If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember an article I wrote for Black Bride magazine entitled “What I Learned After My First Year of Marriage”. Well, can you believe we’ve been married a little over five and a half years now? It honestly doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but here we are! I thought it would be a good idea to share what I’ve learned since then. Now, everything I learned in my first year is still very important, but over the years I’ve added a few more items to the list.
A lot has happened. There have been great moments like celebrating our love, welcoming a child and growing together as parents. There have also been tough moments like job loss resulting in financial strain, health challenges, giving birth during a pandemic and the loss of a parent, to name a few. Through it all, we’ve made it to this milestone. Here are four tips that have helped along the way.
- Pray with Intention
I know prayer is a no-brainer for us, and most couples. However, I want to stress praying with intention. If we’re not careful, prayer can sometimes turn into a complaint session, instead of a prayer session. My therapist would always suggest I get in my prayer closet and pray for my husband. I heard her every time, but it wasn’t until I saw something online that things finally clicked for me. I stumbled upon the Her Dope Marriage page on Instagram. Keisha, the creator, said something so simple that changed my entire perspective. She said, “Stop praying about your husband, and start praying for him”. I realized that at times, I was going too heavy on the “about” prayers, and not on the “for” prayers. I now strive to first thank God for the great things about my husband, take a few moments to vent if necessary, and speak into existence the things that I pray are on the way. I also ask God what I can improve, because there’s always something that both of us can learn from the situation.
- Marriage Counseling
Marriage counseling has been the biggest game changer. It’s so helpful to have someone be a sounding board for us. We know that individual will not take sides, but will provide wise counsel for us to grow as a couple. One of the main takeaways from our last few sessions is about partnership. Our counselor reminds us that we are to work together in true ally-ship, and not as islands. Remembering that we are on the same team is key.
- Communicate Effectively
Communication is very important in relationships. Our counselor recommended we have scheduled weekly meetings. The purpose is to touch base with each other by taking 30 minutes to connect on what’s going on in our own individual worlds, as well as family stuff. With our busy work schedules, we really don’t have much time to talk during the day, so knowing what’s coming up on the family calendar is helpful. It also keeps us on one accord.
Effective communication is imperative when things are great, and not so great. I’ve learned that when having difficult conversations, starting with praise first is beneficial. It shows that you’re coming from a place of love and with a good heart posture. Additionally, starting conversations with something positive helps eliminate someone feeling like they have to be on defense. Most of the time those discussions end peacefully because each person has a common understanding of how the other feels, which leads to agreement and resolution.
- Family Planning
My husband and I have always had goals we’d like to achieve individually and collectively. In the last few years, we’ve really focused on making our goals and dreams, a reality. I find that when we write things down, that makes the difference. It’s our first step to setting things in motion. Whether it’s planning to expand the family, committing to healthy eating, meeting with a financial expert or starting a business, we are dedicated to elevating our lives, building an empire and leaving an impactful legacy.