A Question For The Married Folk or Those With a Long Track History with Someone Special

I was recently sent a link to this blog, Today's Letters, a blog dedicated to sharing the letters one girl writes to her husband each day, and decided to take a closer look. It's a sweet documentation of their life together after five years of marriage and it reminded me a little of what our lives were like three years into our own. As many couples with children will testify your life shifts when you add little ones and those lingering dinners, spontaneous weekends, or even Saturday mornings spent in bed seem fewer and far between (if at all!). It takes a lot more effort and a few good babysitters to spend some uninterrupted time together in hopes of staying connected.

Recently, Brett and I have stepped back and taken a closer look at our marriage to see where we might need a tune up. It's opened up some conversation about what we want from each other, where we can make some changes, where we need to steer our path together, etc. and given us some things to think about. We're going on eight years this June (yay!) and have all kinds of hopes for the many years ahead of us as a couple, as well as a family, and appreciate that it's going to take hard work and a lot of grace to have the kind of marriage we want.

That said, I'm curious to know how some of you are making it work in practical ways. What kinds of gestures do you make to show your love, appreciation, admiration, etc. to the other person in your relationship? What kinds of things are the most meaningful to you? I've read the 5 Love Languages and a gamut of other healthy marriage books but I'm most interested in the specific things that are working in your lives these days. A little bit of curiosity and a little bit of a need for some good ideas.

Because it's always been worth it. I love you, Brett.



Laura Wynn said...

Those pictures of you guys are sooo cute! I wish I had advice, but since I'm just starting out, I got nothin'. These comments will be good for me too :)

PS-Thanks for all the work you and Elsie do for class! I'm lovin' it!

Cara said...

Gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. I want to be as much of a student as you are when I'm married and with children years down the road. I want to be as wise and as open to growth as ever when I'm there.

Thank you for inspiration.

Abi Porter said...

being humble! and putting my spouses needs first no matter how much you dont want to on the day/week/ect. and remember that love should be unconditional.

Janelle Wind said...

I have been married for 16 years and in all honesty I can say it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do! One thing that we are learning the further we get into married life is that it is important to when in an argument to keep it about the problem, not each other. It is easy when you are tired, lacking in money etc to take it out on each other - for me, I try to make it about the 'thing' rather than 'us'. Hope that makes sense. You two are gorgeous and if you are both taking the time to sit and talk about your marriage together, you will be fine!! xx Janelle

Miss Anne said...

I think remembering the little things, the things that still give you sparks, still bring bumps to your heart and make his/your lives that much better.

the little things make up the big stuff.

Aura said...

I am so happy for you, Rachel! Opening up a communication barrier in our relationship saved us. We started dating 6 years ago, were married 2.5 years later. Sometime around wedding planning, we got busy and stopped talking. Even though we loved each other, we let the day to day get between us, and drifted apart. A few days after our 2nd wedding anniversary, we had a BIG talk. We call it "D-Day." It turned into the both-crying, up-until-4-in-the morning-talking-about-everything kind of night.
Ever since then, things have been different. And all it took was that one step towards opening that communication barrier. It's been almost 2 years since D-Day, and our marriage has completely turned for the better, since then. Now we confidently say that we know we will make it, no matter what.

With that being said, this is what we do different, since you asked what is working in our life, these days. We have learned to communicate, by taking the time to hear each other out before we jump to conclusions.

Last night we had a fight about kids. It ended with me crying, emotional, and assuming Michael wasn't ready to have them. After calming down and listening to him (keep in mind we're both sitting in our underwear on our tiny bathroom floor) I realized that I misinterpreted something he said, and became irrational over it, putting words in his mouth.
Two years ago, I never would have stopped to hear that. Which in turn would have made him angry, and the truth would never be heard.

So I had to suck it up and tell him I was sorry for jumping to conclusions. Which is another thing we work with, daily. He says it every time we fight, and I am still working on my half :) But I try, and that night I said it faster than I ever had, before.

One time my Grandpa told me a story about a man who held a rope, and the rest of the world held the other end. Every time the world would pull, the man would give a little slack. In turn, they lived in unison together, and the rope never ripped.
I think of it in terms of my marriage, every. single. day.

Try it, girl.

Marriage is such a beautiful thing, when you're on the road to happiness. As an individual, and as somebody's other half.

tiffany. said...

well you guys are super cute!!!


Lane said...

I love this post! My husband and I recently took "The Marriage Course" from Nikki and Sila Lee. I recommend their book it is very practical! It was an amazing experience. We have a weekly marriage time and that has been fun to go out on dates. We made a huge list of things we wanted to do and now we do them. It keeps us busy and having new experiences. You both seem very grounded...much love

Brandie said...

I have a few things that we both seem to do that seem worth mentioning (and they might seem small or odd, but I think they matter):

we hold hands in public (often)

every morning my husband fills up my water bottle and lays a multi-vitamin on top of it because he knows I will usually forget it

we always walk next to each other (when practical, but I always think it's a bit sad when a husband walks miles ahead of his wife - or visa versa - into a store, etc...like the other ones is lagging behind? that they can't wait?)

we always go to bed at the same time, if we are both at home. even if one of us is not tired, we go to the bedroom together. he might go to sleep right away, and I'll play on my iphone, but we are together.

when we get our dinner at night, the person getting the plates always gets out the plate for the other person; whoever gets the forks, always grabs the fork for the other person; and so on.

I could probably go on and on...I should do my own blog post about it. We are far from perfect, but we've been married for almost 20 years and I think we're more connected and even better together now than when we first started. :)

Ellen said...

Great question.

We've been married for 1.5 years, living together for 8 & dating for 8.5. I know, I know. What took us so long?

We had a relatively serious spot of trouble after we got engaged (5 years in) where we were so comfortable around each other that we scheduled our lives on our own time schedules & stopped seeing each other (literally & figuratively). Luckily, we noticed the distance & worked to repair it. What's nice is that it was a scar-less way to see how precious & fragile a relationship is & a wake up call that nothing exists without tending.

That was a long introduction, but here are the three big things that make the most difference for us (note: we don't have kids - yet - but I can only imagine these will become even more important when we do):

1. Do a small, kind gesture each day. I don't know if we really consciously think, "This is my one gesture!" but the small things add up so quickly. I'll leave a Post-It with a silly love note on his monitor. He'll bring me a snack & a drink when I am too tired (or lazy) to get off the couch. I'll pick the restaurant (oddly, he HATES doing that) & call for reservations (he hates that even more). He'll walk down to the mailbox unit (boo for no mailbox on our house) to get the mail (I hate that).

2. Schedule dates. Take turns planning them. They don't have to be long. They don't have to be fancy. They just have to be out of the house (otherwise, we've found that they don't happen). Last Wednesday, I took him to an Italian place 20 minutes away that we rarely frequent because it's a drive. The previous week, he Yelp-ed a new place & took me miniature golfing (I've had an urge recently). Nothing life-shattering, but scheduled time together.

3. Say "I love you" & give compliments three times more often than you think is necessary. It sounds silly, but he's the greatest guy & I don't always remember to tell him that. We've taken to texting each other during the day (I'm a teacher & he's a mailman so we usually don't have time to talk at the same moments throughout the day) & silly, one-line texts = instant smiles & a heart that grows a size like the Grinch's.

I guess those are common sense & maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but I hope they help!

RachelDenbow said...

Cara, that was really nice to hear. Thanks.
And Aura we need to have coffee sometime!

RachelDenbow said...

Lane and Brandi,

I love your specifics!

PaisleyJade said...

Beautiful pics!

Me and my hubby have been married 14 years now and our love seems better and deeper each year.

Making quality time together has to be a priority - we have date nights each week, even if it's just getting some yummy nibbles and watching a movie together.

