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10 Lessons Learned From 5 Years Of Marriage

10 Lessons Learned From 5 Years Of Marriage

My wife and I have been married for five years, and while that’s not going to win any golden awards, anyone who has been married long enough will attest that in this day and age, even five years is a big accomplishment. Like the development of a child, these formative years of infancy in a marriage are crucial to its development and potential future success.
In the short while that Sarah and I have been married, here are ten lessons we have learned.

1. Don’t get too used to the honeymoon phase.

My wife and I went through a cupcake or honeymoon phase in the first year of our marriage where it seemed like we could not irritate one another. We had sex like rabbits; money and food was of no concern because we felt like we could live our entire lives off air and love. However, this period was a mirage that eventually came to an end. Coming out of this phase into the reality of marriage is not a bad thing. However, if a couple is not expecting this switch from fantasy to reality, it may seem like your marriage is falling apart.

2. The second year is the hardest.

This may not be true for everybody, as every marriage is different. For Sarah and I, this was the year after our cupcake phase. Not only did we have the stress of bills, jobs, school, and family; we had to learn to make decisions as a couple, not individuals. A lot of times even at the beginning of a relationship, you will defer to the decision of one partner because in your mindset you still view each other as individuals. In the second year of marriage, you are going to have to learn how to make big decisions together and how to deal with the stress and frustration of your partner not agreeing with your decisions.

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3. Communication is key.

This is a point that you will find in any relationship manual. But it is one even my wife and I struggled to apply in our marriage. There are two extreme reactions to communication in marriage. The first is the passive-aggressive desire to bottle all of your feeling and frustrations. The second is the desire to dump all your feeling and emotions on your partner. Neither of these is communicating and both put the blame for your feelings at your partner’s feet. Sarah and I had to learn to give each other the opportunity to express our feeling equally without judging the other or defending ourselves.

4. There is a fine line between love and hate.

Some of the things that may have attracted you to your spouse will become the very things you hate about them or that simply annoy you. When Sarah and I were dating, she loved the security of knowing that I was good with money, planning, and finances. But in the first and second years of our marriage she became frustrated with my insatiable need to stick to a budget and save money. Sarah is a free spirit and while she appreciated the idea of a budget, the application often felt restrictive and controlling to her.

5. Love does not equal attraction.

Sex is an important part of a marriage and anyone who tells you anything different is probably not having sex in their marriage. While there are many important aspects including love that make up a great relationship, sex is undeniably the glue that holds it all together. A huge amount of marriages in America today end primarily due to sexual incompatibility. A lot of times, this incompatibility may stem not from a lack of love, but from a lack of attraction. My wife and I got into a dry spell because we had stopped dating and wooing each other. Putting some attention into taking care of yourself and planning special moments with your spouse can be enough to reignite the spark.

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6. Doubt is the death of a marriage.

A marriage without trust is no marriage at all. There are so many levels of trust that develop over time between you and your partner; emotional trust, sexual trust, monogamous trust, financial trust, and just plain basic trust. If my wife begins to doubt me in anyone of these aspects of trust in our relationship then my marriage is in trouble. Sarah knows that I will not cheat on her; should she even begin to doubt that fact, the relationship is in distress.

7. Say you are sorry first.

I am an independent person and have lived alone for most of my life, so apologizing and depending on someone doesn’t come easy to me. In most marriages, there is a saver, someone who will apologize first 90% of the time and pull the marriage back together. For us, Sarah is that person so I have had to learn how to be the one to say that I am sorry first. It’s not about who is right or who is wrong; it’s about getting to a good place where communication can begin again.

8. Leave room for change but don’t force change.

There is an old joke that says, “Women enter into a marriage expecting the man to change and men enter into a marriage expecting the woman to never change.”

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As we age and go through different stages in our lives, we are bound to change. We have to leave room for our partners to grow. On the other hand, sometimes we see the changes our partners should make and it’s too easy to try to force those on them even if they aren’t ready. Sarah expected me to stay the fun-loving college guy she met, while I was ready for more responsibility and a calmer lifestyle. This led to a period of friction in our marriage we eventually had to work through. You can’t keep going two separate directions in a marriage and you can’t force your partner to walk your path. However, for the marriage to work, you will eventually you have to get back on the same path.

