Marriage is hard AF.
Yes, I said it. Hard AF. For those who don’t know what “AF” means, this post isn’t for you.
Marriage is work. It’s relentless. It’s giving it one more try when every ounce of you wants to quit. It’s tears, arguments, silent treatments, pettiness. It’s also love, intimacy, freedom, laughter and bliss.
In the media, we either see one of two extremes: 1) The princess fairy tale love story, or 2) the “get me the hell out of here, and quick” divorce story.
Rarely do we see portrayals of the in-between. You know, the real-life marriages.
Based on my personal experience, and the observations of marriages around me, marriage is a combination of joy and pain, sunshine and rain (cue Maze).
Today, I want to focus on the work it takes to keep a marriage afloat. Looking back on our first year of marriage, there have been PLENTY of times where I wanted to call it quits. Yes, quits.
Plenty of times where we didn’t speak to each other for hours, or even days. Plenty of times where I’ve cried my eyes out, wondering how we could ever make it.
There have also been plenty of days where I couldn’t have felt happier with my decision to say “I Do” to the love of my life. Plenty of days where we were so content with each other’s company, that we didn’t even entertain the outside world. Plenty of times where our connection couldn’t have been any more deep, any more intimate, any more pure. Plenty of times where we thanked God for each other, and for the wondrous relationship we’ve been given.
The point is, marriage is a mixture of both good times and bad times. For those who are engaged, or soon to be engaged, please realize….no matter HOW long you’ve dated your partner, marriage will be a whole new ball game. Before we tied the knot, people would tell us that, and we were like “Oh, ok. Yeah mm hmm.” Having dated for 7 years, we were confident that marriage would not drastically differ from our dating life. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
The issues that you have before you get married are most likely gonna be the same issues that you have while you are married, but amplified x 10. No need to fret, however. Here are a few things you can do to ensure the smoothest transition to Mr. and Mrs. status:
ENROLL IN A DETAILED, CHALLENGING, AND DOWN TO EARTH marriage prep program. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you have spent more time and energy thinking about the flowers at your wedding than you have your marriage prep courses, think again. It is critical to seek out pre-marital counseling before tying the knot. And more than a few sessions. I highly recommend going to an intensive program, ideally one that offers face time with other couples. The investment in your time (and perhaps money) is certainly worth it. This is the single biggest piece of advice I would offer ANY engaged couple.
Learn how to pray together. Now. Immediately. Right now. Pronto. As in, put the phone down, find your partner, and map out your prayer life. This is an area we still struggle in, and I wholeheartedly believe that if we were better prayer partners, we would argue less. Find a way to regularly, consistently, and sincerely integrate God into your relationship. No excuses. Figure it out now. There will be days when you do not want to deal with your relationship w/ Bae. The only thing that will pull you through sometimes is a relationship with God. Praying to a neutral party, and recalling the COVENANT that YOU made with GOD to love, honor, and respect your partner.
Recognize that the first year of marriage is tough. This is an age-old adage. One that I didn’t realize was so true until we were actually married. We started off rough, then were great, then were rough, then were great. The first year of marriage is hard AF!!!! You expect things to be peachy keen, and then you fight, and fight, and fight. And then wonder if you made the right decision. Balancing fairytale expectations with reality is tough. Figuring out each other is tough. Getting out of old habits is tough. Being patient with each other is tough. Forgiving “one more time” is tough.
But honestly, I wouldn’t have it with any other person. One thing that keeps us going is my husband’s bird’s eye view. He ALWAYS reminds me (and himself), that we will be ok. That we will make it through. That with support, communication, counseling, and GOD, we will figure it out. My tendency is to want to walk away when things seem unbearable, and when the relationship is just too stressful. We both have enough going on individually, so some days the drama of a relationship can feel like too much.
What has worked for us:
Having our own lives outside of each other. A full article to follow on this topic. The long and short is….if you’re hugged up on your boo all the time, and spend all of your time around each other (even if it’s with other friends as well), you’re in trouble. Have your own life. Just as you did before you were married. Bryan has days with his guys. I have days with my girls. Solo adventures. Just have your own identity. This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people have no life outside of their family. Not good.
Writing. We’re both great writers. Sometimes, it’s easier for us to write down our feelings versus verbalizing them.
Forgive each other...over and over again…..while at the same time communicating your hurt with your partner.
Find a couples counselor, one who challenges you, hears you, and most importantly, one who supports your union. An objective third party is always helpful.
Link up with other (healthy) couples. Seeing others glowing and committed to their relationships can be medicine for the (relationship) soul. Every Monday evening, for a few months, we did a Skype call with one of our favorite couples, reading and discussing a marriage book. The accountability we got from them helped. And seeing them boo’d up reminded us of the beauty we had in our own relationship. We were also able to learn a lot from each other’s stories and challenges.
Marriage is hard AF. But not impossible. Probably one of the greatest returns on investment out there, if you really try to make it work. Even when walking away is the most tempting thing in the world, try to hold on a little longer. Prayerfully, one of you will come around and steer the relationship back on track.
We are here as a resource for anyone who needs it! If you’re reading this and are struggling in your marriage, you’re not the only one! Linking with other couples can be helpful. We got your back!
Until next time...