Having an open heart and mind that is willing to listen to God and his commands becomes more willing to listen to the needs and feelings of your spouse. Communication in marriage is a fundamental element for a strong relationship. We are both busy people between house projects, social engagements, volunteering events, raising children and working full time. He is building his career and experience as a full time computer programmer while I am at home, blogging, working as a medical biller and homemaking.
Bonus Tip-Practical Communication Ideas
Sending texts and emails to one another throughout the day allows us to stay connected. Whether it is just logistical like making plans for the evening or if it’s more romantic, like sending flirtatious texts that we wouldn’t want anyone else to read. We try to make it a priority to connect even more when we are together. Taking time to talk in the evenings and on the weekends. Creating family goals as a couple and having budget meetings. Sharing our dreams, expectations, insecurities, and feelings. Being affectionate when we see each other after a long day. Snuggling and more in bed at night.
Not only is it important to bond with your spouse physically and emotionally when you are at home and living your daily lives, but it’s also essential to take time to be alone together outside of the everyday routine. We have established monthly date nights this year where we intentionally find a babysitter once a month and go out to dinner or a movie. We have also gone on getaway weekends where we leave the kids with Grandma and go stay in a hotel or even just have the house to ourselves for a few days. Special time alone gives us the space we need to focus on each other without being bombarded by the demands and responsibilities of everything else.
Along with date nights, finding common interests that you can enjoy together is a great way to connect on a deeper level. We share a passion for sports and traveling. We have made many wonderful memories going on family vacations together and attending our alumni college sporting events. We have noticed that we are a much happier couple when we really emphasize our quality time together.
Not only do we need God and each other to have a strong marriage, but I firmly believe every married couple need a strong support system in place. We are both blessed to have parents who have been happily married for many years and a close group of siblings and in laws. Even if you don’t have the strongest extended family unit, finding adult friends who share your values can be extremely helpful. We have a church community, and multiple good friends from college.
My husband has good friends at work that he gets together with and I have a moms group that I meet with once a month. This verse sums up the value of solid friendships: “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure” (Sirach 6:14).
The final advice I have to married couples combines elements of all my previous points. World Wide Marriage Encounter. It is a weekend retreat that allows you to grow with your spouse in communication, prayer and quality time. It teaches you a new method for communicating on a deeper level with your spouse about a whole variety of topics. You have the chance to meet and connect with other couples during the weekend. After attending the weekend, the marriage encounter community continues with opportunities to join monthly share groups where you become better acquainted with like-minded people.
We attended a weekend this past October for our five year anniversary and came away with a refreshed perspective on our relationship. We have been able to connect with a share group through a monthly discussion meeting. It is fulfilling to find other married couples who share mutual trials and joys of married life. You can find a weekend in your area here.
Marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts. Make the most of yours.
Hannah Christensen is a Catholic wife and mom, sipping cups of coffee between loads of laundry and organizational projects. Most days you can find her working from a home office with curly-haired children serenading her with Disney Princess songs. Her favorite days are ones where she is relaxing with her best friend and husband. She blogs about faith, marriage, homemaking and motherhood at lovelylittlelives.com.