Communication is another essential aspect - being open about how we are feeling etc.

geek details said...

My 10th wedding anniversary is this August and we dated for a couple years before we married. Our thing that helps us stay married (and enjoying it) is to know that it can end. Divorce IS an option. Always. The chance of staying with someone for your whole life is pretty darn slim.

So we treat marriage like it could end (because it can) and we both do our best to make sure that we don't give the other one reason to end it. I've noticed that my IRL friends get in to a marriage rut. they take the other person for granted, like the person will have to stay. They let their bodies go, they quit communicating well, they act put out when the other person doesn't read their mind. They basically quit trying to have a relationship and then when the relationship flounders, they don't try to do what they can to save it.

So I guess for me, it boils down to knowing I could lose him and treating our relationship like the precious thing that it is. We talk, a lot, about everything. Even when it's a really uncomfortable talk, we talk anyway.

Nora Griffin said...

I love this post...I think it's so great to be proactive and think about improving. After ten years of marriage my husband and are finally learning not to wait until there is a problem.

One of the practical things that keeps us close is walking...most nights we head out around our neighborhood and just get a 20 to 40 minute walk together depending on how much time we have.

It gives us a chance to talk and relax...we have worked out many problems and had some great brainstorming sessions as we made our way around the sidewalks.

Meg said...

i know this is way easier before you have kids and may seem obvious, but one thing we do is have a date night once a week. this really is even more important when you do have kids! you need that time to just solely focus on each other and really reconnect.

Meg said...

another thing.. i really try to let my hubby know how much i appreciate the things he does for me and praise his accomplishments. as cheesy as it may sound, i think guys really need to hear "you're the man" from their wives. maybe not literally.. but we need to make it known that we feel that way.

Joyful Weddings and Events said...

On our anniversary a year and a half ago, I gave my husband the give of "why I love you's". Every day for a year, I gave him a note with a reason why I loved him and we put them in a little suitcase (on crazy busy days, they often ended up as verbal statements, but I'd write them down the next day). It really helped keep things fresh and in perspective- on hard days, I had to take a step back and thing about why I loved him, which helped us from going to bed upset. It was really special.

This year, for my birthday, he gave the gift back to me. He is not as disciplined with it, but at least once a week I get a sweet note telling me why he loves me.

We are at 5 years and one kid and I really think it has helped us connect on an even deeper level, but in a quick, easy, daily way.

We also try to get away once or twice a year- even if it is just for one night- just the two of us. It is always a great refresher!

Olivia Carter said...

My husband & I just had our 6th anniversary & we have two kiddos (3 & 4 years old).

I think there are a couple pieces of advice I give people, especially those with babies:

1. Date night. This doesn't happen in our family as often as I think it should. I think once a week is a good goal. Even if it's a long walk, or cheap ice cream. That alone time is SO important.

2. Something we call Companionship Inventory (this is something left over from my husbands LDS mission) but it's once a week sitting down together. We plan our schedule for the week, we talk business (so finances and stuff that needs to be done for the house), & compliment time (seriously just "Hey, I like you 'cause..." time). Super helpful in keeping organized.

3. If you're a spiritual person I say praying with your spouse. This is something that has saved us, no matter how mad, how tired, how frustrated just kneeling together and saying a little family prayer has helped us.

4. We haven't done this but I've seen 2 couples whose marriage was having troubles do this. Each person picks a hobby that they want the other to participate in. So, if I was really into running I'd have my husband start coming running with me. And inturn if he was really into going to the shooting range I'd go do that with him.

Hope this helps! I really enjoyed reading everyone elses advice too! Always good to get new ideas for keeping a marriage fresh!

Marina said...

The thing that I love to do is to slip him a chocolate bar in his bag so that he finds it while working, or make him coffee when he comes home, or make an apple pie just becaus its his favourite, not waiting for some special occassion, or stop whatever I'm doing and hug him/kiss him on the neck...

shelby valadez said...

My husband and I met when I was 16 and he was 19. We have now been together for 18 years and this august will be our 10th wedding anniversary, so yep we have some history! As far as what we do to remind each other of how we feel...there are a lot of hand squeezes and hugs, just sitting and talking about hopes and dreams, having quiet time just by ourselves after the girls go to bed and stuff like that. I also try to tell him often that I think he is handsome and he tells me that. I am cute or that he thinks I am a good mama. I love the little things because life isn't always about the grand gestures :)

Erin said...

I have only been with my partner for just over 2 years and we have a 9 month old son. I may be relatively new at this, but
this is how we keep it together;

1. Always remember that there are two sides to the story.

2. It's the little things that have the biggest impact.

3. Go the extra mile. If you can't do it for the one you love...?!

4. Focus on their positives!

Love your blog Rachel! It's splendid! :)

Sam said...

I love this post! It's full of such inspiration. :)

I don't have anything to add because I'm only just starting out myself, but I just wanted to say how awesome it is to read about couples who make the time to work on their relationships in positive ways.

Polka Dot Daze said...

We talk alot! About anything and everything! We are also very affectionate, and I always get the first kiss when daddy comes home.
I also love this website that send me daily emails, lots of nice ideas: http://www.imom.com/
Oh I just read someones comment about divorce, for me and my husband we have agreed that it is not ever an option, which makes us feel secure and happy in our relationship.

Bugalugs said...

We have 3 children - been married nearly 8 years and together for 10. I love your post and your link. We have found that there are so many elements to a good marriage, and it varies so much from couple to couple.

Within our marriage it was never stated but some how we just know that there is a level of respect that we just don't cross. There is no name calling or any derogatory comments to each other.

Good communication is needed and it helps when you truly are great friends. We share some interests and have our own interests too. I think it helps that I show him that I'm interested in what he is interested in even if I don't understand it and he does the same for me. It shows that we are happy to still learn who the other is in other ways. Although we know each other so very well now we are still growing and changing each day.

I try to show him how appreciative I am of all the hard work he puts in for our family.
I love post it notes and will write him little messages and stick them on his lunch, or in his car, or his tool box e.c.t

You two obviously have a great bond and it shines through and the mere fact that you posted this shows that you to are putting the effort in and will last a life time - many happy memories to you!

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

I love reading your blog and hope that one day I can have a lovely family like yours. You seem to have everything balanced just right and I think the most important thing it to stay in love!

Thanks for sharing such a lovely post and your family are SO CUTE! xoxo Tigerlilly


beth said...

All of your pictures are so sweet!

My husband and I (3 years married, 5 years together) do something we call the "Relationship Weather Report".

They are essentially a check-in conversation to see where the other person is at. Either one of us can call for one and there are no strict rules to them. We relate it to the Weather Channel, constant reports on the current state of the other person. That allows us to discuss if we are having issues or just confirm that we are both happy. Sometimes they are just cute "The weather is sunny and smooth sailing ahead", to serious conversations about something that might be going on. Both of us had been in relationships where communication had been the major problem so we wanted to avoid that this time around.

We also have monthly team meetings that allow us to address and figure out necessary actions (bills to be paid, events we want to go to) over the next month. That allows us to avoid the stress of things sneaking up and allows us to be on the same page. I think it also helps to call us a team, because it confirms that you are working towards the same goals.

Reading over this comments has been great for new ideas. I hope you take some of these and write up a blog post about them.

Jen said...

