Whether you are married, engaged, or dating – relationships can be hard. They take work, patience, grace, forgiveness, and they take LOADS of communication.
Most of the people we get to work with are engaged, which is such a special time in every relationship. It is the time where you’re planning the wedding, continually learning more about one another, and developing a deeper relationship as you prepare for marriage. It is so much fun for us to connect with these couples, hearing the details of their story and what attracted them to one another.
As we may have said before, we are HUGE advocates for marriage! The wedding is a lot of fun (and a very important step) but the marriage part is even more important. Our desire as wedding photographers is not only to deliver amazing images for your wedding day but to care, be a support system, and cheerleaders for you as you enter into this life-long marriage.
There are 3 quick things that we wanted to share with you today about marriage. Obviously, there is SO much more to marriage, but here are 3 tips to creating and maintaining a healthy marriage.
1. Never Stop Dating
This applies to engaged couples and to couples who have been married for any length of time. You need to keep dating! That is how you got to know one another, and your love began to grow. You need to set aside time to keep dating so you can keep growing together, learning more about each other, and falling deeper in love with one another.
Wedding planning can seem all-consuming while you are in the thick of it, but we always tell our couples to make sure to take time out to just date. Make a pact that there will be no wedding talk or anything of the sort, but the time is to just enjoy one another. This allows you to continue to connect and grow, which will just allow you to fall even more in love with each other as you continue to plan.
After you get married, don’t let the dating stop. It is far too easy to get busy with life, work, kids or house stuff that you can lose track of time and forget to make it a priority. If it helps, put it on the calendar to block off time. Set a weekly or bi-weekly date night (or more regularly, if you choose!) where you will shut off the other noise in your lives and spend time focusing on each other.
And when I say dating, that doesn’t necessarily mean going out for supper or even spending any money! Especially early on in marriage, frugal date nights can be key. When I say dating, I mean choosing to set intentional time to focus on your relationship. That could be going out for supper so no one has to cook, or maybe instead that means cooking supper together at home. Or maybe that means a walk over the lunch hour (when it isn’t -40). Or maybe that is an activity you enjoy together (frisbee golf, puzzles, games, events, etc). It could mean getting dressed up and having ‘elegant’ peanut butter sandwiches on the living room floor as you play cards by candlelight.
The activity itself is not what is important. The important part is creating space in your life to allow your relationship to continue to grow and mature.
Here are a few really great resources to draw on:
2. Understanding Each Other’s Love Languages
One great resource that we believed deserved its own point is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book was one of the books we read during our own pre-marital counseling and it has stayed a strong staple in our approach to our marriage. We believe in it enough that we choose to gift it to every one of our wedding clients.
The entire premise of the book is to understand your partners (and your own) love languages. Love languages are the ways that you tend to give and receive love. And if the title didn’t give it away, there are 5 of them:
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
Even if you haven’t read the book, I’d encourage you to do this short quiz (and have your spouse/partner do it too) to find out each of your love languages:
Both of the above actual fall under this point, of course, but the important thing is communication. Good communication will not guarantee a strong marriage, but without good communication a strong marriage is a lot more difficult to achieve.
It seems so simple, but talk and listen. Really listen. Some people are better at talking, while some are better at listening, but it is vitally important that both sides contribute to openly giving and receiving communication.
When you date, communicate. You can still laugh, relax, enjoy good food, hang out, but also choose to be intentional. Turning off your phones, TV or other outside distraction allows you to focus on one another. Choose to engage with one another on a deep and meaningful level.
Knowing each other’s love languages can be a huge help in communication. For example, if your partner’s love language is “Acts of Service”, but you are giving love using your own love language of “Words of Affirmation”. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t like hearing those loving & affirming things, but to show her love by doing the dishes yourself or by ordering a surprise meal on her day to cook could be much more meaningful.
When you are making financial decisions, communicate, communicate, communicate. Finances can be, and usually are, a major stress factor in marriage. But open and honest communication can bring so much peace in this area. Talk about your expenses, your budget, your wants, and your needs.
When you are angry, instead of avoiding, choose to communicate. When you are excited, share your excitement together and communicate it to your partner. When you are frustrated- communicate!! You both have amazing gifts and abilities, but mind-reading isn’t one of them! If you have a desire or a request, communicate it.
A phrase that we love is “get curious”. Instead of reacting back to something your partner may have said in frustration, get curious about the root of the reaction. Why do I feel this way? What happened in your day today that you feel so frustrated? Choose to ask each other the hard questions, or even silly questions. Set aside time to dig deep into the conversation, with the desire to understand each other better. Trust me, when you do this, you will fall more deeply in love with the person you began this journey with than you ever thought possible.
Be intentional, get curious and keep dating!
Cam & Courtney
Learn more about us: About Us