At the end of 2013, I decided to revive the Marriage Monday series here on the blog. As many of you know I am passionate about healthy and thriving marriages and wanted to combine my desire to see couples growing with my passion for photography. Any surprise I'm a wedding photographer? I'm in the business of marriage so to speak! There is so much out there about marriage, ranging from great advice to horror stories, a mix bag of words. It can be hard to find clarity when thinking about and preparing for marriage.
While this blog is not meant to be the final word on the subject, I did hope that I could use this platform to help encourage and inspire couples with inspiration and stories on marriage. Hence the series was revived and I'm excited for what this next year holds!
For this month's Marriage Monday I reached out to several friends who have been married a varying number of years. From a newlywed to a seasoned married woman, I asked each person to share the best piece of advice they have been given or have learned over their years of marriage. We're all a work in progress, but I felt that there was real wisdom shared here and I hope that their words can give you encouragement no matter what stage you're at in your marriage or engagement.
Marriage, no, RELATIONSHIPS, are hard work. But as you can see from the responses below, it is a relationship that is certainly worth our time and our effort. There is joy in the journey of walking hand in hand together through life's ups and downs. Read on to see what they had to say!
Kendra, married 4 years
Wife to Matt
Mama to Evelyn
"A successful marriage is a continuous one, and most married folks figure this out pretty quickly. A thriving marriage takes much more effort, and this is where the work takes place. I love to work. It gives me purpose and makes me feel satisfied when I know others are benefited from my efforts. When Matt and I first got married we were a little intimidated by other people who told us that marriage was a lot of work. The truth is, it *is* a lot of work, but that's not a bad thing. Working on our marriage means not taking one another for granted. It means listening the other person when we don't feel like listening. It means holding hands when we walk on the sidewalk. It means saying no to a social obligation from time to time so we can cook dinner together and talk about our future over a glass of wine. It means throwing up the towel on our daily plans when our daughter needs both of us at any given moment. Working on our marriage takes time, patience and a lot of really worthwhile work."
Grace, married 11 years
Wife to John
Mama to Isabella and Mark
"One of the images that has stuck with us most is about conflict. When a dilemma comes up, it's not 'me vs. you,' fighting about the budget or a miscommunication, it's 'us vs. the problem.' We're together, on the same team, and the problem is out there. Sometimes it even helps to physically sit on the same side of the table (eye contact can be a little intense when you're mad!), and say the cheesy-but-true words, 'I'm on your side. We're a team, and we can figure this out together.'"
Alicia, married 9 months
Wife to Adam
"Give 110% of yourself, unconditionally, every morning of every day of every week of every month (we haven't made it to the years yet!). Even when you might feel like giving up or don't feel like your spouse deserves it, give and serve 110%. It makes the world of a difference!"
Danielle, married 7 1/2 years
Wife to Chris
Mama to Caleb
"The best advice my husband and I ever received came from my Mom. She had a challenging life with many surgeries and medical procedures and passed away suddenly in March 2009. On our wedding day, she told us no matter your circumstances, always work together, and work hard for one another. Through all of our ups and downs, I always draw strength for her simple truth: marriage is so worth the hard work."
Katelyn, married 3 years
Wife to Michael
Mama to Bokeh;)
"My best piece of advice for newlywed couples would be to stop comparing your marriage to everyone else's relationship! Your marriage is never going to look like your best friend's marriage or your sister's marriage. It's yours and it's unique. Expectation management is key to a great marriage!! I learned this the hard way. I would advise all newlyweds to talk about what they expect from one another.. especially the first year! Our first year of marriage I realized that my expectations about our new life together were really different from Michael's. Life became a lot more enjoyable once we learned how to talk about our expectations and manage them in a healthy way!"
Sue, married 35 years
Wife to Pete
Mama to Three, Grandma to 5
Administrator for a UK Charity
"When setting out on married life it's the big things we think about. Where will we live, might we go abroad? Will we have children, how many, boys or girls? Can we afford to buy a home? 35 years on and looking back it seems to me it's the 'small' things that have built our marriage. Honesty in the little things; kindness through difficulty; smiles, hugs and cups of tea; being the first to say 'sorry' and the last to criticize. When we said 'I do' to each other, we had no idea what those 'do's' would involve or cost. But, looking back over the past 35 years the things that 'cost' me the most have paid the best of dividends!"
Debbie, married 7 (almost 8!) years
Wife to Dave
Mama to Jonathan
"I'm not sure if it is advice but one of the greatest things that has helped our marriage thrive over the years has been laughter. My mom would attest that she can make me laugh, even when I'm raging mad. She must have taught this trick to Dave because he has this uncanny way of making me burst out laughing, even if I don't want to be. Laughter is what has kept our friendship alive and has given us great joy, through the good times and the bad. We enjoy each other. We delight in each other. And while our relationship is not perfect; we still annoy, hurt and frustrate each other, laughter has been the medicine to bring us back together when we drift off course. Life is too short to take so seriously. I pray that our marriage brings us many smiles (and belly laughs) for the rest of our lives."In marriage related news, our church will be hosting a one day marriage retreat. I wish we could go! Get more info here.