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Category: Marriage and Relationships

I treat my marriage like a job. Sounds glamorous, right?

Well, let me back up a minute. You know the old adage, “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?” I think I would tweak it to say, “find a job you love, and it will make all the hard work worth it.” That’s what I mean when I say I treat my marriage like a job, because it can be hard work, but it is most definitely worth it in the end. For me, most of the “work” comes in the form of time, usually time spent learning how to really care for my other half. As innately selfish creatures, this can be tricky for Kyle and me, so at the beginning of our relationship we made up a phrase to define how we wanted to take care of each other: Let Your Care Cup Run Over.

For us, this starts with identifying each other’s needs, and then willingly (not begrudgingly) putting them before our own. We’ve found the concept of Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages very helpful in identifying and learning to fill those needs, because we’ve also learned that it’s no use trying to care for each other in a way that doesn’t resonate. You can take the short, free quiz here if you’d like.

If you haven’t read the book, I’d definitely recommend it. I’d also recommend revisiting the quiz from time to time, because your love language might change depending on your circumstances. For instance, after getting married, I learned that acts of service were my new favorite way to receive love.

What does this look like in our life? Kyle cares for me by making the coffee every night, so I wake up to freshly-brewed coffee in the kitchen each morning (acts of service). And he sneaks notes in my luggage when I go out of town (words of affirmation). I cook dinner because Kyle loves to eat and appreciates healthy home-cooked meals (acts of service). I will scratch his head or his back while we are watching TV together on the sofa (physical touch).

Sounds wonderful, right? Most of the time, it is. But here’s the trick: when you’re in a committed relationship, you sometimes have to care when you don’t feel like caring. Sometimes you have to push through and dig deep and reach out and put the other person’s needs before your own when all you want to do is be selfish. Sometimes you have to care even when the other person doesn’t seem like he or she cares.

The good news is that if you are both committed to this idea, you won’t be the only one who is always “over-caring.” If you’re both trying to give more than 100%, there should always be a little leeway to make up for the partner who needs it.

Of course, I also think caring can be illustrated outside the immediacy of your relationship. And, the more you do this, the easier it is to embody a “care cup” mentality within your VIP relationships (spouse, kids, family – places it’s admittedly easiest to be selfish). Outside of your relationship, this could look like community service, church activities, coffee with a hurting friend, bringing a meal to a new neighbor or new parents, driving a distance for an event (wedding, funeral, etc.), or even pitching in at work to tackle a task outside of your responsibilities. The more you work your “care” muscle, the more natural it will feel to call on it.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you let your care cup run over. How have you learned to communicate your love and care through your spouse’s love language? Have you learned what ways you receive love and care the best?

See more from this sweet engagement session by Blue Ribbon Vendor Robyn Van Dyke on Facebook Friday!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
12 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I just took the Love Languages quiz again, and I would say my results were… inconclusive. My highest (7) was physical touch, which I’m surprised by, because I’m not a very “touchy-feely” person. But it does say “physical presence and accessibility are crucial,” and I definitely thrive on spending any kind of time with John. I got a 6 each on words of affirmation, quality time, and acts of service, and a 5 on receiving gifts. Apparently I just like everything :)

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Em! I am not surprised at all that you are able to speak almost all of the Love Languages equally! I love that you retook the quiz.

  2. avatar Lindsay {Everistta} reply

    I love this! Marriage is work and needs investment. A nice reminder. My hubby and I try to practice this way of thinking as well.

  3. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

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“All the Days of my Life” was a favorite V6 feature for the SW office and readers alike, so naturally, we’ll be sprinkling the wise words from these 25+ year couples throughout Sweet Tea Sundays! Teresa and Seburn have been married for 64 years, and we fell in love with their precious memories (proposals don’t happen like that anymore–doesn’t theirs remind you a little of The Notebook?) and heartwarming advice. We so honored to share their beautiful love story with y’all!

