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Good morning Belles! Today marks my 391st day of marriage – wow how time is flying these days! By no means do I consider myself a marriage expert, but having just passed the 365-day milestone and being someone who believes in a good + strong marriage, I do have a few post-newlywed hints to a happy marriage that I want to shout from atop the Blue Ridge Parkway; Emily graciously agreed to let me use my inside voice and share in print instead.

Byron Loves Fawn via 100 Layer Cake

Mercy, I loved planning every little piece of my wedding and swear to goodness that I would do it all over again, EVERY year, because I loved every minute of it. I loved it because of what it represented – the extremely intentional and heartfelt beginning to our married life. Planning for life post-marriage, alongside preparing all the little details for our wedding day celebration was extremely important to both of us.

By all means, marriage is hard work and takes serious effort, but it is so worth it. Kyle still might leave the toilet seat up on rare occasion (potentially dangerous in the middle of the night) and I may or may not occasionally hog the covers, but after nearly eight years of dating and one shiny year of marriage – we have some advice to share with those that are preparing to join in this crazy, fun adventure. So here are my 10 (+1) hints for a happy marriage:

Please note that this list is by no means all-encompassing – but rest assured these 10 (+1) ‘rules’ are well-tested and put into practice daily in our household. I am more excited than a pup with two tails to share some insight into each one of these rules over the next few weeks. I 100% believe that good marriage can change the world, and so I am committed to being that change, as well as helping y’all be the change, too.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from our married ladies: What are some of your hints for a happy marriage?

kristin Written with love by Kristin
  1. avatar Emily reply

    So good! I would say one of my and John’s hints for a happy marriage is something I learned from my parents: instead of “going halfway,” try to feel like you’re always going 90% of the way. It helps me to stop fretting about whether or not John is doing “his part,” and reminds me to always try and “outdo each other in showing honor.” So looking forward to this series!!

    • avatar Lauren reply

      Emily: Such great advice!

      Let me preface this with saying, I’m not married yet – will be this September. But I read marriage advice somewhere that said not to look at marriage as 50/50, but as 100/100 because at some point you or or spouse will not be able to give 100% and at that point the other one will be there to fill in the gap. I’m sure it was said much more eloquently wherever I read it, but it was such a lovely sentiment and has stuck with me.

      Loved this post Kristin! Looking forward to the follow-on! xx

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Lauren + Emily: Based on this conversation string, y’all are going to love ‘tip 9’. And thanks for the sweet thoughts. Excited to share some insight into a topic that really sets my heart on fire!!

      (And Lauren – congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Enjoy these last few weeks. Take some deep breaths and soak in this sweet time…)

  2. avatar Lisa reply

    I love this post so much, Kristin!! The way you entered into your marriage through your meaningful, intentional wedding, setting you up for a meaningful, intentional marriage is so inspiring. I’m filing this post away for the future! :)

  3. avatar Marissa reply

    I agree with Emily, I’m looking forward to this series as well! After nearly five (holy cow) years of marriage, I love continuing to learn ways to grow.

  4. avatar Melissa reply

    I love these! I am only 26 days into my new marriage, and it is wonderful seeing things that I believe to be essential foundation pieces, such the ones listed, reiterated. I think it would be precious to have these made into prints!

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Melissa: Congratulations Mrs. Newlywed. Enjoy this ‘crazy, fun adventure’ that you have just started. Can’t wait to dig into this tips and share a bit more over the coming weeks. Big hugs!!!

  5. avatar Stephanie reply

    This was such a breath of fresh air! September bride here too, and I think in all the fury of wedding planning it’s good to see these reminders of why we wedding plan in the first place – to prep for MARRIAGE. I’ve been obsessing over mercury glass, burlap and bicycle crunches, so I often forget to step away and focus on the relationship I have with my wonderful fiancé and how to stay in love once the wedding is over. Thank you ladies!

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Stephanie: This is music to my ears! Good luck with the final weeks of planning and preparations. And I would encourage you to go ahead and put some of this hints into practice pre-wedding…Enjoy those last few weeks by going on dates and taking some deep breaths! Big SW hugs!!

  6. avatar Laura reply

    We’re nearing the 1 year mark so I can’t speak from too much experience, but I definitely agree with #10. Sitting down and just talking about our day is one of my favorite things to do with my husband. If it was a great day, I love to share that with him and if it wasn’t so great, it always makes me feel better to talk it over with him.

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Our friend Katie, from the popular blog Marriage Confessions, drops by twice a month to share her take on Southern married life. We hope you enjoy, and be sure to visit her at her blog for regular doses of humor and adorable-ness!

