Wow. That’s all I can say when I think that tomorrow, January 20, my husband and I will be celebrating our first anniversary. Oh how time flies indeed! I shouldn’t be surprised. But it’s always surprising when time sneaks up on me just like that.
2017 was a year of ups and downs for my husband and I. We started the year off with our amazing wedding followed by a wonderful honeymoon in Jamaica. We then faced some challenges mid-year for a few months but ended it on a high note with the purchase of our new home.
As a couple, trying to settle and become one, we’ve learned a lot about each other in the course of one year: our likes, dislikes, personal preferences, expectations, pet peeves, and so on. This is even after the fact that we’ve known each other and been friends for so many years. (Read our Engagement Story) The learning process involved offenses, arguments, fights, and conversations. We’ve had many super annoying and petty moments that blew up over really stupid things. Pretty normal, right? I guess so.
Both him and I have never been married before so there was a LOT to learn and we’re still learning. I personally have to grow up and mature. I can no longer pull off my little tantrums and get away with it. I actually have to act like an adult, be an adult, be present in our marriage, and make it work. I grew up in a broken home and while my mom was an excellent mother, I’ve never seen her as a wife so I didn’t know how to be one. But thank God for grace that He provides whenever I need it the most.
If you’re a bride-to-be, hope this will help you. While it’s great to have an amazing and magical wedding, I learned that we shouldn’t focus too much attention on an event that will only last a few hours. Marriage is a lifetime commitment with your spouse and before God. If you’re already married and struggling (or perhaps even happily married), hope these pointers will enlighten you somehow.
Put God first.
It’s cliché, yes. But nothing could be further from the truth. My husband and I are both involved in our church choir (that’s how we met actually) and serve in the choir leadership. But being involved in the ministry or being active in your church doesn’t necessarily mean putting God first. I have heard stories of couples who were heavily involved in their church and later divorced. Putting God first is actually acknowledging God as the center of your marriage and acknowledging Him in every decision that you make. I must admit that we still tend to act as humans often and act on our own sometimes. But I know that our marriage is where it’s at right now because we thank God everyday for it and acknowledge that He is in it.
Everyday, my husband and I strive to take the time to pray together in the morning. My husband has a corporate job so he goes to work Monday to Friday and leaves early in the morning. He’s normally in a rush to get out of the house because of the traffic so we just pray over the phone while he’s driving. It’s a wonderful way to start the day with a prayer with your spouse. I know my husband ALWAYS begins his prayer by thanking God for our marriage and it blesses my heart to hear that. It just makes me feel that he’s grateful to be in this marriage and is in it for the long haul. Prayer makes a huge difference in the atmosphere at your home.
Think of your marriage as a garden.
A pastor friend of mine once said, “Marriage is work. You have to show up everyday.” And it sure is. You can’t expect your marriage to work without putting work into it. You can’t expect your marriage to blossom without watering it. So think of your marriage as a garden. You have to water it with love, forgiveness, kindness, patience, laughters, quality time, sex, kisses, and lots of cuddles. Learn your spouse’s love language. If you’ve never read The 5 Love Languages, I highly recommend that you and your spouse read it as a couple. Learning to love your spouse in the way that he/she will perceive and receive as love is key. If your marriage is feeling dry, see where it’s lacking and water it in that area.
Communicate and communicate with love.
This is probably one of the hardest for me. I’m not a good speaker. I’m not a good communicator. I think a lot and I think to myself a lot. I’m an introvert and often times I find it hard to express to my husband what I’m feeling. If there’s something that I don’t like, I often times just keep it to myself until I blow up. So this is the part that I had to learn and still learning. But I learned that a lot of our fights could have been avoided if only I had said something. While communication is essential, what’s even more important is HOW you communicate. That’s the part that my husband had to learn and he’s still learning. HA! My husband is a very straightforward person.He just doesn’t sugarcoat. He will say things as it is and sometimes, as a woman, I don’t like that! *Rolls eyes* But you know what ladies and gents, you don’t have to sugarcoat and all and a lot of times, it’s not what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it. Learn to choose the right words. An effective communication often starts with a positive note or a compliment and then you can drive your point kindly. It will be received more effectively that way rather than say “You didn’t this, you didn’t do that, etc etc”. Those type of words make your spouse feel attacked and would only cause more harm than good. Always be kind in words. My husband and I have had our moments but the Bible says in Proverbs 15:1, ” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” and with that being said, I’m learning to communicate with love and kindness.
