if you follow me on any social media platform, you know that i am pretty obsessed with my husband. he has his own hashtag on twitter (#brandtlysays), for crying out loud! if that doesn't exemplify love in 2017, i don't know what does.
relationships are awesome. commitment is awesome. marriage is AWESOME. but all of those things are also HARD. and also kind of weird, when you think about it. "hey, i'm super attracted to you and NEVER WANT TO LEAVE YOU so do you want to promise to love me and only me for the rest of your life and share a house and create offspring and also use the same toilet forever?" weird.
but really, marriage can be hard. it should be! i am not perfect, and brandtly is not perfect, so our combined imperfections and flaws that we both bring into our marriage are bound to create conflict at times. how these conflicts are handled can completely enhance or utterly destroy your relationship. brandt has taught me a lot during our time we have spent together, and here are some marital keys to success that i have found work for us:
1. be humble. this one is huuuuge! i think that humility is possibly the single most important character trait to possess in a relationship. put your spouse's needs above your own. admit your faults. get over yourself and focus on THEM. in sickness and in health, but also just when they're being super annoying or they hurt your feelings. humility will both aid in mending conflicts and preventing them all together. which brings me to my next point...
2. be quick to apologize. seriously! lickety split! and make sure it is sincere. my mom always told me that an apology should never have a "but" in it. "i'm really sorry i heard your feelings, BUT you're being oversensitive." nope. that doesn't count! you need to completely own up to YOUR mistakes. lace your apologies with sincerity. really make a conscious effort to put yourself in your spouse's place and try to understand their point of view when you are arguing.
also, life is busy. especially for newly weds. many of us are still going to school or adjusting to a new job or trying to establish a career. chances are, you won't be with your spouse 24/7. if you have a small disagreement in the morning, and then you both leave for the day and don't see each other again until nighttime, you have had all day to brew over the disagreement and failed to resolve it. however, if you quickly and sincerely apologize, you can enjoy your day and send flirty texts and make out right when you both get home. yay!
3. it doesn't matter if you think you didn't do anything wrong. i'm an itsy bitsy teensy bit more sensitive than brandtly is. okay, fine, he is a solid rock and i am a soggy mop (soggy? ew). occasionally, he will hurt my feelings without even knowing it. even though his offenses are completely unintentional, he still ALWAYS apologizes. it doesn't matter if you're not able to see your flaws or understand why someone is offended; if your partner is hurt because of your actions (or inactions), it is your responsibility to make it right.
4. make your partner laugh. every day! multiple times a day! i don't think there is anything better than brandtly and i cracking up together, laughing so hard we can hardly breathe, and making eye contact and sharing that joyous, carefree moment together. whenever i see a funny meme on the internet, i get SO PUMPED to show brandtly because i know it will make him laugh. fill your relationship with spouts of laughter, and life will seem much more happy.
5. listen and ask questions. put down your phone or your laptop or your homework and look at your partner when they are talking to you. listen to them. engage in conversation. validate them. ask questions. make sure you understand. nothing is worse than not feeling heard or feeling like your partner doesn't care what you have to say. i believe that if you practice good communication skills during seemingly insignificant passing conversation, it will be much easier to resolve conflicts when you actually need to have good communication.
6. compliment your spouse in front of other people. ohhhh there is nothing better than overhearing brandtly talk on the phone with his friends about how much he loves me!!! nothing better than hearing him speak about my talents or accomplishments with pride to a group of people. he is my favorite person to impress, so it just makes me feel all warm and snuggly to hear him praise me to others. IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE BEYONCE.
7. never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever diss your spouse. NEVER. i don't care if it's about his inability to put the toilet seat down or about her tendency to overreact about everything. just don't do it. i think it creates an environment of disrespect and that can be really messy to get out of. your spouse is not perfect and they know that. they are trying. but they will be more willing to try harder when they feel love and encouragement from you. don't say anything about them that you wouldn't say straight to their face.
8. choose them all day erry day. cuz guess what? you already promised them you would on your wedding day. brandtly and i are pretty much a package deal. we do everything together. we are a TEAM. isn't that romantic?! obviously things occasionally come up, like a girl's night or a bachelor party, but for the most part, we are together. we put our relationship above any other relationship. your spouse needs to be the most important person to you, and you need to be theirs. isn't it wonderful to know that you are your number one's number one?!
9. have both common and separate interests. brandtly and i definitely have our differences. when we meet people, he always says "she's artsy and i'm fartsy" (i'm cringing even TYPING out the word, that's how different we are). i love social media and art and my kate spade purse. he loves snowboarding and blink 182 and sports. he would choose cheesecake factory any day, any time, any meal, and i prefer somewhere with "small tables and uncomfortable chairs" with a rocking aesthetic and fresh food. we are DIFFERENT. but i love and support him in his interests and he does the same for me. he'll come with me to a ballet and i will go with him to a basketball game. it's important to support each other and still be your own person. you lived a whole life before getting married to your spouse-- don't let that part of you disappear!
on the flip side, we are both OBSESSED with crossfit. i got into it a few months after we got married and he has been doing it for years. i can't believe how much FUN our relationship is with this mutual obsession!! we do it every day together (sometimes twice. thrice?), talk about the workouts all the time, and are constantly encouraging each other. it's fun because when he is super excited about snatching 275 pounds, i really understand how amazing that is and i see how hard he has worked to become that strong. and when i was able to do pull-ups after having a baby, he was STOKED for me because he saw how much of a struggle it was for me while i was carrying around a 25-pound basketball around my midsection (no offense to storie, she is a cute little basketball!!!). we both love it. it connects us. i think that is just as important as having personal, separate hobbies and passions!
10. express gratitude constantly. this is something that brandtly does so well! he always says thank you for the smallest things, like changing storie's diaper or taking out the trash. it feels so good to be noticed and appreciated and it definitely encourages me to keep on doing it. thank your spouse multiple times a day, every day.
11. reciprocate physical contact. maybe i'm only a fan of this because i'm a physical touch kind of gal, but brandtly has always been so so SO good at reciprocating physical contact. if i grab his hand, he'll squeeze it or bring it to his lips to kiss it. if i lean into his shoulder, he'll put his arm around me or kiss the top of my head. it's just a very nice, nonverbal way to show your partner that you like having them around.
12. kiss every day. with tongue.
photos by lauren wenn