Friday, August 10, 2018

Six Lessons Learned in Six Years of Marriage

Tomorrow Corey and I will celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. It is hard to believe that we have been married that long while at the same time it seems a life time ago that I was a twenty-three year old resigning my very first job to pack up my life and move up north with my brand new fiancé to plan our wedding.

Its been quite the ride so far and we've experienced a lot together from lots of fun vacations, new jobs, enduring a few awful jobs, several moves, building a home, selling it to buy another one, the loss of a parent, expecting our first baby and raising her into a real little person, me leaving my full time job, and now expecting another little one. We've definitely seen our fair share of changes...and challenges, too.

We were just babies when we got married and the first of most of our friends so we've definitely learned as we went. We definitely don't have it all figured out and are always adapting as we go but I do feel that we've learned a thing or two about marriage along the way.

Lesson 1: "For better and for worse" really does mean for better and for worse and there will be times when the worse comes before the better. There will be good times and there will be bad times without fail. The good times will be easy but how you handle the times that aren't easy will determine if your marriage will last. The hardest year of our marriage was the year that Corey's dad got sick and passed away. It was so emotional for him of course but then we added a pregnancy on top of that and our emotions were really running the gamete. Not to mention that a lot changed at my job that year that made it less of an ideal situation for me and created extra stress. Remembering that we signed up to take the good with the bad and that we really did want to stick it out to get to the other side is what kept us going.

Lesson 2: Knowing your partner's love language is critical as is making it a priority to show them you love them using their language, not just yours. Corey and I have totally different love languages. Mine is acts of service, especially at this stage of my life. There is pretty much nothing hotter to me right now than unloading the dishwasher or taking some other task off my plate. His love languages are words or affirmation and physical touch. Its so important that we both know that because otherwise Corey would just never think of folding a load of laundry as saying "I love you" without making a conscious effort. And for me, it doesn't really make a difference to me if someone tells me I did a good job on a task I have to do regardless so I have to remember that by reminding him how proud I am of him and acknowledging his efforts and successes I am really saying (and showing) I love and appreciate him.

Lesson 3: Most conflicts in marriage aren't about intimacy, money, kids, or chores but are about unmet expectations. Communicating your needs and expectations is one of the most important parts of marriage. This one kind of piggybacks on the last lesson because sometimes we set what we think are reasonable expectations for our spouse but if we don't tell them that we have these then it can create resentment. Whether its wanting to have sex a certain number of times a week, expecting them to step up and run bedtime so you can clean the kitchen, wanting them to prioritize contributing to savings over a frivolous purchase, or whatever it is that we want our spouse to do, I've found that if we don't tell them that we expect that then they simply won't know. Along those same lines are keeping our own expectations in check and making sure we aren't setting expectations that are unrealistic or unattainable, especially in this day of social media where everyone else's lives and marriages seem so much easier and more glamorous.

Lesson 4: Your roles within your marriage will change over time and it can be really hard. Sometimes you have to take turns being strong and sometimes you will have to take turns being successful. Remembering that you are a team and working towards the same goal is essential. This was hardest for me when I left my full-time job. Corey had a huge year at work and was one of the top three performers in his entire company. Of course I was very proud of him but for me this was hard because I have always excelled at work and no one presents you with any type of award, expense-paid trip, or monetary bonus for being an awesome stay-at-home-mom. But remembering that he couldn't travel for his job and wouldn't have had that success if I didn't come home from my job to take care of Madeline and our home is important. I still don't get a plaque with my name on it, but it takes both of us doing our own roles to make our family work in this current phase.

Lesson 5: Quality one-on-one time on the regular is a non-negotiable. Corey and I try to make sure we have date nights with just the two of us at least twice a month. Not just time where we pay a sitter so that we can go out with friends but time where it is just the two of us with no other distractions. We of course spend time together at home but its just not the same in terms of quality because there are too many distractions - laundry to be switched out, work emails chiming in, etc. Every quarter we take a long weekend away somewhere. They're not glamorous trips to exotic destinations - just two or three nights somewhere to just be with each other. It also really helps to make a concerted effort to put our phones away when we are eating together as a family or watching a movie so that our minds aren't on work or getting distracted by social media.

Lesson 6: Saying "I love you" and showing that it is true will not get old no matter how long you've been together. We always make sure to kiss goodnight and say "I love you" when we get off the phone. Even though at this point we've been married six years and together for nine so its well established that we are actually fond of each other! But, I really think it does the soul good to hear it from your partner and even something as small as saying "I love you" daily is a verbal reminder of your commitment and I'm a firm believer that marriage is a choice that we have to recommit to every single day. We all know it isn't easy but so very worth it!

Married ladies, what are your top tips for a successful marriage?

You can read other posts about marriage here or view our wedding recaps here.


  1. Amen to all of these lady. First of all, I cannot believe it has been 6 years. I feel like you just got married and Madeline was born yesterday. But knowing the other's love language is so darn important. I too am acts of service or small gifts. I just need to be shown. Jason on the other hand is like Corey. That is by far our biggest struggle. I think that quality time is also important. We go on dates, but I think we need to connect more and just be. Congrats happy anniversary.

  2. Happy Anniversary! Yes to the “unmet expectations” thing. Our former pastor always used to say that people are ALWAYS going to disappoint you and half the reason we’re upset is because people didn’t do what WE thought they should do (i.e. expectations). It’s so true!

  3. Happy anniversary!! This is such a great post. I was shaking my head in agreement on every single one of those. I feel so strongly about knowing your loved one's love language. Also, communication is key!

  4. Happy 6th Anniversary to you guys!! This post was ON POINT! I could not agree more. These were super valid lessons that I feel like we've experienced as well. I think you nailed it with the love language point. My husband and I are opposites too, and that was a journey to learn.
    I hope this year is even better! Happy celebrating!
    Kristen //

  5. These are spot-on! My husband and I have different love languages, too. It's really hard to remember to love him the way he understands, and vice versa, but it's something we've worked on over the past few years. Great post

  6. Wow Elizabeth - this is so incisive, well written and wise. You could write a book - seriously. You obviously have a very successful marriage and what you have written really resonated with me. Partnership, communication, patience and what you said about realistic expectations - all so true. Making time for each other I guess is often the hardest! With us it can been keeping loving and patient and kind when we are super tired - that takes practice and effort sometimes! Making time for love, for each other, remembering the small gestures. I guess marriage is an art - and you have it to a fine one! :) J xx

  7. Should say has been - I am really guilty of over enthusiastic fast and typo ridden typing that makes me appear illiterate haha!


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