I made a “to do” list a few weeks ago. I needed to go grocery shopping, finish grading a test my students took this week, send a thank you note to a kind friend, remember to take my son’s nap blanket to his daycare, clean the melted crayon out of my dryer, and register for a 5k I want to run next month before the fee goes up. Typical Wednesday night things to do.

But when my husband came home from work that night, my plans changed. He’d had a really rough day. He’d had to fire an old college friend who just wasn’t cutting it at work. He had known it was coming. He’d been preparing the paperwork and preparing for the “we have to let you go” meeting. But he hadn’t prepared for the long drive home after the meeting, when he would be along with his thoughts for the first time all day. It was a long drive home, he said.

He helped me feed the kids and we both gave them baths together, and I think that was good for his heart. I cleaned up the dinner mess while he read bedtime books and tucked the kids in bed, making sure bunnies and Mr. Bears were in the appropriate arms before kissing them and turning out the light. And I think that was good for his soul.

By the time he came downstairs, he looked a little better. He opened a beer for us to share while he sat at the kitchen table watching me cook our dinner – his favorite, steaks and potatoes, a last minute change from my carefully planned weekly menu, because he looked like he could use a favorite.

As I moved easily around the kitchen, he told me about his day. About the terrible meeting where he’d let her go, about how hard it is to be the boss, about how he worried what this would do to the morale of the rest of the staff, about how guilty he felt. I really didn’t have to say too much. I knew he just needed someone to talk to, someone who loved him no matter what decisions he had to make. I offered a few words of encouragement, reminded him how proud I was of him for being such a kind person who even has these moments of doubt, but mostly, I was just there with him.

After dinner, we moved to the back deck and sat on our steps, talking about the kids and the upcoming visit from the Easter Bunny. I told him about a book I was reading, and he told me about a new kind of pool pump he thought we should get. We sat outside for an hour before we headed up to bed. Before he fell asleep, he told me he felt better and knew that he would sleep soundly. Before I fell asleep, my mind went back to my to do list, sitting on the kitchen counter, untouched all night. There wasn’t anything on that list that couldn’t wait, I decided, and I, too, slept soundly.

In the eight years that I have been married, I have learned that best laid plans are often set aside for the sake of my marriage. And I’ve learned that when I put other things before the needs of my husband and our relationship, everything just kind of falls apart.

At the core of everything in my life, there is my faith and there is my husband. I have other obligations, other priorities, other responsibilities, of course. But my marriage always comes first. It is the foundation on which everything else is built. I don’t feel bad when I put everything aside to sit and hold my husband’s hand. I don’t feel bad when I we occasionally get a sitter for the kids and have a date night. I don’t feel bad when I cancel other plans because I haven’t had a night at home with Chris in over a week. I don’t feel bad because I know that when my marriage is happy, everything else in my life is better.

We make time for the things that are important in our lives. I encourage you to make time for your marriage. Making your marriage a priority not only builds a solid foundation for your relationship, but it says to your spouse, “You are more important to me than anything else.” Love is strengthened over bathtubs full of kids, shared beers, and back deck conversations, I promise you.

Make your marriage a priority. If you don’t, who will?

See more from this lovely engagement session by Paige Elizabeth in its Facebook Friday album!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar madelynne miller reply

    Great post – very insightful and helpful for a newlywed like myself :) I had to work late last night and I came home to a husband that had revamped dinner plans into something he could manage – and I was so grateful to have a husband that would take the reigns in the kitchen :)

  2. avatar molly reply

    this is such a great post – so important. you and your spouse are each other’s number ones. so so so so so important to make each other a priority always!

  3. avatar Lindsay (Young Married Mom) reply

    So true. My husband and I try to do the make-time-for-each-other-in-busy-weeks thing, too, and whether it’s intentional or spontaneous, the next day is always a little easier. Great post!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, dolls! I’m excited to let y’all know that Katie will be back guest blogging with us on a more regular schedule! Some of you long-time readers may remember our friend Katie, from the wonderful and hilarious blog Marriage Confessions, and some of you might just recognize Katie from MC, apart from SW! Katie drops by to share her funny, smart, and poignant perspective on life after the wedding, and we know you’ll love her as much as we do!

I know that Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap, as far as holidays go. I have friends who are violently against Cupid and his plethora of love arrows and conversation candy. “It’s a holiday invented by the card stores to make money!” they say. And I get that. But it’s a holiday that revolves around chocolate and jewelry. It just goes against my being to reject those kinds of themes. Diamonds and chocolates are the way to my heart. But diamonds hidden INSIDE chocolates are pretty much the way to my soul.