First time commenter here. Just wanted to tell you this blog post is beautiful. You have a beautiful family, you make beautiful things, you are beautiful and the love you share with your husband is beautiful. Is that enough beautifuls? :)
I've been with my other half for 4 years now. With two "opps birth control didn't work" pregnancies under our belts, we didn't have much time together pre-kids. We've done everything sort of backwards. But it's working for us. A few key things we always do that, I belive, help us are: Never go to bed mad; talk it out, even if you're up all night, you will feel better. Never let a day go by without a kiss, a hug and an I love you. Show your appreciation for each other, even if it's just a simple, heart-felt thank you. Send random love notes, emails, cards (my other half loves finding little notes tucked into his wallet or pocket and such). And lastly, always, always take the time to listen to each other; even if you're not feeling interested at that moment.
Hope you and your husband grow to a ripe, old age together!

Stefan, Sarah and Lukka said...

First, what a sweet post and thanks for sharing this little bit of your heart!

Second, Congrats on 8 years! We will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in July!

My husband and I often divvy up responsibilites, tag team with our kids, and then go to our own corners, but after awhile I start to feel more like we're business partners, and we need to do something about it.

We try to take (at least a weekend!) every once in awhile where grandparents watch the kids, and every other year a longer vacation (also without kids). Usually, financially, it is only every other year.

With a 2 1/2yo & a 15 mo old, things can get pretty hectic, but one of the things we ALWAYS do is put our kids to bed early. 7PM-7AM. This gives us about 3 hours before bed to hang out, talk, or just "be around" each other doing our own hobbies, and I wake up early to have braekfast with him alone(6AM since he leaves at 6:35!). I also try to have his lunches packed, and dinner ready when he gets home, because he likes it.

We're definitely always learning, too.

Sarah M

Amanda said...

Marriage with a military man is tough sometimes. Mine has been deployed twice and likely has a couple more before he can retire. Deployments put the big picture in really sharp focus, little things and irritations fall away really quickly when you're worried about your husband coming home at all. When he comes back I try to keep that feeling in front of me and not pick on the little things that are annoying to me. It can be hard even still, but it helps to remember it can all be taken away in an instant and that savoring every second is the only thing that matters.
Nothing specific here I realize but this has been my experience so there you go :)

Laurie Anne said...

You are just the cutest couple :)
My husband and I met when he was 16 and I was 18.
We will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary on the 20th of this month. Our kids are 13.5 and 10 and we are finally at a point where we can leave the kids alone at home for an hour and take a walk together just the two of us but when the kids were younger it was SO hard to make time.
These are a few things we did to keep things tight.

1. Date night! Schedule it if you have to. Once every couple of weeks or weekly if you can manage it.

2. Do sweet things for one another. My husband writes me quick little thoughts and leaves them on sticky notes all over the house. I write him mirror messages on our bathroom mirror in red lipstick :)

3. Every evening when the kids get to bed we spend 30 minutes just talking about our day, planning the weekend...whatever.

4. NEVER go to bed angry! and always kiss goodnight :)

5. PDA {Public Display of Affection} always!! Just keep it PG ;)

6. Talk about money, bills, debt etc. don't hide things from one another.

7. Try to go away once a year together just the two of you. Whether it's an anniversary getaway, or just a spontaneous night away from the kids...JUST DO IT!

8. Take alot of pictures together and keep them displayed, so you can see yourselves growing together throughout the years.

Hope this gives you something to think about.

Wishing you and your boy MANY more happy years together! xoxox

Nikkilooch said...

My husband and I have been married over 4 years and have been physcially together less than 1.5 years of that time. He's in the Army and away on training and deployed most of the time. I'm not trying to be a sob story because in the Army world it is the norm. I just want to say that when we do get to see each other or do get a chance to talk on the phone we really value each other.

Even if he does get out in a little while I think this is something I will work to never forget: how valueable he is to me.

katie said...

this post and all the comments have given me a lot to think about! my husband and I have been together for 7 years, and it's our 5 year anniversary in a few weeks. we always get along really well because we try to keep things in perspective and add humor to all situations. we laugh a lot.

But, I will say that we probably got in more fights/disagreements in the first month of our son's life than the entire time we were together before! having a kid makes the relationship a lot less easy. I probably need to remember to try a little harder at some of this stuff!

Shayna said...

I love this post! And your blog in general~!!

Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate 88 months of togetherness. That's 7 years and 4 months. We've been married for nearly 5 years of that. So that's one thing we do - recognize the 12th of each month as a monthiversary. I usually make a special dinner. We might take a quick picture together. And throughout the day we say, "Happy Anniversary." And I usually spend some time reflecting on past months. Here's some things that strengthen my love and gratitude for him all the more.

Be together - if he's doing school work in the living room, I'll sit nearby (reading, crocheting, and make myself available to help him). Or if we're in separate rooms ... I try to make it a point to go "visit" him every half hour or so. Just a quick kiss or hug, peek my head in the door and ask, "How's things going?" "I love you!" "Is there anything I can help you with?"

Remember the firsts - a few times a year I'll go through and read some of our first e-mails that we wrote each other and look at the first pictures. Great refresher!

Spontaneous lunch dates - I usually pack a lunch for Tony to take to work. But sometimes I'll meet him at his workplace and we'll go to lunch together. He's the one that usually prompts these spontaneous dates. I try to be flexible with my schedule and let my "plans" go sometimes in order to do this. But he is totally worth it!!

No silent treatment - about six months ago, I heard a lady talking about giving our husbands the silent treatment. I was totally guilty of this! She said it is treating our husband as if he were dead - you want nothing to do with him - he is dead to us at that moment. That really convicted me and ever since, if I feel a silent treatment coming on, I'm quickly reminded of this statement and battle against it. My husband is not dead in those moments. Communication is what we need in those moments. Quick I'm Sorry's, quick forgiveness, and lots of grace!

Reminds me of a book titled, "When Sinners Say, I Do." Great reminder of how much grace we both truly need to extend to one another.

Never, never go to sleep angry.

Listen and read things that encourage loveliness ... I try not to surround myself with critical, nagging wives...

Occasionaly I'll write a simple, "I love you on a napkin in his lunchbox" and even more rare, on the bathroom mirror with lipstick. Just Because!

Make it a point to stay fit - exercise - dress up for no reason - wear heels - no special occasion is needed for any of those!

When he get out of work for the day he always calls me to say he's on his way home. I'll take those 20 minutes to do a quick refresher to the house, freshen up my attire or make-up. And maybe light a good smelling candle near the front door.

Sleep - we both need it, and try to be intentional about a regular bed time.

Pick up his "favorite" things at the grocery store.

Remind him that I'm on his team!!

The Peasant Princess series by Mark Driscoll is awesome!!!

Sharing the same interests - learning to love what he loves.

Taking interest in his day. Letting him get home and just unwind for a little bit before I tell him all about my day.

Listening to thought-provoking sermons and discussing them.

Okay... I'll stop there. :)

Jeni said...

I've never been married, but am currently in a long-term relationship so I think I'll share anyways!

Someone mentioned making a list of things to do together. Doing new things together or going on adventures together and simply learning together, can help to continue to build closeness! On the other end, spending a little time apart every once in a while (like an overnight or weekend) makes you realize just how much you miss/need one another! :)

tamara said...

I've only been married for almost 4 years. I thought we had a pretty good marriage until shortly after we had our son (last summer). Without realizing it, we stopped talking to eachother. MY focus for sure was all on the new baby and being a mom. Being a wife and a best friend went out the window. By the time we realized what we were doing, it was almost too late.
I figured out that I couldn't change anything about my husband I can only change myself. I started making a deliberate effort to think about my husband through out the day and being the best wife that I could be.
We wanted to make devotional time together a priority. We try to have a date once a week. Even if its just getting a babysitter for an hour or two to get groceries and grab a coffee.
Marriage takes more effort and time than I ever thought. I really believed that if two people really loved eachother you could live on passion. But it takes work to have that and its worth it. I want to have a great example of loving parents for my son.

Shayna said...

