How to survive your first year of marriage… Without killing anyone…

You heard me, WITHOUT killing anyone. So go ahead put away the shovel…yes both of them…

Take a seat, let’s talk.

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It’s amazing that there is EVERYTHING in the world to prepare you for your wedding day. Pinterest boards, magazines, and wedding planners that can make sure you have the “perfect day”. There are dance coaches that will make sure that you don’t make a fool of yourself on the dance floor at your first dance (shout out if your mind went to Bride Wars. I like your thinking). It’s even said that the average American spends $30,000 on their wedding. With all of the preparation and money you would think that all Marriages would be perfect, but the divorce rates that are rising say different.

If you’re newly married or have thought about marriage, you have probably heard the phrase “honeymoon phase”. The time where everything is “perfect”

But…

What happens when you have your first fight?

What happens when her mother is a literal night mare?

He is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE and CLUELESS?

She spends YOUR paycheck on shoes?

You’re 100% convinced that this man was raised by wolves?

She has no idea how to cook!

Does he need to have a guy’s night EVERY night???

Why does that sock end up next to the hamper but NEVER in the hamper???

How does he not understand a word I’m saying???

I’m texting my boss to ask about my work schedule, seriously she needs to calm down!

How long does it take for her to get ready???

Ever been there? Before you guys start bringing your ammo back out, lets put up a white flag for just a second.

Can we do that?

Ok.

And the rest of you guys that aren’t married can come out now.

No one’s throwing anything, so it’s safe.

Please know that this post is NOT in favor of any type of abuse. Abuse can go both ways, from husbands and wives. Any type of physical grabbing, scratching, slapping, punching, biting, or verbal assault  (threatening to hurt/kill) is abuse. If you are in any type of situation where you do no feel safe, please know that you are not required to subject yourself to any of the violence.

Today I just wanted to share a few things with you that will hopefully be a positive encouragement to you. No, marriage isn’t easy but it can be fantastic if you are both willing to fight for it. As always, I’m not saying I have everything together but I just wanted to share with you some things that have helped both Seth and I. Some of this stuff I’m going to talk about is not going to be pretty either, so hang on!

Marriage counseling

pexels-photo-302051If you are getting married soon, I highly encourage you to set up an appointment with a marriage counselor. It’s going to be so much easier to see someone before any arguments happen. This way you have also established a relationship with your counselor and it will be a little bit easier if you do need to go work some more challenging things out. Make sure you are going to someone who is licensed and not someone who is related to either of you.
Pastors and religious leaders can be great sources if they have experience in marriage counseling. The reason I am so adamant about licensing is because they are required by law to keep all of your conversations confidential. It provides a safe place for both of you to work together.
Our first instinct is sometimes to go to our best friend or a family member and tell them EVERYTHING.  While these people love you, they will always take your side. They are biased to you because they care for you. While there is nothing wrong with how that person cares for you, they may say things about your spouse that can be hurtful. Sure it may have just been a disagreement. And after the argument is over, you may be able to forgive your spouse, but the friend or family member may not be able to.

Seek mentorship, from the right people

Although marriage counseling is for specific and more private conversations, it’s good to surround yourself with people who can mentor you if you have any questions. This might be an older couple that you know that can guide you with wisdom. Note that not every couple that’s been married a long time is happy, so be mindful of who you talk to.  Talk to the couples that value things like respect and love for one another.

Never seek advise from your single friends.

Depending on when you marry, you may have a lot of friends that are not married yet. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being single, you are both on two very different paths at the moment. They may be the wisest and nicest people you know, but you should not be asking them for marriage advise. Marriage is completely different from being single or dating someone.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

If you are living together for the first time, it can be frustrating when you find out toothpaste and toilet paper don’t end up the same way that you’re used to. But ask yourself before you get into a heated discussion. Does this sock really deserve an argument right now? Sure, talk about stuff if it bothers you, but there’s no need to fight over things that don’t deserve that much attention. Your toothpaste isn’t that serious. If you have a preference on how things should be done, tell your spouse, Nicely! Sit down, talk, but don’t fight, it’s not worth ruining a good day.

Talk about finances, don’t fight about them.

money-card-business-credit-card-50987When Seth and I first got married, we were both extremely broke. We slept on the floor for our first six months and did not own a single chair in our home. I was still working as a flight attendant with Delta and Seth was working three part time jobs to make ends meet. Surprisingly my flight attendant job did not pay very much and most of my paycheck went to commuting expenses. So our funds were pretty limited.
I remember getting into an argument with Seth one day over a $25  DVD player that he had bought on sale while I was away. We laugh about it now, but to me then it was a big deal. Instead of hearing his side of the story, I immediately became upset about the “irresponsible” purchase that was made. You’ll definitely want to talk to your marriage counselor about your finances and see what options work best for you. But for us, we’ve learned that so long as we are tithing/giving, the bills are paid on time (we each have our own), and both of us can contribute to our conjoint savings account, the rest of our money is used on how we choose.  It allows us both to be responsible and more open to talk about money. I’m also pretty sure we still have that DVD player.