I’m shallow. I can’t help it.

As much as I love the candy, gifts, and general lovey-dovey-ness that comes with Valentine’s Day, I am actually a fan of the holiday for more than just those reasons. I think love gets a bad rap, especially in marriage these days, and so any holiday that stops and says, “Hey! Love is important, darn it!” is going to be fine by me.

I remember when Chris and I got married, we were told by so many people, “It takes more than love to make a marriage!” And, foolishly, we thought they were fools. We loved each other. We had each other. We could take on anything else. I’ve learned over the years that love don’t pay no power bill. And love don’t clean up no sick baby in the middle of the night. And love certainly don’t exempt a husband from a good butt whoopin’ when he forgets to call and say he’s going to be working late on your anniversary.

Turns out, there’s a lot of stuff that love won’t do in a marriage.

But there are a lot of things that love does do in a marriage. In my marriage, love is how we forgive. It’s the reason that this morning, after a blow up with my love muffin as I left for work, I couldn’t even get out of the neighborhood before I called him on my cell to tell him I was sorry. And love was the reason he said, “Me, too.”

In my marriage, love is how we learn patience. The first week that we brought our sweet, perfect son home from the hospital, we were giddy with excitement. But by 3:00am on the third day, I remember standing next to Chris at the crib, both of us just about in tears from exhaustion and frustration, and every fiber of my being wanted to turn and whack him in the knees with a hairbrush. HOW COULD HE HAVE JUST TURNED THE LIGHT ON IN THE HALLWAY?!?!? DIDN’T HE KNOW THAT WOULD WAKE THE BABY?!?!?! And yet, I let him live. Because when you love someone, you’re patient as they learn things. Like how to change diapers in the middle of the night without turning a light on.

In my marriage, love is how we make decisions. Love is that binding force that draws every decision we make back to our family. Should I take that job? Should we make that big move? Should I take a half day at work so that I can attend my two-year-old son’s Valentine’s Day party at his daycare? Love is at the center of all of those things. Because we love each other and we love the family that we have made together, everything else is done within the context of that love.

In my marriage, love is even how we fight. Isn’t that weird? It’s true, though. Love is what makes us so darn frustrated with each other sometimes. It would be so much easier to be married to Chris if I wasn’t in love with him. But that silly love thing means that I simply can’t live without him. And sometimes, that’s so inconvenient! I wish it didn’t make me mad when he worked late, or when we haven’t had a date night in a while, or when the weekend classes for my teaching certificate take up all my time. I wish we didn’t fight about those things, but we do. And when the dust settles, we find that at the very base of those little fights is the fact that we just love each other so much that we get irritated when other things get in the way.

No, love don’t pay no bills. And, yes, it takes more than love to make a marriage work. But at the root of everything that exists in a marriage, there is love. So, I celebrate Valentine’s Day. I buy the cards and eat the candy and make those slice-and-bake cookies with the little red hearts in the center. I’m a sucker for it all because I believe that there should be a day that makes us stop and say, “I love you.” Because as important as everything else is in marriage, love is how it all started and how we keep it going.

(A note to my husband: While love is important, so is that beautiful necklace I showed you last weekend at the jewelry store…)

Isn’t Katie awesome?! Check out her past columns for Southern Weddings:
Change is the Name of the (Newlywed) Game
My Wedding Registry Changed My Life
Working it Out With the In-Laws
Managing Your Money
Come on Baby, Light My Fire
On Moving

All photos by one of the most romantic photographers we know, Elizabeth Messina

P.S. Congratulations to Katie for being nominated for the 2012 Bloggies awards! This is a huge honor, so be sure to give her some love and vote for her here!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Patty reply

    Beautifully written, Melissa! I think we would be great friends!!

  2. avatar Patty reply

    and i just called you melissa….i meant marissa!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hey Patty, it’s okay! I forgive you because my mom’s name is Patty! But, I didn’t write this – Kate at Marriage Confessions did! But I do think we’d be great friends! : )

    • avatar Patty reply

      Marissa: I probably should have read more closely! Well, great! More friends for me :) Happy Valentine’s day!!

  3. avatar Lindsey reply

    Hilarious post – LOVE KATIE!!

  4. avatar Sarah H. reply

    Coming over to support my blog friend Katie!! Wonderful post :) Ever since having a baby I think Valentine’s Day is even more important–some times you need that commercial nudge to carve out time for just you and your husband and say “I Love You” with glitter cards that sing.

  5. avatar Meggie reply

    Congratulations Katie! Love this post and totally agree with you! Love is at the root of it all… even the fights. I’m pro Valentine’s Day too! =)

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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