Okay, one more thing. High thread count sheets are a must for the marriage bed!! :)

Holly S said...

So refreshing to hear about a couple trying to make their relationship better...it's too easy to let it go to the pot and turn away from each other. We sent our only child away to college 1 1/2 years ago and we are trying to find us as a couple. So many years it was all about her and now she doesn't need us so much and doesn't live with us anymore-we are discovering each other again and learning to be with each other-just us. Tough!! Our daughter was so intertwined in our lives-every part-that looking back on it now, it was all about her...not a bad thing except now I am wondering who I am now that I don't mother her so much and refocusing on our marriage. Rachel, it is so easy to make everything about your kids-even if you don't think you do-make you marriage a focus NOW so you are not questioning your identity and purpose later. Find those few seconds and make them about the two of you-a little thing I always do is when one of us leaves without the other, I ALWAYS kiss him and say something nice to him-my fear is something will happen to one of us and I want the last moments we had together to be great-with no regrets.
Love to hear what you decide to incorporate into your marriage.

Holly S said...

I meant to add that I am only 37 and my husband is 39...we are young and have been married for 14 years. Love all the suggestions here! Thanks for asking these questions!

Liv said...

I love reading about happy successful marriages with people who know that it takes work and dedication.

One thing I've been trying to work on myself is to be less selfish. My husband is probably the most SELFLESS person ever, he will always give and give and do more even when he's tired and exhausted. I... am not as good at that. I tend to exclaim when I'm tired and don't feel like doing something.

So, throughout the day when I'm picking up, making dinner or doing one of the million other things that it takes to keep a family going... instead of thinking, "Ugg, I have to fold laundry, wash dishes, etc" I am trying to think of it as, "I am doing this for my family, doing this for my husband, because he works so hard, for my son, so he can grow up in a nice home." When I begin to think of my responsibilities that way, it makes them just a bit easier.

When it's less about ME, things are better.

elise said...

it's crazy how much things change when you have babies!
One of the hardest things for me is to turn of my mommy brain when we go out, or when the kids are asleep and give my husband some just us time completely. not that we don't like to talk about the kids together, but it's hard for me to focus on him and his needs when i'm worrying about every little thing going on with the kids.
we've been married for almost 6 years and i think we are finally coming into our own and doing better at treating each other respectfully and being on the same page consistently. Like you, i read all the marriage books and am currently going through the LoveDare... corny as it sounds, it so amazing to see the fruit it bears. Bathe each day, conflict, and decision in prayer. that's all i've got:O)

Mommyswanson said...

My husband & I have been together 17 years, married 14 of those this month & have two children (12 & 9). I have to say remembering to say "I Love You," kissing good-bye & hello, little text messages or short phone calls during the day just to touch base. All those little things that keep you connected. Yeah a date night every now & then is great but it's that daily knowing he's your biggest fan & your his & you are there for eachother is the most important part.


emma said...

We're newly weds, and we don't have children yet, so I don't know how practical my advice would be.

I do know that this year has been really tough though. Not due to our relationship, but life has really been throwing us for a loop- unemployment, family issues, illness, break ins, cars breaking down, not having ANY money (so date nights aren't always an option), schoooool...

I know that so far we've stayed strong by keeping Christ at the very center of our relationship at all times, and going to church together every sunday. We also pray together a lot, especially when it comes to staying strong as a couple, and other people who need prayer.

We frequently take walks to the Outdoor theater by our house. We like to lay in the grass and lean our heads far back. It feels like we have a 360 degree view of the horizon...of the world. It's very conducive to day dreaming together.

Also- and I think someone said this already- but we always go to bed together. Even if one isn't tired (usually him) they'll bring their computer into bed and work on school work.

I tell him I appreciate him very often. Numerous times a day.

And we don't have television. Well, we don't have cable, or any hookups. Maybe once a week we'll go pick out a movie to rent, or we'll watch The Biggest Loser together on hulu, but other than that, we spend our time cooking together, taking walks, or just talking. It helps to keep things in perspective.

I admire your healthy assessment of your marriage. That proactive attitude is one that I hope we can have eight years into our marriage.

I love your blog by the way. I hope to one day have a little family as gorgeous as yours.

Melonie said...

We just celebrated 14 years on May 4th and I have to say that while we hardly ever "go out" on dates outside of our home one of the best things we have done for our marriage is enlist a consistent bedtime for our kids. I am home with them all day so I know that they get plenty of attention and I do not feel guilty about putting them to bed by 8 and having a couple of hours each night for he and I to just be a couple. I feel like in reality it is an investment in the children anyway since we are keeping and protecting our spark for each other. We also try to get up about a half an hour earlier than the kids (which admitedly doesn't always work out) so that we can just have a chance to make a plan for the day.
There are a million other little things too...he always has my coffee made when I get out of the shower in the morning and I try to get the kids homework done and baths in before he gets home so he can just spend quality time with them before bed.
I think like anything else in life assessing and reassessing and altering what is and isn't working is the healthiest thing that you can do for your marriage. The fact that you are already doing that means that you will stand the test of time:)

Erin V. said...

The best advice I've received was- When you have a complaint in regards to your spouse (big or small), say it to God first. Talk to your spouse after that. It has stopped me from saying a lot of nagging things, angry things, etc. Two things will happen- you realize that your "complaint" is really not that big of a deal OR it is a big deal and important for you to think about before you approach your spouse.
I also leave him alone when he gets home from work for about 30mins. I am so excited to see him after I've been home by myself all day, but he needs time to get his mind out of "work mode." It makes our evenings a lot more relaxed and enjoyable.
Hope this helps!
P.S. I love the 5 love languages book! :)

Tracie said...

COMMUNICATE clearly with each other. I think that is the key to a successful marriage. We will celebrate 13 years on Memorial Day and have been through the death of grandparents, my father, my brother, moves, new jobs, two children, graduate school, etc. We have never struggled with our marriage because we talk about the things that bother us. We also share a very strong faith in Christ and believe He is the center of our marriage.

My heart aches for those who have marriage struggles. Marriage can be an amazing partnership, but it requires work. Congrats to you on your almost 8 years and I agree, sometimes you have to get a sitter and get that alone time. It can revive and renew your relationship. We are trying to find time to get away for a long weekend soon to celebrate his earning his master's degree.

Ariel said...

J and I are 8 yrs. together, 4 married, 2 kids: 3.5 and 1.5yrs. old....so we are right there with you. We are also military, Air Force, so I relate A LOT to you :)
We have "those" talks quarterly it seems....like we can hold it together pretty good for 3 months, and then we need a tune up! Right now we are working on just making it "easier" for each other ...whatever that may be at the time. J is trying to work out earlier in the mornings before work so I can go when he gets home from work....this makes us both happier and healthier. I am trying to stay on top of all my chores so he doesn't have to help me when he gets home, and can just relax and eat with the kids. We ditched the tv in the bedroom and made our bedroom more of a love nest, and not a kid-ridden dumping ground...that helped! There is no magic formula...just day to day tweaking and love! Lots of love! The "talks" are what keep us moving forward...without those, things would be too crazy....so good for you and your talks too!

Liz said...

Thank you for this post and all of the comments so far! I think no matter how far in you are, or how many kids you have, being mindful of your marriage is ALWAYS a good choice! Pretty much everything we do has been mentioned, but you ladies have so many other great ideas to try!

Elise: What a great reminder that as moms we need to leave our job at work too! Yes, a good debrief of the day is in order, but after bed time let ourselves focus on our husbands and ourselves!

Erin V.: How have I not heard this advice before? This may just revolutionize my thinking! The simple idea of saying it to God first will help SO MUCH for me to get past my addiction to nagging! THANK YOU!

Jenna said...

