When the honeymoon phase ends: On keeping your marriage strong

Several of my friends have recently gotten engaged, and it’s reminded me of the year when Blake and I were engaged. People loved us. They loved hearing how we met, what we had planned for the honeymoon, where we planned to live after we were married, etc.

That glow lasted all the way through our honeymoon, and even into our first few months of marriage. Then it all stopped. Then the next couple got engaged and stole the limelight.

I’ve told my engaged friends to enjoy this time — because it won’t last. And much like the spotlight fades once you get married, the spark begins to fade as well.

Now that Blake and I have been married for a year and a half, I’ve realized how important it’s been for us to re-create that spark. In doing so, we’ve made our relationship much stronger than as it was back when it was young and new. Here’s my advice for every engaged and newlywed couple I know:

Treat your spouse like you would your best friend

Think about the best experiences you’ve ever had. Was it when you could laugh and be yourself? Was is when you could let loose without care? Was it when you had someone enjoying the experience with you — someone who knows you better than anyone else does?

So many of my best memories have been with Blake, and I believe it’s because I treat Blake much like I do my best friends. I tell him everything and don’t hold back for fear he will judge me. I let my guard down when I’m with him.

I laugh with him; I cry; I scream.

Because I’m my honest, raw self with Blake, I can honestly say he knows me better than anyone else does, and, sometimes, better than I know myself.

Forgive and forget

My mom once reminded me that you can’t hold your spouse up on a pedestal and expect them to be perfect. Just like you, they’re human. They make mistakes. They say hurtful words. They act in ways you don’t approve of or find acceptable.

When they do things that hurt your feelings or make you angry, you have to learn to let go of your emotions and move on.

I will be with Blake for the rest of my life, and I know there will be thousands of wrongdoings on his part during the years we have ahead. I also know there will be plenty of my own. The best thing I can do for our marriage is forgive what are so often minor infractions and remember, that at the end of the day, I love Blake with all my heart.

Be okay losing

Much like you have to forgive and forget, you also have to realize you can’t always be right. You may want to, and you may even know that you are — but at what cost are you willing to be correct? How much is having the last word worth?

Blake likes to dig his heels in on issues big and, more often, small. I always remind him when he does that marriage isn’t about winning. Instead, it’s about knowing when to be quiet and let it go.

Create your own excitement

While you can’t be engaged to and marry the same person all over again (unless you want to first divorce them), you can try your best to create that continual excitement you felt as an engaged couple and again as newlyweds. Plan romantic getaways, even if they’re small, local ones. Plan and embark on new adventures together. Ask each other out for dates. Take up a hobby together. Spend time together and continue to cultivate a relationship that’s not only exciting, but one that is meaningful and personal.

Share your best and worst moments

Marriage is full of flaws, so there’s no point in hiding yours. Let your guard down and be vulnerable with your spouse, but also allow them to be part of the moments when you’re at your best. Marriage is about learning how to build each other up and be there for each other when life comes tumbling down. By seeing one another in both the best and worst moments, you’ll learn how to be what each other needs at any given time.

Life will throw many challenges your way, but it will also grant you unbelievable moments of joy and happiness. By sharing in all of life’s moments with your spouse, you will build a foundation solid enough to last a lifetime, or at least a marriage’s worth 😉

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