Kyle and I are celebrating our anniversary this weekend (in a very unlikely place… more on that in a bit) and wanted to share 5 things we have learned on this crazy, messy, beautiful road to 5 years of marriage.
First of all, we are far from marriage experts with only 5 years under our belt. Prior to getting married we dated for 5 years (which I would lovingly refer to as the “rockier years” of our relationship), right after I graduated from high school. Our marriage is far from perfect, but it is something we work harder at than anything else in our lives. We are very proud of how far we have come, and even more excited about where the Lord is going to take us!
1. BE EACH OTHERS NUMBER ONE CHEERLEADER
This is number one on our list for a reason. We can’t stress the importance of this – to always, always cheer one another on. And that doesn’t just mean in conversations with one another. In fact, we think it’s almost more important when you’re speaking about your spouse to someone else.
Your opinion of your spouse holds great value, and people listen to it. For example, if I am saying not-so-nice things about Kyle to my coworkers, there is weight to that opinion, and they (my coworkers) will trust it. It’s so important to speak life about your spouse, no matter how you may be “feeling” toward them that day.
It is equally important to cheer your spouse on in front of them. There is just something so meaningful about hearing your wife or husband say something encouraging or kind about you, in front of you (or of course, to you)!
Lastly, we so easily become what people say about us. Meaning, if I tell Kyle he is a great leader – he will eventually believe and become it. Just as much as if I tell him he is lazy, he will eventually accept that as fact about himself. (This applies to how we speak about and to our kids, too!)
2. GIVE THE OTHER WHAT THEY NEED THE MOST, WHEN THEY DESERVE IT THE LEAST, AT GREAT PERSONAL COST.
This one is all Kyle. Prior to our wedding, he listened to a teaching by Chip Ingram on marriage, and this is something he has carried (and led by example) in our marriage ever since.
What this means is that, when I am being irrational, he chooses to love and encourage me instead of brushing me off or speaking unkindly to me. When I am speaking out of turn, instead of snapping at me (or meeting me where I am at) he chooses to gently re-direct me. This is a cornerstone in how to approach marriage. It’s a reminder of how to treat one another, and how Jesus calls us to act toward one another.
3. CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
This doesn’t mean a physically safe environment – we mean an emotionally safe one. Feeling secure and safe in a relationship has such an impact on a marriage. We are human, meaning we will make mistakes. We will break expensive wine glasses by accident, back into parking signs and spill hot coffee all over a brand new book.
How we respond to those mistakes, no matter how big or little, influences how safe we feel with one another. Having a safe and secure environment enables one another to be fully vulnerable, and fully ourselves.
4. LAUGH – AT YOURSELF AND EACH OTHER
Ok we are saying this about every one on this list… but this is so important! And much easier if you can nail #1 – #3. Laughter is so SO good for the soul, and for your marriage.
When we were first married, I would take everything so seriously. I wanted things to be *perfect*, everything to be exactly like all the romantic comedies I had watched. But that is not reality, and though I still have a ways to go with my (unfair and unrealistic) expectations, I have learned that the perfectly imperfect moments are my absolute favorite. That’s where the true joy of real, vulnerable, totally honest love is found. In the moments of laughing so much you cry. When your stomach is cramping and you’re concerned you are going to pee your pants (or already have – TMI?). That is what marriage is all about, and why it is so, so good.
5. BALANCE FACE-TO-FACE & SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER TIME
As a part of our pre-marriage preparation through our church, we completed the Love and Respect curriculum. This has been a fundamental principle in our marriage and is one of the most widely taught principles from that curriculum.
Basically, it’s all about the importance of finding a balance between time spent sitting across the table from one another and going on walks or doing activities together.
Typically, we ladies connect the best sitting across a table having a conversation. Whereas our husbands (typically) connect best doing things alongside of one another – going on walks, golfing, biking, working out, etc.
Finding the right balance of these two always keeps us the most connected, and happy!
Now, more on where we are celebrating this anniversary.
We live in the suburbs of the Twin cities, and wanted to get away for a night without having to drive too far. With the SuperBowl being hosted here next weekend, we knew we wanted to stay out of the cities to avoid the chaos. A few friends recommended La Crosse, WI. I spent some of my childhood living in Winona, so I have to admit, I was not sold on the idea!
But after spending some time here, my opinion has totally changed! I can’t say enough about how much I recommend a night or two away for a couple in La Crosse, staying here at The Charmant Hotel.
Every inch of the place is a design dream… and the service matches it.
WHERE TO EAT IN LA CROSSE:
- Breakfast at The Uptowne (the beignets will change your life)
- Happy hour at Lovechild (the made-fresh-daily ciabatta bread is amazing)
- Dinner at The Waterfront (they are known for their steak and seafood – we had both and they were fantastic)
THINGS TO DO IN LA CROSSE:
- Grandad Bluff is a gorgeous view
- Walk along the river at Riverside park
- Turtle Stack Brewery (we didn’t make it here, but it’s on our list for next time)
5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY GIFT IDEA:
One of my best friends started a business – Linden Rows – making these amazing craft beer flight stands from reclaimed wood. The five year anniversary gift is wood, so this is perfect! Kyle is so excited to use it.
What advice do you have that you have learned in your marriage? Are there any other great spots in La Crosse I missed? I would love to hear from you!