This year I celebrated my third wedding anniversary. It feels like it’s been a lot longer than three years (in a good way), but I think a lot of that is because this last year in lockdown has felt like 5 years on its own!
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I don’t talk about marriage a ton on my blog and YouTube channel, mostly because I have only been married for three years, and because there are so many people with so much more wisdom to share on the topic. Some of my favourite people who do talk more about marriage, which I recommend you check out include:
- Girl Defined (and their books: Girl Defined, Love Defined, and Sex, Purity & the Longings of a Girl’s Heart – I haven’t read yet but they sound great)
- Milena Ciciotti
- Phylicia Masonheimer
- Jenny Ashbay at Unexpected Blessings
- Sheila Gregoire (find her book here)
- Nicky & Sila Lee (find their book here)
But, what I can talk about it my own experience of marriage and the things I have learnt from these first 3 years of marriage. I wrote a similar blog post two years ago, looking I what I learnt in the first year of marriage, and you can check out that blog post here.
So, here we are two years later. What else have I learnt in these first three years?
If you’d like to find this information in a video format, check out my YouTube video on this topic here:
Preparing well for marriage makes a difference
In society, we talk a loooooot about weddings. The wedding day: when, where, what dress, what food, who’s coming, music, dancing, gifts, decorations. There is a whole lot of planning and preparing that goes into organising a wedding, and it’s a wonderful occasion – I loved my wedding and had so much fun with so many fabulous people.
However, we don’t always put that same amount of time and effort into preparing for the rest of the marriage. You know, that bit after the wedding day. But there is so much we can do to prepare ourselves for marriage – I have a whole blog post on this topic here, but one of the most helpful things we did was to work through the Marriage Preparation Course with an older couple from church. This gave us so much opportunity to talk through all of the things, from family to expectations, to boundaries, love languages and more. And this has made such a difference to these early years of our marriage – it really instilled how important communication is, gave us some good habits from the get-go and I do think it has helped us to avoid lots of arguments and misunderstandings.
Saving sex for marriage was the best decision
Again, I do have a whole blog post talking about why saving sex for marriage was a great idea which you can read here. Did I say that I don’t talk about marriage much?? But saving sex for marriage is something I am very passionate about talking about, because it was hearing a Christian couple talking about how and why they made this decision that made me decide that this is what I wanted to do too. Plus, the last three years has made it even more clear that this was the best decision I possibly could have made.
Firstly, the Bible tells us that God created sex for marriage. God designed sex for within marriage – this is his design for the world and it is the best design.
On a more worldly note, saving sex for marriage is also really helpful if you have any problems when it comes to sex. And problems are so much more common than media would have you believe, many people experience pain, bleeding and other symptoms. Being in a committed marriage when first facing these problems is going to make such a difference in the way you can tackle them: together rather than alone, and hopefully more confidently.
Talking about sex before marriage (setting your boundaries, discussing your theological understanding of sex and marriage etc.) also helps to take a lot of the “cringe” out of talking about sex which means that when you are then having sex, you can continue talking about it much more confidently – which can help you to have a more fulfilling sex-life, as well as helping you to be able to talk about any problems you might face, both with your spouse, and with a doctor if needed.
Some friendships change, some don’t
Before I got married, I remember being told that getting married would affect (ruin?) my friendships with my friends who weren’t married. That everything would change so much that those friendships just wouldn’t be the same anymore. But what I’ve learnt over the last three years is that yes, your friendships may change if you let them, but there are plenty of things that you can do to be intentional about your friendships.
Friendships will change if you don’t invest time into them, if you don’t intentionally make plans to see each other, if you don’t make them feel welcome in your home with your spouse, if you make them feel like they’ve been replaced.
Don’t speak negatively about your spouse
One thing that I have noticed in the last three years is that people do not want to believe you when you say that your marriage is going well. It’s weird. Even the week after our wedding, when people asked how married life was going, they couldn’t seem to accept “good, thanks” as an appropriate answer.
People always expect you to have something negative to say about your spouse, but this is so unhelpful. As Christians, I think our marriages should stand against this. What if we didn’t join in, and we refused to speak negatively about our spouse to others? Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think that you should have people in your life with whom you can honestly and openly discuss any problems you’re facing in your marriage. But these should be specific people, chosen because you know that they will give you good, Godly advice that builds your marriage up. Not just anybody.
I think this is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it helps to frame your own perspective on your marriage. If you spend your time talking about all of these problems you have with your spouse, those are going to be the things you focus upon. You’ll only notice them. If you refocus your attention upon the good things about your spouse, only talking about those things, you will notice them more. Secondly, by talking positively (and honestly) about your spouse in public, you will give the younger generations around you a much better and much healthier understanding of what a good marriage looks like.
Don’t let the sun go down on an argument
I used to hate this advice. “Never go to sleep angry”, but what if I want to sleep off my frustrations? But I have learnt that this advice is helpful. Taking the time to address your disagreements, the things that are annoying you, your stresses, before you go to sleep at night, is so much better than letting things build up and breeding resentment.
This doesn’t mean that you need to have completely solved all of your problems by the end of one day, but you should aim to reach a point where you are no longer angry or frustrated or upset or holding onto any other emotions. That way, you won’t go to sleep obsessing over these problems, and will get a much better sleep!
Love Languages are really helpful
If you haven’t heard of the 5 love languages yet, where have you been? I joke, but they are such a helpful tool. You can find some more information about love languages here, or check out this book here. But love languages have really helped me to understand better what it is that makes me feel loved, rather than assuming that I should want the same things as other people, or that other people might like the same things as me.
And I think this tool is particularly useful within marriage. It gives you a framework within which to think, how can I make my spouse feel loved today? If their love language is words of affirmation, how can I encourage them with words? If it is acts of service, what could you do to serve them? It’s also a good idea to ask, “what could I do today to make you feel loved?” and see what you spouse says (and then, ideally, do that thing).
Embrace “what’s mine is yours”
In the wedding ceremony, when we exchange rings, we talk about becoming one, about being united, and sharing everything about ourselves with the other in marriage. This is often quite evident when it comes to tangible things: you share a house, maybe you merge your bank accounts, your furniture becomes “ours” rather than “mine”.
But we should also embrace this sentiment in all parts of our marriage, both the good and the bad. When one of us is going through something difficult, or facing a challenging situation, that is something that we should be tackling together, as one team. Likewise, when one of us has something to celebrate, we both celebrate together.
This also really helps when it comes to arguments, it helps us to reframe problems from me vs. you, to us needing to fix a problem together, because we’re on the same team.
So, if you’re married – how long have you been married for, and what would your number one piece of advice be? If you’re not married, what questions would you want to ask someone who is married? Let me know down in the comments!