Marriage isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work every single day to make a marriage successful. Since Zack and I got married so soon into our relationship, I sometimes feel like we have to work even harder to make our marriage work. We spent the first couple years of our marriage pretty much getting to know each other on top of also learning how to be a marriage couple, learning to live together, and even learning how to work together as a team. It was a whole lot of newness that we were thrown into and sometimes, it was a really challenging adjustment for us.
Now, we’ve been together and married for almost four years and I am just now feeling more settled into our relationship. We’re at a point where we’re comfortable and have established our own routines and habits that work well for our relationship. While there’s always something we can be doing to improve our marriage, I’d call our marriage a success so far. So today I’m sharing ten habits Zack and I make in our marriage that have helped us stay connected with one another on a daily basis.
Always kiss each other goodbye.
It doesn’t matter if one of us is sick or if we are in the middle of an argument or even if we fought all night the night before. We always make it a priority to kiss each other goodbye before we part ways. Always. Even when he’s the last person on this earth that I want to be kissing in that moment. I will always take a second to kiss him goodbye. Why? Well because you really never know if it’ll be the last time you get to kiss your significant other. Your entire life can change in the blink of an eye and it would kill me to get a phone call saying something happened to him, knowing I refused to kiss him goodbye that morning. I couldn’t handle it. So if we’re parting ways, even if it’s just to run to the Seven Eleven, we stop to kiss each other goodbye first.
Say “I love you”.
Like kissing each other goodbye, we also always make it a habit to say “I love you” before we part ways for the day or when we’re finished with an argument. Sometimes we’ll even say it when we’re in the middle of an argument as a reminder that even though we’re fighting, we still love one another and are there to make it work. Sometimes I say “over-say” it throughout the day and it drives Zack insane to hear it every five minutes. But like I mentioned above, you never know when it’ll be your last chance to say it. So I’ll say it a million times a day for the rest of my life if I have to. And he’ll just have to get over it!
Turn off the cell phones.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where technology surrounds us on a daily basis. It’s a big part of our every day life. I admit, it can sometimes be hard to disconnect from my iPhone or MacBook, especially when I’m in the middle of getting some work done. I’m a workaholic sometimes. But it’s just not healthy to be glued to them all day, every day. So at the end of every day, we make it a priority to have uninterrupted Netflix nights. And we do this every single night that we’re both home, no matter what time of day it is when we get home from work. My MacBook stays in my office or in the living room and our phones are plugged in and put on silent. That’s our time together to rewind and when we’re both working full-time, this is literally our only time together most weeks.
Do something nice for each other.
Zack is an acts of service kind of guy when it comes to showing his love so sometimes he’ll do the dishes for me or have the house straightened up when I come home from work or a day out with a friend. Some nights he’ll even cook dinner if I’m too tired to do it myself or I’m busy with schoolwork. When he’s out getting a hair cut, he’ll bring me home a treat like Starbucks or a Snickers bar. I know these are seemingly small tasks, but sometimes they make my entire day. I love and appreciate it a lot when he does these things for me and I know he appreciates those things too. So I’ll bring him coffee and food while he’s at work or do the laundry AND put it away all in the same day (this is a rare occurrence in my household…I hate laundry). Love doesn’t have to be these big, grand gestures.
Make your marriage your top priority.
This one is so important to me. My marriage will always be my top priority. Even after we have children. He comes before my blog, my career, even my schoolwork some weeks (side note: I’m not skipping work for no reason or getting F’s in school to put him first or anything like that. Don’t do that! But know how to balance these things instead). It’s so easy to get caught up in everything you have going on in your life and after a while, your marriage can sometimes feel like it’s been put on the back burner. But a marriage is a living, breathing thing in my mind. It’s important to make time for it or it’ll end up falling apart.
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So if my husband tells me he misses me or even flat-out tells me he needs time with me, then I take that very seriously. He’s the least needy person I know so he’s not the type to ask for my attention. So when he does, it’s serious and I’ll drop everything to make that time for him and our marriage. And when I say to make time for one another, I mean one-on-one time together. Not group activities. Go out for dinner just the two of you or get away for a weekend and stay at a cute little bed and breakfast on the coast. Get dressed up and go downtown for a night or send the kids to grandma’s for a night and crawl into bed early with some movies and take out food. Maybe even try a new hobby together or explore a new town. Do something together just the two you!
Listen more, talk less.
You’ll never know how your spouse is feeling if you don’t take the time to listen to them. It’s taken me a while to learn that it’s not always best to have the last word in an argument or to get every single point across. Believe it or not, the world doesn’t actually revolve around you. Your problems and feelings aren’t the only ones that matter, especially in a marriage. So sometimes it’s best to just take a step back and listen to what your spouse has to say. Both of you should have the chance to express how you’re feeling.
