10 Reasons Why Our Marriage Gets Stronger Every Year
A few years back, I listened as one of my mentors described marriage as an act of death. The comparison bewildered me at first, but she continued on to explain marriage as being the ultimate dying to self.
We no longer just live for ourselves when we say “I do”.
James and I are going on 4 years of marriage and although there certainly has been some dying to self, it has been hands-down the absolute best gift we’ve ever been given. Dying to selfishness, it turns out, is one of life’s greatest treasures.
I won’t sit here and tell you our marriage is perfect. We annoy each other and have some conflict occasionally. But to be completely honest, we have established a seriously rock solid foundation and our marriage is absolutely filled to the brim with joy, trust, discovery, and passion.
We have what I call an Intentional Marriage. And it just keeps getting better.
Here are 10 Reasons Why Our Marriage Gets Stronger Every Year:
1. We eat together.
It is a rare occasion that we don’t sit at the dinner table and eat together, and we often eat breakfast and lunch together as well. In other words, we spend loads of time face-to-face talking about our excitements, thoughts, and struggles. We set the stage with piano music or jazz, light candles, and intimately listen to what’s on each other’s hearts.
The benefit of this should be obvious. We are BEST of friends and no feelings get shoved under a rug. We talk about ev-er-y-thing.
2. We are active together.
Health is one of our top core values so we are unfailingly dedicated to daily exercise. Sometimes we hit the gym or cycling studio together, some times we go our separate ways, but the fact remains: we are in it together. If we work out separately, we always indulge the other on what we did that day and how it felt. James will tell me about the gnarly double-unders he persevered through at Crossfit, and I will brag about the luxurious swim and hot yoga session I spent my morning delighting in. Several times a week we also tag on an afternoon walk and, you guessed it, talk some more!
Not only does our commitment to being active reflect respect for our mental/emotional/physical health, but, let’s get real, it also enhances our attractiveness. It shows that we care about how we show up in life for ourselves and for our partner.
3. We don’t have a TV.
Just for a second, imagine the serenity of not having a TV blasting in the living room or the bedroom…
James and I don’t have to compete for attention against SportsCenter, the Nightly News, or the Bachelor. Frankly, we could absolutely care less about anything on TV so this is a very easy discipline for us. But it also greatly improves our personal connection to each other because, you guessed it, we talk more!!! And we read more. A lot more. We are three months through 2017 and I believe we have read nearly 20 books so far, filling our minds with creative thoughts and challenging ideas.
We do watch films a few times a week, though. On my 13 inch Macbook, that is. Films inspire James in his new craft of video production, so it feels justified. I relentlessly try to get him on board with watching 90s classics, but he has this thing about always wanting to watch new movies. I have this thing for Titanic, Independence Day, Forrest Gump, and so forth.
It’s important to mention that we attempt to only watch movies on the laptop in the living room. We keep our bedroom sacred for two precious activities: sleep and sex.
Is TV coming between you and your beloved? Think about taking a week off, if so. You might just talk more.
4. We leave our phones at home for date day/night.
We go on dates all the time. At least weekly. Sometimes a lunch during the day, sometimes an evening meal in the neighborhood.
Since we’ve been home from our world trip and our phones are back up to speed with buzzing and chiming, we recently decided to leave our phones at home if we are going on a date. Nothing is worse than trying to share something important with your partner and they halfheartedly peel their eyes from their phone with a, “Huh? Come again? Sorry hun, wasn’t listening.” We all do it. So James and I simply discipline the matter by leaving our phones behind.
When you don’t listen to your partner, they feel unheard at best and uncherished at worst.
5. We acknowledge each other’s love languages.
I’m a words of affirmation, physical touch kind of a girl. He’s a quality time, acts of service kind of a guy.
He is intentional about snuggling me and holding my hand and calling me pretty and amazing. I am intentional about cooking him dinner and hanging his laundry and spending loads of time face to face, side to side, belly to belly. Takes a bit of sacrifice, but overall, very simple.
Learn your love languages if you haven’t already by reading “The Five Love Languages”. Then be intentional about serving your partner in how they best receive love. Simple.
