Photo by Emily Takes Photos
Chris and I celebrated two years of marriage on October 26th. Two years! I can’t believe we’re officially not newlyweds anymore. It seems like just yesterday we were saying “I do” at San Francisco City Hall.
The reason it’s taken me over two weeks to crank out this post is because I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want/have to say about two short years of marriage. Should I recap what we did on our anniversary? Nah, I did that last year. Should I talk about how much I love Chris? Nah, I’ve done that before, too. (Many times!) So this year, I thought I’d share some good ol’ marriage advice– stuff I’ve learned about love and commitment in the last two years that can be applied to not only a new marriage, but any long-term serious relationship.
I’ve learned a lot about marriage in the last couple years, but I decided to stick with the top six pieces of advice I would give to anyone who is about to get hitched or any newlyweds who don’t have kids yet:
Make Date Night a Priority
You may or may not know this already, but I’m all about date nights. I’m a firm believer that date nights are an important part of any relationship because it gives the couple a chance to do something fun together, and more importantly, spend quality time together. Chris and I try to have a date night once a week; that may seem like a lot, but when you you’re married-without-kids, it’s easier to carve out time for just the two of you. You might also be thinking, “Doesn’t four dates a month get kind of expensive?” Well, we’re actually pretty good about keeping our date nights cheap. I get weekly emails from Groupon, and whenever I see a good deal for a local restaurant, I’ll buy it and save it for a date night. There have also been times when I’ve won a restaurant gift card in a contest or one of us gets a giftcard as a birthday/Christmas present. BOOM. Cheap date night.
*One more note on this whole date night thing: take turns planning the dates, or plan them together. It’s no fun to feel like you’re the only one in the marriage who’s always doing all the planning.
Go On Double Dates with Other Married Couples
Not only should you continue to date your spouse after you’re married, you two should make an effort to go on double dates with other married couples. This is important for many reasons: it’s healthy for you and your spouse to have mutual friends and hang out with other people rather than just the two of you all the time. Plus, hanging out with other married couples is fun. Chris and I have become friends with some other newlywed couples these last couple years and we love hanging out with them because we all have so much in common thanks to the fact we’re all in the same life stage: in our late 20’s/early 30’s, married-without-kids, and career-focused.
Be Together, But Also Apart
While it’s definitely important in a marriage to spend a lot of quality time together and have mutual friends, it’s equally important to remember that you’re still your own person, and even though your spouse is your best friend, you two don’t HAVE to do EVERYTHING together. As hard as it might be, remember that you once had a life before your spouse came into the picture, and keep living that life. Make time to meet your single girlfriends for brunch. Keep up with your girly hobbies, like yoga and blogging. Accomplish your goal of running a half marathon. Continuing to live your own life after you’re married will help you to maintain a certain independence that many people lose touch with after they tie the knot. Added bonus: doing this also gives you and your spouse more to talk about over dinner or on the phone.
Learn Your Spouse’s Primary Love Language and Speak It to Him/Her Fluently
A few months ago, a friend of mine (who recently got divorced) advised me to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. She had me convinced I needed to read it when she mentioned that she wished that she had read it before she got divorced and had even sent a copy to her ex-husband. So I read the book, and it really opened up my eyes on how Chris and I currently show love for each other vs how we should show love for each other. Now that we understand each other’s primary love language (mine is receiving gifts, his is physical touch), we are both working on speaking those languages to each other fluently.
Your Spouse > Your Smart Phone
This is a big one for us Millennials. We are a generation that can’t seem to put down our smart phones, but just because we’re addicted to our phones doesn’t mean our spouses should suffer. When you’re out to dinner with your husband, put your phone away and have dinner with your husband. When your wife is trying to talk to you about her day, put your phone down and listen to her. Be present, especially around your spouse.
Don’t Get Lazy
I think anyone who is married or has been in a long-term relationship can agree that after a while, you start to get comfortable– sometimes a little too comfortable. Ladies, maybe you stop dressing up for him and start resorting to yoga pants and messy buns 75% of the time. Maybe you stop initiating sex. Maybe you gain some weight. Guys, maybe you stop taking her out on dates. Maybe you don’t do anything special for her birthday. Maybe you resort to only buying her flowers on your anniversary and Valentine’s Day. All of the above is called, “getting lazy” in a marriage/relationship and I highly advise against it. If you’re married without kids, you have no excuse to be lazy. Keep pursuing each other. Keep romancing each other. Keep getting dressed up for one another, because once kids come along, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to look good for your spouse, plan date nights, and get it on.
What marriage or relationship advice would you add to this list?