yesterday in my institute class, we had a lesson on dating and marriage. towards the end of the class, my teacher turned to me (one of the 2 married students) and asked, if you were to give one piece of marriage advice to everyone, what would it be? i didn't even have to ponder.
"my advice would be - don't listen to anyone's advice."
it sounds silly, but it's SO true. i can't even remember who told me this, but i heard someone say it in the weeks surrounding our wedding - and it's been the most important advice i've kept with me. every relationship is so different, every person has completely different needs from the next, and it's totally unfair to put your relationship into a category because you live by certain advice that may be totally injurious to the next couple. as jordan and i have grown into our roles as husband and wife, we have pretty much made up our own rules, based on what makes us happy. we have taken bits and pieces of other marriages that we've seen, mixed in our own personalities, and viola! we have an imperfect, but very, very happy existence together.
that being said, i have been compiling a list of the "rules" we have made that work for us - and although they might not be universal, they have been helpful to us. i am aware that i am by no means an authority on this, but after 2 1/2 years of marriage, i feel like i've learned a few things worth writing down.
1. put god first - everything else will fall into place. always. we take turns being the instigator of scripture and prayer, but there is a feeling of sacredness that comes into our home and our relationship when we make that, and all other things christ/church centered a priority.
2. you are equals - i know that between two people, one usually has a more dominant personality. i respect a girl who is independent and sassy, but it really makes me sad to see girls just dominate their husbands - and i feel like that happens more often now. just as equally, it pains me to see women just tack a backseat and let their husbands run the show. work together, you're a team!
3. be an individual - i have written about this before, but there are few things i am more passionate about. i saw this tweet a couple of months ago - "god send me a husband before i am 20 so i don't have the burden of creating my own personality." it made me laugh pretty hard, but seriously. it all comes back to this universal truth – if you’re not happy with yourself, another person cannot make you so. (at least not permanately.)
have your own hobbies. make your own friends. figure problems out on your own. be independent. i realize that as a couple you're a "partnership", but you bring so much more to the table as a spouse & as a friend when you are working on yourself. if having a spouse is the only thing you have going for you - you're probably not going to be a very good one.
i think it’s important the your spouse be your favorite friend to talk to & hang out with, but let’s be honest. you need girlfriends, they fill a spot in your heart that nobody else can. when you rely on friends and ward members and family to fulfil you in addition to your spouse – life is just more FULL. it’s more whole. it’s more satisfying.
jordan and i make all major decisions together, but we try to be the best support system we can to each other in our own endeavors. that is such a huge priority. when i am working on myself, i am a better wife, which leads to a better marriage, which pushes me to be even better, see the cycle? instead of just melting into your husband or wife and creating a crutch, you can instead foster a place for them to grow and improve. everyone does this at varying degrees, but it's so important to be you. (i really think that the most independent women make the best mothers, too!)
4. appreciate - i read this quote recently - "if you're not happy with what you have now, you won't be happy when you get what you want." isn't that so great? i am not always good at this, but when i focus on the good things about jordan, it seems like his faults just disappear. this is a pretty universal tool when it comes to being happy, and it applies to your marriage. if you're focusing on the good, that's what you're going to see. we teach a “marriage and family” class at church and as we discuss finances and family planning and conflict resolution, it seems like this is always the solution that can calm the waters.
5. date night – i love dates. i love dating my husband. it makes me so happy – and this is why we’ve made it a priority for us. the last few weeks have been friends friends friends (which i also love) but i am pining for a fun date night just us two. i feel like this has been crucial in keeping us connected. we un-plug and give each other our undivided attention - all while making memories that we can look back on. i enjoy spending time in bed watching netflix and ordering a pizza - but going out and experiencing life together has brought us closer.
i’m sure as we get older and weather more storms together, that my ideas about how marriage works will shift and evolve – but i’m so grateful i am figuring out this “how to always be better” thing with jordan by my side. i don’t say this very much, but married life is the best life. especially when you do it your own way.