Hello friends! Welcome to our second year of the Marriage Series! I'm hosting the series again this year with lovely ladies Gina of Contemplating Beauty and Courtney of Vintch. Be sure to check out their blogs and see what they have to say about each of the topics.
We would LOVE to have your interaction and input on each of these topics- no matter what your relationship status or situation is. The comment box is an open area for conversation and is a place of openness. Feel free to share your story or ask a questions. If you'd like to blog about the topics, be sure to leave a link in the comments, so we can read along. Thank you SO much for joining us for such a vulnerable, real, and fun topic!
Eric and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this June, and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but it's taken me almost this long to figure this out: 95% of a healthy marriage falls is in the "friendship" category.
A few years ago a friend and I were talking about another mutual friend who was engaged at the time. Both my friend and I had been married for several years and had multiple kids, but this other friend's constant facebook love proclamations of, "I'm SO in love!" or "My fiance just gave me a dozen roses....for the tenth time this week! or "I miss my fiance soooo much! We haven't seen each other in TWO minutes!" (Ok, maybe those are exaggerations, but just slightly.) made my other friend and I suddenly insecure about our own relationships. Why weren't we missing our husbands right after they left for work? Where were our romantic gifts and gestures? Why weren't we going longer than two minutes without holding hands or making out? What was wrong with our marriages?
In last year's series I talked about expectations and this was definitely an unrealistic expectation. I think it might have been on our honeymoon when Eric told me we would always sit next to each other when we were out to eat. "What about when we have kids?" "Yep, even then. They can sit on the other side of the table." Well, several years and several babies later I reminded Eric of this and his response was, "Yeah, I didn't realize exactly what that would look like or mean." Things change, baby.
Stefan Sagmeister, at Alt Summit, showed a graph of two couples and the happiness of their marriages over time- one based on passion and one based on friendship. The first graph showed the first two years (I think) and the happiness level of the couple whose relationship is based on passion dramatically goes up and happiness level of the couple whose relationship is based on friendship looks pathetically lower as it just sails along in the middle of the graph. The second graph shows the happiness levels over fifty years. The passion couple's happiness level dips down until it's at zero and the friendship couple continues to steadily climb upwards. In other words, a relationship based on passion quickly dies down, but friendship remains steady and even increases over time.
That's not to say that I don't think romance and passion are a necessary -and fun!- part of marriage. Romance has seasons where it's more important and seasons where it takes the back burner to other things in life. There are seasons when you have to hold onto the memories of romance and look forward to the future ones and there are seasons where you need to cultivate and fight for romance and you need to be ok with both. You need to be ok with the season you are in in your marriage because the grass is always greener mentality can lead to discontent, which can lead to bitterness, which can eventually lead to the dissolution of your marriage literally or figuratively and, obviously, none of us want that.
There are some ways that Eric and I try to maintain and cultivate romance between us: each year we try to go out of town alone, even if it's just for one night. There is something so peaceful and fun and romantic about being able to focus on just the two of you and not on sibling squabbles, messy houses, and bedtime. On a smaller scale, we try to have a regular date night. Some of our friends have a weekly date night, but this isn't realistic for us. Our goal is to have one date night a month and, something new that we've started this year, is that we take turns each month planning the night. I'll keep you updated on how it goes.
For every ounce of energy that you use to maintain romance in your marriage, work twice as hard (or more) to maintain friendship. A few things that we try to do are: have interests in common. Most of our interests aren't the same, but we try to make the effort to have common interests that we can talk about and do together- hiking and photography are two of ours. Even if a hobby isn't the favorite of one of us, we try to be interested in what the other person is doing. Be affectionate. This could probably fall under the "romance" section, too. Sometimes I don't even think about physical affection after a long day of taking care of kids and sometimes I just really want to have space, but each night Eric and I sit on the couch together, drink tea, watch a show or movie, and hold hands or cuddle. It's simple, but it's a good way to connect after a long or tiring day.
Is friendship or romance more challenging in your marriage? Do you have any questions or tips to share?