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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 July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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