The traditional third anniversary gift is leather. Justin and I celebrated three years of this adventure called marriage this month. While we did not exchange any leather, I love the symbolism of it. Leather is soft, but strong, and durable to stand up to some rough patches in life. It shows wear, but doesn’t break down easily. I’d say that’s pretty accurate description of what we have lived as a couple so far. We’ve had a blast, but at the same time learned a ton, sometimes the harder way.
I am sharing the top ten things I have learned in the last three years. I recognize each relationship is unique to the couple. But maybe I can share some insight with you that might save you some bumps and bruises along the way, and make for a stronger relationship at the same time.
I used to think freedom meant not having a set schedule, and just getting to do what we wanted. I now understand that having a set schedule makes for more freedom to enjoy the downtime. We do our best to plan meals and know what nights we’ll cook them. Date night is planned each week so that time doesn’t get bulldozed. We also do a high level schedule for the year of when we can plan times for just us two to get away or simply have quality time together.
We’re both pretty quality time focused, which makes things a little easier! Justin definitely likes words of affirmation though, which I’m working on. I’m still a fan of spontaneous date nights or little adventures, to go for a hike or long walk with our pup. But sometimes, you just have to schedule the necessities. That might just be a part of growing up. I think we’ve embraced the beauty of schedules to make “us time”.
Learning to accept the ridiculousness of each other, and maybe even embrace it, is key. We each have the little things we value and don’t mind splurging on a little, and the things we would rather be thrifty about. Of course we feel differently about those two categories in most situations! When we’re traveling I want a cute, delicious, and fresh breakfast experience. I’m for sure buying a unique coffee creation if possible. Justin would rather splurge on amazing sushi or “whichever plate has the most food”. We’ve learned to appreciate, accommodate, and even embrace the feelings of the other.
Celebrate the little things and the big things, but especially the little things each day.
Choose to be positive by letting the little stuff go quicker so we can choose joy.
I remind myself that I am responsible for me. It’s not his job to make me happy, but I have to choose to be happy. On the flip side, while he is responsible for his own happy too, I want to serve him and bring more happiness to him. That means choosing not to drag out the bad stuff.
When in conflict or disagreement, I try to remember that Justin isn’t the problem, but rather it’s my problem. I can’t change him, I can only change myself. I trust that he’ll see the changes I’m making and get on board too. From experience, the blame game doesn’t work!
Taking the time to be present with him in the things he enjoys, even if just to talk about them and not actually participate (hello not Sporty Spice over here) will make an impact. I enjoy learning so I can learn about the sports he’s interested in. But he can go play tennis, golf, and bike ridiculous distances with his guy friends.
I’m not saying our chore game is on point, but we’ve gotten a little better at letting each other do the chores that are less terrible in each of our opinions. I’d rather cook and do laundry than clean up any dishes or take out the trash. We take care of the chores we don’t mind as much. I’m definitely the planner for projects, events, schedules, and travel. That’s not to say he doesn’t help me with it at this point, but he definitely didn’t at the beginning. I do my best to be engaged and buy in on budgeting, but he takes point on that subject’s strategy. Between planning and budgeting, for example, we are both involved in the process, but let the one who gets more enjoyment out of it take point.
When we work together, goals can be fun and doable. We’ve had a few financial, small business, work, home, and random project goals so far. When we are on the same page and plan them out, we can make a pretty good team. It doesn’t always sound so fun in the process but being on the same team makes it fun. It helps that Justin basically sets goals for people and makes plans for them to achieve them all day as a financial planner. I totally let him do his thing to set us up for success on our goals!
Trying new things together is fun. West coast swing was the reason we started spending so much time together when we started dating. We’ve had it as a hobby our whole relationship. Though we give west coast swing more time in different seasons, we always are trying to participate in some hobbies together. We learn more about each other in the process and just have fun. I’d say traveling, west coast swing, thrifting (online or in person), and attempting to train Brookie, our Weimaraner, have been a few of our successful hobbies over the past few years.
I hope what sharing what I have learned helps you in your own relationships, may they be romantic, family, or just with friends. I find that often a good relationship takes some self sacrifice. But in the end what you give up for the other person makes what you have with them that much better. What have you learned from your relationships? Share it below, I’d love to hear your ideas too!
Photography | Delight in the Desert