This conversation has come up for the two of so many times over the past few years, I thought I’d jot down some advice that has helped us over the years. There is nothing more important than a strong marriage, especially when rearing children. Everything trickles down from the top, which means if mom and dad’s relationship is solid, it makes everything else so much easier, in my opinion. Here’s the top 5 tips that have helped Ashley and I in our marriage, and have also made us better parents! I’d love to hear you feedback on this one!
- Communication- Communication is key for a strong and healthy marriage. Early on in our marriage, this skill was lacking. It was very difficult for us both to understand each other’s needs and wants based on our best guesses. Coming from two different upbringings didn’t help. Neither one of us really knew how to communicate our feelings very well, but I was the worst. I’ve always been guarded and not very willing to share feelings. It took many years for us to get a point where we had finally figured out how to speak to each other and understand each other. There are many variables that can branch off from communication, but one of the biggest for our marriage was learning each others love languages. We grew up in different homes with different rules and styles. Learning how Ashley needed to be spoken to touched, listened to, and validated took a long time for me, mainly because I was selfishly trying to get my way all the time. On the flip side, it was hard for Ashley to give me what I needed because I never opened up about what was deep down inside, my childhood, parents, and thoughts on the future. Can you imagine the frustration that was circling for us during this time. Luckily, we made it through those first few years, and starting moving closer together instead of further apart. Communication was the key to that success. Learning to not only listen to what each other had to say, but empathize, and act on what was needed. This was huge for our marriage.
- Trust- Obviously a marriage is built on trust, but it is also something that needs to be earned and maintained over the years. I don’t think there ever comes a point where you’ve made it and you stop trying. Trust is something for me that is earned and respected over time continually. That being said, trust is also something that can be lost in a few seconds. That is what makes this characteristic so important not only in your marriage, but in all of your relationships. For Ashley and I, it time for us to develop unconditional trust for each other. Some of that had to do with us being young and making mistakes like all humans do. Some it had to do with other variables such as our childhoods, friends, life experiences, etc.. Another variable was me being so closed off early in our marriage; it was hard for me to let all of my feeling and emotions out on the surface. For whatever reason, I didn’t trust anyone early on. The weight that was taken off my chest the first time I remember opening up and trusting Ashley 100% was enormous. I’d never felt anything like that before. I had told her things that I’d never told anybody, and she just listened and let me speak. It was something I’d never experienced before. Trust was building, and I never looked back!
- Listening- Going right along with my last statement, being able to not only listen, but understand and acknowledge what your spouse is saying can make a huge difference in your marriage. There was a time in our marriage when I can vividly remember listening to Ashley speak, but really just waiting until she was done so I could talk. It may have seemed as though I was listening, but selfishly I was just waiting to get my two cents in. You can imagine how those conversations turned out. Boy am I lucky my wife’s a patient person. Over time, I began to realize that when someone spoke, especially my wife, they deserved to be heard and understood. My dogmatic viewpoints soon changed because I had allowed myself to listen and understand something that somebody else was saying or feeling. Imagine that!
- Empathy- This is something that took both of us years to understand, and truly still trying to master. This is a lesson that many people overlook I feel. As humans, its so hard to think or imagine what someone else is going through or experiencing, especially if we’ve never experienced that thing. We can be present, listen, see, touch, but sometimes never understand. Does this make sense to anybody reading this? For me, Empathy is one of the hardest characteristics to master. Its an unselfish behavior, and lets be honest, most humans have a lot of selfishness in them. That being said, selfishness can be conquered, and selflessness can replace it. Knowing and understanding empathy is one of the most selfless attributes a person can have if you ask me.
- Love- Im sure this is no surprise to anybody reading this. Everyone needs to love and feel love. Not just love, but love in their own way. Back to our love languages, Ashley and I are completely different. This was extremely hard for us in the beginning. Can you imagine poor Ashley who wanted touch and physical expressions of love all the time trying to get that from me, someone who maybe got 5 hugs in his life growing up. I didn’t know other people actually liked to do those kind of things? Love is yet another feeling that grows and perfects over time. Sometimes I feel it is easy to love, but hard to show that love. Love is something that needs to be practiced and perfected, and then practiced again. Working so hard on my marriage opened my eyes to all of my other relationships in my life. I loved my mother, but did I ever tell her that? I loved my sister, but did I ever show her? Luckily in life, we get many chances. Im grateful for that. Love is something that everybody needs, and you can never have enough of.
Obviously these are just my own simple thoughts. They are in now way correct or perfect for anybody or everybody. They are simply my observations from my life experiences. Please let me know your thoughts and your top 5! Love you all!
For more of my thoughts, here are some other blogs!