Two years ago, my favorite blogwriters wrote about their marriage – and how after 5 years, they keep the love alive. I find it inspirational, not only because they have the marriage that I strive to one day have, but also because they don’t pretend it’s something it isn’t – they recognize that, despite the love they share, that it’s at times hard and it’s lonesome. And throughout all of that, they get through it together. That’s what I find motivating – the togetherness, the partnership.
On our anniversary Mr. Loerke and I spent time reflecting on the past 5 years. As a result we came up with a list of 10 Things That Have Made All The Difference in our marriage. Please feel free to make these your own, as well as share any wisdom and insight you may have in the comment section below. After all, we need all the help we can get!
1. Weekly Questions: For the past five years Tim and I have been asking each other the same five questions every Sunday night. These questions have made the biggest difference in how we love and serve one another throughout the week. If you’re going to incorporate one of these 10 things into your marriage, we hope it’s this one.
2. A Small Metal Box: After reading this story, Tim and I made a pact that each time we made love we would put a dollar in a special metal box and save it for our 50th anniversary trip to Hawaii. This has surprisingly been a great way for us to creatively pursue intimacy with one another over the years. Our only advice would be to not count the money in your box. Focus on quality, not quantity.
3. Traveling Journal: There is a journal we share that’s filled with words that would make you blush. We take turns writing in it, always hiding it for the other to find in an unexpected place. It’s been found duct taped to our shower, in suitcases when traveling, even in the refrigerator behind the Cool Whip. (Pretty sure Husband was trying to tell me something). Overall, this has been a great way for us to verbally affirm and encourage one another.
4. We (try and) Conflict Well: Conflict is inevitable in relationships, but we believe it exists to make us better, not bitter. We try and keep short accounts with one other by sharing our disappointments and hurt feelings. This isn’t always easy but it’s necessary in maintaining marital oneness. From experience we know there’s nothing more damaging to our relationship than harbored bitterness.
5. We Play Together: Husband and I have chosen to be active together. Whether it’s tossing the Frisbee, flying our kite, going on walks, participating in adventure races, reading bedtime stories, or building forts in our living room, playing together has helped us find our inner child. It has also reminded me that being active together can be romantic. After all, deep down I know Husband wants me to be his sidekick when it comes to doing “guy things” with him. Realizing this has been critical in helping us stay connected both physically and emotionally.
6. We Pray Together: One of our favorite ways to end the day is by praying together. We pray for our friends, family, and for wisdom in our marriage. Though our prayers are usually not longer than a couple of minutes they have made a huge difference in helping us stay spiritually connected, as well as make us more aware of each others fears and insecurities.
7. We Celebrate Each Other: Husband and I love to make a big deal out of anniversaries, birthdays,holidays, and even smaller personal accomplishments. We are each other’s biggest fans, and finding a thoughtful gift or preparing a special meal can make the biggest difference in helping us feel known, loved, and celebrated.
8. We Don’t Do Marriage Alone: Our trusted friends have been incredibly helpful in showing us how to work through some of the bigger issues in our marriage. It wasn’t always easy to share these struggles because of our pride and embarrassment, but soon we realized that most couples were struggling with the same things we were. We’ve learned that isolating only hinders us from truly dealing with our hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
9. The Greatest Gift (Self Work): We realized early on in our marriage that the greatest gift we could give each other was to know ourselves. This meant working through our family of origin junk. We all have it, but so few actually sort through it; Celebrate Recovery helped show us how. It was here that we first learned to attack our problems together, instead of attacking each other about our problems.
10. We Study One Another: Someone once told us that no matter how long you’ve dated your spouse, the day you get married you’re essentially committing your life to a total stranger. This was great advice considering how quickly people change. To say I know Tim fully after 5 yrs of marriage would be a lie. There’s so much about him that I don’t know about simply because I do not ask. That is why we like to interview each other regularly. It’s amazing the things you can learn about your spouse when you take the time to ask both fun and creative questions.
10b. Dude Time / Girl Time: Sometimes one of the best things we can do for our marriage is to spend time apart. It blesses me when Tim is able to take a trip with his guys because I know they meet certain needs that I can’t. Similarly, Tim understands that spending a weekend with my girls is critical to my overall mental health and well being. Don’t get me wrong, you guys know how madly in love I am with Mr.Loerke, but sometimes all a girl needs is an uninterrupted weekend with her besties. Guys are no different.
An incredible list of ten plus things that make a a marriage strong – I benefit everyday by reading things like this, and I look forward to putting them into practice. In the meantime, what an incredible weekend I’ve spent with friends, new and now not-so-new. I’m so lucky.