How We're Making Our Marriage Even Stronger in 2019
When Eric and I first started dating, we had that deliriously happy period of time where everything seemed perfect and so easy. We were in the college bubble and it felt like things would always be that simple. Fast forward ten years, multiple jobs, a couple moves, a house and a baby later, and we now know it’s definitely not that simple. Eric and I have an awesome relationship. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my life. But we know that having a great marriage takes work. Actual, focused, intentional work. And now that we have Lucy, in order to make our marriage stronger, we need to give it even more purposeful attention because it’s so easy to let it fall by the wayside.
If you’ve heard of Rachel Hollis (if you haven’t, you should look her up now! Actually, you should look her up after you read this… haha) then you’ve probably heard her talk about how she doesn’t want a good marriage, or even a great marriage. She wants to have an exceptional marriage. Eric and I decided that in this new year, we are going to focus on having an exceptional marriage. So here’s what we’re doing to make our great marriage even stronger.
Your Partner Should Be Your Partner
First, I just want to say a couple quick things. One, Eric and I do not have a perfect relationship and we are not claiming to have everything figured out. We have struggles just like everyone else and we’re always trying to get better.
Second, your partner should be YOUR PARTNER. Every time I see an Instagram letter board post knocking dads, I want to die a little bit. I get it, it’s sort of charming and funny to make jokes like this, but mamas, your spouse should be an equal partner to you in all ways.
Eric has NEVER been the kind of partner who expected me to take care of the house (in fact, he’s waaaay better at that than me) and be the primary caregiver to Lucy. He gets up with Lucy in the middle of the night, and so do I. He makes sure the house is clean and taken care of, and so do I. If I’m being totally honest, I really had to step up my game in the domestic department because I HATE housework and will avoid it at all costs. For Lucy’s first year, we were both working parents. Now that I’m staying at home, what we both do looks a little different, but we are still ALWAYS in it together and we appreciate what the other does for our little family SO MUCH. If you feel like you need more help from your partner, you have to talk to them. Tell them specific ways they can help you (when you’re both calm and in a good place) and allow them to do the same. Ok, back to the main agenda…
1. Weekly Date Nights
Eric and I started off last year SO STRONG with weekly date nights. (Read about some of our favorite at home date nights here!) But, as the year got busier and busier, our date nights weren’t as much of a priority. This year, they are going into our calendar and we’re going to treat them as if they are as important as a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. Because really, they are that important. In the midst of crazy busy lives, they are a way to slow down and focus on each other.
We have some exciting things we are saving up for this year, but we don’t want to sacrifice having date night time, so we’ve decided that each month we will have at least one “out of the house” date night where we do something like go out to dinner or see a movie. The rest of our weekly date nights will be at home date nights where we do things together (that are not watching Netflix or reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond) after Lucy has gone to sleep. I know it doesn’t sound as exciting as getting out of the house, but they really are a lot of fun and you can get super creative with them.
2. Weekly Check-In Meetings
3. Use the Love Languages
I am a huge fan of Gary Chapman’s love languages. If you haven’t read it, you should totally check out his book for couples. You can also take this quiz to figure out what your primary love language is. Basically, there are 5 different ways that you can show and receive love. They are:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Acts of Service
3. Quality Time
4. Receiving Gifts
5. Physical Touch
My love language is 100% words of affirmation, so I love hearing Eric tell me things like “I think you’re doing such a great job as a mom,” or “You look really awesome in that dress.” His primary love language is acts of service, so he really appreciates if I do things like cleaning the floors before company comes over or folding the laundry in the dryer before he comes home from work. (I feel like I should also mention here that Eric is sooo much more naturally inclined to cleaning and organization than I am. We don’t really do the traditional gender role thing in our house and these are things that he normally takes care of. So, if it’s something that I take on, he really appreciates it.)
Here’s a great idea I got from my life coach, Sandy. She’s amazing and crazy talented and you should totally check her out on social here.
Take each of the love languages and write down ways that you would want your partner to show you love in each. Maybe for words of affirmation it’s having them text you they thought you looked sexy in your gym clothes yesterday. For acts of service, you could let them know how much you’d love it if they made the bed on Sunday mornings. Quality time could be going to the playground as a family. You get the idea. Exchange these lists and now, voila!, you have some really great ideas that you know will make each other happy. (Note: this exercise is NOT to nag your partner and tell them all the ways you think they could be better. Approach it as something you are really doing for each other, not solely to have you needs met.)
4. Setting #RelationshipGoals
5. Keep Each Other Accountable
Open and honest communication is seriously key. AND it is so much better to have conversations about making your relationship better when you are both in a good place, not during or just after a conflict. Believe, I am not talking from up on my high horse on this one. I have a serious temper, am super stubborn, and looooove being right. This is an area where I definitely struggle and I have to be super intentional.
Talk to each other about how’d you both like to hear if the other has a suggestion. Figure out a way to let each other know in the moment if tensions start to rise or something feels off. Letting negative feelings fester is never ever beneficial. Also, be sure to tell your partner when they’ve done something that makes you feel happy and loved. Everyone loves to know that what they’ve done is appreciated and it makes you so much more likely to do it again in the future!