Third Anniversary – 7 Lessons

As of July 9th 2019, I have been a wife for three years.

Bridal portrait at The Sutherland

That’s not a long time in light of a lifetime, but it feels like a while to me. It also feels like a blink. So much has happened in those three years and honestly, it continues to get better.

I’m not saying we don’t argue or get on each other’s nerves because we definitely do. But we’re always learning more about ourselves and about each other. That knowledge helps us to grow in our marriage.

With each anniversary I like to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned (first anniversary lessons / second anniversary lessons). Just before I started putting this post together I looked back at the previous two years and it’s so interesting that there really isn’t much overlap. Each season brings new challenges and victories which means new lessons.

I believe we experience things in life to help propel us forward, but also to reach out and help others learn. Our marriage is the most beautiful, fun, and intentional gift I’ve ever received. We have grown as individuals and as a couple through the wisdom of others. I hope these lessons help you in whatever season you’re in ❤

Husband and Wife

#1: Do the little things.

Over the course of our marriage, it’s been the little things that mean so much. Like him putting away the clean dishes before he leaves for work. Or me leaving him an encouraging note on our dry erase board in the kitchen. Our lives are made up of thousands of little moments – it’s up to us to use those moments well.

We are busy and don’t have a ton of time together on the day to day. If we waited until the “big moments” to show how much we care, it wouldn’t happen too often. We’ve learned that being intentional with the little things (that don’t take much time or money) add up in huge ways.

#2: Support each other.

“Support” was the first word Eric said when we talking about lessons and what has worked over the last year. As I just mentioned, we’re busy. We’re striving to be successful in all the things with work being a big focus right now. I don’t think we’d be where we are today if we weren’t each other’s biggest cheerleaders.

We have very different personalities and while we don’t always understand what the other is doing, we support each other. We pray for one another, we ask how we can help, we listen to the stories of the long days and celebrate when the awesome things happen. We are in this together.

If you want go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

#3: Stay in your lane.

This one specifically applies to everyone, married or not. It can be so hard to look around and see people that are “farther along” than you. Especially when you thought you’d already be there now, but you’re not. It seems like we’re always rushing to the next thing. If you’re dating, “when are you getting married?” If you’re married, “when are you having kids?” We chose a different path of getting out of debt and waiting a few years before we think about having children. That’s what felt right for us.

Here’s a reminder that I hope you already know: your timing and path is as unique as you are. You have your own race to run and do not need to compare to anyone else. Look to others that are further down a similar path for inspiration and guidance. But then do you, boo.

#4: Practice (lots of communication) makes “perfect.”

I think things continue to get better because we just have more practice. More practice at communicating and loving one another.

Be real with what you need. At the beginning these open and honest conversations were hard. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I needed to address something. I wasn’t very good at calmly communicating my views and it would often feel like an attack which then lead to hurt. Over the years we’ve both gotten better at addressing any areas of improvement and listening. Three years down the marriage road we know each other and ourselves better. We’ve explored the 5 Love Languages and we’re starting to dig into the Enneagram. I think that’s going to take it to an even deeper level.

#5: Financial freedom is good for our marriage.

We knew getting on the same page with our finances and out of debt would be good for our bank account, but underestimated how much it would impact our marriage. We have been working Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps with “gazelle intensity” since we got married and WOW! We got out of debt in November 2017 and are currently on step 3b (saving the down payment for our brand new home)!

Money fights and money problems are one of the biggest reasons for divorce and we knew we wanted to do everything we could to keep that type of stress out of our lives and marriage. Following a budget together and having open communication about our finances means minimal money issues. We both feel at peace and excited about our future! Being in this position opens us up to help and serve in ways we wouldn’t have been able to a few years ago. It’s taken a lot of hard work and intention – I’m so grateful.

Bride & Groom dancing

#6: Give each other space to be.

By now we’ve picked up on each other’s quirks. I must admit that at the beginning I used to try to change him. Nothing major, but I would strongly encourage him to do things the way I do. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well. He has strengths that I don’t have and he complements me well.

The key is that I have to let him be himself. And vice versa. The Enneagram is helping us understand each other by giving insight into why we do the things we do. When we give each other the space to truly be ourselves that lets us blossom into an even better version. It also allows us to appreciate the things that make us different. I’m applying this to relationships with friends and family as well – the feeling of being fully seen and loved is incredible.

#7: Have fun together.

We are in love. But by year three the newness has pretty much worn off and life is in full swing. The chores and bills never stop and we’re tired after full days. It’s easy to get into a rut, but one thing we’ve always made priority is date night. We’re blessed to be able to have a date at least once weekly, but there have been seasons where that wasn’t the case. We did the best we could with what we had – that’s especially where lesson #1 came into play.

It’s so important to have fun together. Laughter and enjoying each other’s company can turn anything around. If you haven’t already, find things you enjoy doing together and do them! We love going out to eat, traveling, watching Netflix (Stranger Things 3 is the current fave, duh), taking family walks, doing puzzles. We laugh and unplug – we feel more connected.

I’ve said this a million times, but I cannot believe it’s been three years! I believe this year is going to be our best yet! Thank you for being on this journey with us. We’re just getting started!

What have you learned in your marriage!? I’d love to read your wisdom!

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