Christian & I are coming up on just 2 years of marriage this September. Though, like any relationship, ours is far from perfect, and there are still seasons that are tougher to navigate than others, we are very happy with where we are today & the foundation we are continuing to build, so I wanted to share some of the things that we have learned/done, and areas where we have really noticed massive growth & fruitfulness through being obedient to God’s word, and being intentional about investing in our relationship. (<– Run-on sentence of the year?! haha) The first 2 sections are written by me, and the last 3 by Christian. I hope you enjoy the two perspectives! We’d love to hear some of your tips as well! 🙂

Regular Date Nights (by Jordan)

This probably seems like the most simple tip, but for me, after Shiloh was born, this was the hardest! As new parents, being so tired all the time, when we had those couple hours of free time each day, all we wanted to do was lay down, rest, and not have to think about anything. This was definitely necessary at times, but we noticed we weren’t creating hardly any time for each other, just the 2 of us. We started scheduling a regular date night every other week. Most of the time, even this was hard for me to stick to, because either I would be feeling sick & not up for going out, or something would be going on with Shiloh that would make me not want to leave her. After almost 9 months, I can finally say that I am so much more comfortable leaving the house for a bit, and actually really look forward to our date nights! (ok, they’re usually more like date mid-day/afternoons, but still!)

We were sent a date night subscription box from Bonding Bees, and I think this is the coolest idea! There are some occasions when we don’t have anyone to watch Shiloh, so end up spending time at home playing a board game, or watching a movie, or whatever we can think of. I loved this box because it provided some really fun activities that we wouldn’t normally have picked ourselves. My favorite part was that it included a sheet to determine each of our love languages. This is something that we did before we got married (HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone getting married!), but ours have changed quite a bit since becoming parents, so it was great to see where we are now vs. what they used to be. Ps. If you & your spouse (or boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/etc!) are interested in giving Bonding Bees a try, you can get 50% off your first box with code ‘INSTA50‘.

Pray/Read the Word Together (by Jordan)

This is the area that has made the biggest impact on strengthening our marriage.  We were pretty good about reading our Bibles on our time, and building our individual relationships with the Lord, but super inconsistent about doing these things as a couple. (Matthew 18:20) I think both of us had been praying for strength in our marriage, and for God to help us to see what was missing. Looking back, it’s so silly to me that it took us so long to figure out that this was the area that was really holding us back from growing in God together. He spoke so clearly to me about this being the key to our strong, Christ-centered marriage, and I was literally like DUH!! How could we not see this. But so glad He opened our eyes and that He’s given us the tools to fully know Him.

One of our favorite things to do together before bed is watch sermons or bible studies on YouTube. My personal favorite is Joyce Meyer. I relate really well to her, and love her (sometimes brutal) honesty. For this same reason, Christian loves Francis Chan. So raw & real! I believe they both also have podcasts available for download, if you aren’t able to watch a video.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 “Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him..”

Coparent (by Christian)

One of the more underrated and understated (in my opinion at least) challenges J and I have faced as first time parents has been coparenting. Throughout our relationship we’ve tried to prioritize communication in whatever stage or situation we’ve found ourselves. Finding out we were going to be parents was no different. We spent the better part of the pregnancy phase talking about the kind of parents we wanted to be, how we hoped to raise our daughter, the values we wanted to pass along to her, etc. However, talking about those things and actually following through with them proved to be a much more difficult task. Oftentimes, in the thick of the struggles of raising a baby, we would, and still do, resort back to our own experiences/interactions when we were being raised by our parents. In some respects, our experiences are very different. This has led to some disagreements with each other on what the best course of action is for Shiloh. I wish I could sit here and say this is a problem we’ve completely solved and overcome, but the truth is it is one we’re still navigating. However, through this battle it has no doubt brought Jordan and I closer as husband and wife, forcing us to listen to and learn from each other which is never a bad thing. Through this particular challenge, we’ve seen the Lord’s promise to be absolutely true – two are better than one.

Ask for Help (by Christian)

Ask for help…such a simple yet difficult thing to do. One of my favorite verses in The Bible is James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.” One of the reasons why I like that verse is because of it’s practicality in just about every circumstance, big or small. Whether it’s at home, at work, at school, wherever, we all have opportunities to ask for help, but can let those opportunities pass us by for one reason or another. Shiloh is one demanding baby. The girl knows what she wants and is never shy about asking for (read: demanding) it in her own very unique ways (in the blink of an eye, going from a perfectly happy and content baby to one uncontrollably and inexplicably screaming it’s head off is probably her favorite. Works every single time). Because of this special gift Shiloh possesses, patience and energy can wear thin at times for Jordan and I. Thankfully, we’ve grown comfortable asking for help from one another when we need it. However, asking for help doesn’t need to be confined between spouses. Jordan and I are fortunate to have an army of family/friends close by who are more than willing to lend a hand. We just need to ask.

Intentional Conversations (by Christian)

I mentioned earlier that communication was a big focal point in our relationship from the beginning. Looking back, we were definitely intentional about having open, honest and consistent communication with each other. But, as can often happen with time and routine, we got complacent and comfortable. The time we used to set aside for those intimate conversations began to diminish. Once Shiloh was born it decreased even further as we had to shuffle our free time and attention in a big way. It’s kind of interesting to see how something so important and foundational to our relationship went from being a top priority to essentially an afterthought. Without that intentionality we had put into practice in the past, our free time filled up with Netflix, sports (there’s literally never a minute without some sporting even going on somewhere, Jordan reminds me of this daily), and other such wastes of time. Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. We had one of those Saul on the road to Damascus type of moments where the blinding light got our attention and we realized the trap we were falling into. That’s led us back to being intentional about our communication and ensuring that we’re setting time aside each day for that. For anyone feeling like a relationship (with a spouse, a friend, a family member) has been growing stagnant and stale, try carving out time to for meaningful, distraction-free conversation. Speaking from experience, the impact that has had in such a short amount of time has been incredible. SaveSave

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