Let me start this post with a disclaimer. I do not claim to have a PERFECT marriage. I do not think perfect is something that we as humans can attain. However, Nick and I do work very hard at our relationship and our marriage, and have overcome many huge hurdles to get to where we are today. We are dedicated to always growing closer to God and to one another, which is what I believe makes for a strong marriage that will stand the test of time.
Before I state what our top five relationship tips are, it's important to know a bit of the back story on our relationship. Nick and I have been together for over 11 years, July of 2016 will mark 12 years as a couple. We got married in July of 2014, so at this point have been married for over a year. And yes, I am 26 years old! So if you are doing the math you might be wondering how dang young we were when we got together. Well, it was the summer before high school. We have been together all through high school, college, we have started a business together, traveled the world together, discovered Christ together and so much more. We have been through some serious ups and some very serious downs. We are not "experts" but we have a ton of experience and have been blessed to be mentored in our marriage by couples that have been married 30+ years who are still madly in love.
These top five relationship / marriage tips are ones that I have put a lot of thought into. They are tips that I wish we knew 11 years ago. They are tips that have saved our relationship at many points and have made us into the couple we are today. And I will say this, I am more in love with my husband today than I have ever been in my entire life. I pray the same for the couples reading this, and I hope it adds value to you and your spouse!!
Tip 1 : Read Powerful Relationship Books
There are some amazing books out there that will strengthen your marriage. Some that we have read that helped a TON are:
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggeriches
- The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick or the movie Fireproof
- Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
- Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge
- And last but not least ( actually, the most important ) : The Holy Bible
Nick and I have read and gone through each of these programs ( we are still in process of finishing the Bible), and the principles taught in these books will drastically change and strengthen your marriage. I'm sure throughout our marriage we will read them multiple times, as a reminder, and add other books to the list. Marriage is not just saying "I Do", it is a constant growing process for each of us and it takes a LOT of hard work and dedication to have a solid marriage.
Tip 2 : Go To Church Together & Pray Together
Applying this has brought so much depth, openness, passion and grace to our marriage. We started pursuing our relationship with God about 3-4 years ago. A huge game changer for us was when we discovered Red Rocks Church here in Colorado. Before attending this church Nick and I didn't have a strong belief in God and Jesus Christ. This church means so much to us because this is where Nick and I decided to make Christ the main focus in our life, and put all our faith in him. Red Rocks did a series on relationships, and in this series they talked about the importance of praying together as a couple. We now pray together before bed and it has brought us so much closer. It allows us to keep our focus together.
Tip 3 : Laugh Together ( a lot )
There are so many times in life that we must be serious... so when we can let loose, have fun, and laugh together... WE DO! We try not to be "too cool". It's fun to act like dorks and laugh so hard that our abs hurt. Warning: very goofy images below. This is from our honeymoon. We were going to take a "selfie" while we were watching a festival in Tropea, Italy. Well, Nick kept making funny faces and I had no clue until looking at the camera. I found it hilarious. Then of course we kept doing it to each other, saying "ok serious one this time" and then of course making a funny face. Stupid? Yes absolutely. But the point is we were laughing soooo hard for like ten minutes. The Italians probably thought we were drunk we were having so much fun! Anyway, you get the point. Laugh together, don't be too serious and enjoy one another.
Tip 4 : Attend Retreats, Seminars, Workshops, etc
This has been HUGE for us! We have attended three marriage based events so far, but we plan on attending a lot throughout our marriage. A few years before we got married we attend a day long Love and Respect seminar by the author of the book mentioned in tip #1. We were basically dragged to this. We did NOT want to go, but lucky for us we have some AMAZING christian friends who knew that we needed to be there. This was around our 7 year anniversary and we were not doing very good... in fact we almost split up. Then our friends Mark and Sarah told us about this event and made us promise we would go with them. Well, long story short that event changed a lot of things for us. It was almost like Dr. Emerson was talking right to us. It was like everything he was saying was EXACTLY what we were going through. And we listened. We let our guard down (ego) and decided to impliment a lot of what he tought us that day and it made a huge difference.
Another program we signed up for was one through our church called Unbreakable. This was for a few hours every Sunday for about six weeks. I loved this course because it talked about EVERYTHING!!! Self esteem, communication, marriage values, trust, how to cherish one another, and even sex. It is so important to discuss the "hard stuff", the things that may be uncomfortable to talk about or hard to discuss. This course really allowed us to open up about vulnerable topics. It set us up for an amazing first year of marriage and I am so grateful we went.
On our one year anniversary we booked a trip to Crested Butte, Colorado. This trip was specifically a Christian marriage retreat! We took it as a sign that we needed to be there because it was literally over our anniversary. This retreat was such a blast because not only did we learn so much at the seminar part of the retreat, but it was also a weekend vacation to somewhere we had never been before. Another great thing about the retreat was meeting and connecting with other Christian couples that are working on their marriage. We had such a blast at this retreat and can't wait to do more trips like it. The program we booked through is amazing and the people teaching it are outstanding! Email me if you'd like info on the program.
Tip 5 : Communicate
My thought on communication with your spouse is ... if you can't talk with your spouse, WHO can you talk to? My husband is my best friend and I can talk with him about things that I don't talk with anyone else about. We are very open with each other and have tried to set that as our standard. Now of course there are times when we disagree and argue, we are human. But it is possible to have good communication while in a disagreement. We do that by having compassion, seeking to understand before trying to be understood, and trying to stay calm and kind. I am not always perfect at this, nor is Nick, but when you set that as a standard that you both can try to meet, then it seems to create a better environment for open communication. How likely are you to approach your spouse with open communication if they always react in defense, or yell all the time? Or what if you are always acting like that?? Honestly, that, in my opinion is a recipe for hurt, and lots of it. Another great thing to do before entering a crucial conversation with your spouse is to pray about it. Pray for a kind heart, pray for your words to come out right, pray for that patience you need... etc.
See, the thing about communication is that words can scar a marriage. Words are impossible to take back, and once they have left your mouth and have hurt the other person, it can take decades to mend those scars. There are things that I have said to Nick in the past during hard times that he is still insecure about today. And all I can do is monitor my words going forward and use the guilt I have from that as a driving force to pick my words wisely. Our intention is never to hurt our spouse, but I think it's very dangerous when we throw words around without considering the feelings on the other end. Disagreements can be productive if we let them. If we do not let them spiral into something worse than that. I know we hear it all the time, but "communication really is key".
I hope that these five tips add value to you reading this. They have added so much value to our marriage and I am happy to share it with you! Comment below if this helped in any way, or if you have a tip you'd like to share!!
Thanks for reading!