August 30, 2018

After I Do: The Truth About Marriage

The Truth About Marriage: The Struggle Doesn’t Have to Be Real

Today is the very first post in my new series titled ‘After I Do’. This series will be ongoing, and is where I will be sharing marriage stories, tips and ideas for how to strengthen and enjoy your marriage, {even after kids and years and years of being together}!!

Usually I am sharing my client’s love stories on the blog, but today I’m going to change things up a little bit, and share with you MINE.

I used to think that my love story was cliche and that everyone had a similar story, but I’ve learned, that it’s not as common as I thought. I just want to get this out in the open, and preface this post by saying:

It was NOT love at first sight…

1. How We Met

The When:

Neither of us can quite pinpoint the exact moment that we met, not because it wasn’t memorable, simply because we were way too young and now our parents are way too old to remember!! {Just Kidding Mom} We guess I was around 7 years old and Travis was roughly 8.

Our parents started attending the same church, and for as long as I can remember, Travis and I have always known each other. We share so many of the same memories, have pictures together as little kids, and I truly cannot remember life without him in it. 

The How:

We went to various church camps, and family camps, and I can vividly remember him not being very nice to me around ages 12-14 and always giving me a hard time. As we got older though, things started to change a little bit. One year in particular, I was about to turn 16, we drove up to camp together for the first time, and were going to be counselors. The whole week at camp, I started to feel and look at him differently. I totally had a crush on him!

When we got back from camp, we were talking on AIM {AOL Instant Messenger, for all you young people out there}, and the secret came out!! After a long conversation and both hinting at the same thing, we admitted that we liked each other and agreed to meet up for our first date.

The Transition:

Can I just say how weird this transition was for us? If you’ve ever started dating someone you were friends with first you know exactly how this feels. It’s super awkward and strange at the beginning, but it doesn’t take too long to get past that. Before long, it just felt like we had always been a couple. Everything seemed to feel right and it was so comfortable around him. 

It felt like we were always meant to be!!

2. The Courtship + Wedding

Travis and I dated for 4 years, including our 18 month engagement. We were of course young, and had a lot of life experiences to get through, like graduating High School and starting College. We have so many amazing memories from those 4 years and I felt like we really got to know each other.

Our relationship has never been easy

I feel like our courtship was a huge learning experience. We had both never been in a serious relationship before. Travis and I were complete opposites, so we ran into a lot of issues during those years. He is an extreme introvert, while I am a complete extrovert. We both perceive and handle situations so differently and it was a real struggle for us.

The one thing that kept us together was our love for each other. I always knew we were meant to be together, I just didn’t always understand why. I knew that if we could get through those 4 years, we could get through anything, and to be honest, I know it’s why we are still together today. We struggled through some really difficult times during our dating years and I can see our persistence, and faithfulness to each other carried out even after being married for 10 years.

Planning our wedding, back in the day, was definitely more difficult than it is now! There was no such thing as Pinterest, and I had to rely soley on google images to create my dream boards. Blogging wasn’t as popular or polished as it is now. I had folders on my desktop titled Wedding Dress, Wedding Decor etc. So really I was the original creator of Pinterest, am I right?!! Hahaha {I kid of course}.

What I learned from Wedding Planning!!

  • Splurge on the Venue + Photography {Best Decisions we Made}: All of our vendors came highly recommended from our Venue, Villa Siena, and 10 years later almost all of those vendors are still in business!! 
  • Hire those so called ‘Optional Vendors’ like a Videographer + Wedding Planner: I wish we had hired a wedding planner, or at the very least, a day of coordinator. It would have saved us so much time and money!! 
  • Have a well thought out seating chart: Everyone deserves a special place at your wedding. Check out this blog post for how to tackle the seating chart situation.
  • Opt in for the pre-ceremony first look: We decided to go against tradition and see each other before the wedding!! It was seriously one of my favorite moments of the day. Check out this post for an insider prescriptive on wedding traditions you don’t have to follow.

3. After I Do: The Truth about Marriage 

After I do was a bit of shock to us both!! We each came into the marriage with our own set of expectations, and growing up with very different family dynamics was a bit of a challenge for us. Travis was very comfortable just staying at home and I liked to go out and spend time with friends. We both loved spending time together, but had very different ideas of what that looked like. So we spent a lot of our first year of marriage doing our own thing. It definitely took some time for us to adjust and compromise.

Some of Our Biggest Struggles!!

1. Finances

We spent a lot of our first year of marriage in disagreement about how we should spend our money!!  We are opposites when it comes to finances. He is a die hard saver. Loves to save his money, rarely spend it, and when he does is very conservative with how he spends it. I on the other hand, have no problem spending money!! In fact, I love to spend money. I also don’t go crazy and spend too much money, but I like to have money to spend.

The Game Changer: We ended up signing up for Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey and it was a seriously one of the best decisions we’ve ever made!! We were both able to get on the same page and decided to be diligent about how we spent our money, learning at the same time, how to better understand each other. I highly recommend this course to everyone, whether you are married or single!!

We have gone in spurts following his principles closely, but we are back to using cold hard cash for all our spending {aside from bills}. Every month we take out a certain dollar amount for each category {groceries, eating out, clothing, gifts, tools etc.} and put the money in envelopes. Here’s the kicker! We only spend what is in those envelopes. Once the money runs out, it’s out!! 