9. Give yourselves time before kids.

Sarah and I have been together for almost eight years and been married five of those years and we are still without kids. There is no magic number as to the right time to have a baby. However, too many people jump too soon into ready-made families. If you haven’t taken the time to learn to be alone with your spouse, then a baby could become an unwanted stress to the marriage. Many people spend so much time just surviving and raising kids that by the time they leave home they realize that you have no idea who their spouse is.

10. Couples that exercise together stay together.

I can’t tell you how many times a walk has saved my marriage. When Sarah and I get into a conflict, we simply go on a trail and walk. The period of walking gives us a chance to calm down and talk things out. Also it’s a daily habit for us to go to the gym and workout together. Any physical activity that you and your partner share is going to relieve stress and release endorphins. It also allows you to bond and gives you a neutral environment to communicate in.

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These ten points are crucial lessons that helped Sarah and I in our marriage. Do you have any tips?

Featured photo credit: Deji and Sarah Akingbade via facebook.com

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Last Updated on December 17, 2018

Why You Think You’re Not Good Enough and How To Believe in Yourself

Why You Think You’re Not Good Enough and How To Believe in Yourself

Have you ever wanted to say something at work, but a little voice of doubt crept in and said, “what if you are wrong”?

Maybe you wanted to apply for that promotion or ask that special someone on a date, but something kept you from taking action. When you think you’re not good enough, you tend to fear the outcome and lack faith in your abilities. That is why it is vital you discover how to believe in yourself so you can accomplish your goals and create your dream life.

Whatever your situation, the fears and self-doubt your false beliefs create will always stop you in your tracks. Identifying the beliefs that cause you to sabotage your life is the first step to removing them.

Self-doubt causes inaction, and inaction leads to regret. When you are not following your passion and living your dream life, you are left with a lot of questions:

  • What if I took a chance on myself?
  • Could I have had a better life if I took more risks?
  • Am I be satisfied with the legacy I am leaving behind?
  • What could I have accomplished if I did not settle for less?

So why would you think you’re not good enough?

1. Parenting

The perception you have of yourself is based on your past experiences. There are studies that show children mimic everything from their parents ability to regulate emotions, to their parents belief about money.[1]

I have had clients who did not believe they were good enough because they did not receive any positive reinforcement as a child. When they were young, their parents were extremely overprotective.

Think of your childhood challenges like dragons you had to slay. Each obstacle you overcame was another dragon you successfully removed from your life. As you slay more dragons, your self-esteem and confidence increase. When someone has overprotective parents, their parents end up slaying the dragons.

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As a result, the child builds more confidence in their parent’s abilities, while still doubting their own.

If you are never encouraged to slay your own dragons, you start to doubt whether you can. It is only natural for a child to conclude their parents are always helping them because they think they need it. This child ages into an adult who still believes they are not good enough. They seek the help and confirmation of others, and they rarely stand-up to opposition.

Solution: Slay Your Dragons!

If you want to believe in yourself, you are going to have to take steps to rebuild your trust in yourself. Start by keeping your word to others and arriving on-time. By showing yourself that others can (and do) trust you, you are going to feel more comfortable trusting yourself.

As you move onto larger and more challenging tasks, you have built a foundation of trust in your ability to keep your word. Next, you are going to want to reclaim your sword from others. At first, you may want to confide in whoever it is currently slaying your dragons.

Understand if it is your parent or someone who loves you, they want the best for you and mean well. You are simply going to tell them that you want to do the work, and will ask them for their thoughts in the planning phase. Feel free to check in with them and give them updates on your progress, while making sure they understand you are wanting to do the work yourself.

Then when the task is completed, let them know so you can celebrate together. Now that you have slayed your own dragon, you can start to reclaim your confidence. By you utilizing them as your guide, you get the added bonus of someone you respect and admire, telling you how amazing you are.

