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Last week, my hubby and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. There’s no other way to say it – 8 years goes by fast. One minute you’re relaxing on your honeymoon, the next you’re chasing two kids and wondering where the time went.
Some of my best, most fun, most adventurous memories have been with James. And while we don’t have a lot of spontaneous adventures anymore, it really does keep getting better. Because we keep choosing each other, no matter how hard it can be or how much life gets in the way.
I have a long way to go before I’m wise and fully knowledgeable in what makes a marriage flourish. But there are a couple things along the way that have made our marriage a happy and lasting place. Maybe they will be helpful for you too.
Keep Getting to Know Each Other
It’s funny how we go from the dating “I want to know everything about you” stage, to the “now we’re married and we don’t have anything to talk about” stage. We assume we’re experts on each other, but there’s still so much to learn! Keep asking questions and learning something new. (Need help? Here are 35 conversation starters – especially if you struggle with something to talk about other than your kids.)
Get to Know Yourself Too
For so long, I did try to learn all I could about my husband. And don’t get me wrong – that’s important too. But what I neglected was understanding myself better, and how much it brings to the table to be able to know your own character, patterns, triggers, strengths, and struggles, and how they affect your marriage.
It’s something we’ve been working on in the past year. This book is so helpful for identifying how we can get in our own way when it comes to our marriages. As we’ve been able to identify how our own backgrounds and characters can contribute to how we look at the world and at each other, it’s helped to lessen the tension and arguments with each other, and allowed us to go deeper in our relationships by sharing our needs and concerns in a healthy way.
Dates are Key
Whether you’re a newlywed or you have been married for years, no kids or multiple, there is so much to be said for going out on dates. Studies show that regular dates in a marriage show an increase in longevity for the relationship. It gives you a chance to feel special and do something out of the ordinary. And it allows you a great opportunity to focus on each other and get to know each other better – see above. (Need date ideas? Check out my Things to Do posts – there’s a ton of ideas there!)
Have a Hobby You Do Together…
Recently James and I have been exercising more. (He runs more, I walk more, but it is what it is.) We can’t go together unless we have a babysitter. But it’s been fun and encouraging to figure it out together, to talk times and apps and workout clothes, what works and what doesn’t, etc. It’s a great way to bond.
And a Hobby You Do Apart
You know what encourages me so much? When James cheers me on in the things I pursue and love to do. We don’t have all the same interests (which is probably a good thing). But we cheer each other on in the things we love to do. James’s activity of choice is rock climbing and outdoor adventures, while I’m into yoga and blogging. Even though we don’t always “get” the other one’s choices, the fact that we support each other in it makes us feel close and loved.
Have Friends Who Know You Both
We regularly meet with some of our closest friends, who we keep up to date on the things we’re going through in our marriage. It’s amazing to have outside perspective on our relationship – people to tell us we’re not crazy, to help us hear each other, to point out things we might not notice, and to give us advice when we need it. (Which happens a lot.) Sometimes we’ll talk all together; sometimes we’ll talk separately. The point is that they know us well enough to help us through the rough patches, and enjoy the good times with us too.
Do The Things You Did At First
Don’t forget to flirt, compliment each other, laugh, leave sweet notes, and just have fun. Yes, you have to remind yourself sometimes. But it keeps your relationship fresh and makes you both feel loved.
Dream and Be Bold Together
While everything is all bright and new and fresh on your wedding day, after a while, life can get a little mundane. Or even challenging. You almost forget that you get to do life with your best friend, that it still can be an adventure. Keep dreaming and imagining together. Think about what is still ahead, talk about what you hope for, and plan dream travels or events or decisions. Don’t give up on what you want to see happen, even if it’s not happening at the moment. Help each other get there – or discover new dreams.
What are your best marriage tips? We are far from perfect. But I’m so grateful for the life, family, and marriage that we have. (Happy Anniversary, Babe!)