1. Quality Time and Experience is More Valuable Than Gifts and Material Things.
Usually for our anniversary we go on vacation but with COVID we decided to keep it semi-local. We left Saturday morning, stopped at Cracker Barrel for some drive-up breakfast. When we arrived to the Poconos, we went straight to the spot to start our ATVing adventure. Afterwards we went to the hotel, watched the president elect Joseph Biden give his speech as well as our girl, the first woman Vice President Kamala Harris. We didn't spend any money on gifts, an expensive vacation or hotel; we truly wanted to cherish one another's company and that was enough for the both of us. Spending time connecting with your partner is something that money can't buy or replace.
2. Communicate with Transparency and Vulnerability
This is where so many people struggle. Usually false shame, and false guilt holds people back from being transparent and vulnerable. Honestly, if you struggle with this like I once did, it is often because of the fear of judgment, being rejected or abandoned by the other person. At the core, it is fear of thinking what you did or did not do, will result in you not being accepted or good enough. Newsflash, EVERYBODY has a PAST and EVERYBODY makes MISTAKES, EVERYBODY has FLAWS. A healthy relationship allows room for you to mess up and not be crucified for it. It is true, if they can't handle you at your worst from the past, then they don't deserve you now at your best.
Friendship is so critical in a relationship and of course in marriage but too often this important step is skipped in more relationships. Too often we go straight from being attractive to one another to a few dates or less than directly into a sexual and/or emotional relationship failing to put the time and energy in establishing a friendship.
4. Express and Manage Expectations
Misplaced and hidden expectations are the quickest route to disappointment. It is totally okay and encouraged to have expectations or should I say standards but you should not be the only one that knows about them. Men want to know where to draw the line; what is acceptable and not acceptable; what you like and what you don't like; what you expect and what you will not tolerate. Refuse to let fear hold you back. Refuse to allow lack of self and social awareness to hold you back. Express yourself and do it good!
5. Make Yourself Happy/Have a Purpose and/or Hobby
"I quit trying to make you happy". Those were the words Will Smith told Jada after he tried to give her the world only to realize she only needed a table and a camera. This is one of the biggest misperceptions in marriage is that your partner will make you happy while the jury comes back and determines that was a big lie. My husband does not make me happy. In fact if I wanted for my husband to make me happy I would be depressed to be honest. He is an introvert and he spends time with his thoughts and exploring creativity. During those times, I have to do things for me and that makes me happy. Overall he makes decisions, responds to requests and agrees to things I would like to do, but makes me happy, that's no. There is more power in the inside of you that controls your happiness and joy that would ever be on the outside of you.
6. Balance of Time with Family Over the Holiday/Plan and Routines
This is another big one. This is where your family values will be on full display. Don't make the mistake to assume because y'all went to his parents last time, you will automatically go to your parents this time. Don't make the mistake of thinking you will spend every holiday together including the 4th of July, Labor Day like I did. You have to discuss your expectations, make plans early and often so your holiday vision doesn't turn into a holiday doom and gloom of undesired bench watching of Netflix. That may be okay for a regular day but if you want something special for the holidays you better make it happen or it may never happen. When there are blend families involved this adds a level of complexity. Communicate early and often expectations, plans and desires, be willing to make mutual sacrifices and things will work out fine.
This may sound ridiculous but when you bring two go getter or purpose-driven individuals together, it is easy to get caught up with work, business, friends and social media then you look up and you and your significant other haven't spent much time together. I know because that was my truth before we started scheduling time together. Now we have three days out of the week, we get together; two days just me and the husband and one day with everyone in the house. A healthy marriage does not happen on accident, you have to be intentional about making your relationship and your partner a priority. If you can't make time for a partner, then you need to reassess what is really important to you. When you or your loved ones leave this earth, I don't believe you will wish you worked more hours. It is more likely that you will wish you spent more time with those who meant the most to you; so it is important you don't take them for granted.
8. Continue Dating One Another and Have Fun
I listed this as #8 but it really can easily be the most important lesson. If you aren't having fun and enjoying life/your marriage then what is the point? My mom gave me some of the best advice when I was in high school. She said the best time between a couple is the time before they get married. The way I applied that to my relationship was I wanted to make sure that we could have fun together, love one another and not take each other so seriously about petty things or our own shortcomings. Can a relationship improve? Sure but just like healthy teeth, I rather start off and maintain pearly white whole healthy teeth instead of trying to repair broken ones. That is painful and costly and nobody got time for that.
Does any of these tips resonate with you? Any ah-ha moments from the above or reminders of things you need to keep top of mind as you navigate these dating waters? Drop a comment below and let me know what you think/
Your sister on the journey to healthy happy life and marriage.
P.S. After we returned home, we enjoyed dinner at the harbor and watch the sunset. What a sight to see! Finally we went home and had a private paint and sip anniversary celebration made possible by Imagine Me Creatives.
P.S.S. The doors to my Ready for Marriage Academy is open and I am taking applications. If you want to learn more about what it takes to prepare for a healthy happy marriage. Click the link below to apply.