"the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." one of my favorite quotes. and its all about perspective. we have friends whose marriage is falling apart right now and i am so thankful that my husband and i have eachother, will be 8 years this august. little things that help us connect through the day (since he works and i'm at home with the 5 year old and almost 3 year old and prego with #3!) is we text constantly; little love notes, sexy steamy ones too, invitations for late night rondezvous. one valentine's day i made a little book called "love notes" and it's where we write little things to eachother. so awesome to read through the book. and if one of us see it laying it, we get all giddy cuz you know there's good stuff in there! we write down words of encouragement, prayers, words of building one another up and speaking to one another's spirit. love that. also, we've realized that around the dinner is NOT the time to dig deep into one another's day. with two little its way too crazy, and somedays we are tag teaming it just to get the kids in bed so we can get some alone time. and then of course he passes out on the couch. but date nights are important, not only for us, but for our kids to see that our marriage is important to us. they love date night just as much as we do. my daughter loves picking out my outfits, jewelry, shoes. and of course we pray together. about our lives, our children, our marriage, our finances, work, goals, decisions, loved ones. we cover our marriage in prayer. and that we would keep "the main thing, the main thing." which is of course: our family. another really good book is "Love and Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, which basically is about how a woman needs love and a man needs respect, and if she doesn't feel loved, she won't give him respect. and if he isn't feeling respected by his wife, he won't make her feel loved. and when this cycle starts, basically everything is off. but when you get back on track, loving and respecting, needs are met, languages are spoken (which i still need to remind my husband of my love language!)its really a great book, changed our marriage's perspective and has a great study book to go with it.
great question rachel. and lots of wonderful answers!

Tonya said...

We never argue. We decided in the beginning we would fully support each other. If I don't like something he does I don't say anything. I just accept he is the person he is and I don't try to make him be anything for me. He does the same for me. We keep our money separate and we never question each other about how it is spent.

Our agreement in the beginning that we would love unconditionally and always put our children first is what keeps us strong. We don't plan date nights to get away from our lives. Every day is a date night and the whole family is invited. We have never felt left out because even without planning date nights we still find time to be alone when no one is tugging on us. Alone time just seem to happen spontaneously.

With Love, Jamie said...

This inspired me :)
You are an adorable couple!

Kristin said...

I have been married 6.5 years and am still madly in love with my husband. We keep each other informed of our schedules throughout the day. And as we both work and he travels A LOT for work we try and spend little snippets of time together whenever we can. Usually we watch a show and talk in bed at night before falling asleep. Which is another thing, we are expecting our first baby so it will change, but we rarely go to bed without the other being there. Even is he is still working on his laptop or I am reading when the other falls asleep we are always together.

czstout said...

Not that I have any authority on the subject, but my advice is to keep God the center of all things! Pray together, study the Word together, and raise your children in the teaching and admonition of the Lord!

He will bless any marriage that does just that :)

We are living proof, I love Johnny and can't imagine my life without him and our daughter Joey, and can't wait to see what God has in store for us in the upcoming years!

Great post :) It's always good to evaluate and acknowledge that work is a part of marriage!!

Heather said...

Hi Rachel :-)

I have been married for less than a year (it will be a year in August) and we got off to a rocky start as my husband lost his job and we had to move away from our home here but separately - I moved in with my parents and him with his dad and we lived like that for 5 months. For three years previously we had been living in each other's pockets and taking a break from that was eye opening. It showed us that we can both live independently of the other, but that we never want to!

I don't really feel in a position to give you advice on a long term relationship or marriage because you're ahead of me in terms of years (and children!), but we both make sure that we are honest with each other, totally honest, we talk all the time and are best friends. I make him a cup of tea in the morning and he makes us both tea when he gets home from work. Sometimes he brings me home a surprise gift of jaffa cakes ♥

Lots of love, Heather xxxxxxx

dntjdgjstlstn said...

I'm not married and compared to you ladies, my relationship is a short one, so I don't have advice. :)

I do want to say that it's very heartening to see so many couples who have found ways to make it work. Especially the military couples. J is in the Navy and currently overseas, and there are definitely days that I wonder how people do this for a lifetime.

So thanks for the pick-me-up and the tips, y'all! :)

Sara said...

I've been married 9 years this July and overall marriage has been wonderful but we have our days or weeks. During a rough patch, a friend told me "people say marriage is 50/50 but really, it's often 60/40 or 30/70 but in the long run a good marriage evens out to 50/50". Remembering that our rough patches are really not that bad compared to others' helps. Also, lots of hugs when we need to reconnect. Most evenings we end up giving hugs in the kitchen while we make dinner and clean up. A little dancing in the living room always helps. Taking walks and talking it out to get back on the same page. Trying everyday to be better. Honesty, but kind honesty is the only path to true intimacy I think.

Adrienne said...

Ahhh, the man and I are just starting off, not even married yet, but definitely thinking about it and dreaming about it together. Our relationship is currently long distance (as he is stationed in Korea) but we take this as a sort of little bit of awesome so that we are learning more about each other and how to best communicate with each other.
We do our best to talk to each other ever day via skype, and we try and leave our baggage outside of our conversations, no one wants to talk to a complainer all the time, especially when you don't get to talk to the other very often. He and I are doing a superb job thus far!

Eeffie said...

I've been married for 7 years and we've been together for 14. Since we have 2 kids things have been hectic and chaotic and the time we get to spend together is rare. But weve both accepted that things will be like this for the next few years. What helps us stay connected are just the little things: rubbing his back at the diner table, kisses when we leave for work, the phonecalls from work, sweet little notes, crawling up against each other at night, some romance of course and the occasional looks when the kids are giving us a 'hard' time. We feel like we're a team and that keeps us feeling close...

Thanks for sharing this post. It has made me stop and think about how much I love my husband, daughter and son!

Roxanne said...

I haven't been married very long, but we've been together for 6 years.

As a military spouse there's that extra added tension; as they say "the army's the wife and you're the mistress"

I choose not to get angry when work keeps him late, instead I enjoy the free time we do have.

We have a weekly game night; no phones, no tv, just board games and beer. We always end up in hysterics over something silly.

A friend who's been married much longer than me said that for a long time she had a small red notebook that she'd right her feelings in and leave it under his pillow when she was feeling upset. He'd right back when they had both cooled down. Learning to let each other cool down and then talk has been a big lesson for us, but an amazing one.

stephanieesstar said...

My husband and I have been together for almost 8 years as well. And at times, we definitely don't take the time we should to show each other that we still care in the ways that we used to do. We have been working on getting better at this. For me, he does the dishes (once in a blue moon!), or rubs my back, takes the dog out when it's rainy or snowy and I don't feel like it. For him, I make special dinners, play with his short hair, or watch silly old tv shows with him that remind him of childhood. These are just simple little gestures we do for each other, but it's so nice to see someone realize little things that make your day that much better!

in company with sparkles said...

Oh, I so loved reading this post and all the comments! My absolute favorite thing about most of the blogs I read is when women talk about their husbands and are open about how much they love them, and are just honest too. It's such a good example to me as a younger girl.
I'm engaged (September 25th 2010!) and very young by today's standards (I'm 18 and my fiance is 21. I'll be 19 by the time we marry) but we've been very very lucky and blessed to have the wise counsel of lots of older couples we admire, and really good teaching and books. Right now we're learning so much about denying ourselves, and loving unconditionally. We want to love each other without expecting anything in return.
Thank you for being a good example in the priority that marriage is!

The Turners said...

I try to remember that marriage is bigger than both of us. As a child, I suffered through 2 divorces and swore that I would never put my children through the same trauma. Before I married my husband, I made sure that I could CHOOSE to love him even when it wasn't easy. Being committed to someone is a choice and sometimes it means daily stepping back and reminding yourself why you fell in love with that person and why you are committed to making it work no matter what. We always try to put God first in our marriage and remember that our commitment is to Him first.