Budgets are for everyone!!!

They are not just for people with no money! I feel like there is somewhat of a negative connotation with the word budget. Like if you’re on one, then you must not make very much money. What we have learned and the mindset that we want to live by, is that with a budget we are always in control of our money. We tell our money where to go, instead of always wondering where it went. Being on the same page about finances has truly relieved so much stress in our marriage. It has helped alleviate bitterness and resentment and makes spending and saving money actually fun!! 

2. Communication:

God definitely wired men and women so differently when it comes to communicating. Guys prefer the more direct no room for misinterpretation route and girls like to dance around the idea in hopes that the guy will just pick up on the subtle hints. {Can I get an Amen?}

It has taken several years for us to improve this skill, and is still something that we work on daily. However, in those first couple years of marriage I didn’t know this yet. I spent a lot of time being upset for reasons that really could have easily been avoided had I just talked about my feelings. I felt like Travis should be able to know when I was upset and instantly make me feel better.

Another major concern, was we would both make plans, and forget to tell each other about them. I would mention something to him and he would instantly forget. We would both pick up groceries on our way home, trying to surprise the other one with our kind gesture, to only end up in an argument about why we NOW just spent twice as much money on our groceries. Our communication was never on point.  I’ve learned throughout the years that what I perceived as laziness, or him being inconsiderate, was really just a by-product of a bad memory. He really wasn’t purposely forgetting or intentionally NOT doing what I asked him, he just genuinely forgot!

The Game Changer: After having kids we found 2 amazing FREE apps that have helped us up our communication game. The first one being Cozi Calendar. It allows us to sync our calendars, easily organize our lives and color code family members events. This color coding is so important so Travis can instantly see what events I would like him to attend, which activities each child has and when I will be working and need him to be home with the kids. I can also add things like NEED BABYSITTER so he knows we are both working. This helps us both remind each other that we need care for the kids. There are also awesome features that we do not utilize like the grocery list feature {we use another app for that}, journal and recipes.

The second app we love is called Trello. Not only is Trello amazing for my business to keep everything organized, we also have a shared board called Home Base just for us. We share multiple grocery lists, the meal plan for the week, our To-Do lists, dreams for the future, vacation ideas etc. So anytime I think of something I need him to do I can add it to his list, rearrange tasks in order of importance and even schedule due dates!! It’s been a serious life saver.

3. Expectations:

I think it’s safe to assume that every one who has ever been married enters into the marriage with a set of expectations. It’s just natural. I came into our marriage thinking that men take out the trash, do the yard work and fix stuff. Travis brought to the table his own expectations, a wife should cook dinner, clean the house and take care of the kids. {Of course there were way more expectations than just those few}

We both thought we were safe to assume those things, but we didn’t take into account, that we grew up in different houses, and as I say to my kids now “Different houses have different rules!!”. So we quickly saw that we had conflicting expectations and needed to learn how to set our own norms for how our household would run.

The Game Changer: Several years ago our pastor did a sermon series about marriage called 60 Day Marriage Challenge and it completely changed us. You can watch the series here. Start with part 1 and watch them in order. It will change your life!! Here are some very profound words that have stuck with me forever.

A marriage is a covenant of love, not a contract of expectations.

If you go into marriage with expectations, the second they aren’t being met, you become bitter and resentful and start to give your love a little less. If you go into marriage with a covenant in mind, knowing that you will always uphold your end of the deal even if your partner is not, then you will be able to be joyful in spite of the circumstances. {This is assuming you’re in a committed and safe environment}. It will change your perspective and you will look for ways to serve one another. It also teaches you to cut your partner some slack and not dwell on their weaknesses. This perspective will lead to healthy discussions when problems arise!!

Love is not a feeling, it is a choice. We have learned that everyday we wake up and choose to love each other regardless of our mood and if our expectations are being met. Everyday we strive to avoid competing conditional love and work together as a team. We would never give up on our kids when they are acting out, not listening, and being selfish, so from day one we have agreed to never give up on each other!!

The Struggle Doesn’t Have to Be Real

Going into our marriage, we both agreed Divorce would never be an option. We would never bring it up in arguments, never threaten those words, and it was just completely off the table. After being married for 10 years, and navigating life with two kids, we have learned that life never gets easier, but we do get stronger. We have learned how to handle things better, and know each other better. We are no where near perfect at this, in fact we have conversations regularly about how we can work on our marriage, support each other and help navigate new territory. The most important thing we’ve learned is to never give up and never stop growing!!

I hope that you have enjoyed hearing more about our story! The truth is that marriage IS NOT easy, and it takes work!!

Stay tuned for more ‘After I Do’ posts where I will share more tips about navigating marriage!! I always promise to keep things real and never sugar coat the truth. We are all in this life together and we need to be there for each other with support and no judgement.

I would love for you to leave a comment below and tell me your love story! How did you meet your spouse, and when did you know it was true love?

If you are interested in more amazing content just like this, I would love to invite you to join us for the Purpose Gathering. An all day interactive workshop designed to strengthen, empower and equp mom business owners with the tools and strategies they need to juggle all the things. We cover all the topics including self-care, marriage, parenting and business. Check out more info by visiting our website. We can’t wait to see you there!! 

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