Today I'm going to continue my little series on a few lessons I've learned through life.
Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I decided today I would blog about lessons I've learned about marriage.
For a little backstory, Mr. Farmhouse and I were high school sweethearts. We've been married now for almost 17 years.
We've owned three homes together, we are raising three daughters, and we are still head over heels in love with each other.
I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I do know that it takes hard work to maintain a healthy marriage and I do feel like we've learned some important lessons through the years.
So here are five pieces of advice for keeping a strong marriage.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
This might seem obvious, but trust me...it's not.
Listen first to understand what your spouse is saying and then talk.
Brené Brown talks about how our brains really crave "a closed loop" in situations, so we sometimes make up stories in our heads to fill in the gaps when we don't know all the details.
You know that moment when someone doesn't acknowledge you in the grocery store and you think, "Oh no...did I do something to offend that person?" or "I wonder why she doesn't like me."?
This is what Brown is talking about. We don't like unresolved loops in our brain, so we make up stories to fill them in.
And it happens in marriages ALL THE TIME.
So when something is bothering you...talk about it.
When you are unsure of the motive for your spouse's actions...talk about it.
Sit down and have real life conversation.
2. Be Present
This one goes hand-in-hand with number 1.
Put the phone away and be with your spouse.
Turn the television off and be with your spouse.
Carve out time in your day to be together.
When you are with your spouse, be fully there...not distracted by outside influences.
3. Find Out Your Spouse's Love Language
Here is a quiz you can take to find out your love language and the love language of your spouse. TAKE QUIZ HERE
When Mr. Farmhouse and I found out that his love language is quality time and mine is acts of service, this was a game-changer for us.
I learned that I needed to stop multi-tasking and trying to "get stuff done" and just sit down and BE with him.
He learned that doing the dishes or filling my car up with gas before I realize it's empty really fills my cup.
With that said -- I would encourage everybody to take the love language quiz because it is great for ALL relationships -- friendships, parent/child relationships, work relationships, and others!
4. Focus on intimacy
I'll make this short and sweet because I'm pretty sure my parents read my blog.
Ladies, even if your husband's primary love language is not "physical touch", he still craves physical touch.
Wives, commit to initiating an intimate encounter with your husband twice this week and see what happens. I promise, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what it does for your relationship OUTside of the bedroom.
Okay, moving on...
This next piece of advice might step on a few toes and I don't mean to do that, but I think it's a very important point to discuss.
5. Do not elevate your relationship with your children "above" your relationship with your spouse.
I know this is difficult to consider because, my goodness, those sweet babies are just our WORLD!
But there will come a time in 18-20 years, when those babies will grow up and move out.
During this season of the "empty nest", I've known so many couples who feel as if they don't know their spouses without the kids in the house.
Serve your spouse in front of your kids.
Put his or her needs in front of your own needs.
Schedule monthly date nights...just the two of you!
Take trips (after COVID)!
Sit on the porch together after the kids are in bed.
Love your kids well WITH your spouse.
Back each other up! Our kids have known from a very young age that if one of us says "no", the other parent will say "no". There's no reason to even ask. This is not to say they haven't tried!
Your relationship with your spouse will serve as a model for them as they build relationships when they get older. Give them a healthy marriage to watch & model in their formative years.
I hope these five pieces of advice were helpful for you.
What would you add to my list?
Spending this cold, cold day inside with the family here at the farmhouse,
I can be going through life just fine and in one quick moment, the memories flood my mind.
It can be a pile of muskmelon or cantaloupe.
Having to pull over on the highway to let a John Deere tractor through.
Or seeing an old man in Key overalls.
Today would have been my Grandpa's 90th birthday.
We lost him in March of 2010.
In some ways, it seems like forever ago.
And in some ways, it seems like yesterday.
When Gerold came along, we played many-a-tennis-ball-baseball game in the back yard.
We took tractor rides during planting and combine rides during harvest.
We went upstairs to get board games out of the small corner storage room and spent many evenings watching MASH from cots on the living room when we spent the night.
We fished with Grandpa and my cousin Brad and when the cousins came from Tennessee, we had picnics in the back of Grandpa's S-10 out in the driveway.
