Life with kids in the mix is always busy, always changing, and always has an element of chaos to each day. Keeping the focus on our marriage is tough. This past year Zach and I did a LOT of growing together. Lots more openly communicating. Lots more understanding each other's perspectives. And lots more love :) It isn't easy to keep the focus on "us" though. Even when we've grown in so many ways, we still catch ourselves slipping backwards if we aren't careful. It takes constant, consistent, conscious work and effort!
Here are a few of the things I've found the help ME to keep the focus on our marriage (I'm sure if I asked Zach to write a post on this topic he may have different things on his list!):
1. Time with God: I have found that if I don't keep my focus on God then I lose focus on other aspects of my life, especially my marriage. My biggest struggle as a wife is my tongue. It's TOUGH for me to speak in love and if I don't pray about it daily then I fall back into that same pattern of using harsh tones or unkind words or just not thinking before speaking. Time with God brings out the BEST in ME! (Being that "Proverbs 31 woman" is no joke!)
2. Love Languages: Knowing my own love language and knowing Zach's love language helps on a daily basis in our relationship. I know he needs physical touch, which isn't natural for me. If we are sitting watching tv together I have to remind myself to hold his hand or rub his leg. It may sound silly that it requires that effort for me, but it does! Just as I know he has to make a conscious effort to just sit and talk with me to meet my love language need of quality time! (You can read more about love languages and take the test for yourself here!)
3. Plans Together: Zach and I both enjoy date nights, but they aren't enough for us to REALLY connect. Travel is the way we connect best. We LOVE family trips with the kids but find that we need a couple trips a year kids-free to really stay connected and in tune with each other. Even just talking and planning such trips helps connect us - we both love anticipation and planning is half the fun of the experience! By spending quality time together now, we are making sure we will still WANT to spend that quality time together when our kids are grown :)
4. Hashing things Out: We have come SO FAR in our communication. It's tough to sit down and talk through things that are on our hearts, especially when we worry how the other person will receive it. We both tend to hold stuff inside and then have it burst out of us at a random time in an inappropriate (and ineffective!) way. We've learned by communicating early and often that so many larger arguments can be avoided and we're better able to feel understood by each other. (You can read more suggestions for effective ways to communicate here!)
5. Working on Us: Just as I feel disconnected from Zach if I don't have my time with God...we also notice a distance between each other if we aren't actively working on our marriage together. Yes, a LOT of stuff is on our shoulders to do on our own...but when we come together we find that we both are better able to work on ourselves. The BIGGEST tool we have used for our marriage growth have been Marriage 365 webinars. I talked about them in this post and we try to spend time once a week sitting down and working through some of their stuff. We buy the webcasts and then watch them slowly so we won't feel overwhelmed by it (they air live but are also recorded!). We had one night where we literally only made it through 3 min of the webcast and ended up having a huge discussion just from that!
Over our years of marriage we've tried many different things to help us grow together. We've done books and lessons and seminars but for some reason we just have clicked in a BIG way with Casey and Meygan who run Marriage 365. I think part of it is because they are SO relatable. They don't act like they have "all the answers" and they come across as REAL which y'all know I appreciate :) I'm all about some transparency and so are they! I also think it's because Zach is SO MUCH like Casey and I'm SO MUCH like Meygan that when they admit faults it makes it easier for us to admit ours. We both follow them on Instagram as well and they have some AWESOME stuff they post that helps us both keep our focus on each other in-between times of watching the webcasts!
I happened to see last week that they posted a request to hear from bloggers so I reached out immediately (which it was hilarious b/c several people also private messaged me about it!). I am a big believer in sharing things that I LOVE and I truly have nothing but wonderful things to say about Marriage 365 and can give countless examples of how their mission to help marriages thrive has affected my marriage in a BIG WAY. They are a blessing to our lives :)
Tomorrow night they are having a webcast with a topic that hits home for ALL of us: Secrets to a Healthy Marriage with KIDS! Whew, I know I need that one for sure don't you?
The webcast will air LIVE tomorrow night (Wed May 18th) at 6 PM PST...but they are recorded and they will email you a link to watch it! We've never been able to watch it live (being east coast time) but have always enjoyed watching the recorded versions and being able to come back to them as needed!
The cost for the webinar is $10 and it includes access to the webcast, a couples connecting worksheet, and their awesome e-book (20 Ways to Show Your Spouse Love) which, shocker, I've read and gotten tons of ideas from myself! You can purchase the webcast here!
What are some of the ways that you keep the focus on your marriage? You can read more of how we keep our marriage strong here! Thank you again to Marriage 365 for helping SO many couples find joy in their marriages!