6 Things We Do to Keep a Strong Marriage
Yesterday, Finn and I celebrated six years of marriage. And we also celebrated Rory’s half birthday. The fact that her half birthday will always be on our wedding anniversary is pretty special and it’s likely we won’t forget it! And even though we’ve been married for six years, we’ve actually been together for 16! Yep, I’ve been with Finn for half of my life. It’s pretty wild.
Today, I thought it might be fun to share a few of the ways that we keep our marriage strong. We are far from perfect, but we definitely put a lot of hard work into our relationship. And now that we’re parents, we’re working even harder to make sure our marriage is in tip-top shape! Because if our marriage is in a good place, we can be better parents. Plus, we want to model a healthy relationship for our daughter.
6 Things We Do to Keep Our Relationship Strong
Here are some of the things we do daily to keep a strong marriage.
Know Your Partner’s Love Language
I’ve talked about this a lot before, but we are big fans of the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. We think it’s important to know both your partner’s love language, as well as your own. My love language is “Acts of Service”, so I feel love when Finn does tasks around the house for me, helps with a DIY project, or empties the dishwasher. Finn’s love language is “Words of Affirmation”, so he feels love when I give him compliments! I think it’s important to know your partner’s love language, especially when it’s not the same as yours. Finn could give me compliments all day long and that’s not how I feel love, although those words are very appreciated! Or I could clean the house from top to bottom and that wouldn’t be the ideal way to show him how much I care. This has been crucial for us over the years.
Every Sunday, we have a quick conversation about the week ahead. We discuss any appointments we have, any nights where we might have plans, and just do an overall check-in for the week. (Is it a lighter week of work? Does Finn have a really important meeting one day?) This keeps us on the same page and helps us avoid double booking. It also helps us avoid those times when one of us swore that we told the other about something important, only for them to forget. A lot of those situations can lead to fights, so this is a helpful way to get ahead of that!
Just taking five minutes to have this conversation each week has been a game changer for us. And now that Rory is here, it’s more important than ever. If I have a conference call on a day and need Finn to watch her, we review that. If she has a doctor’s appointment that week, we review that. It’s nice to be on the same page and split the load accordingly.
Fight to Solve, Not to Win
I’ve had people on Instagram ask me if Finn and I ever fight because we always seem happy. Of course we fight. We are a normal married couple just like anyone else!
Back in high school and college, we had some very unproductive fights. I’m a very stubborn person, and I’ll admit that there were many times when I didn’t want to lose an argument. The way in which we fight has definitely matured as we’ve grown up. Instead of wanting to win an argument, we fight to solve it. This means we have to take time to listen, take time to vocalize our feelings, and take time to understand the other’s perspective. This also involves the method of “When you ____, I feel ____”. This kind of “fighting” prevents one of us from becoming too defensive and instead it helps us get to the bottom of the issues quickly.
I’ve gotta admit, this tip has been pretty difficult lately because we have a newborn and we’re living in a pandemic, so we’ve been at home more than ever! While we love spending time together, we also think it’s important to spend time apart. Whether that’s me going out to have a drink with girlfriends or Finn golfing on a Sunday morning with his buddies, we can’t do everything together all the time.
We also enjoy alone time when we’re by ourselves. Finn can watch a game and have a night alone in the living room, while I take a bath and read upstairs. This time alone and with friends makes us enjoy the time we have together that much more.
Split the Load
I’d say this tip is one we’ve been practicing the most as new parents. As you all know, we don’t have traditional roles in our marriage. (I mean, does anyone these days?) We both work full-time; Finn cooks; I do most of the home repairs… We really don’t fit into the old-fashioned gender roles of “Mom” and “Dad.”
When it comes to parenting, we are both heavily involved in every aspect of Rory’s life. I recently had to leave town for a few nights for my grandmother’s funeral and Finn stayed home with Rory. I didn’t have to leave a sheet with instructions or anything. I just packed a bag for myself and left. And that’s because Finn is a full-time parent, just like I am. There’s nothing that this mama is doing that Finn isn’t also doing for Rory.
Finn gets Rory up in the morning, I put Rory to bed at night. Finn handles all of the “stock” for Rory (ordering more diapers, wipes, clothing, etc. ), whereas, I do all of the research on her development (food, sleep, activities, etc.). We split the load and that’s what works for us. No one feels like the other person isn’t helping out and we’re both working towards a common goal – keeping our daughter healthy and happy!
This last one isn’t necessarily a tip for others, but it’s something that we do. Most nights, I go to bed long before Finn does and I have him tuck me into bed every single night. (I’m in bed by 9:00 pm and he is usually more of an 11:00 pm – 12:00 am kinda guy.) If I’m upstairs reading already, I’ll usually send him a silly gif of someone sleeping or a dog falling asleep (I know, we’re weird!) and he knows that’s the signal to come up to tuck me in! Even if we haven’t been able to spend any time together at all that day, we have a few minutes alone with this nightly ritual and I usually go to sleep with a smile on my face.
6 Months of Rory
Even though Finn and I have been together for so long, these past six months have been the best of our lives. Rory makes us feel so much more complete and it’s really hard to imagine what life was like before she was here! I’ll always remember our 6-year wedding anniversary as our first one with Rory girl. A very special anniversary indeed.
Oh, and one more thing. We always do the traditional wedding anniversary gift and this year’s theme is iron. I ended up getting Finn this golf club drink dispenser and this really nice waffle iron. (It sounds lame, but he actually really wanted one for our new kitchen and for weekend mornings with Rory #dadlife.) I also said he can go ahead and buy whatever golf irons he needs since I’m clueless when it comes to golf! He was a very happy guy.
Here are some gifts from the past. (I must have been too busy being pregnant that I didn’t write a post last year for year five. Oops.)
- How We Met
- Our Wedding Day
- Our Wedding Video
- 1st Wedding Anniversary Gifts
- 2nd Wedding Anniversary Gifts
- 3rd Wedding Anniversary Gifts
- 4th Wedding Anniversary Gifts
- Keeping a Strong Marriage with a Baby on the Way
Happy Anniversary, Finn. Cheers to many more years side-by-side.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.