I can still feel his tshirts that I used as a nightgown when I stayed the night.
Something has happened to me since I delivered our third daughter three years ago.
I get a bit emotional.
I cry when I'm happy...
When I'm sad...
When I'm angry...
When I don't sleep enough...
When I sleep too much...
When I see an old man in overalls.
I cry when one of my daughters says something sweet to her sister...
When a student masters a concept he or she has been struggling with...
When a first-year player on one of the girls' sports teams makes a basket in a basketball game or gets the ball over the net in volleyball...
When one of the girls shows understanding of the blessing that their great-grandparents are...
Usually, this consists of a lump in my throat and my eyes filled with tears with just a few escaping down my cheek.
But not always.
Sometimes, my little "choked-up, tear-running-down-my-face" crying turns into a big ol' ugly-cry.
I can specifically remember a day when our second daughter was just under a year old.
She hadn't been sleeping well and I was having "one of those days".
You know what I'm talking about...right, moms?
One of those days where I was barely holding it together through the school day.
I hadn't slept a full night in several weeks, my students were enjoying the last week before spring break as if it were already spring break, and I felt like I was living in a fog with a toddler and an infant.
My teaching partner casually made a comment in the teacher's lounge full of our colleagues giving me a hard time about the fact that I had mentioned taking a nap before I went home after school.
He meant NOTHING by his comment.
On a normal day, I would have just laughed.
But bless his poor heart...this wasn't a normal day...
I laughed at first and said, "I know..." and then the tears started coming, "...isn't it ridiculous?"
All the other women in the room immediately started trying to make me feel better and my poor teaching partner apologized.
But it wasn't his comment at all. He felt bad that he was the one that tipped the emotions from laughter to tears. But at some point or another, we've all been there.
I think sometimes you just need a good cry.
There is something about it that's cleansing to the soul and spirit.
In fact, that afternoon, after my ugly-cry, I was already laughing about the whole situation.
One morning, shortly after my grandpa had passed away, I walked into Casey's to find all of his coffee-drinking buddies there.
I said my "hellos" and went about my business.
As I walked out the door, an older man I didn't know met me there...in his Key overalls...just like Grandpa's.
And as I walked to my car (and all the way to work), I ugly-cried.
Sometimes, it's just necessary.
So this is your permission.
If you need to ugly-cry...just let it out.
Whether it's because of grief,
or pure joy.
Just let it out.
An ugly-cry every once in a while can be a beautiful thing.
And if you're still a bit unsure of letting the waterworks loose, I'm not just an ugly-crier...I'm a contagious-crier, too.
So if you need an ugly-cry partner...I'm your girl.
We've all gone through one, right?
A rough patch?
I remember getting lots of advice in the beginning of our marriage.
"Don't ever go to bed mad..."
"Keep an open line of communication..."
"Put your spouse's needs before yourself..."
"Keep going on dates, even after you have kids..."
"Take time to do the things you love on your own, so you don't lose 'who you are'..."
"Talk about all things money..."
But what about those times where you've been trying to do those things?
When you've had conversation after conversation, trying to feel better about life?
Those times in life where you just feel like you don't even have it in you to fight anymore?
We've been there.
We have had moments in our marriage where we felt like we didn't even know each other.
I pray that we never get to that place again, but I know it's likely that we'll struggle through certain seasons of life.
And even when we aren't in a "rough patch", there's almost always a time that somebody we know is feeling the strain of keeping a relationship alive.
This subject is one that I feel like God has put on my heart lately, so just in case you're going through "a rough patch"...in life in general or specifically in marriage...I thought I would share with you a few of the things I've learned about getting through these times.
1. Serving each other is always a good option.
There are days that I am cranky or Mr. Farmhouse is cranky and I truly don't even want to talk to him.
I just want to slide through the day and do my own thing.
I have found that with one day of no interaction, two days with no interaction becomes easier.
Anybody else ever feel this way?
Like you're two people living in the same house who hardly know each other?
I have found that when we get to this point (during harvest time, for example!), the best thing I can possibly do is to ask myself what I could do to serve Mr. Farmhouse.
What could I do to make his day easier?
