LeBraun and I’s first wedding anniversary is today and while some days it feels like we were standing in front of our family and friends on an olive grove in Hawaii saying our vows just yesterday, other days it feels like an eternity ago. I’m somehow always surprised how time sneaks up on me.
Everything that has happened in the last 365 days has been about shaping our future. Were there hard times? Of course. But those times were speckled few and far between through moments of happiness, excitements, love, and respect.
Now our “first anniversary” experience is probably not the norm. We’ve been dating since high school, have lived and traveled together, and have grown up together. Nonetheless each month you spend your life with someone brings new memories and new challenges.
So today were sitting on the patio of the house we’ve spent every Summer since we were 16 and 17 years old to chat about our first 365 days of married life. Lessons we learned, memories we made, things we’re looking forward to, and what a kick-ass wedding we had!
We don’t have all the answer about “how to be married” but we wanted to share 12 pieces of relationship advice we’ve really valued during our first 12 months as Mr. and Mrs.
1. Weddings go by fast but so does the first year of marriage. You’ll never get this time back so don’t forget to soak it in. Every year life gets crazier and the years get shorter, stay in the moment. Enjoy each moment for what it is—good, bad or ugly. It’s tough coming down from the wedding high, but look at it like the wedding is over, look at it like your marriage is starting.
2. Discuss finances. Not the most exciting topic but a crucial one. Just like two people became one at the wedding so must your finances. It’s the perfect time to set budgets, develop a savings strategy, and talk about expectations going forward.
3. Don’t stop dating your spouse. Plenty of couples forget this once they tie the knot, but it is so, so important. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day as you chores, do them together. What’s going on with you? Take the time to connect every day.
We love planning at least two formal date nights every month. It’s the perfect opportunity to bond over something you both love, and each planning one of the dates makes it a fun surprise for the other.
Here are some of our favorite dates ideas.
- Movie + dinner, always a classic. We like to go to the movie first then grab dinner so we can discuss the movie. :)
- Take a cooking class together.
- Stargaze. There’s nothing that will make you feel like a part of the universe’s grand design then cuddling under millions of tiny stars. After all you found each other in this crazy world.
- Go to the zoo. Amazing animals, need we say more?
- Browse a bookstore. We love going to the bookstore, finding books about places we want to visit, talking about our favorite books growing up, and taking home books about things we want to learn.
- Don’t underestimate a weekend getaway. Without the distractions of your normal day to day, you really can put the focus back on each other.
- Make your house, a home. If you just moved in together you probably have some duplicate items. Work together small area by small area to create a place that is the perfect combination of the two of you.
- Grab coffee and walk. Talk about your day, your week, funny things that happened, movies you want to see, things you want to do, the future…whatever you’re feeling that day. Just take the time to connect.
- Go to a museum or gallery. One thing that we’ve always valued in our relationship is our mutual love of learning and the opportunity to always be learning.
- Take a dance class together.
- Spa day, ‘cuz massages!
- Laugh together at a comedy club.
- Hunt down the “hot” food truck and grab lunch.
- Dress up and splurge on a nice dinner.
- Just get out of the house! It’s so simple to stay comfortable, especially after a day at the office, but break the routine and get some fresh air.
4. Never talk badly about your spouse to others. Once you’re aware of this, you’ll realize your guilty of it. Everyone is, but the important thing is now you know you can actively work to make this a priority. It’s so easy to vent about a spouse to friends or even online. Although most of the issues people vent about are —small annoyances that build up over time—and venting to friends is an easy way to avoid conflict with your spouse and experience some temporary relief, it actually causes you (and your friends) to begin to resent your partner. It’s only one side of the story. Work together to address and fix the issues that make you want to vent. Focus on the good in your relationship, build each other up, and then you’ll have something positive to put out in the world. Protect your spouse at all times, ultimately protecting your relationship.
5. Communicate with love and actually listen. This is probably the hardest one for me as I’m not a great speaker to begin with. For some reason I always expect people to simply understand. Since most people can’t read minds, I often end up keeping it to myself then blowing up (aka not the best strategy). We learned that it’s not usually what you are saying, it’s how you are saying it. Many “battles” could be avoided if someone has just said something earlier. Be straightforward with each other, but also gentle. Remember your s.o. is a person with feelings and opinions too. LeBraun’s system, if you will, is to start with a positive note, acknowledge my feelings/opinion and then kindly express his point of view/opinion. It does much less harm then pointedly saying “You didn’t do this, you didn’t do that…” And when your spouse speaks, don’t forget to LISTEN, not just hear. Golden rule of marriage: Treat your spouse how you would like to be treated.
6. Try not go to bed angry. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but waking up next to your best friend is one of the best parts of marriage. Apologize quick and forgive quicker. We don’t like to say “Never go to bed angry” because arguments tend to take a nastier turn when both people who are already angry are also tired and grumpy. Most of the time, big problems turn into small ones with a little time and little sleep.
7. Don’t keep score. This is general relationship advice but now that our relationship is more formal/official legally, we feel it’s just as important to remember. We’re on the same team—team Shabraun. We say It’s not you vs. me, it’s us vs. the problem. There aren’t ”winners" and a “losers” of every argument, you’re a team so you’ll either win together or lose together. Don’t make assumptions on each other’s behalf. Discuss together, find a solution, and come out stronger.
8. Like because, love despite. You like because, and you love despite. You like someone because of all of their qualities, and you love someone despite some of their qualities. I cannot change my husband, just like my husband can’t change me. Yes, there are always little improvements we can make, but try remember you fell in love with who they are, not who you wanted them to be.
9. Remember your love story. Especially when times get tough. We think about how we met, our first date, our first kiss, our fiftieth date, our thousandth kiss, why I said yes when LeBraun got down on one knee. Remembering those moments reminds you what’s important and that your person loves you in the moments where they seem like they don’t.
10. It’s weird to use the “husband” and be called someone’s “wife” in day to day life. When I’m talking to someone I always feel self-conscious…and a little pretentious…saying things like “My husband and I really want to see that.” It really doesn’t matter what I say for the second half of that sentence, but I always feel like it comes off as “husssband” like I’m purposefully using a snooty, uppity voice and bragging. Of course I’m not, it’s just a transition like when we switched from boyfriend/girlfriend to fiancé. Either way it’s still feels weird to say so we stick to hubby and wifey. It’s feels a little less formal and works for us. P.S. Also it’s not that I’m bragging about finding someone to those who are single or not wanting to brag about how awesome LeBraun is. I do want to brag about him because he is the coolest person I know and I’m the luckiest girl in the world because he chose me. :)
11. Give your best to each other, not your leftovers after you've given your best to everyone else. Marriage is not 50/50, it’s 100/100. Each partner giving everything they’ve got.
12. Have fun and laugh lots. Everyone says “marriage is work” and it is is, but marriage is FUN! Tease, flirt, dance, sing, play, and makeout. Be a lot nice and little naughty. Never stop holding hands or saying “I love you.”
Laughter really is the best medicine. We love that we share similar humor style, we quote movies and shows in every day conversations, and we often say the exact same thing at the exact same time. When that happens it’s always followed by a exclaimed “Come on!” that is also often said in unison. Jinx, you owe me a coke. :)