6. We don’t have any secrets about our finances.
Our bank accounts are completely shared and we have a very structured system in place as to what account pays for what in terms of business and personal use. Our CPA and bookkeeper handle the business accounting, and I write a monthly budget for our household every month to remind James and I of what we have coming in, what we have going out, and where we are allocating the extra in terms of saving, giving, and investing.
We make every major financial decision together. Major for us is generally anything above $1,000. Recently James said to me, “I really want to hire a coach to grow my expertise in real estate. It would be around $15k.” I said, “Great. Let’s look at the budget and decide when the wisest time to do it will be.” Recently I said to James, “I really want to hire the right PR help to launch my first book. It will be around $10k.” He said, “Great. Let’s factor it into the budget if you really believe it will make the difference you’re looking for.”
We respect each other’s ideas and choices, and always communicate before we take action on anything major.
Financial problems are one of the leading causes of divorce and why wouldn’t they be? When you have two people fighting to survive with very little energy left over to connect and experience the beauty of life beyond splitting a bottle of wine every night (if even that!), closeness wanes as credit card debt piles. Get with it. Life is too short to be messy and immature with your finances. Your future and your marriage depend on you getting focused in this area.
7. We travel together.
We’ve been to over 20 countries together, including our epic 8-month trip around the world in 2016.
We bond over experiences. We share discoveries together. We are challenged with quick decision-making and dealing with the unexpected uncontrollables. It makes us stronger, more passionate, more grateful and vivacious.
Have you been somewhere exotic and completely new with your love? Talk about what it would cost, how you could fund it with cash, and then put it on the books. (Make sure to subscribe to my podcast on iTunes “Hustle Smarter with Angie Garner” – later this month I will be diving into how I plan our trips!)
8. We dream together.
James knows the deepest desires of my heart, and I know his.
James knows I’ve always had an intense burning desire to impact people through my writing, speaking, and teaching. He knows I’ve had my heart set on building my “dream home” since I was a little girl. A legacy property to host endless celebrations and memories with family and friends. Gotta have my Kundig.
I know James desires to provide and to be a father. I know he desires to create memories around the world with our family, living abroad for months at a time. He wants to be fully present to raise our future world changers. I know he wants his life to mean something, lead by love and truth. And he always wants to fly first class.
9. We grow together.
Personal growth is very high on our shared core values.
Obviously reading is a huge part of our lives, but we also grow by surrounding ourselves with friends who challenge and stretch our thinking. We grow by attending conferences and by simply discussing where we are, where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there. We never hesitate investing into growth. This shared sense of growth makes our marriage feel like a true partnership, walking arm in arm towards our destiny.
What is one activity you and your partner can adopt to excel your growth?
10. We put God first before our marriage.
God first. Marriage second. Children third.
This is how we roll and how we will roll when baby Garner makes his/her appearance sometime in the next few years. James and I are individually connected to God. Walking with Him, listening to His voice, learning about Him in scripture, and praying both on our own and as a couple. We seek Him first when making decisions, and then share with each other what was impressed upon us.
Back in 2010, James and I moved in together after dating only four months, and I certainly wasn’t trying to follow Jesus. I was trying to run from Jesus. I considered trying to follow Jesus, but it just sounded so un-fun. I might have to start going to church and stuff. And I really loved my quiet Sunday mornings, the only mornings of the week I didn’t work. Plus, what would my new hottie boyfriend think? He had books like, “The Power of Now” laying around and I wasn’t sure if he thought he was a god or something new-agey like that.
After an incredibly tumultuous first year of dating, I couldn’t run from Jesus any more. He literally was our only hope at repair and healing. James and I stopped turning our backs to Him and starting pressing into His promises. He healed and blessed us beyond comprehension.
James leads our marriage with a savvy intuition and a willingness to be more, experience more, learn more, love more. Knowing God is his deepest desire, and knowing me is second. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Marriage, as with anything else worthwhile, takes work.
A healthy, thriving, fruitful marriage that just keeps getting yummier year after year, requires intention.
Be intentional. Life is too short not to.
P.S. Are you ready to save time and live intentionally? CLICK HERE to be a part of my private #HustleSmarter Community.