Think of it like a symbolic passing of the torch. Now, you are both dragon slayers. Which means all the positive attributes you attributed to them slaying your dragons, now belong to you.

2. Over-Exaggerating and Oversimplifying

Your past experiences may involve you or someone close to you failing. When you experience failure, you can lose your desire to continue. This has less to do with whether you are brave or scared, and more to do with the fact that your mind does not like failure.

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No one enjoys participating in events in which they under-perform. Outside of the usual reasons of embarrassment, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of failure – it is simply not fun.

Who wants to play baseball if they strikeout every time it is their turn? Would you enjoy singing in front of an audience if you were booed off the stage every time you performed? I could go on, but I think you get the point.

The thing about those two examples is no one really strikes out “every” at-bat. It is also unlikely someone could be booed off the stage “every time” they performed in-front of an audience.

What ends up happening is you oversimplify and exaggerate your past experiences and then your mind believes you. If you believe you are not good enough to ask someone on a date because they “always” tell you no, then do not be surprised you never muster the courage to do so.

If you want to overcome these feelings of inadequacy, start by changing your beliefs. This exercise does not need to be complicated. If you believe you strikeout every time it is your turn, I want to you to go to a batting cage and keep swinging until you hit the baseball.

When you experience success, I want you to take a mental note, write it down, or have someone video it. This is your proof that you do not always strike out. Then, whenever your belief that you are not good enough resurfaces, you are going to replay that video.

Regardless of the situation, you can find a successful experience that you are overlooking.

Solution: Read About the Failures of Others

It sounds a little crazy, I know, but reading about the failures of other successful people will improve your confidence. In a study conducted by Columbia University, they found that teaching students about the failures of great scientists encouraged them to do better.[2]

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When you are battling fear and self-doubt, you tend to over-exaggerate the abilities of others and diminish your own by comparison. You start to believe the successful are successful because they are courageous risk-takers, who do not take no for an answer. You tell yourself, they are meant to succeed, while you on the other hand are not.

When you are able to relate to the successful, you start to realize they have the same struggles and challenges you do. The only difference is they kept going.

Now it is not a question of whether you can succeed, it is a question of whether you want to succeed.

3. Undervalue Yourself

What is the main difference between someone who believes they are good enough and someone who does not? The person who believes they are good enough understands they are a person of value.

What I mean by this is if you do not believe you are worth being listened to, you will not have anything to say. If you do not believe you are good enough to be respected and treated as such, you will accept and rationalize all kinds of mistreatment.

There is an old saying that we are treated as we allow ourselves to be treated. When someone has the confidence and self-esteem that commands respect, they will not accept being treated any kind of way. However, if someone does not see themselves as worthy, they will remain in toxic situations because they do not believe anything better is on the horizon.

Dr. Jennifer Crocker, who worked on a series of self-esteem studies, found in her latest research that:[3]

“College students who based their self-worth on external sources–including appearance, approval from others and even their academic performance–reported more stress, anger, academic problems, relationship conflicts, and had higher levels of drug and alcohol use and symptoms of eating disorders”

Solution: Internalize Your Self-Worth

Instead of valuing yourself based on the awards, recognition, and accolades of others, you need to search internally. By basing your perception of yourself on your core values, you can regain control over self-image.

Instead of focusing on things that are outside of control, keep your mind on what it is that makes you special. You are not defined by your job, relationships, religion, or education. Rather, you are defined by the manner in which you participate in these things. You may be a creative, hard-working, and compassionate person; and that shows up in every thing you do.

Understand that you do not need to be creative, hard-working, and compassionate all the time to consider yourself these things. You are not trying to be perfect, but you are trying to connect with your true self.

By understanding the similarities in which you tackle objectives, you will build a consistent and powerful self-worth that stands apart from external confirmation.

Final Thoughts

Do not allow your past experiences do dictate your future success. You do not want to look back on your life and have a lot of questions and regrets.

Build trust in yourself by taking action today. This will help you build the confidence you need to believe in yourself and your ability to become the champion of your life.

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Featured photo credit: Riccardo Mion via unsplash.com

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