Brandi Mattison

When did you know he/she was the “one”? Seburn always says that he knew I was “the one” on our first date. I am far less spontaneous or romantic. I am practical–I knew he was “the one” when he proposed. He stood on the edge of the bridge and told me to marry him or he would jump. It didn’t leave me much choice. I am so glad he is my perfect opposite–he is so decisive and helps me live my life more focused and intentional.
What’s your favorite wedding memory? We love the vows we exchanged and the meaning behind them. When we made the promise before God, we knew we were both intentionally going to live those promises daily.
What’s the secret to your marriage? Out marriage is easy, because we like each other. There is no one else I would rather face challenges with or celebrate joys with. Our honesty about where each of us are has helped our marriage stay strong throughout the years, but our secret is that we are married to our best friend.
What’s your best memory related to the South? Seburn’s favorite memory of Southern food is the time I made gumbo with strawberries (on accident). The strawberries looked like deer meat to me in the freezer. I noticed it looked grainy when I cooked it, but didn’t think much about it. When I tasted it, I thought it was odd, but I couldn’t figure out what I had done. Seburn finished his bowl, so I don’t know why he thinks it is so funny. I think it is more hysterical that he liked it.
What’s your best marriage advice? To be honest with one another, to not make a mountain out of a molehill, to never go to bed mad at each other and to love another unconditionally.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I love these two!! The gumbo story always makes me laugh :)

  2. avatar Kyla F reply

    This is beautiful. The picture alone warmed my heart but their words melted it.

  3. avatar Danae & Monica reply

    How sweet are those two?! Aw! :)

  4. avatar Kristin reply

    I ditto the love for the gumbo story! They are darling and I love their advice.

  5. avatar Stephanie reply

    THIS is why I love Southern Weddings so much – what a beautiful, timeless story & marriage!

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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I have disagreements with my husband.

*Gasp*

I know. No one likes to talk about fighting, and many people would not fess up to actually having “tiffs” with their spouse, fiancé, or significant other. That’s “behind-closed-door” conversation, taboo to talk about with friends or family, and definitely not appropriate to talk about in public, right?

I think that the notion that good marriages don’t have conflict is foolish. I actually think that good relationships are bound to have their fair share of disagreements, because first of all, they involve two imperfect people with individual thoughts and feelings. Second, these same two people want to fight for their strong marriage. They want to stick up for it and protect it and preserve it. The trick lies in how you manage the inevitable conflict — how you ensure that through your disagreement, your love and commitment is reinforced. As this week’s title implies, how you Fight Fair.

I have always believed in the idea that thoughtful conflict builds character — so much so that I promised KPW that I would “fight fair and love BIG” at the front of the church on our wedding day.

But learning to fight fair is a skill, and it takes time and commitment to learn. It might even involve unlearning some things you’ve picked up over the years. It involves understanding how you manage conflict and how your significant other handles it — maybe you need to take a walk around the block before coming back to have the “discussion,” or maybe you need to sit down at the table and look at each other face-to-face. Whatever your method is, it’s important to set ground rules together to prepare for conflict before it happens, because it will happen.

I couldn’t agree more with the marriage advice Natalie Norton shared in Southern Weddings V6 (page 286 — you’ll be seeing the full text in an upcoming Sweet Tea Sundays post!). Like her, I have to be super careful to try not to fight when I am “too tired, too hungry or too angry.” If I’m not careful, I can easily let outside influences (like work, other family, or the weather) impact my emotional stability and ultimately take it out on Kyle.

The good news? Fighting leads to forgiving – the goal should always be to better understand your other half and evaluate a disagreement in the context of your relationship with each other and with yourself. Some questions I try to ask myself:

— How does this disagreement help me better “get” and love him better?
— How do I take away some added perspective and improve myself?