Amie said...

While I'm not yet married, my bf and I have been dating for nearly 6 years and we have had our number of spats and quarrels...it's tough trying to get along with another person so well!
I have really learned to not sweat the small stuff, and am working on avoiding pettiness - if it's not something that REALLY matters, then why dwell on it? we really focus on the good in one another rather than dwelling on the bad. He makes me lunch every day when I come home from work and knows exactly how to make me feel better when I'm down. We still have a lot to work on, but just appreciating one another for who they are is working out for us.

In a few years, I will be thrilled to call him my husband. No proposal yet, but we've got loads of time...and maybe by then we will have more of our kinks worked out!

MeeshOne.Love said...

my boyfriend and i have only been a couple for 2 1/2 years, but we've been best friends for over 8 years...i think that is the most important thing...be each others best friend. at the end of the day no matter what happens we know we have each other, we know we can rely on one another, and we know we love each other more than anything. we are actually reading this fabulous book together right now called "embracing the beloved" written by an amazing couple, it is full of wisdom and love and we can't get enough. check it out!


p.s. you two are adorable!!
love love.

Kel said...

I've been with my husband since he was 15 and I was 17. We have grown up together. We were married 6 years ago in June. Honestly time is not a relevant factor for us. When we were together in our early 20's, we exploited each other and even though we were dedicated to only each other, the fact that we were not married really hurt us. What pushed up to get married was a faith in Christ. I began attending a local church and praying for him to be saved daily. I prayed and prayed until the day I walked to the alter with him, he still did not have the same faith I did. But by some miracle a week after we were married, he started attend service with me. Christ has remained the center of our relationship and whenever we begin to walk away from that, our marriage feels the strain. We also have a secret journal we write to each other in and hide it around the house. We wait until the other finds it, and reads our spilled out guts! It's beautiful and I can't wait to read out little book when we are old and grey. Blessing!

Kel said...

Here are a couple links to what I have written on the subject. My apologies If I offend you with my beliefs.



the bird. said...

this is beautiful. and glad to see so many people have heard about emily's blog! (: she's fantastic!

her tuesday questions are really helpful. . . they are the same questions our life coach gave us and as long as you do them, it seems to build a noticeable closeness.

Dawn said...

looks like you already have lots of stuff to read so I'll keep it short. Love him! It's that simple, let him know it all the time. I've been married for 11 years we have three sons and we don't get out much, but we are happy. We share a lot and have our own hobbies, and I'm happy he has time to enjoy his as I do mine. Letting him have his own time is just as important as us having ours. God speed, dawn

Lily Nichols said...

Wow, a lot of great advice here! I'll just add a little more fun. I came across this blog a while back. Some of it is pretty silly, but some of the ideas are good.

"Adding Zest to Your Nest"


the whyte's said...

my husband and i have been married for 6 1/2 yrs. he's a police officer, navy reservist and full time student. i am a beginning photographer and stay at home mom of 2. our communication stays open in the form of texts, notes on lunch napkins, mid day phone calls(even if they just start w "did you feed the dog?")and dirty emails if he's lucky. haha. since he's gone by 7 am most days and not home til 10, it tends to kill our hang out time. but somehow it works for us. when he's asked to go out of town w friends/siblings, i send him. i realize he needs that "time off" as much as i do. he lets me attend book club dinners out once a month, as well. and he's super supportive of my love of 'twilight', which most husbands just roll their eyes at. mine makes little jokes about papercuts and rainy days being 'days in forks' days. while that's not huge for some, being supportive of your spouse no matter how ridiculous they are, is a big deal. recognizing that the time you have w your spouse could be taken away at any moment is very important, as well. while i don't sit around and think my husband could get shot at work today, i also don't want to take advantage of our time together. keeping my thoughts, expressions, etc, from him and waiting for him to figure it out is not an option. be an open book. the guessing game is for teenage relationships. be honest. maybe you weren't suppose to spend that $3 at starbucks...don't hide stuff, even if it's little. be encouraging. i'm huge into teasing and sarcasm. my husband once told me, "honey your words hurt". while he was joking, i know that he was serious, as well. "the mouth is a mirror. we must watch what we say". [-sleeping at last] probably one of the best terms i've ever heard. whether that's about your spouse, their friend, your in-laws, neighbors, etc. it's easy to respect people when they respect others. we try to keep the short tempers in check w the kids. if he's negative, i'm in a negative mood. though you're not always gonna be bright and sunny, don't be afraid to say "i need a timeout". just 'fess up. it'll pay off. most importantly(to the men), keep the sex life alive!! haha. i have 2 kids...and i can honestly say our intimate relationship is better now than it was when we first got married. seriously. i hope that novel helps somebody! :)

Alison Fay said...

Wow, I love what Janelle said about keeping arguments about the issue at hand, and not about each other. That's such a simple thing, but so hard to remember in the heat of the moment!
I try to frequently in mind, go through a list of specific reasons why I love my husband. It helps me when I am grumpy or frustrated with him, to remember and think about all the wonderful things he does for me, and the fantastic person he really is!

Ashley said...

My husband and I have been married for 3 years this upcoming June, and they are NOT joking when saying the first few years are the hardest. Last year I thought we were completely through, things happened, the D word was seriously considered... all because of a serious communication issue. I think with us, that's what's most important.

We usually end up having about a monthly spat where we get our frustrations out and unload a little, this may not work for everyone, but it does for us. I guess it depends on your type of communication style.

We try and have a date night once a week. We leave the house, have dinner, go see a movie, or mix it up a bit in nicer weather. It's important during these dates to not discuss work or family drama, because God only knows we do enough of that at home.

We take that time to just really enjoy each others company and reconnect. And if we're stretched thin on money, we just bring food from home and go eat by the lake. Just as long as we get out of the house!

I hope you and Brett are able to use some of the advice everyone has been giving! Marriage is a crazy, crazy thing!

Dianna said...

We've been married for 12 years and have 2 beautiful girls...
LAUGHTER is the best thing going : )

kelley brown said...

I didn't read all the comments so I am not sure if this is a repeat... but for the last year plus, my guy and I have art journaled together every monday night. The first year, we worked small on a deck of cards, and journaled about our week. It allowed for us to explore what was important to each other. This year we are using the prompts from http://embers.typepad.com/e/52Q/ to create an altered book journal which can be found here: http://artjournaling.blogspot.com/search/label/Year%20II

I think that both have allowed us to continually learn more about each other, plus it allows from some great one on one time, completely devoted to each other and our art (which btw, my guy had not done art since gradeschool when we started, and now is completely into it too!)

kiki comin said...

wow, you have had a lot of great comments. I have been married, just like you for 8 years. I think more than anything, like you, it is so important to realize that marriage is HARD work..especially when you add the kiddos and then you, as a mom and a wife are stretched many ways, trying to give love to everyone. I think the thing that keeps us sane and "one" is our date night every week. We get time to talk and really reconnect without the kids around as a distraction...and to beat the babysitting costs, we have gotten a group together of 4 couples where we each take turns babysitting for 4 hours on Saturday nights..so 3 weeks we get dates, 1 week we babysit. It has been awesome!
I love how real you are and open about it all. Congrats on your 8 years...and here's to many more!:)

Tim & Em Loerke said...

rachel, mr. loerke and i are sending you LOTS of fist pumps from texas. thanks for featuring us on your blog today. husband thinks he is famous. xoxo, em

Sarah Michelle said...

