1. FORGIVE QUICKLY
When Trent and I first started dating we would fight every so often and I would get SO angry. I would get mad and refuse to speak to him for a solid day until I had "worked through it." I remember Trent saying "that's not okay." I'm not sure where I learned to ignore someone until I had time to cool off and I felt like we could talk again because I had thought through everything and I was ready to forgive. Do you see all the I 's here? I was selfish. I wanted to control when we could speak. I was not willing to accommodate to when Trent was ready to talk through things.
Through the course of several years of dating I worked hard on that. I did NOT want to be angry. I wanted to learn to forgive in the very moment of that argument, much like Trent forgave me. We started to communicate in the heat of the moment and calmly talk through things. I learned from Trent how to not automatically put blame on someone else, but look to yourself FIRST for wrongdoing. We aren't perfect at it, but we have yet to have a yelling argument. I am so thankful to God for using Trent and changing that selfish part of me. Our marriage is so much more joyful when we don't waste time being upset with each other.
I know this "forgive in the moment" strategy may not be the best for everyone, but I would really challenge you to look at how God views us. Does He wait a day to consider things? It's important to remember that God forgives without hesitation.
2. HAVE LOTS OF SEX
Precursor: This advise is not for boyfriend/girlfriends, engaged couples or couples living together. This is ONLY advice for couples who have made the lifelong commitment of marriage.
Sex isn't just a recreational activity for bored married couples, it is an absolute necessity in a healthy relationship. Sex provides an intimacy that is irreplaceable. For married men, sex is arguably just as important as meaningful conversation is for women.
A husband telling his wife he doesn't feel like talking to her for days at a time is hurtful. A wife telling her husband she doesn't want to have sex for days on days is fairly comparable. If you don't believe me ask ANY married man if that's true, or read "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn. It's not just giving in to whatever your husband wants on everything, it's understanding that men and women's minds work very, very differently and therefore should be catered to very, very differently. I don't think I would have recognized the importance of sex if I hadn't read so many marriage books and talked to plenty of wise married women. I am thankful I was given this advice NOW and not LATER when we have developed unhealthy routines that leave sex out.
If you take one thought away from this point, remember this: sex within marriage is ESSENTIAL.
3. STOP CONTROLLING
This is difficult for me. I catch myself (and Trent catches me too...haha) doing things to control the situation. Even small things, like how to drive (seriously, I am the worst back seat driver in the entire world. I admit to it.) But in a general sense, one thing I have learned: TELLING YOUR HUSBAND TO DO SOMETHING IS NOT THE SAME AS HIM DOING IT OUT OF FREE WILL. Your job in marriage is not to control his actions.
I have yet to meet a woman who is treated like a princess because she demands it. If you want to be treasured, be treasure. Be someone who is easy to love. Someone has to start the cycle to love and respect and it might as well be you.
4. REMEMBER THAT LOVE IS NOT CIRCUMSTANTIAL
When you took an oath to be with your spouse in better or worse, you committed to loving them at their best and loving them at their worst.
There are times when I hate Trent's actions. There are times when he hurts my feelings and my thought is never to love but to make him feel how I feel -hurt. These are times God has reminded me that love is not circumstantial. Regardless of what Trent does, I will love him. I will chose to forgive, and forgive without hesitation (see point 1). I will communicate my feelings without tearing him down.
This is definitely a work in progress for me. I want to chose to love and forgive despite what Trent's actions are because that is what God does for me. God sent his son, Jesus, to earth so that he could live a perfect life and die in my place. And he did the same for you. I believe this truth and my life is forever seen as clean. I will forever be forgiven by God. I am not determined by my mistakes. And I should give my husband that same grace. Not expectations that I could never live up to myself. (Psst listen to THIS SONG by tenth avenue north...and ignore the slightly cheesy music video).
5. BE INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR TIME TOGETHER
Trent and I are SO guilty of sitting right next to each other, completely unengaged. I'm over there on one end of the couch Pinterest pinning like it's my freaking job while Trent watches Walking Dead on Netflix. I think time apart doing our own activities is important, we just haven't mastered the art of real quality time to balance that. We go and do things in Topeka frequently, but rarely invest 100% attention to each other. Communication is vital in maintaining emotional intimacy, and for us, planning ahead works best.
Trent and I have started "no phone" dates where we stay off of our phones completely during dinner and sometimes for a large portion of our night. It's stupid to say that's challenging, but I know we aren't alone. Our generation loves our smart phones! I would be so interested to hear how you and your spouse do quality time together!
Thank you guys for reading all of that! I want to be clear when I say that we by NO means have this all figured out. We are young and have so much to learn, but we have made a commitment to continue to grow together. I am thankful to have a partner in life to learn with!
Love you guys!
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