Don’t fight when your angry

Have you ever seen someone completely lose their mind over something because they’re mad? After a while, the person dosn’t make much sense of what they’re saying. This is because anger is a form of temporary insanity. Yes, you may literally be crazy for about 2 min. If both of you are mad, this means there are two temporarily insane people who are trying to solve an issue. Something tells me this will not get very far…
If you need to have a discussion with your partner that may involve heated subjects, make sure that you able to keep your cool when you talk. If you don’t think you can do this, ask your spouse for a few min so you can come back and talk about it (make sure they know you still want to talk, otherwise this could make them upset). If you need to, write down an idea of what you’d like to say so you don’t sway off topic. You’re going to get a lot more accomplished by clearly sating your thoughts rather than yelling them at each other. You can also hold hands while you talk. I know it sounds cheesy, but it helps.

Poison Words

divorce-separation-marriage-breakup-split-39483Divorce, Always, and Never, these are three words that you should immediately remove from your vocabulary. The words you say and how you say them can have lasting effects. Saying that you want a divorce when you are angry is not appropriate. It is only hurtful to your spouse. While I understand there are many reasons for divorce, throwing around the word because you are upset will not do anything to help your marriage. Telling someone that they “always” do something or “never” do something can make simple fights turn into wars. Although you may wish your spouse took out the trash more or took less time to get ready to go out, using these types of “accusation” words do not build you or your spouse up. While you should talk about the things that bother you (peacefully), the end goal is not to insult the other person. The goal is for both of you to reach a compromise and move forward to a positive direction.

Say what you mean and mean what you say

Guys have you ever wondered why she says something and ten minutes later she’s upset that you did what she told you to do? Ladies do you ever find it frustrating when he says he will do something and an hour later you’re still waiting for things to be done. Men and women think very differently. Often times we as women expect our husband to be able to read our minds and husbands get upset that their wives are “nagging” at them to do something. Sound familiar? It’s probably because you are married.

Ladies, your husband does not have a crystal ball around his neck that he can see into your mind with. Make sure that you are communicating clearly so he understands what you mean when you are talking. Our minds often work in a million directions and sometimes our husbands need a little extra insight to our very busy brains. It’s not fair to be upset at him for not understanding something you never told him about in the first place.

Guys, if you tell your wife you’re going to take out the trash. Take out the trash. Sure that Xbox game is pretty intense and its only been an hour since you told her you’d do it. But trust me, if she’s is starting to get upset, it’s because she literally thinks her small request is less important to you than your video game. Which in her mind registers as, “I am less important than my husband’s hobbies”. Sure you may never intended for it to come across that way, but you both think very differently.

Keep Dating

unnamed-22Your first year of marriage can be hard, but it can also be the beginning to the best years of your life. Go on dates, find new places to explore, plan getaways together, learn something you never thought you would, like painting or sports. You may know a lot about each other, but marriage is a lifelong of getting to know more about the one you married. It’s amazing when you can both learn new and exciting things and create wonderful memories. Dates don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to be fun either. You can always find free local things to do to make date night exciting. One of Seth and I’s favorite things to do when we didn’t have much money was to go to a pet store together. We couldn’t afford to go to a zoo, but we could play with all of the puppies for free! Win!

Laugh together

Some of my best memories with Seth are when we are doing things that make absolutely no sense to most people. Sometime this involves talking to each other in our “Becky and Britney” alter egos (I told you this didn’t make sense), or just being silly together. Sure marriage is serious. But don’t ever take yourself so seriously that you forget to have fun together.

Follow the Jesus Marriage

For the this point, I want to take a second to talk to my Christian friends. As you all may know, I am a Christian and try to draw my life principles by following Jesus’ teaching. Unfortunately, there are many (even in the church) that have a very distorted view of marriage from taking scripture out of context. In some denominations the wife is some sort of doormat, the husband is a controlling figure that degrades his wife in demands for “respect”, and the wife in terns is disrespectful and unloving.

It’s amazing that after reading chapter five in Ephesians the only thing that some get out of this passage is “wives submit” and “husband’s love”, Close the book say “Amen” and expect to have a happy life.