My husband and I have been together 14 years, married ten, and have 4 cute kiddos all under the age of ten. We have a very unique "extended family", in that my group of four best friends from grade school, along with their husbands and all of their children, all live in our same neighborhood. My husband and I are infinitely blessed to have our dearest dearest friends sharing our lives with us so closely, and our children are constantly surrounded by the fun, craziness, and love that our five families provide them. But as you can imagine, alone time for my husband and I is so hard with so much going on all the time! Here's some things that keep us strong and loving each other more and more every day...

Way back in college, my husband and I got in the habit of having little organizational meetings on Sunday evenings wherein we share and combine our schedules/plans for the week. I write little notes in my calendar reminding me of what he's got going that day, and it has been a simple way of keeping the "me" and "my" and "I'm" out of our schedules and more focused on "us" and what WE have going on that week.

I was always taught to never go to bed angry, but eventually my husband and I realized this was a BAD idea for us. The longer we argued, the more emotional I got and the more angry he got--both the quickest ways to blow an argument completely out of proportion! Putting space (in the form of sleep) in the middle of the argument enabled us to stop fighting about stupid things that we stopped caring about by morning, or allowed us our own time to think, calm down, and pray so we could solve the problem without an argument the next day.

This next is kind of silly, but a fun way to have a moment of alone time even with your kids sitting with you! We started developing little inside jokes that are discreet enough that we can drop them in front of the kids. For example, our 3 yr old daughter Charlotte once told us, in her most serious voice while we tried to hide our laughter, that us not letting her eat candy for dinner was giving her kidneys a headache. The next night at dinner with our kids my husband calmly told me that he would probably go to bed early that night, and when I asked why he responded that his kidneys had a headache and we both erupted into laughter. We use it as our inside joke all the time now, and we've added a lot more of our kids funny little tidbits to our list of insiders too. There is something magical about the joke, and the laughter, we share in secret even in front of our kiddos. That small moment of "us" time is priceless.

And lastly as a mom, I love my children with all my heart and as all mothers do I easily put their happiness above my own. What I have to try to remember is not to continually put my kids immediate happiness above my husband. I noticed in a Bible study last year that whenever a woman's responsibilities are listed in the New Testament, it ALWAYS listed the husband immediately before the children. Sometimes this is really hard! But I've learned not to feel guilty if for example I tell my 9 yr old that her friends can't spend the night tonight, if I know my husband and I haven't had a calm night all week (or longer!). I've noticed that my two oldest have become A LOT more understanding and receptive to being told no since I've started doing this, and they've become more in tune to how they're actions/activities affect my husband and I. Trying harder to follow this simple Biblical principle in little ways not only makes my husband feel more loved and appreciated, but appears to be helping us raise less-selfish and more family time-oriented kids.

Best of luck, girl. First time commenter, but long time reader of your blog. God bless!

Sara said...

My husband and I recently tried an exercise that was suggested by the teacher of the marriage and family class at church. She has all the couples take some time during the week to write down 5 things they admire about each other. Wow! I had no idea just how much he appreciated and admired all the qualities I am working on! Every thing he listed was on my own list of "things to be better at", etc. It's a great tool for opening up some sincere communication and evaluation of the marriage...where you are and where you want to be going. It's like an inventory for your relationship...and can be applied to the entire family if needed.

Do your best to listen! Men can be a little short with their words...but when pressed, they also have some amazing observations. :) It's all about asking and listening.

Doeie said...

What a great post! I've been married for almost 7 years, after dating and living together for 3 and a half, and knowing the man since we were in high school.

We have a 4 month old and a 2 and a half year old. I've never been a fan of mandatory date night (we're both homebodies, and the budget is limited), but here's a few things we do:

1. Don't take each other for granted. Someone has to make coffee in the morning. If it's him, I always thank him. If it's me, he always thanks me. For all the minor things, even if it's later in the day, we always thank each other for the special favors done.

2. Put the kids to bed at 7:30. Sounds silly, but as I said, we don't do date night. But putting the kids down by 7:30 means we have an hour or two before we have to go to bed ourselves to watch TV together, destress, whatever.

3. Communicate, even if it's by email. Sometimes it's hard to say things in person, but easier to open the conversation in writing. I don't recommend that ALL your conversations be via email, but if it's email or nothing, I'll take email every time.

Keep up the good work!

Christie Nacole said...

One thing I have learned after 7 yrs of marriage and 4 kids is that when it comes to the way you treat each other its all about 'habits'! Make a habit out of never yelling or talking down to each other and make it a habit out of understanding each other, communicating and loving each other and it will come more naturally! Also keep it interesting and have fun! EVERYDAY! You don't have to spend lots of money or go crazy, just have fun! Justin and I will watch silly movies once the kids are in bed, we have tickle fights, we share everything and we make sure we have at least one date night every month! Its so important to always have alone time! I also make him things! We send each other random texts a lot just to remind each other how much we love are care for one another! Be aware of how your marriage is doing ALL the time and always be honest! Love with all you have! And most importantly keep God in the center and pray for each other!

Erin said...

We have tons of family days, where it's just my daughter, husband and me and we go out of the house somewhere, maybe to the park and spend some quality time together. Even though it's not just the two of us we still feel closer because of it. We also do "chores" together and cook together and when we do these things we get to talk a lot and then have more free time together.

:) I hope this helps. Yay for 8 years, we're getting close to 5 over here.

HesaidShesaid said...

What a great post, and comment thread!! :) I'm getting married in July, and this was a great inspirational and hope-filled read! Thank you for initiating it all! :]
<3 BonnieJean

Toni Brockliss said...

What a fantastic post Rachel.
Ben and I talked about it last night about what works for us.
I had just had my 1st miscarriage and we were in the hospital. I was waiting to have an operation and Ben was sitting next to me holding my hand.
Ben looked down and he said "hey I just found $20!" which was sticking out from under the bedside table. He leaned over and he said that we might never be up, we will never be down, but we will be even and find that special path just for us.
It is really important as a couple to keep your goals and wishes in the open and try to achieve them together. It's never going to work if one half wants something completely different to the other.
Our little boy is Autistic and I can't express enough how also being positive and looking on the bright side has guided our relationship through hurdles we jump over with our son on a daily basis.
We are a team. We talk every day. We never take each other for granted. We make the time to stop, hug, kiss, remember that we are Ben and Toni and not just Mum and Dad...and we laugh every single day.

Andrea!!! said...

Hi Rachel - Ben and I have been together 11 years, married for 6 (holy moly where did the time go?!) I think you've received lots of great suggestions...here are mine:

1. Laugh...A LOT...every single day. Often times when we are arguing, one of us will make a joke that diffuses the situation - we are still able to solve the problem at hand, but we don't have to be angry while doing it.

2. Don't forget your manners - we still say please and thank you - I think it's an important step in not taking your loved one for granted.

3. Say "I love you" as often as you can - at the end of it all, you will not regret saying it too much!

4. Reminisce - this is one of our favorite things to do! We love remembering specifics from past vacations and times together :)

This is a great prompt for us to take another peak or two at our relationship - thank you for such a great and important idea :)


coffeeanddiapers said...

I don't have any great advice, but I think just the fact that you're asking these questions and raising these issues in your marriage is great. My husband works a lot, like all the time, so when he's home I love when he takes care of me--scratch my back, play with my hair, make me tea or guac and chips. It shows me that he cares. And then we just talk about our day. We never go to bed without talking, so we always fall asleep on the same page, connected.

Serena said...

I'm not married and can't offer any advice. I just wanted to stop in thank you for such an honest and lovely post.

JessHart27 said...

