Lars and I celebrated 12 years of marriage this year. We had a stay-cation to celebrate. Back when we celebrated our 10 year anniversary we thought it would be a cool idea to share 10 pieces of advice that we have learned over the years. We both were going to blog about our advice. We came home from celebrating wrote them down and then left them for 2 years. LOL SO here we are now with advice still but this time we are going to share it instead of sitting on it.
We are not experts by any means. This is just some things we have found useful in our own relationship that may help others. Enjoy!
In honor of our 10 year (now 12 year) anniversary Lars and I made up a list of 10 things that we, from experience, think are some of the best martial advice.
1. Continue To Date-Courting each other is constant, our temple sealer told us this. We decided that from then on we would make it a point to go on a date once a week. Some dates are elaborate or planned, special outing or a double date. Most are very simple, staying in with a movie or just grabbing drive thru. The point is we are making time for each other for something fun each week. Since having kids we felt this was even more important so we could get a break and be able to be alone and continue to work on "us." The habit was already there so it was easy to continue as long as we had a babysitter and Roan was in good health. We have found that this time for us has kept us connected and healthy. We don't have any special rules about not talking about the kids but we do try to just be ourselves mostly.
2. Create and Support Goals-As a family create spiritual, health, financial, and temporal goals. Then create personal goals. Share your personal goals with each other and then support each other in all the goals, even if they are different. When goals are reached, make more goals. Always be striving for something and working on something personally and together. For example, we love to camp. One of our family goals was to buy one nice thing towards our camping supplies each year. First it was a tent, then a sleeping bag, then a dutch oven. Later it was a truck then a trailer. As a family we save for that and decide what to buy and enjoy it together. Another example, I love to exercise and stay healthy. I set a goal to run a 5K. Lars was good about supporting me in this by reminding me to train and smiled when eating the odd healthy dinner I made to stay in shape for training. I reached my goal and he helped me. The next point also goes along with this.
3. Work Together and Be Unified-Marriage is so much easier when you work together on things, especially in parenting. We didn't start expanding our family until we were married for 8 years. We planned it that way, we married young and wanted to have time for ourselves and time to grow. During that time we talked a lot about how "When we are parents we are going to do this or that a certain way." We didn't write those things down but we do try to stick with our guns when Roan pushes boundaries. But parenting aside working together on everything should be the ultimate goal. It is nice to see your spouse as a not only a co-parent but a companions working on anything together.
4. It Is About The Journey, Not The Destination-This has been the theme of our whole marriage I think. We considered our honeymoon our first family vacation. We made it a road trip and it was long but we had so much fun along the way. Since then we learn and relearn that life is about what goes on in the car and not about what happens when you arrive to your destination. Even our 10 year getaway it took us forever to arrive because we kept stopping at fun and random places we saw along the way. Life is very much the same. Rather than getting cranky about getting somewhere just sit back and enjoy it or you may miss out on some unexpected awesomeness.
5. Recognize When You Are Being Stupid-There have been countless times when I have said some things to Lars and knew I was picking a fight or retaliating. I know he has done the same thing to me out of stress from work or tiredness. Take a moment to center yourself and realize when you are being dumb and then don't say anything in return and retire or prepare a fancy apology for what comes out of your mouth next.
6. Discuss Rather Than Do-This also goes along with #2 and #3. When it comes to large decisions, especially financial ones, discuss things with each other rather than just doing it. I would be seriously upset with Lars if he just up and accepted a job to Antarctica without discussing it with me first, that example is pretty far fetched. I guess I would be more upset if he just took it upon himself to buy jet ski's without asking me if I would enjoy this new hobby. I don't imagine we would ever have this problem but we have seen it out there and needed to make it a point here. Couples need to stay connected with each other in more than one level so they don't live separately on certain choices and then just expect the other to comply.
7. Take It Easy-Not everything needs to happen all at once. When we first got married we were poor and in college. We were poor for a long time and we revisited being poor more than once. We wanted to have successes right away but they didn't happen right away. Everything happened in it's own time. Even when we thought we made it, we realized later on that we really didn't. But all the experiences we had in the trying times made us so much better in the long run. So take it easy and let things happen, bit by bit, as they need too. You don't need to have the house or the kids right away just because of stereotype society tells you too. Work towards what you want but let it happen when it needs too. Even when we started making this list I wanted to sit down and knock it out at once, but instead Lars slowed me down and got me to relax and we worked on it over a few months to refine it and make it awesome.
8. Pray together- We choose to embrace religion on our marriage. We aren't always awesome at it by any means but we feel that it is important to not only strengthen our inter-family relationships but to also have a strong relationship with Heavenly Father as a family and as individuals. Prayer has been the best way to accomplish this. Each morning and before we go to bed we pray together as a family then on our own. Sure reading your scriptures and going to church is all good too but nobody's perfect. :) We pray for each other and feel that keeping God in our lives has helped us work through some of its toughest challenges no matter where we are spiritually.
9. Show Gratitude-Always say please and thank you to your spouse. Even for the little stuff like thanks for making dinner or opening doors. I know this is kindness 101 but over time it adds up and it shows that you don't take each other for granted.
10. Serve Each Other-It is easy to get into a routine as a family. This isn't bad but I have found it best to look for opportunities to serve. It keeps things fresh and also helps strengthen each other. We do try to talk about how we are progressing daily etc. But if you get too caught up in the hub of daily activity it can be easy to miss a struggle your spouse could be experiencing. Serving not only helps your spouse know you care but also helps you love them more, even when they are being dumb. :)