The goal is never to “win” a fight – that means someone has to lose, which isn’t good for the other person or your relationship long-term. Sometimes the end comes when you agree to respectfully disagree and move on, which is more than OK. Remember, it’s better to have discussion and potential disagreement than to bottle things up inside until one day they explode all over the place — or worse yet, realize you don’t even care enough to disagree anymore.

But we’re far from that place! As a last point, remember that fighting fair also means moving on — not endlessly digging up previous fights or transgressions. Yes, you should learn from each fight and continue to grow in your perspective and understanding of the other person, but bringing up previous fights and refusing to truly forgive defeats the purpose of fighting fair. It’s not just about being fair in the present, but applying that fairness to the past and future of your relationship.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you fight fair, how you and your significant other navigate the waters of conflict. Do you agree with the age-old advice to never go to bed angry, or are you like Natalie, and prefer to come back to a disagreement once you have some space (and maybe sleep)? We’d love to hear!

New to this series? Catch up here:
Intro
1: Make Laughter Happen
2: Use Your Words
3: Put On Your Spouse’s Shoes
4: Keep Dating
5: Be Present
6: Take a Deep Breath
7: Get Away

We’re sure even this sweet couple disagrees — and that’s okay! See more from their engagement session by Blue Ribbon Vendor Faith Teasley on Facebook Friday!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
14 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I’m not sure about going to sleep, but I am DEFINITELY in the camp of taking some space/time when I get heated – I am much more rational after I’ve had time to cool down and stop gnawing on whatever hurt I’ve been irritating :)

  2. avatar Lara reply

    I love this and totally agree. We had to learn to trust God and always go to Him (even if that means separately so we can cool off) to pray (together if we can). It always helps us see through our own emotions and fight for US : )

  3. avatar Jennifer Skinner reply

    I agree with all of the above. I’ve learned how important it is to think before you speak in the heat of the moment. Once those words come out of your mouth you can never take them back no matter how many times you appologize. It’s also important to own your mistakes. Acknowledging when you’ve hurt someone goes a long way.

    To stay happy: play together, hold hands, be your spouses biggest fan, set goals together and my favorite and a regular event at our house: ALWAYS take time for an impromptu dance party! Dancing keeps a marriage young! :)

  4. avatar Lora Kelley reply

    I take the “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” as a metaphor. As in, don’t become someone who goes from anger to contempt by not addressing things or “letting the sun go down.”

    Sleep is critical for a good, reasonable conversation. Nothing good happens when a person is sleep-deprived. It’s like trying to reason with a drunk person. We use the acronym HALT – Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. If you find yourself in any of these states, it’s usually better to take a pause, eat. take a walk. find a friend. get some rest. And act preventatively and know yourself. I am the worst when I’m hungry. It’s basically useless to even look at me if I haven’t eaten. I can do no good.

    We also implement the “understanding” model. This means that the goal isn’t “winning” or “agreeing”. But rather, seeking to understand what the other person is saying. It’s much easier to come to a reasonable conclusion if you actually understand the other person’s point of view.

    Lastly, we constantly try and say (outloud, even) to remind ourselves – I chose you. I like you. I am for you. The point is wholeness and unity, but not squashing uniqueness and diversity. If at any point, I start feeling combatant – I just say to myself. This is my person! His good is my good. I want him to flourish. I want him to thrive. I am for his joy!

    :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Agreed! I usually know a disagreement is at its end when one of us says, “I just love you, okay?” It’s kind of hard not to smile at that, and it’s become the most reliable thing we can always go back to, no matter what’s happening in the moment :)

    • avatar Lisa reply

      I love that!

