When I was a young girl, bombarded by Disney princesses, I dreamed of the day my prince would come whisk me from a hard and destitute life to one of ease and pleasure, complete with an ever pouring fountain of love. “Happily Ever After” is the end result of the princess films, riding off into the sunset while with a white and golden carriage sent off with happy cheers and wedding bells.
My husband and I have just arrived at our 5th wedding anniversary. Our wedding day was not our “Happily Ever After”. That is not to say we didn’t enjoy our wedding, in fact, we loved it. The anticipation of being married, going to the temple together, being surrounded by family and friends, and a great party after made for a wonderful and beautiful day. However, that was not the end of the story. Instead of it being the end of the fairy-tale, our wedding day became our “Once upon a time…” a journey of hardships, happiness, and growth.
Our “Happily Ever After” is yet to come. We are working on it every day, sometimes failing miserably and trying again, but always trying.
Having been married for 5 years I have learned quite a few things. In comparison to many other people, I have very little to offer in the way of advice, so I do not anticipate to tell you how to run your relationships. Instead, I have compiled a list of 5 tidbits that I would give myself as a newlywed. 5 ways to arrive at our “Happily Ever After”. Perhaps you can glean a few things from this. Maybe you will agree with some and disagree with others. After 5 years this is the advice I would give to freshly married Mr. and Mrs. Anderson.
First off I would like to say that marriage is hard, but it is also worth it. Oh so worth it.
5 Marriage Tidbits:
Husbands and Wives are on the same team
The other day when we were playing at the lake with family and friends, two little boys began arguing and fighting out in the water. They each drew out their imaginary swords made of beach toys and proceeded to jab and whack their opponent’s sword. In an effort to extinguish the fight, one of the mothers shouted to her son, “You’re on the same team! Stop fighting, you’re on the same team!” This phrase stuck with me as I began contemplating relationships, especially the marriage relationship. Often when we get upset or angry our first reactions lead to pulling out our imaginary swords to jab our opponent out of anger. We often forget that we are on the same team, injuring them won’t get us ahead.
Communication; work at it
As I type this I find it hard to really give any concrete advice. All I can say is work at communication. Being a newlywed there are many hurdles to jump, work at it and it will improve. Talk and talk to make sure you are understood, but most importantly, listen. As life progresses and brings children, milestones, or whatever else there will be challenges and communication needs that will constantly be changing. Work at it: never quit working at it.
Make time for each other
I think this is one of the most important tidbits I have to share, and also the one that is the hardest. Life gets crazy; late work hours, toddler temper tantrums, household duties, church responsibilities, paying bills, ext. ext. ext. These things all get in the way, and often cannot be avoided. Dates. Dates are so important. Getting away from everything and just being together can do wonders. You actually remember that you like each other! Different seasons of life are better for going on dates than others but make an effort to go: even if it’s only twice a year. If you can’t get out together, have dates at home. Have a set time every day when you put everything else away and just talk. Sometimes it hard to fit in, but making the effort makes a huge difference.
Share the load
It’s important to give all that you have to your marriage, to make it your top priority. Many people associate this with percentages, and I’ve often heard that I should “always give 100% to [my] marriage.” What I have come to realize is that sometimes everything I have is not quite 100%; occasionally I have to take a little more than I can give. On the flip side, sometimes I have to give 110% to balance the scale when my husband has less to offer, and that’s OK. Give and take when you need. Whether it be stress, illness (physical or mental), or a busy schedule, sometimes the other ‘team-mate’ has to pick up the slack. Allowing the other to regain strength, regroup, and get back to their normal 100% self.
It’s Ok to go to bed angry
A lot of the marriage advice we got when we were first married was “Never go to bed angry!” Even though this sounds reasonable, I have come to a different opinion. It’s Ok to go to bed angry. Perhaps this fits into the advice earlier, but I honestly think communication sucks late at night when exhaustion and anger overrule everything. Sometimes a good night sleep and some time away from the issue can make a huge difference. Rested bodies and minds can think clearer and reason better, creating a more relaxed environment for GOOD communication and problem solving. Going to bed angry is not always the answer, but sometimes it’s OK.
Although our marriage isn’t exactly what I imagined as a little girl obsessed with fairy-tales, it has been an incredible ride so far. As we have practiced, failed, tried again, and kept on going, our marriage has been strengthened. There is still so much to come, and so much to learn. I wish we could fast forward another 5 years and get some new tidbits to help us through, but our past experiences will have to suffice. 5 years down, forever to go!