The dress has been packed away, the presents opened and put in their proper place around the house, and you’ve both returned to work. After months of anticipation and the adrenalin rush of planning a wedding, all of a sudden it’s over.
Many times a new bride will unexpectedly get hit with the harsh reality of returning to life and will, somewhere along the line, experience a letdown of sorts. When this letdown occurs thoughts such as, “This is it? This is all there is? Now what do I have to look forward to?” will occur.
Bridal showers have become grocery shopping and laundry.
The fun and relaxing honeymoon has become a memory as early wake up times and work deadlines beg for attention.
The beautiful wedding gown and tiara and veil have been replaced by every day clothes and bad hair days.
Your handsome groom dressed in his tuxedo has been taken over by a man snoring in your bed and wearing boxers around the house on the weekends.
Romantic dates have turned into budget meals that you have to fix night after night because now that you’re married, you have to live within a strict financial guideline.
The days leading up to the wedding, the wedding day itself, and the honeymoon afterward are filled with excitement and wonder, beauty and romance. Then, life creeps back in. With its arrival, you feel your bride’s heart slipping away. It’s sad and even a little disappointing that all the excitement is over.
But while we can’t have lives as beautiful and dramatic as our wedding day, we can still keep a bride’s heart throughout the course of our marriage. Romantic feelings may fade as work pressures, financial struggles, and every day routine fills your schedule, but the choice of love does not have to fade with time. Not only is it possible to be as in love as on your wedding day, it is possible to be more in love as each day passes.
Love takes work — work that is harder than any wedding planning ever done! The wedding day is over and now it’s time for the real work of marriage to begin.
One of the best habits you can develop early on in marriage is to rehearse to yourself all the things that you love about your spouse. Once you begin living together it’s much easier to begin rehearsing all the things you don’t love about your spouse, such as the toilet seat that is left up, the clothes on the floor, and the way he slurps his cereal every morning. The trouble is, the more you rehearse the things that annoy you, the quicker that bride’s heart will fade away. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why in the world you ever married this man and resent that fact that you did.
Look for the things that you love about your husband and remind yourself of them. Choose to ignore the idiosyncrasies (remembering you have some yourself!) and instead, focus on his positive qualities.
Don’t just keep these things to yourself. Tell your man what you love about him too. Praise and encouragement will go further than any hen-pecking or criticism ever will.
Do you remember in the beginning how you wooed him with cards and text messages that spoke of your undying love and told him over and over again how lucky you were to have him in your life? Just because you’re now an old married woman doesn’t mean you can’t buy just as many cards as you once did. Well, ok, the married life budget may prevent you from buying the cards, but you can make them. That’s even more romantic than buying them.
In addition to keeping up with the romantic cards, don’t forget to text him as much now as you did during your dating days.
Perhaps you may want to start a love journal between the two of you. You can start it on your wedding day or at the start of each new year. Throughout the year write love letters to each other, draw silly pictures of your life, and use scrapbooking stickers to create stories that pertain to just you two. At the end of the year, take a night and read through it together . Let it be one of your traditions. Don’t use the journal for discussions and difficult conversations. Keep it strictly a journal for love and romance.
Continue to take care of yourself. How many times has a woman gone on a strict diet and beauty regimen in preparation for her wedding day only to grow lax as soon as the honeymoon is over and gain the equivalent to the freshmen fifteen? Be as concerned about looking your best for your husband as you were on your wedding day. He’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel better about yourself on a daily basis besides.
Celebrate the milestones. Celebrate the first month, the first half a year, the first year, the first 1,000 days, 5,000 days, etc. Long lasting marriages that are full of love and friendship are a rarity in today’s world. Make a big deal out of yours and make each milestone an occasion to celebrate what you have.
Put your wedding vows in a frame and place that frame in a prominent location in your house. Stop by the frame and read the vows often. Read them when everything is going well. Read them when everything is not going so well. Remind yourself of what you promised your husband on your wedding day.
Along with the above statement, practice the general rule of thumb to own your own stuff in marriage. Focus on what your vows were, not what your husband’s vows were. This is one of the biggest hindrances to a marriage that can develop –- spouses who are so focused on what the other person should be doing for them that they aren’t focused on what they should be doing!
Focusing on your spouse’s wrongdoings very rarely results in having those things go away. However, when you spend time working on your role in the marriage and you make the decision to not hold your husband responsible for his role in marriage, amazing things happen. As you are the wife you promised to be, it will make him want to be the husband he promised to be.
Seek to communicate with your husband about what you need from him instead of expecting him to figure it out and then getting angry when he doesn’t. There are correct ways to communicate these needs and there are wrong ways to communicate these needs.
A wrong way would be to say things like, “You never listen to me” or “I hate your clothes lying all over the place!” Instead, better statements would be (after asking if you can talk and not just ambushing him with what you want to say), “Sometimes when I’m speaking I feel like you aren’t hearing me. It hurts my heart,” or, “It would be helpful if you could pick up your clothes because I trip on them regularly.”
Always use “I” statements and never state your needs in attack mode.
Also, be prepared that if you are going to state your needs to your mate, he may very well feel free to state his needs to you. Listen with an open mind and don’t respond back with defensiveness. A conversation like this can be tough to have but it doesn’t have to be brutal.
Continue to date each other. If at all possible, choose one night a week and keep it as your date night. This is hard to achieve with the busy, modern lives we all live, but it can mean everything to a marriage. Having that one night a week to turn off the television, not get on the internet, leave work worries behind, and just focus on each other can keep both of you centered on what’s really important –- your love and your marriage.
It helps to read marriage books on a regular basis. Marriage books are written on a variety of topics and can help reveal why some of the roadblocks that pop up on the marital journey are happening. They can provide an insight that a husband and wife may not realize on their own, due to their own frame of reference.
Typically, men are not as excited about reading books out loud as women are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read personally. If you do read, however, it is crucial to remember that if you share what you are reading, you do it in such a way that you are including yourself in what you share, instead of turning it into a lecture as to how your man should be better for you.
Be aware of men’s core needs. Usually the things men most need from their wives are the very things they get less and less of as the marriage progresses. Men need to be respected by their women and they need peace in their homes. Unfortunately, as marriage goes on, women get more critical and full of nagging, thus taking away any semblance of peace in the home and making the husband feel anything but respected. A helpful book to read on this topic is His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr.
When difficult times come in the marriage, as they inevitably will, don’t run to friends and family with your complaints. First of all, it doesn’t help you and your husband resolve the issue between yourself. Instead, it just complicates the issue as other people get involved and start offering their opinions on the matter.
Second of all, it betrays your husband’s confidence (remember his need for respect) and undermines his trust. Most men would rather their wives not share personal matters with people outside of the marriage, especially if he isn’t there to share his side of the story.
Third, it turns your friends and family against your spouse. Many times the issue will eventually be resolved between both of you, but friends and family will still be angry with him and think badly of him.
If you need a third party, find a priest or pastor or counselor, but do not involve those closest to you!
Lastly, flirt with each other often. In addition to those text messages, touch each other constantly, whether in the car, in the house, at church, or while shopping in the store. Brush up against your hubby, whisper in his ear in public, and shoot him just-you-guys-know-what-it-means looks in public. Flirting is what got you guys together in the first place, let it help you keep you together.
Marriage takes work, but it is work well spent. A great marriage can be better than any fairy-tale wedding ever was!