Thursday, October 13, 2011

Working On Our Marriage

I've been thinking quite a bit about my marriage recently.  Betty Beguiles's request for honeymoon stories certainly got me thinking about how far we've come since our own honeymoon only 15 months ago.  But marriage was already on my mind, specifically how our marriage is going to change once the baby makes his or her big entrance next month. 

My husband and I have been blessed with a really wonderful marriage so far.  The first few months were difficult as we adjusted to our new life together, which was complicated by the intense homesickness I felt having just moved away from my family and hometown for the first time.  But after the initial adjustment phase, marriage has come so easy to us.  We really haven't had to put any effort into making our marriage great, it just is.  There are a few aspects of our life together that I attribute this happiness and ease to: 1) We do put effort into making God the center of our lives, our relationship and our family. 2) Our marriage is still young, so we haven't encountered many difficulties that have tried our relationship yet. 3) We are very well-suited for each other - we are alike in the ways that matter most (religion, life goals, spending habits, belief in the importance of education and hard work) and opposites in a way that complements each other well (David is very patient and calm while I have a bit of temper, I am a planner while David is a bit scatterbrained). 

Although it's come easy to us so far, I know that once the little one is here we'll have to make a more conscious effort to spend time on our marriage.  So I'm going to be trying something new: consciously working on my marriage!  I want to be proactive and consider preparing ways to care for our marriage part of the overall preparations I'm making for the baby to arrive.  It's every bit as important as having the nursery ready (well, even more important - the baby doesn't need a crib right away or cute decorations on the wall; he/she, however, does need two parents that love and care for him/her and one another).
Earlier this year, my husband and I attended a one-day marriage retreat at a local Catholic Church.  One of the speakers addressed the five love languages I’ve been wanting to read the book by Gary Chapman since I first heard about it when I was still in high school, but I think that I pretty much got the gist by listening to the presentation.  I’m reticent about going into too much detail about the love languages because it seems like most people I run into have already heard of them and have a general idea of what they are (if you aren’t one of those people or need a refresher, you can take a quiz to find out your love language and learn more about them here). 
At the end of the talk, the speaker asked us each to write down our love language and what we thought our spouse’s love language was.  After only 6 months of marriage, we already had each other pegged.  Neither of us have one clear front runner, but rather two love languages that best explain how we feel loved.
My love languages are physical touch and gifts.  My husband’s are acts of service and words of affirmation.  No surprise there, I knew we were opposites in a million different ways when we got married. 
The love languages were very helpful for understanding how to show love and kindness to one another and made an immediate difference in our relationship.  But as time has gone on, we haven’t made as much effort to think about one another’s love languages and perform acts of love specifically tailored to them.  While thinking about ways to ensure that our marriage stays strong while we adjust to a new baby, my thoughts constantly came back to the love languages.  Once you know your spouse's love language, you can do small actions to make them feel appreciated and those small actions will have a big effect.  Sounds perfect for a busy new mama who won't have much time to plan extravagant gestures of love!  In fact, now that I've been mindful of our love languages recently, I’ve noticed some ways that we’ve been fulfilling one another through our love languages unintentionally:
My husband commented recently (a few times) how much he liked it when he came home and the bed was made.  Before I got married, I rarely made the bed (I’m one of those people who doesn’t see the point if you are just going to get back in it at the end of the night).  But hearing how much my husband liked it, I’ve been making an effort to perform this act of service for him every day.  It’s such a small thing, but it obviously makes him so happy.
About a week ago, my husband presented me with a "just because" card that he designed and printed at school.  It was so sweet and so pretty.  When we were first married he used to bring flowers home all the time (at least once a month), but now that I’m not working and we have a little one on the way, we don’t have money for him to bring me gifts.  But my love language isn’t gifts because I like people to spend money on me, it’s because I like to know that someone thought of me and knows me intimately enough to choose something personalized for me.  The card didn’t cost him a thing but meant so much to me!  

Once the baby is here, I want to continue to remember to do the little things that make my husband feel loved and appreciated.  What do you do to work on your marriage?  What makes your marriage great?  Do you have any tips for how to keep our marriage happy after the baby arrives?

If you've enjoyed reading about my new adventures in marriage, 
you can check out more adventurous bloggers at Alicia's Homemaking


  1. Hi Mandi,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I miss blogging, I've just been so busy lately. I'm trying to keep up with reading your blog and waiting to see when your little one makes his or her arrival:)

  2. I love your thoughts on preparing your marriage--that IS even more important than preparing all the physical things for the baby's arrival.

    I think one of the biggest ways to prepare your marriage is to adjust your expectations for the months immediately following the baby's birth. You will both be tired, and you will be especially tired if you're the sole baby feeder (i.e. breastfeeding!). If you can, I would make plans every two weeks or so to get out of the house by yourselves and let someone watch the baby for 1-2 hours inbetween feedings.
    Letting your husband know that HE is your top priority (even though the baby is taking up the majority of your time) helps, too. You'll know best how to show that to your man!
    With our second due in December, I need to be thinking about this, too. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  3. Stopping by from TNAT.

    I've read the 5 Love Languages of Children, but not that book. We did figure out our love languages though, and it really makes a difference to know what your spouse needs. I'm glad you were able to attend the retreat.

  4. Something that makes our marriage great is that we always make time to talk. Communication is a big deal, and it's the best thing about me and my husband....we discuss things, share things, and reflect on things each other has said. You asked if I had any advice to keep your marriage happy after baby...and I don't, because I honestly think you should focus on keeping it *united* rather than happy. Happiness may come and go based on circumstances, but if your marriage is united, you will weather all storms :-)
    Advice for keeping it united: eat meals together as often as possible, continue to reach each other on your love language level, keep lines of communication open, be compassionate, and my husband said, "do random things that help the other person out."

  5. We had to take the test doing Engaged Encounter and I'm the same as your husband. When Steven does the dishes for me, it means so much or just takes the time to say thank you for doing the laundry or whatever I did.

    I love how you're prepping your marriage for the baby. What a fantastic idea!

    I'm with you on making the bed. What's the point? :)

  6. Sounds like you are making a good effort! My boyfriend and I took the quizzes, too. His top 2 are touch (which is difficult for me to convey since we live 600 miles apart) and quality time, while mine are affirmation and quality time. We try to plan "dates" on Skype and carve out time to talk with each other (trying to up our quality time since one of his love languages just cannot be met at this point), and he is great about sending thoughtful cards with lots of affirmation. The small things really make a difference!

  7. Hey there - found your blog through twitter. I like this posting a lot because it brings me right back to when I got married...22 years ago. I got married young, and we pretty much had everything stacked against us. I sometimes wonder how we've survived when almost all of our original couple friends are now divorced. We have definitely had our ups and downs, but the key is communication. It's difficult to always make time for you as a couple once children enter the scene - especially if you have no extended family nearby (as in our case). Sooo, it's really important to share how you're feeling with one another. Try not to point fingers, but state clearly what you're needing. Men are wired completely differently from women - and it's for a reason. We are not supposed to be the same - it's not the way God intended. However, sometimes that gets frustrating because they can NOT read our minds. They just aren't as intuitive as women on the whole. Be clear, be direct, be kind, be humble, be loving, be forgiving, and be merciful. Good luck with your beautiful baby who's waiting to meet you and your hubby and God bless!


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