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My Two Year Marriage Advice

Updated on April 6, 2013

Ok. Let's be honest here. It's only been barely two years ago that I married the absolute man of my dreams, my knight in shining armor, etc. I do not know everything, but I know something. And I feel like that something is worth sharing. Plus, my husband and I's relationship has been through some pretty intense trials already- chronic illness, unemployment, the one-car-two-people situation, depression, etc. Pretty much all the reasons why we say our vows, “For better or worse, through sickness and in health.” That being said, I hope this list of ten things I've learned through two years of marriage is insightful and helpful to you.

  1. You cannot force emotional intimacy. You can attempt things to nurture it, such as significant conversation or quality time, but badgering someone to open up emotionally, usually makes them more resistant. Give it time and space. Express your concerns to know what is going on inside of your mate and let them know you are here for them. More than likely, they will open up eventually.

  2. Do not judge your mate. So when your mate does open up, the last thing you want to do is make them feel judged in the middle of uncomfortable vulnerability. Judgment can be communicated in what you say, your tone, your facial expressions, and body language. In fact, seventy percent of communication is non-verbal. Even if what they are saying is in some fashion hurtful to you, let them finish (assuming it is not abusive) and do not interrupt. Save your feelings for another conversation. Let it be about them for this moment.

  3. Learn to appreciate, accept, and love your spouse's differences. We usually get married because we have finally found someone that we feel understands us and we share the same values and core beliefs with. However, once you get married, you begin to discover just how different you are! Instead of getting frustrated with your mate because you just don't get them anymore, seek to understand. Ask them why they do the things they do or enjoy the things they enjoy. Assuming it is not a moral conflict, this will bring a whole new level of intimacy and appreciation to your marriage.

  4. Trust your mate's insight. I believe that one of the most important reasons for marriage is personal growth; to become more loving, accepting, understanding, kinder. To become more like Christ. You are probably around your mate more than anyone else, so they see how you are all the time through different circumstances and situations. We tend to think of ourselves more highly than we actually are, so when your mate has something to say that would invoke growth in you, listen! Lay down the pride and prayerfully consider what is being said. You will be a better person for it and your mate will end up growing in respect for you.

  5. Do not pressure your mate to adjust to your expectations. Communicate your needs, wants, desires, and expectations, but at the end of the day, you cannot force your spouse to respond to what you have communicated. Frequent and repeated expressions, especially in the moment, come across as pressuring and critical. Especially phrases that begin with, “Why don't you...” or “Why can't you...” or “You should...” Instead, try, “I would really like it if....” You don't want to make your mate feel like they aren't good enough and criticized, but you do want to try and inspire a response from them. If you don't get a response, learn to love what you have and be grateful. Most of the time, what we think we need, isn't really what we need anyway. If it is a very crucial and/or destructive issue and you are not getting a response, I would seek outside help from a pastor, trusted friend, or counselor.

  6. Lower your expectations in times of crisis. In times of depression, illness, true financial crisis, death in the family, etc. you will need to readjust what you can expect from your mate. Some of you might think that this would be obvious, but when a husband goes from having dinner prepared every night and frequent sex, to dinner hardly ever prepared and sex once in a blue moon, it gets tough. Whoever it is that is going through the crisis, needs you big time right now-emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Expect them to be a little needy and when the time is right, patiently encourage them to move forward (whatever that looks like for them).

  7. Don't forget the other guy! It's very easy for the one in crisis mode to forget the needs of those around us. After all, we are the one hurting, and it is a very natural response. However, do not be consumed so much with your situation, that you forget to consider how this could be impacting your spouse as well. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how much is missing from their lives because you are not at your best (you are valuable!); not in a guilt trip kind of way, but with empathy. Make occasional sacrifices for them and let them know how much you appreciate their love and support through this time. Acknowledge that this must be difficult for them as well.

  8. Learn healthy ways to resolve conflict. This is an absolute must and probably the most important thing on this list! There will be conflict. There will be heated conflict. There will be conflict where you fail to express yourself in a healthy way. There are several different techniques out there that can be used to bring resolution. Find one that you think will work best for you, and stick to it. Do not waver from it. Also, you may find that one technique is more suitable to certain situations and another more suitable to other situations. Just do it! I believe most hurt in marriages is caused mostly in this area, and continued unresolved conflict, verbal assault, criticism and misunderstanding is a recipe for disaster! In fact, according to Dr. Gottman, marriage expert, the four main ingredients for this disastrous recipe are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. He says he can pretty much guarantee that the marriage will end in divorce if even just one of these things becomes a pattern.The breeding ground for these? You guessed it conflict and unresolved conflict.

  9. Always seek outside sources for growing your marriage. Make this a habit. Whether it's a book, a counselor, a friend, a seminar, or retreat. One thing I love about my husband is that whenever we meet a new couple, it is almost a guarantee that he will ask them for their best marriage advice. It used to embarrass me just a little because that's personal, ya know? But my perspective changed when I started seeing how much he takes every opportunity to gain insight into this marriage thing. There are several professions that require continuing education. View marriage the same way and don't assume you know it all no matter how long you've been married.

    10. Keep Christ as the center. This starts with you as an individual keeping Christ at the center of your own life. Do not lean on your spouse as the source of your spirituality. Get your own relationship with Jesus! Pray together, read the Bible together, volunteer together. Personally, I love praying with my husband. It opens up a whole different realm of his heart to me that I wouldn't be able to see otherwise. It lets me see his relationship with God and that is a beautiful thing. It is very helpful through tough times too, when I'm hurt by him or angry with him. I just think, “Well this man has a real daily relationship with God whom he longs to please, and I do too, so this will eventually work itself out. Believe me, God gets a hold of you where you need to be gotten a hold of!

In closing, if you do not know Jesus Christ personally as in a daily friendship with Him, I want to encourage you to seek Him out through prayer and the New Testament of the Bible. He will show Himself to you. Also, if your marriage is struggling (and so many are), please do not be ashamed or afraid to reach out for help from a pastor, counselor, or trusted friend. If it were not for these in my own marriage, we probably would not be here today. Last but not least, DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION! I say this with the understanding that there are rare exceptions, but more than likely, this isn't you. Eliminate the thought from your mind and the word from your vocabulary. You both made a covenant with God, and ALL THINGS, no matter the hurt or what you are going through are possible with Him! Marriage was not meant to be easy, but it is always beautiful (hindsight-LOL) as long as we are allowing God to have the reigns. Be blessed, and I hope you are encouraged.

If you feel your marriage is in crisis or on the brink of divorce, I would like to encourage you to consider this very powerful resource that my husband and I took advantage of. They do ask for a donation if you are able, but there is no financial commitment.


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    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 4 years ago

      Good article and list. I agree with your points.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 4 years ago from Victoria BC

      You had me until number 10. Many marriages are very happy with two people of other or no faith at all. Divorce is always an option when the health and wellbeing of one of the partners is at risk.