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Sam Dobson Writes: Marriage Advice I'll Actually Follow

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Marriage Advice I'll Actually Follow

It's a common belief that the first year of marriage is the hardest, or that's just what people say to you for encouragement during a stressful first year. Either way, I have found that there is some validity in this statement. The first year of marriage is probably one of the hardest for young couples who are still struggling to climb up the ladder in their career, still taking college courses, have kids, etc. Your dream wedding is in the past and that romantic honeymoon is over. It's back to real life, your nine-to-five job, all those bills, fighting to stay healthy, taking care of kids or fur-kids, and all the other first-world problems we face.

No, I'm not trying to depress you, I'm actually doing the opposite. I'm attempting to inspire all you engaged couples and young newlyweds, trying to give you hope for your marriage. To do that, I must turn back to my marriage. In just six months of saying "I do", Blake and I moved out of our little beach apartment and packed all of our stuff into a storage pod. We went through an incredibly stressful process to buy our first house and in the mean time, bunked up at Blake's mom's house. We are renovating our entire house on a budget and on our own with little help. Talk about a hard first six months of marriage. 

So, how are we not strangling each other during all of this? I think the answer can in part be explained by a very valuable piece of advice we received while opening wedding gifts and reading through cards filled with well wishes. The gift from Blake's bosses (a married couple who started their own company together) was accompanied by a card with an inscription that advised us to always have a project to work on together. At the time, I didn't regard this as some sort of magical marital wisdom, rather just another thoughtful suggestion. Once we began the work to buy our first home and then the work to make our first home livable, I suddenly found myself remembering that specific piece of marriage advice.

During the reno there have been plenty of times where we wanted to smack each other, like when I drilled not one but two holes in the wrong spot on one of our pretty new kitchen cabinet doors. Blake has gotten so many cuts and bruises, we've lost count and I wouldn't have blamed him had he decided to put down the hammer and hire someone else to do the work. Overall, our team work has been pretty spot on. I never in a million years would have thought we would be able to lay new flooring and build a kitchen from scratch, but we did and our marriage is probably a bit stronger because of it. I think there is something about having a common goal and being able to work towards that goal together that can make a couple stronger. It has been quite the experience, trying and frustrating at times but also incredibly rewarding.

Obviously we can't always be renovating our house, nor do I want to. But I do think that when you have something you can do or an experience you can share with your spouse, it can strengthen your bond. It's healthy and necessary to have your own personal hobbies or activities, but it's just as important to have something together. This is sort of how Blake and I came up with our new tradition, one we had unknowingly started back in 2011. Instead of having a laborious project to work on all the time (a DIY once in a while is good enough for me), lets work towards the common goal of adventure. Both of us are always saying how we wish we traveled more, why not make that our "project"?

Blake and I made a deal that we would travel to a new destination every year. How can a young married couple with lots of bills and just enough income to pay those bills make that happen? We aren't planning on flying to Europe every year, who could actually afford that aside from the rich and the famous? Relatively local places count too; the goal is to go at least one place we've never been to every year. The idea popped into our heads after we got an invitation to visit Alaska. My best friend has an awesome boyfriend who just happens to have grown up there and he invited us for a visit. While we were plotting and planning the logistics, we both agreed that going someplace new once a year would be an amazing tradition and we had actually already been doing so since we started dating. A new tradition to carry on and work towards each year together, that's what it's all about. Needless to say, I'm very excited to see where this tradition will take us each year. 



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