Friday, February 13, 2015

What I've learned about love through marriage

Of all the posts I've done this week, this one has definitely been the most challenging to write!
Marriage is unlike any relationship I have ever experienced.
I knew it would be powerful, I knew it would be beautiful, and I knew it would be fulfilling,
but I just didn't know how deeply powerful, beautiful and fulfilling it would be until I found Jason.

I know that every marriage is different, and each couple has their own set of challenges.
None of us are perfect, which means none of our relationships will be perfect.
I would never want any of the things I say on this blog to make it sound like I have everything figured out or that I'm even perfectly consistent at following my own advice,
but I do know that reading someone else's experiences can help you with your own life experiences.

So here's what I've learned about love through marriage so far!

Surprise each other often
This one makes marriage such a blast! Surprises and fun romantic evenings aren't uncommon during the dating and engagement phases of love, but something about marriage can cause those surprises to start dwindling. It doesn't have to be that way though! Surprises can be simple, something like picking up your spouse's favorite cereal at the store, or showing up at work or school to take your spouse on a lunch date. I don't know what it is, but surprises like these help remind you how much you love and appreciate each other, and suddenly nothing else matters in the world!

Jason is seriously great at little surprises, and they make me feel so loved! They also make me want to surprise him more, which makes the fun continue. Just tonight I came home to a sweet card on our bed (he's out of town and I won't see him until tomorrow) letting me know he loves me. It's the little things, guys!

Be fiercely loyal

I heard the phrase "fiercely loyal" in a talk by President Monson and it has always stuck with me. To be fiercely loyal is to defend your marriage with everything you have. Speak positively about your spouse, and don't vent about little things to family members or friends. Remember, they will probably never forget what you tell them, and they will usually never hear the resolution to whatever issue you were filling them in on.

Beware of social media -- especially when it comes to former boyfriends/girlfriends. To be fiercely loyal is to lock your heart, filling it with love for your spouse, and your spouse only. Loyalty in marriage allows you to love completely, and you can never take too many precautions in this area.

^^ Jason made this name tag for me the week after we got engaged at a ward activity, ha!
(I don't think we need to be this extreme, but it's a good reminder!)

When it comes to listening, don't multitask
I'm going to be honest -- this one is a tough one! When you're married you spend more time together than ever before, which means the time you spend together isn't always just focused on each other like it was when you were dating. You'll be beside each other sending emails, reading books, or in the same room but doing very unrelated things. This can make putting whatever you're doing down to listen to your spouse's ideas or concerns difficult, especially when you're in the middle of something. My advice? When your spouse wants to chat, put the phone down, close the computer and look them in the eyes and listen. This is a very small, but meaningful, way to show someone you love them!

Thank God for each other in front of each other
When we were engaged, someone gave us a piece of advice that we have stuck to every day of our marriage. They said, "Pray together morning and evening, and when you pray, thank Heavenly Father for your spouse, and tell Him what you are grateful for about that person." I think that's all I need to say about that one. It's led to some beautiful, heartfelt prayers.

Learn your spouse's love language
Taking the love language quiz makes for a great date for married, engaged, or seriously dating couples! The book is nice as well, but not necessary because each of the love languages is pretty self explanatory. Also realize that love languages can evolve after marriage, so the same ways you showed love to your spouse may or may not be the ways they feel it the most once you're married! That being said though, I think I'll always be a quality time person, and Jason will always be physical touch. Jason loves to be close to me, and I love to spend time with him so it works out well! Honestly though, any of the love languages make me feel loved, and I think many people are that way. Just put your spouse first, spend time together, show physical affection and chances are, your love for each other will deepen!

Be social together
When we got married we made a decision to make hosting and attending social gatherings a priority. Of course, being social shouldn't take precedence over your relationship, but also realize that being social together can definitely strengthen your relationship! Seeing Jason interact with people always makes me fall more in love with him. When we're social together, we also create fun memories and build lifelong friendships. Socializing energizes us, and it's a healthy way to keep your marriage fun!

Walk it out
I'm pretty sure I've made it clear on this blog how much I love to walk! Luckily Jason enjoys evening walks as well, so we do a lot of talking and walking. Maybe for you, it's not walking but going on a drive, stargazing, or sitting on a porch swing. We love to walk though, and this activity has been the greatest thing for our marriage! It gets us out of the house, away from distractions, and focused completely on each other for however long we want it to last. When we walk together, it's like nothing else matters and it really helps me prioritize.

Walking also gets us in the habit of asking each other questions about how the day went, what we're working on, what's concerning us, what we're excited about. We also love to ask each other random questions about childhood memories, high school, and life before we met each other. These questions are common for the dating phase of life, but keep them going into marriage! Become an expert on your spouse. Know their likes, their fears, their accomplishments, and their hopes and dreams. Knowing these things about each other will create a beautiful friendship.

Well, that's it for my love week posts!
I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day, whether you're spending it with family, friends, a spouse, or a pint of ice cream.
I've spent a Valentine's Day or two doing all of those things!


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