Don’t hesitate to admit when you’re wrong.
Learn to set your pride aside. This is tough a lot of times. I know I can be stubborn and just don’t want to admit that I’m wrong. I would normally wait for my husband to first apologize and then I would apologize. But I know that’s not right. So I have been learning to humble myself and say “I’m sorry” if I messed up and he’s doing the same.
It’s not all about you.
Ephesians 5:22-29 says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—”
In my culture, I was oriented that if someone of my race and culture is to marry a man of another race, that it should be the man to adjust to me and my culture and not me to him and his culture. However, this concept is totally wrong. Marriage is a union of TWO totally different people. There will be differences and adjustments needed to be made in order for the two to become one and in order for the marriage to work. Marriage is kind of like a “contract”. It’s a give and take relationship. If you’re getting into marriage and expecting your spouse to cater to you and your needs and you’re not giving back in return or not adjusting at all, then your marriage is bound to fail.
My husband and I are the opposites. He’s an extrovert and life of the party while I’m an introvert. I am not social at all but I know that my husband would want to go to some get togethers, go to the movies and have fun, so I’ve learned to adjust to that and he’s the same. He would ask me if I feel like going to a particular house party or get together or if I’d like to go to the movies, and if I don’t, it’s not a big deal to him. It’s a give and take.
Learn to overlook offenses and always focus on the good.
If you’d think of your marriage as a garden, there will be, for sure, some “pests” that will eat up and destroy whatever is blossoming in your garden. The Bible in Song of Solomon 2:15 talks about the little foxes that ruin the vineyards and this is true. Little annoyances here and there, if you’re not careful, can pile up. There are things that my husband does sometimes that irritate me and I’m sure I do things that irritate him as well but we’re learning to overlook offenses. It’s not always easy, especially if you’re the confrontational type (I’m not), but you’d have to learn this. I’ve learned to always focus on the good qualities of my husband rather than the little things that he does that I don’t like. In the grand scheme of things, I am grateful because I’ve been blessed with a husband who loves me, who is committed to our marriage, who takes care of me and provides for me.
Have a healthy self image.
I found that this is very important because if not, you’d be expecting your spouse to fill all of your needs and trust me, he or she will fail. If you have a healthy self-image, you’re secured and pretty confident and you wouldn’t need your spouse’s love to feel good about yourself. Don’t get me wrong – of course, we need our spouse’s love and affection. But having a healthy self image means that you don’t depend on it to be happy and fulfilled.
Although I had a healthy self-image in general, when I got married, I must admit that some of my insecurities got exposed and part of it was being raised in a broken home and a victim of domestic violence. Yup, there I said it but I won’t elaborate. When I learned to be secured about myself and know that God loves me and that I’ll be fine, that’s when I have learned to be a better wife to my husband.
Surround yourself with good friends as a couple.
My husband and I have been blessed to be surrounded with soooo many good friends. I know that our friends have prayed for us and we can always call on them for anything that we need. Be sure that you surround yourself with good friends. Don’t just let anybody in your circle. Don’t just let anybody in your marriage. Don’t confide your marital problems to just any friend. Be sure to have some good, trustworthy ones, who will uplift you as a couple and individually and who will pray for your marriage.
Have fun and have tons of laughter!
I’m grateful for my husband. I truly am. My husband is a jokester and has a great sense of humor. I’d be worried that he’s mad or sick if he didn’t pull a joke or a practical joke on me. He makes our home full of laughter. He likes to make it fun. We’re like kids sometimes – chasing each other around the house sometimes, running up and down the stairs. If you have a spouse who is like mine, be grateful! If you don’t, try to start the fun if you can!