This week I'm linking up with Mix and Match Mama and A Little Bit of Everything for their monthly series, "Working it Wednesdays."
Today's topic is all about keeping your marriage strong. AJ and I will be celebrating our third anniversary in July, so I do not claim to be any sort of expert on marriage. We are still sort of newlyweds and I can't believe how fast these few years have flown by. Marriage is such a gift in my life and I am so thankful to be a wife and have AJ as my husband. No marriage is perfect, because it's made up of two imperfect people BUT you can cherish and value your marriage to strengthen it and make it more of a blessing in your life. I am passionate about married life!
Here's some things that have worked for us (and disclaimer: I am not an expert and am not saying my way is the only way!):
1. Pick the right one: This is the basis for it all!! Pre-marriage discernment is SO important. I don't believe in Duggar style "courtships" necessarily, but I do think dating with intention and sharing the same values and end goals is essential. Real love shouldn't feel forced, contrived, or unnatural. I remember texting my friend from the bathroom of Squatters on my first date with AJ saying, "I'm going to marry this guy" so I was fortunate in that regard that it was a great connection right from the start (Bachelor lingo, sorry, haha). But truly, there's no such thing as too picky when picking a mate.
2. Hold Nothing Back: I always hoped and prayed for someone I could be fully myself around. I feel like I have that with AJ and I know he has that in me. I can say what I feel, share my thoughts and feelings, and be totally an open book. It's truly a beautiful thing when you can be completely genuine around someone.
3. Yours is Mine and Mine is Yours: AJ and I don't believe in "my money" or "your money." What we have, whether it's money in the bank, food in the fridge, or a splurge at Ulta for me, a golf game for him.....we share and are open and honest. Sharing our resources and having great conversations about finances has formed a solid basis of trust and partnership. What you spend money on reflects priorities and this goes with #7 (a common vision).
4. Laugh: Sometimes you just need to let lose and laugh.
5. Be Partners: This one goes along with number 3. AJ and I share household tasks, chores, and responsibilities. Is it 100% "fair?" Of course not....we never ever want to be a couple who keeps score or who resents or guilts. Our "jobs" were established together, taking into account or preferences, desires, and daily needs. I make the bed each day and AJ unloads the dishwasher. I do the meal planning and grocery shopping, AJ and I both meal prep and cook. AJ does the ironing and I do all the laundry. AJ does the vacuuming and I keep the bathrooms clean. Here's the deal: I notice mess and clutter more than he does, so naturally I take care of that stuff more. Sometimes we have to give each other grace. If I'm running late in the morning I might leave the bed unmade and if he is busy on Sunday with something, he might wait another few days to do the ironing for the week. I'm not perfect and I don't expect him to be either. If something is bugging me (I like the bed in the guest room where AJ's closet is to be cleared off at all times), I'll ask in a respectful nice way and he offers me the same courtesy (I tend to get lots of crumbs in the couch, haha).
6. Make Time for Each Other (and yourself!): It's important to set aside time to be together and do things you like (and that the other person likes!) AJ would much rather hit the gym than go for a long walk, but he does it because it makes me happy. I'd much rather ditch hitting golf balls on a sunny day and go read a book outside, but I go with AJ because it makes him happy. Just as making time to do things together is important, it's equally important to do things apart too. I value time with girlfriends and AJ values guy time as well. It's important to have solid friendships and fun experiences that you can do together, but also ones you can do apart and share with each other later. It's not healthy to be together 24/7. Carve out couple time, you time, and friend time intentionally and thoughtfully.
7. A Common Vision: This one is all about shared values. What's important to each of us individually takes a back seat to what's important for US. AJ and I want the same things out of life, we have the same goals for our little family, and the same vision of the future. By this I mean we both want family time to be the center of our lives, we both value and respect the other's profession, we both seek a life well lived and loved with the perfect mix of fun spontaneity and planning together. We love being home owners and have the same financial goals. We pray together and talk about God together and go to church together because being spiritual partners is part of the vision we have for our lives. Basically, we are on the same page.
8. Laugh: Life is fun, have fun together.
9. Don't underestimate the Little Things: AJ is very thoughtful and has been known to leave a note in my lunchbox or on the windshield of my car. I love to do little things for him, too, like pick up some of his favorite caramel corn (Roosters kind, btw), or send him an email during work to let him know he's on my mind. Love is in the details and a small act can brighten your partner's whole day. It doesn't have to be 2 dozen long stem roses...sometimes all you need is a foot rub or a sweet text.
10. Did I mention laugh?? Even when life gets hard, remember why you fell in love and why you still are. Marriage is a gift, I strive to treat it like one.
Savor Your Sparkle,