If you haven’t read the whole chapter (Ephesians 5) yet, I highly encourage you to read this passage for yourself. Sure it does tell the wife to submit (v22). But most people totally omit the verse right before it

 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (v21)

The verse directly after goes into how the wife is to submit to her husband. It also says specifically, “to her own husband” (v22). So this tells me two things. In order for this to work both people have to completely give themselves to each other, equally. The woman’s “submission” should be directed to respect her husband’s leadership. But why would that be in there? Why would it clarify to her “own”? This passage is not only a great guideline for newlyweds, but also “affair proofing” your marriage. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard women say things like “My husband isn’t like, so and so’s husband.” “My husband doesn’t get me, but so and so does.” and next someone goes a bit further than they ever wanted to.
Ladies this verse is there for us because our hearts naturally wander. We are adventurous souls that look for someone to sweep us off our feet, who will love us forever, and perhaps is a little bit romantic. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, the respect that you show to your husband should soar far above any type of attention you give to any other man. I’m not saying you can’t have any friends that are of the opposite gender, but I am saying that your guy friends have no business being on the “same level” as your husband.

Ok guys, you can stop nodding your heads now, you’re next.

A lot of times the “husband verse” is shortened to “just love your wife”, but the verse goes much deeper than that.

 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”

Gave Himself… you mean as in crucified?

Before you freak out, I want you to know this is not asking you to literally “kill yourself” for your wife even though it may feel like is some times (what did I just say that?). But what Christ gave to us goes far beyond what He did at the cross. God loves us unconditionally. This means in spite of our failures, regardless of who we are.

It also means the active love that Jesus shows us when He pursues our hearts. It means you are to chase her for the rest of your life. Your active love doesn’t end the moment you say, “I do”.  I’m not saying that she has some type of passport to walk out on you anytime she wants, that’s just wrong. But your love should model the “agape” love that Jesus shows us. An active pursuit of our hearts to have an intimate relationship with us.

Be quick to apologize and quick to forgive.

You will not always be right about everything. I don’t know how many times I’ve put my foot in my mouth and said something hurtful, nagged, accused, or just been plain rude. I’ve had to apologize for stupid things I’ve said. Sure it doesn’t make you feel 10 ft tall when you say “sorry”, but it definitely takes more courage to admit mistakes than it does to stay arrogant. It’s also the right thing to do.

When Seth and I first got married, we got into ALOT of arguments. Mostly about his in-laws that we lived with when we first got married. And let me tell you, they were Crazy! They had decided that we were both their “children” and wanted us to leave our bedroom door open for them at night as well, the step father thought it was ok to sexually harass me to be “friendly” when I was home, he showed me the “special” folder on his computer with my photos with his “special girls”, and the time a rifle was in my face when I came home because I did not call to alert him before I came home (he didn’t like to be disturbed while he was doing … “business”. His wife also thought I deserved the gun because I was not being an obedient “child”). There’s more where that came from, but that’s another story for another day…

After we moved out they would continue to call and demand for us to come over and fix things around their house and “visit”. At this point we had been married for 3 months and I wanted nothing to do with them. Instead of being understanding of how Seth might have been feeling, I took out my frustration on him. After we were able to actually talk instead of fight about the problems, things changed for the better.

1796808_10151904854316481_1695381615_oI’ll share something funny with you too. Anytime Seth was not getting through to me or if he would hurt my feelings, he would go to the gas station and get me peanut M&M’s and Sprite. He couldn’t afford flowers at the time, but it would make me laugh. The next thing we knew we would be sitting on the floor laughing, we would apologize for hurting each other, and then “netflix and chill”. (If you don’t know what that means, look it up on Urban Dictionary).  It’s sappy, I know, but it’s how we made it.

Thanks for reading this weeks “thinks”! Chances are that you found this blog because you are subscribed (You’re awesome by the way. Thank you!), thinking about marriage, can relate to what I’m about to say, or sincerely about to give up.

To those of you who are picturing marriage in the future, I hope this post doesn’t scare you and gives you a positive view of what marriage can be. Because it can!

To those of you who can relate, I hope you are able to smile because you have rough memories but have been able to grow stronger and learn to love from them.

pexels-photo-70737To those of you that are at the end of your rope, I want you to know that this is for you especially. Marriage doesn’t have to be war it also doesn’t have to be perfect either. Think about it, you are both two imperfect people who are coming together and expecting something perfect. Doesn’t make sense right? Your first year of marriage is going to be a lot of compromise and makeup sex. Keep hanging in there! I know it can be frustrating at times, but your best days are ahead of you. Keep Christ at the center of your marriage and love each other above yourselves. It changes everything, I promise.

Thanks again for hanging out with me this week! See you soon!

Joy

 

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Resources:

From This Day Forward (United Church Marriage Series)
Broken Together
Love and Respect
Fighting Fair
Trust

Books
His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage
The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

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One comment

  1. May I heartily recommend a source for you in this area that you WILL find hilarious and ABSOLUTELY will find helpful. “The Tale of Two Brains” by Mark Gungor. It revolutionized our marriage communications and deepened our understanding of how we each think. Great fun for a married couple group night!

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