  5. avatar Tamara Menges reply

    I once had someone say to me that marriage is easy, I’ve held on to that simply because it isn’t. I don’t think it is supposed to be, because we are imperfect people, living in an very imperfect world with all kinds of crazy surrounding us daily trying to tear us down. Marriage takes work, commitment, and knowing how to apologize when you say something out of spite or “pick a fight” because of those outside influences (ie: bad day, you’re tired, hungry, etc.) For us, Kason and I don’t go to be angry or upset with each other, we also pray together every morning and before bed time. We went to bed mad once early in our marriage years ago, and it was the worst night ever, so we vowed to never let that happen again. Fortunately for us, and thank you Lord, we are not “yellers”, we don’t raise our voice to each other, ever. Now we do get aggravated or snippy, but we have both trained ourselves to say I’m sorry immediately, and then take a deep breath. Most of the time we’re just in a bad mood from something else, but in the event of a conflict we both let each other have time to talk, we try really hard not to talk over each other. (Even though he’s way better at this than me, after all I’m the girl so I want to be heard, but I continue to work hard at closing my mouth!) So our marriage consists of “I’m sorry’s”, tons of “I love you’s” at random times, and never going to bed upset with each other, after all its incredibly hard to pray with someone if you’re mad at them, and prayer together is non-negotiable, so being mad has to be the thing to change!

  6. avatar Lisa reply

    I’m not married yet, so take with a grain of salt :) But here’s something that Dave and I do. Since we’re long distance and pretty much all of our conversations (and subsequently, arguments) take place over the phone/Facetime, we have a rule about not hanging up while we’re still angry or upset. It’d be way too easy to cut each other out when we’re fighting and then let the problem build up, so we refuse to let that happen. Even if we’re still a little upset or we decide together to take time to cool off, we never end a conversation without saying “I love you” sincerely.

  7. avatar Marianne reply

    Kristen, Such great points you shared on point! I agree with you that conflict isn’t always pleasant or welcomed but done right is a neccisity for growth. Stuffing is a death nail to intimacy. All the rest of the chorus, too -Y’all encourage me and I have been married 33 years to the man of my dreams! Both sinners we are going to disagree. Also, we couldn’t be more opposite. Oh, but we love each other so much that broken fellowship stabs our hearts. We try and keep our RELATIONSHIP above our ISSUES. Also, on those nights we have crawled into bed and not wanted to even touch a pinky toe, we stick to our promise to always kiss before sleeping (that’s on me, cause he kisses me every morning before he leaves). So no matter what – we kiss and say, “I know we don’t agree right now, or are hurt, or blah, blah, BUT I love you more than this and we will figure this out”. Keep loving and keep fighting FOR your FOREVER marriage with Christ at the very middle of it! ❤️

  8. avatar ame reply

    I choose to use advice given to me at my wedding: “fight naked.”

  9. avatar ame reply

    (seriously, it can make even some of the most serious arguments gain some perspective because you can’t help but laugh when bits and bobs are flinging around.)

  10. avatar Ilana reply

    The amazing thing about marriage is that you have the time to grow together. When we fight or disagree, there isn’t the fear of losing your partner over a dispute, but it also means you have the luxury of putting the disagreement on the shelf for a time – a few days, a month – and revisiting it with fresh perspective. I have learned to be patient and not push, but to take the time to work through the disagreement and get it right. Maybe we’re not both thrilled, but we respect each other for trying.

  11. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] about, but it’s so valuable! Kristin shared her tips for fighting fair in this week’s Hints for a Happy Marriage post. Don’t miss the comments section for even more wise advice, and please do chime in with your […]

  12. avatar Liz and Ryan reply

    We absolutely LOVE this series of posts!!! We are so happy that you are bringing light to topics like this and helping people talk about the parts of marriage that, like you mentioned, often seem taboo to talk about. One of our favorite things to do when fighting, or at least try to do, is to hold hands and sit next to each other while we hash things out. We definitely aren’t perfect and it doesn’t always work out that way, but the closer we are when fighting or disagreeing about something, the more we remember what is the most important thing in our marriage, our love for each other. Plus, we always try to end with a kiss to ease the tension. We can’t wait until the next hint for a happy marriage! Thanks so much for sharing posts like this!!!

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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