some thoughts on marriage.

I wrote this post forever ago, sharing marriage advice I've heard, and it has been one of my most popular posts.
Today I thought I'd share some of my own thoughts on marriage, and more little bits of advice I've picked up.
Disclaimer:  Four years is not that long to be married, so I'm well aware that I could look back on this and think ohmygoshyoubigidiotstoptalkingyoudon'tknowanything. 
But anyway...some thoughts.

Our marriage does not work because Joey is my soulmate.  My verdict is still out on what I believe about soulmates, but thats not my point.  I think where people get into trouble is thinking, this marriage is going to work because I'm marrying my soulmate/perfect person/insert whatever other word you want.  You think of soulmate, and you think of someone perfect for you.  Neither of us are perfect and we are going to fail time and time again.  There are plenty of things about Joey that if I could change them, would make it a lot easier on me.  And vice versa a million times over ;) This marriage is going to work because we are both equally committed to making it work.  I realize thats not "romantic."  But what I believe is romantic is being married forever, and that takes HARD work.

One of the best things you can do, for any relationship you care about, not just marriage, is knowing someone's love language.  There are 5 love languages: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Gift Giving, Words of Affirmation and Touch.  Mine is quality time and Joey's is words of affirmation.  Quality time is the way I give and receive love.  Pretty much if I've ever spent time with you, I love you, because I'm picky about it.  If I don't have quality and quantity time with Joey I would not feel loved by him.  And he knows that and acts accordingly :)  And I'm happy to do the same for him.  Joey thrives on words.  If I didn't know that, I would probably think he could tell I loved him because I spent all my time with him.  But thats not the case.  To him, he has to hear it.  So I make sure to tell him why I love him, what I think is great about him, what he does that I appreciate.  It comes easily, but it is still a conscious effort on my part to use my words with him, because thats not something I care about as much.

Something I learned in college, and have always been aware of, are the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse in marriage.  John Gottman is a researcher who spent years studying marriages, and came up with 4 things that are very predicting of divorce in a marriage.  I am a researcher, and I am by the book, and if there is something with evidence behind it, I believe it.  So I always remembered these 4 things and try to be aware of NOT letting myself ever act this way.  I think awareness is always the first step.  The four "horsemen" you want to avoid are: Being critical, Having contempt, Being defensive, and Stonewalling.  They usually fall in that order.  You can read more about it here.

Pray together and read the Bible together.  Duh, that would make sense.  But easier said than done, we honestly go through spurts where we are really diligent, then we slack off.  But like I said, I like facts and evidence.  So awhile ago our pastor was doing a series on marriage and gave us this to think about.  Harvard did a study on marriage, and found that the most beneficial thing to prevent divorce was prayer.  6 in 10 marriages end in divorce, but add prayer to the marriage and that statistic drops to 1 in 1100.  Thats insane!  Not surprising, but crazy to think about.  After that, we got serious about praying together.  If you would like to watch the sermon series I mentioned, its available online here.  I recommend it.

I've talked about this before, but to go along with the last paragraph, pray for each other.  I've been praying for Joey since I knew how to pray.  I didn't know who he was, but I prayed for my future husband.  I still pray for him all the time and I'll never stop.  I see the effects of those early prayers even now.  I see them in his character, in our relationship, in our family, in our life, in our blessings.  If you are praying, something is happening, whether you can see it or not.  One of my favorite quotes.

We wrote our own marriage vows.  We have them framed and hanging in our living room.  I really think that was one of the best things we did for the foundation of our marriage.  I took so much time and thought and prayer into what I wanted to say.  Because to me it meant something bigger than just part of a ceremony.  I go back to the promises I made to Joey in those vows, that I said in front of God and everyone we love, in a church.  One of the main things I said that I keep going back to is, "I promise to put the good of us above the good of myself."  That makes it black and white for me.  Is this going to benefit just me, or is there another way to do it that would benefit both of us?

So there you have it, just a few things I've come up with over the past few years of marriage!

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