Some days, it's as simple as finding him a pair of socks in the morning.
Other times, it's making one of his favorite meals even when I don't feel like it.
It becomes easier and easier to serve each other when you take that first step.
2. Choose to love.
Sometimes Mr. Farmhouse and I don't like each other much.
I get frustrated with him and I'm sure I annoy him.
But even when it's hard to like each other, we have committed to loving each other.
Circumstances can affect our attitude, our words, and even our actions...but we cannot let circumstances affect our choice to love one another.
3. Look back.
In the day-to-day junk of life, I feel like some days it's hard to look back.
It's hard to remember what life was like back when we were dating.
Back when we first got married.
Back when we were eating Hamburger Helper every night and Always Save ice cream for a fancy dessert.
Before the stress of money and parenting and careers took over.
We must look back.
Go back to those things that made you fall in love with your spouse.
Look at pictures. Reminisce. Tell stories of your favorite memories of days past.
We have to look back.
4. Find a healthy couple, a dear friend, or a therapist to walk through this season with.
I do not know what I would do in life without "my people".
There have been many times that I have had good friends who said the hard things to me.
Friends who had to be a voice of reason for me when I was being irrational.
Friends to pray for me.
To pray with me.
To help us fight through the hard days.
And I'd like to think that I have been that person for someone, too.
5. Take it one day at a time.
Marriages, friendships, and any relationships do not become strained in one day.
It can take weeks, months, and sometimes years to rebuild what has fallen apart.
Make a plan to serve each other.
To love each other.
To recommit to each other.
To do the best you can every day.
To be the best you can every day.
To put one foot in front of the other and to take it one day at a time.
Gabe & Allison Davis.
It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
When Gabe texted me a few months before his wedding to ask if I would be available to photograph his wedding to his love, Allison, I said "absolutely" and put it on my calendar.
I have known Gabe for basically my whole life.
We share a hometown, a lot of the same friends, and a love for all things black and gold.
I hadn't met Allison until we visited at the wedding venue a few weeks before the ceremony, but I was immediately drawn to her kind smile, and her and Gabe's respect for each other and partnership in making decisions during our conversation that day.
I was excited to meet Allison's sweet son, Hudson, the day of the wedding and capture their wedding day memories alongside them!
Gabe is a talented woodworker and the vision he and Allison had for the ceremony location was just perfect.
From the sign welcoming guests to their "beginning" to the beautiful arbor he built for them to get married under.
Two of my favorite moments in every wedding are when the bride's father walks her down the aisle and "the kiss". Gabe & Allison's wedding was no different.
This moment where Allison's dad said something and they both smiled before they started their journey to Gabe was just precious.
And equally precious was when Hudson had to get a closer look at the kiss! Simply adorable!
I was so thankful to be a part of this beautiful day and pray for God's blessing on you as you continue to serve each other in marriage, Mr. & Mrs. Davis.
Congratulations to you both...and Hudson, too! ❤️
June 5, 2004.
Many people have asked me or made guesses about where the "654" on Farmhouse654 came from.
It's not our house number.
It's not our street number.
It's not the number of dollars we have spent on the farmhouse, so far...I wish it was only $654!
It's our wedding anniversary.
Mr. Farmhouse and I went on our first date in September of 2000, to the Homecoming bonfire.
As a junior cheerleader, I needed a football jersey to wear and as a freshman football player, he had one.
From that point on, we were pretty much inseparable.
I married my high school sweetheart two short weeks after his high school graduation.
People thought we were crazy.
Settling for each other before really "seeing the world".
But while people thought we were crazy...we KNEW we were crazy.
Crazy for each other.
Committed to each other.
Excited to grow up together and grow old together.
We got married on June 5th, 2004.
And we just celebrated our 13th anniversary.
654 is the day our married life begun.
We've had ups and downs.
Good days and bad days.
New jobs, new homes, and three beautiful daughters added to the family.
654 was the start of everything we know and love.
And that's what I think of every time I write for Farmhouse654.
I am always blessed to see young people following through with the commitment of marriage and pray nothing but joy and contentment for this couple, as they grow together and serve one another.
Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Dodds. ❤️