Can I be real and just say it?… Marriage is hard work! Brian and I have been together for almost 7 years, and we still work at our relationship. It’s a never ending job; something that takes time, understanding, patience, and lots of love.
In our first year of marriage, Brian and I have learned a lot about each other. We’ve learned new things through every day situations, new job opportunities, combining our finances, and yes, through fighting. All of these things have helped us grow as a couple, but there is one thing that has helped us get through all of them. Journaling.
When we were engaged, our friends bought us The Navigator’s Council. It’s a weekly journal that helps couples touch base and grow together. Each week, it goes through six, simple questions, your schedule for the week, and a quick reading/devotional. The book does follow christian values, which I know isn’t for everyone, but it really helped Brian and I learn some key things during our first year as husband and wife.
- Check in with your spouse
If anything, this journal taught us to check in with each other. It doesn’t have to be constant, but having this journal gave us a set day each week to go through our schedules and talk about our lives. Some week’s we fly through our reading and questions, and other weeks, we have great talks about what we loved about the week and what we are looking forward to. Either way, we’ve learned that touching base every now and then is important to us.
- Set expectations for your relationship
This was something we learned pretty recently while reading a devotional, and it is great advice! Before going into a situation or even the week, talk about your expectations. For example, if you are going to hang with friends, you can say something like, “My expectations are to have a few drinks, and leave by 11pm.” The expectations doesn’t need to be grand, but if your partner understands your expectations, they can meet them. If they don’t understand them, you both could be disappointed in some situations.
- Yes, communication is key, but so is listening
This one is cliche, but true. Communicating during the happy, sad and hard times can sometimes be difficult, but it’s very important. Tell your partner what made you happy, what upset you, or what you’re looking forward to. As a partner, listen and learn from your conversations. This will help you understand each other more, even in small everyday situations.
- Stop comparing yourselves to other couples
This is something that we are constantly working on. Reading The Navigator’s Council hasn’t really taught us this, but sharing it with others has. Brian and I have both told our friends about the book; some thought it was interesting and wanted to know more, others thought is sounded kinda silly. But, what telling others about the journal has taught us, is that every single relationship is different. What works for us as a family, might not work for others, and that’s OK!
- You’re constantly changing, and so should your relationship
Last, but certainly not least, the only constant in a relationship is change. This is something we read in a weekly devotion, and it really resinated with us. Through out your relationship, many things will change. You might get a new job, buy a house, have a baby, buy another house, the list goes on! Some change will be good, some will be bad, but the one thing that will remain is your family. Embrace the change and let it mold your relationship. In 10 years, you will not be the same person you are today, and neither will your spouse! You need to grow together and love each other in all of your forms.
These are just some of the many things that we have learned from journaling together over the past year, and we are excited to continue doing it!
By no means am I a relationship expert, but if you have any questions or want to learn more about our experienced with weekly journaling, please comment below! I’d love to chat 🙂