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Category: Marriage and Relationships

Friends, today is my fifth wedding anniversary! You may have caught my ongoing Instagram stories party, where I’ve been sharing some of my favorite photos from different parts of our celebration (if not, you can always see the full feature here and here!). I love celebrating an anniversary because not only does it give me an excuse to pull out my wedding album, watch our wedding film, and go out to dinner with my best friend (yum!), it’s an opportunity to stop and reflect.

An anniversary is the perfect time to cheer yourselves on (something I think is so important!), to remind yourselves of everything you love about the person you married, and to give thanks for all the ways your life is better for having your partner in it.

Like a new year, an anniversary is also a time to consider ways you might be able to improve. John and I are far from perfect, but we have done a few things right in our first five years of marriage. Today I wanted to share five, in the hopes that they might be an encouragement to you!

1. We draw strength from something outside of ourselves. One of the most beautiful things about marriage is that it’s a place where your ugly can show, and you’ll be loved, unconditionally, despite it. That being said, I know I’d be a much more selfish, unforgiving, ungracious, record-keeping wife without a Father who is continually calling me to die to myself and love others as I’ve been loved. We would not have the marriage we do without our faith.

2. We’re willing to change. When I think of the couples I know who have gotten divorced, it’s very rarely because of something dramatic and awful. Usually, the answer is something along the lines of “we drifted apart” or “he’s not the same person I married.” This seems kind of strange to me, because wouldn’t you expect someone to change over time?! Stanley Hauerwas, quoted in Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage, says it well: “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing that it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered into it.”

When change comes, John and I have committed to growing towards each other. Towards each other, not away from each other, and not side by side. We expect each other to change (as high school sweethearts, it was inevitable!), and when we do we (imperfectly) seek to understand it and grow along with it.

3. We trust in our relationship without reservation. This is a hallmark of our particular marriage. We’ve never given each other a reason to doubt it, and so we’ve never been tempted to do so. We don’t treat our love for each other like it’s conditional, or could be threatened to be taken away, or withheld as a bargaining chip. Even if we are angry or frustrated, at bedrock, we both know without a doubt that we are acting from a place of unshakeable love.

4. We don’t ask the other to fulfill needs they can’t. This one can be so hard, friends! While my and John’s lives are deeply, inextricably entwined, we try to take responsibility for our own happiness first instead of looking to the other to fulfill every emotional need. Practically speaking, for us, that means building an inner confidence, maintaining equilibrium through each other’s bad days (you have to put on your own oxygen mask first!), and again, going to God to be reminded of our true worth.

5. We enjoy each other. You know that saying, find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life? I like to switch it up a bit: marry your best friend, and you’ll never work a day in your marriage. That, of course, is not entirely true — even the best marriages have harder days and easier days — but if you truly LIKE your partner, and love spending time with him or her more than anyone else, everything else seems to fall into place. One of our favorite ways to be reminded of how much we like each other is going on evening walks together – we are totally on T.J.’s bandwagon!

Whether you’re celebrating your first or fiftieth anniversary, know I’m cheering you on, friends! And if you’d like to share, I’d love to hear something you’ve done right in your marriage in the comments :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Mike reply

    Love these wedding photographs! The bride looks so happy.

  2. avatar Jessie W reply

    Love #1 <3

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Did you know that less than one fifth of current marriages are preceded by any type of formal marriage preparation??? While we love gorgeous gowns and pretty wedding day details, we’re also big believers in preparing for your marriage and all the life that happens after those beautiful ‘I dos.’ Over the last few weeks, it’s been our joy to share a few different premarital resources, covering topics from money to love and respect, because we know that joining two lives means coming together on a lot of different issues.

As someone who’s a sucker for a good personality test and an advocate for the importance of communication (hello, I was a communications major in college!), Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts might just be my favorite premarital prep resource we’ve shared to date.

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts is more than just a book – it’s a self-guided course that includes questions at the end of every chapter. The companion workbooks (hers + his) are full of exercises to help you apply what you learn along the way and individually-taken tests (I told you I love a good personality quiz!). Everything points to important conversation topics and is designed to facilitate good discussion – perfect for a cozy date night? :)

A few important topics the book addresses:
– Uncovering the most important misbeliefs of marriage.
– Learning how to communicate with instant understanding.
– Discovering the secret to reducing and resolving conflict.
– Understanding the three essential ingredients to lasting love.

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts also includes seven crucial questions you should ask before – or even after! – you marry.

Given my background in communication studies and personal life mission as a love (and marriage) cheerleader, I think advice with real-life, practical application is worth its weight in gold.

The good news? You don’t have to just take my word for it. After asking if anyone else had read this book on social media, the replies started pouring in! Everyone from a couple who has been married 20 years to engaged gals who started the book just weeks ago shared their experiences and love of the book:

“I got engaged and my work friends got me more marriage books than you can imagine. This is my favorite, beyond a shadow of a doubt. There’s a section in the first chapter on the unconscious roles each spouse brings into a marriage, and it was an eye-opener. It changed me from the very first chapter! I think SYMBIS is an incredible resource for all brides and brides-to-be.”

“My husband and I read SYMBIS during our engagement and it was such a valuable resource in preparing us for marriage. It’s still useful four months in!”

“We are currently re-reading SYMBIS. We’re on week 5, and it’s truly the highlight of both mine and my fiance’s week.”

Want to learn more? You can grab a copy of this New York Times Bestseller wherever books are sold in physical, audio, and e-book form. Buy it here from Amazon!

This post is sponsored by Harper Collins. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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We’ve had the joy of sharing a few different premarital prep resources over the last few weeks, which I love! Different resources will speak to different couples at different times, so I think it’s wise to have a variety of perspectives on your bookshelf, don’t you?

Today’s tried and true resource, Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, hinges on a very simple finding: that in general, love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man.

Unfortunately, research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts unlovingly when feeling disrespected, and a wife reacts disrespectfully when feeling unloved. Yikes – that’s a recipe for a circle of hurt!

“We asked 7,000 people the question, ‘When you are in a conflict with your spouse or significant other, do you feel unloved or disrespected?’ says the author. “83% of the men said ‘disrespected’ and 72% of the women said ‘unloved.’ Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict.”

Love & Respect builds on this concept to offer a new way of relating through three cycles, each centered on, well, love and respect:

— The Crazy Cycle: Couples will learn how to resolve conflict through dealing with negative reactions.
— The Energizing Cycle: They will also learn how to motivate each other by meeting each other’s needs.
— The Rewarded Cycle: Those who feel hopeless in their relationships will gain understanding on how to handle an indifferent or unresponsive partner.

If you’ve ever felt like you and your beloved aren’t speaking the same language, lean on Eggerichs’ 30+ years of counseling experience to crack the code and change the way you talk to, think about, and treat your significant other in order to make your marriage even more joy-filled.

Sound intriguing? The New York Times Bestseller Love & Respect is available wherever books are sold in physical, audio, and e-book form. Buy it here on Amazon, and grab a few accompanying freebies right here!

I’d love to hear: What’s the best relationship book you’ve ever read?

This post is sponsored by Harper Collins. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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