One fun thing I do with my husband is pretend we're on our first date again. (We've been together for 11 years and married for almost four.) It's so much fun to pretend we just met again. Sometimes we make jokes and pretend we're completely different people, and sometimes we ask deeper questions that might have normally gone unanswered based on the assumption that we already know the other's response. It's really fun, and I would suggest giving it a shot! It's amazing how many questions never get asked. Thanks for a great post.

jadie said...

this is really simple but makes a huge impact.
every morning we will tell each other/write down/somehow communicate one thing that could be done to make us feel loved that day. it's always something small & easy (so it's sure to get done), but it has to be specific. this really works for us because we are almost complete opposites and give/receive "love" very differently (you've read 5 love languages, you know this).

and people's moods/desires can change daily. one day my top desire may be to have all of the laundry done, and the next day i may not care if there is nothing clean to wear. if he spent the latter day doing laundry all day, it wouldn't mean as much to me as it would've the day before. we can't expect our significant others to read our minds. some people may think that's not romantic, but the point of this isn't to focus on the fact that you had to tell them what you wanted, the point is that they did it because they love you and want you to feel loved.

whoa, sorry to write you a novel! i don't have everything figured out by any means, but this is just something that we both really love and works wonders for us.

Karen M. Andersen said...

Hi Rachel :)

Here's my advice for you. It's simple advice, but it works for us :)

1. We say "I love you" many times during our day. We say it when one of us leaves home to take the kids to school or run errands down town, when we finish talking to each other on the phone or in a text message, while we do the washing up together, last thing before we go to sleep at night, or we will yell it out when one of us is watching tv and the other is on the computer. We don't need a reason to say it, we just say it whenever we feel like it. We do the same with the kids too. Those three little words mean the world!

2. Lots of brief hugs and kisses during the day/when we are both home together, also accompanied by an "I love you" :)

3. Being silly...joking around, chasing each other around, etc...usually while we are getting dinner ready. My partner Dave is a real joker and we have heaps of fun being silly together, and with the kids.

4. We make time to talk, especially about problems we might be having with the kids or money, or about an issue we may have with each other. We talk them out and compromise to come up with a solution that we are both happy with.

5. We help each other out with the housework and kids, and let each other know how much we appreciate their help.

6. We go for a walk together on the beach when we have a chance.

7. We do little "favours" for each other. David will often hang out the washing for me if I have my hands full with the kids. He will get himself a drink and bring me one too. He'll occasionally buy me a little treat from the shop when one of us ducks out to pick up some milk, or let me have a snooze for a bit in the afternoon if I am feeling very tired. And I will do the same kinds of things for him.

8. We'll sit outside or with the tv off for a little while at the end of our day and chat about anything that springs to mind.

Our relationship is by no means perfect, and we do not have the finances to have date nights out together. But, we love each other unconditionally, make each other laugh, and we communicate very well. We've found that the simple little things that I have listed here are what makes us feel connected and loved by each other, and they ensure that our relationship and home-life is stable, happy and healthy.

I hope that helps a little :)

Karen xx

jadie said...

ooh ooh, i saw someone recommended the peasant princess series by mark driscoll. i completely and totally second that suggestion. it pretty much rocked our world (in a good way). it's a pretty long series, but it's really worth it.

Jessica (Probst) Eveland said...

My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years. For us it is the little things not the grand gestures that mean the most to me and my husband. He'll bring my coffee in the morning to me while I'm still in bed. Or I'll be reading on the couch and he grabs a blanket and puts it over my legs. I don't ask him to do these things he just thinks of me. And that means more to me than dinner at an expensive fancy restaurant. I try to do the same for him. I'll pick up his favorite snack at the grocery store or make his favorite dinner when I know it's been a rough day for him.

Another area that I have learned to change my thinking on is that I tell Paul what I want. I don't just assume that he knows what I want. "He should just know" has left my vocabulary. For example, on Monday I made myself a new apron that I was really excited about and I told Paul, "I made a new apron and I need you to be excited about it" So he was and I was just as happy.

Jill said...

Hey Rachel. Todd and I have been together since we were 15 and 16, so although we've been officially married for 9 years, we've been 'together' for almost 15.

I think the hardest thing for us has been business, specifically, mine. We spend a lot of that sitting on the couch, chilling kind of time apart now, and that sucks a bit. I think it's important to just BE together after the kids go to sleep.

I don't know that there's an answer to this kind of thing, but for myself, if i feel disconnected, I ask my mom to babysit, and we have a date night, or I take a few days off what i need to get done, and just try be together and give US some focus.


Jessica O'Brien said...

what amazing comments! i'll have to come back to this post to read through all of them.

my husband and i have been married just 8 months, but together almost 6 years.

we operate in home life, friendships, business, everything - in totally opposite ways. we have found great comfort and productivity in what someone above called "team meetings". we sit once a week on sunday nights, review our to-do list, tell the other about what we have scheduled, try to make a fun plan for the week, and just do an emotional touchbase. i'm very right-brain, organized, ocd-ish, so getting these details locked down let's me enjoy his company and not stress or nag over little things during the week.

Nichole said...

With so many comments I didn't get a chance to read them all, but the ones I read are helpful and inspiring.

I've been married 6 years, but my husband and I celebrated our 10 year "together" anniversary on May 6. I'd say what helps us the most is that, at the end of the day, we are friends. Best friends.

We don't feel pressure to make things work because we like each other and desire it to work, so it does.

In a lot of ways my husband is who I want to be, and has qualities that I lack in myself. I admire him and respect him for those qualities, and he feels the same for me. The best thing we do is remind each other (usually via email if he's under way) of how much we love and admire each other.

He grew up not hearing the words "I love you" a lot, because his family feels it goes without saying. But if you don't hear the words how do you know? It's nice to hear that, so we end every phone conversation with "I love you" or "love you."

And something I plan on trying to implement when my husband gets home is holding hands while arguing. I read that tip in Real Simple magazine this month and it sounds super helpful. If you hold hands it's harder to be super mean to the person you are arguing with.

AnnaMaia said...

Great photos of you two.

For the question on having a happy life with someone for a long time. We're not married but been together forever. Even if it feels like nothing at all.

Of course life goes up and down and so do relationships. I think if you understand the concept of bad days and that they will pass, that is a great start. Most people go in to relationships with this glorification of there partner. Instead of seeing who's really there.
What we do everyday is never go to bed angry, always tell the other person how much we love them, give hugs and kisses as often as possible but at least a couple of times a day.
If we get mad at something we confront it right then and there. That helps not to keep angry thoughts of someone that you love.

In everyday life it's easy to forget to give your heart truly because of all other things. But to eep a long and happy life together that's what you have to do.

Hope you guys stay together and enjoy life. It's a rollercoaster ride worth taking.

Keep smiling

Brina said...

My fiance and I have been together for only two years, but it seems like longer. Even though we live together, work at the same store, and basically we're constantly together, we do our own things. That helps keep us from annoying each other.

Its also the little things that we do for each other. I make his coffee every morning, so he doesn't have to get out of bed. I rub his back pretty much every night, because he hauls around hundreds of pounds of produce at work every day. He cooks for me, always takes out the trash without being asked, warms up the bathroom for me before my shower, etc.

We may be a young couple, but we've been through a lot and he truly is my best friend.


Ornery's Wife said...

Thirty two deliriously happy years with my Ornery, and they just keep getting better and better. I guess that means I have a track record. :)

Here is my twelve cents worth...
1. You are on the same team. If you don't see things the same way, change perspective and compromise.
2. Always build each other up; no tacky one liners to give someone a laugh at your partner's expense.
3. I think there is great value in love, laugh, pray: Do it together daily.
4. Notice and express your gratitude for all the things your partner does for you. (even after sex)
5. Bless your spouse/partner by speaking good things about him/her, even when they are not around. It is a good reminder to you of how good you have it.

May you experience love, peace and joy every day!