Not only do you hear how your partner is feeling, you can also hear what they’re actually saying. And this goes for even basic, everyday situations. For example, when Zack asks me “what’s for dinner?”, I used to hear it as “why haven’t you made dinner yet?” which isn’t what he’s saying at all. He’s simply letting me know he’s hungry and wondering what I’m making, yet this can easily turn into an argument on any given day. This would instantly put me in a mood because it came across as a bit pushy. And I know I’m not the only one out there who misinterprets simple statements like this. Especially after a long, stressful day. So take a moment to really listen to your partner.
Learn to accept one another.
I hate seeing couples who spend all their time trying to change each other. If that person isn’t the type of person you want to be with, then why are you with them in the first place? I understand that it’s sometimes challenging to accept every aspect of someone, but don’t waste your time trying to change them. When you enter into a marriage, you’re choosing to accept that person for who they are: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I might not like that Zack’s not a super cuddly person, but that’s just how he is. What matters to me is that he does his best to be more accepting of my hugs and kisses. On the other hand, I know that my depression and anxiety are really hard things for him to accept sometimes as well. But he’s so incredibly patient with me through those struggles and is my #1 supporter when I need him the most. I’m a strong believer that love is a choice and regardless of what flaws we may have, Zack and I accept who were are as individuals and we choose to love each other every single day.
Remember that you’re on the same team.
This is so important! In our early months of marriage, there were many times where I felt like Zack and I were on opposite teams. The big issue at that time, being his work schedule and the demands of the military. It was a really hard lifestyle to settle into and sometimes I felt like he’d rather be at work than home with me (yes, I now realize how ridiculous that sounds. But give me a break. I was young, dumb and newly married).
It wasn’t until Zack went overseas to Japan for 12 months that I finally started to realize we were on the same team. It was hard at first being apart and again, I felt like he’d “rather be in Japan than home with me”. But after a few months, I started the realize how important it was for us to work together in order to get through the year apart. He didn’t want to be in Japan without me and I certainly didn’t want to be living in Maine without him. So at the end of the day, we wanted the same thing: to be together. And that’s what we focused on.
This mindset, alone has helped us through so many arguments and so many challenging life changes and transitions. When you realize the two of you are on the same team and working towards the same goal, then life becomes a hell of a lot easier.
Know and understand your spouse’s love language.
I’ll try to keep this one short since I have a whole blog post on this one. When Zack and I first got married, I decided to check out the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and loved it! I can’t even begin to explain how life-changing this book can be for a relationship. I felt like we had been struggling a bit in those early months and just couldn’t figure out how to get past it and reading this book literally changed my marriage for the better.
In short, everyone has a different way of showing love (aka a “love language”) and sometimes two people in a relationship speak different languages. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I believe that this is one of the top reasons why some relationships just don’t make it. Some couples don’t understand how to connect with their spouse because they don’t understand that they’re just not on the same page when it comes to how they show and receive love. It doesn’t mean you’re not compatible, it just means that you have some things to learn about your spouse.
So in our marriage, Zack’s more of an ‘acts of service’ and ‘quality time’ kind of person. This means that he shows love by doing things for me and by spending time together (although our versions of time together can sometimes vary). He’s not the type who needs constant attention or gifts and he certainly doesn’t need to hear the words ‘I love you’ every five minutes either (oops) or be holding my hand at all times. He’s pretty low maintenance and the simple fact that I’m still here, working on our marriage every day is enough for him to know that I love him and want to be here with him.
I, on the other hand am more of a ‘words of affirmation’ and ‘physical touch’ (although ‘quality time’ is slowly starting to replace ‘physical touch’ for me). I love being told when I’m appreciated and when I’m doing something right and even more so, I love when Zack tells me he loves me. Hearing those things can easily make my entire day. And in addition to that, I love hugs, kisses and cuddles which Zack just isn’t into very often. So being that we have differing love languages, we sometimes have to work a little harder to make that connection with one another. And a lot of other couples experience this as well, even if you don’t realize it. So take the time to read the book, take the quiz, and find new ways to connect with your spouse.
Pick and choose your battles.
If I could give my newly married self some marriage advice, the first thing I’d tell her is to learn how to pick and choose her battles. As a young, newly married couple we argued over the dumbest things. Like seriously. The dumbest. I’d get mad over him having to go to work, or when he had to take work calls on his off days, or whether his clothes ended up in the laundry basket or on the floor. I’d get mad about the toilet seat being up or his nights out with the guys (which actually rarely happened). I even got mad that our relationship wasn’t “Facebook official” and even now, almost four years later, our Facebook accounts still don’t say we’re married. And guess what! It’s not the end of the world!
All these little things really do not matter whatsoever. They’re not worth arguing over. If you’re on the verge of breaking up because your spouse left his laundry on the floor then you have bigger issues there. The sooner we realized how insignificant these “issues” were, the faster we were able to get back on track. And now, it’s super rare that we get into a legitimate argument. If we’re going to argue, it’s not going to be over the laundry. So learn how to pick and choose your battles.
What habits do you make in your marriage?
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