Marriage lessons are as tough to learn as they are numerous. And speaking of numbers, numerologists say 7 is the number of perfection or fullness.
Well…Mr. Traditional and I are 7 years into our marriage but we’re far from perfect. Nevertheless, here are 7 marriage lessons I’ve learned in 7 years!
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But before we jump into marriage, I have to say: couples need to align on core values before getting married. And I don’t mean align while in pre-marital counseling sessions either. I firmly believe that marriage unites one man with one woman so that they become one flesh as told in Genesis 2:24. Plus, marriage is a forever commitment.
Based on these two truths, you just cannot afford to be bound to someone for life with different principals and expect longevity. And that’s not even one of the marriage lessons!
So, discuss and agree to certain things before planning the wedding.
Issues are going to arise because we’re all human and life is ever-changing. But the foundation of every relationship should be built on like values not circumstances, feelings or others’ expectations.
That said, here are 7 lessons I’ve learned that have resulted in a fulfilling and rich marriage.
1. Friendship is fundamental.
Mr. Traditional and I met in college but we bonded over our desires to transfer to other schools in differing home states. We never did though and instead became the best of friends. And we talked about every topic under the sun. We covered the usual subjects like dreams and goals. But we also talked about deeper matters like family dynamics and finances. The bond we created in friendship nourishes our marriage. So, it was well worth the effort developing it early on. Even now, I continue to draw on it.
Our friendship is an endless supply of open, non-judgmental honesty and a reprieve from the plague of flaky relationships these days. He supports me like no one else and challenges me too. Almost no one is the same at 40 or 50 as they are at 20 and 30. That’s because life experiences can change us. We’re also likely to learn and grow more, forming different opinions as we mature. I take comfort in knowing I have a friend who’s walking through all those stages with me!
2. Strong communication is a MUST.
Communication is a life skill. And every woman needs to master it, whether she’s married or not. And it’s critical in every relationship. So, it’s no surprise that this is one marriage lessons I learned early on. Marriages that end in divorce often cite it as one of the top 3 reasons why. How I communicate directly impacts our marriage because it directly impacts my husband. So, one lesson for a healthy marriage is knowing how he communicates and likes to be communicated with. Talking is only one part of it and listening is the other part.
Proper communication is also a form of respect and an outward display of love. If you want to get on the marriage communication fast track, I highly recommend reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It showed me that my husband hears and receives affirmations of love more than any other form of love. And knowing this has helped me time and time again!
3. Take most things lightly. (This was one of the more difficult marriage lessons.)
Marriage is one tool God uses to make us holy. And boy, does He stick little moments in everywhere! But He knows just what I need and when to provide it. I was annoyed when Mr. Traditional would forget to put a trash bag in the can after taking out the old one. But then I realized, I should be grateful he took the trash out instead of complaining! Looking back, I see how God used those moments to fashion a gratitude nook in my heart. Now if Mr. Traditional forgets, I thank God that I have a husband who takes the trash out in the mornings on his way to work so I don’t have to.
Things that irritate can become a breeding ground for contempt if we don’t consciously move past them. So, one other marriage reflection related to this is that I’ve learned to change my thinking. My husbands imperfections aren’t faults. They are areas for me to improve in. I’m sure there are things I do that annoy him too. However, whether because of his gentle nature or because he quickly forgets wrongs, he doesn’t usually let it show.
4. Quality time makes a quality marriage.
This wasn’t one of the difficult marriage lessons for me to ever grasp primarily because quality time happens to be my primary love language! Nothing says, “I love you,” more than this. Whether it’s reading books together, making dinner together or taking long walks to the grocery store from our apartment, I love when Mr. Traditional spends undistracted time with me. What I love even more is that I don’t have to wait for date night to enjoy this time.
Our intimacy deepens when we connect and our foundation is fortified by it too. Quality time emotionally nourishes and mentally strengthens us. We relive memories and share laughs. We calm each others fears and strategize together. Our quality time refreshes each of us mentally and emotionally. It also adds to our physical bond too. The time we spend being intentional with one another overflows into the rest of our family. This is how we’re reviving the traditional family dynamic and creating a culture where parents and kids actually like being with each other!
5. Embrace each other’s individuality.
God is creative and He made humans that way too. So, the two becoming one flesh in a marriage doesn’t mean we relinquish our individuality. Instead, we grow together. I learned to lean into my husband’s interests and found that I actually like some them – like fishing! Spending time in his world helps me see him at his most confident and comfortable. And if I can’t bring myself to join him (like with krav maga), I’ve learned it’s ok to encourage him nonetheless.
Supporting your spouse shouldn’t be done begrudgingly. However, it should be done whether it’s reciprocated or not. It’s important to encourage each other to pursue different passions and do things that matter to us. Sometimes support means making allowances in the family budget. Other times it’s planning a date where we can do that thing together.
6. Privacy and boundaries are safeguards.
It’s important to have boundaries between marriage and family, friends and work. The last three can deteriorate a marriage if boundaries aren’t erected and respected. Marriage is between one man, one woman and one God. Any more than that and there’s bound to be trouble in the waters. After all, that’s one reason all the supporting cast members are on the sidelines on the wedding day.
That’s not to say a couple can’t seek advice from their parents or counselors. But it should come after communing with God and talking to each other.
We’re surrounded by people who are quick to post every detail of every waking moment on social media. But Mr. Traditional and I aren’t like that. We’ve always been private people so keeping our marriage in-house just made sense too. It’s simpler and freer to us that way. Not everyone has your best interest at heart. So, it’s wise to be selective about what we reveal to the world outside our home and to whom.
We married before we landed jobs in our field. Even then though we agreed to keep work and home separate. Over the years through different companies and various commutes we’ve stuck to that. We’re diligent to do our best when “on the clock” and careful to remain present at home. And doing so has protected the space of our marriage, home and lives.
7. Choose to remember the good. This has been one of the greatest marriage lessons I’ve learned.
Nothing helped me grasp this more than journaling my way through my marriage. It started 4 years ago when I decided to gift Mr. Traditional with a book of love letters for our anniversary – one for each day of that year. He enjoyed it so much that I continued the tradition. Reading all those letters keeps our fire kindled. My anger and frustration always dissipates when I work on one. What began as a thoughtful way to speak his love language has become one of the greatest tangible treasures we’ll have as time passes on.
There are so many other marriage lessons I learned that have sustained and increased our love after marrying. However, I grew into my position as a wife because of learning these. Embarking on a life-long commitment might be intimidating to some. More and more millennials aren’t even getting married and some studies say as many as 30% of the ones in the US that do get married, wind up divorced. Other studies say divorce is most common at this 7 and 8-year mark.
But none of that matters because there’s no other relationship I would rather invest so much into. And no other relationship will ever compare. Most importantly though, I know we will continue to flourish as long as we stay rooted in Christ.
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