Wednesday, March 30, 2011
10 things that make our marriage happy.
1. We eat dinner together. We eat dinner together nearly every night and have since we first got married. It's nothing fancy, no lit candles or 3 course meals. This means on Wednesday nights we eat at 4:45 P.M. in order to get our of the house on time, but it works for us. We also have one meal. Sometimes Jarrod's has special pasta or mine has less cheese, but we do not make two meals. On leftover nights, our meals might look different, but at least we are both eating leftovers!
2. Zero-based Budget EVERY month. We sit down before the beginning of the month and create a zero-based budget. We write how much money is going to come in on the top and subtract all of our bills and expenses until everything is zeroed out. Any "left-over" money is put on debt. If something is not on the budget, we can't buy it without another meeting to go over the budget. Because it's zero-based, we can't just put something on our debit card without talking with the other and rearranging things in the budget. It works for us.
3. Johnston Family Cleaning Night. When we first got married I expected Jarrod to do housework on Fridays. Not ALL the housework, but some of it. I cleaned on Tuesday night while he was at band practice and I would leave a list for him to complete while I was at work on Fridays. This caused huge explosions. Now Thursday night is Johnston Family Cleaning Night. Each Thursday either before or after dinner, we divide and conquer. Sometimes it's a deep cleaning that includes washing sheets and rugs, scrubbing down the baseboards, and vacuuming the furniture. Sometimes it's just wiping down the counters and a light dusting of the whole house. While our condo is only 1200 square feet, we do have 3 shedding animals and it takes a little maintenance to make our house livable. It only takes us about 30 minutes to clean and then we're off to do whatever else we need to do.
4. We go to church. It's not for everyone, I know that, but it works for us. We have a family that supports us in our church. We have folks around us to model health and positivity. We don't live near family (except my sister!) and our church has become our family here. When we had our terrible car accident we didn't know who to call. In the midst of the chaos, we started receiving texts and calls from our church family. Not just offering, but telling us they were in the car on their way to us. I don't know what we'd do without them. Beyond that, Jarrod and I are on the same page with regard to religion and how we live our lives. Our church grounds us.
5. We have separate activities. I love to walk. I walk about 30 miles a week. It's exercise, training, and good for my soul. Jarrod loves to watch TV, read books, and do yoga. It's good for him. We like having things that we do each day that help strengthen who we are as individuals.
6. We do a lot of things together. Yes we like our personal time, but we also do a lot of things together. We run errands together, do the grocery shopping together, and carpool home from work. In the midst of a very busy life, doing these mundane tasks together gives us time to talk, problem-solve, and have fun.
7. We do nothing together. I call it "reading time" because I am incapable of sitting down and literally doing nothing. It doesn't happen often, but when we can, we sit lazily and read books on the couch. The house is quiet and we don't have to talk. We just enjoy being together.
8. We keep a similar schedule. Jarrod is a night owl by nature and I prefer to go to bed early and wake up early. Call it opposites attract, but over the years, we've learned to compromise. When we go to bed, Jarrod often stays up a little later reading in bed. But when it's time to go to bed, we both go to bed. I wake up a little earlier than Jarrod to get my morning walk in before work. On the weekends, we typically get up about the same time. We have found this to work really well for us. I am not so naive in thinking that this will always work or that this would work for every family. Work schedules, sleeping schedules, and having children will definitely change our ability to do this. But for now, it works for us.
9. We go for walks together. Jarrod added this one. I like it because I love going on walks together. Our schedules don't always match up for us to go after dinner, but when we can, I adore our after dinner walks. It's nice to be outside together without any distractions. We can just talk and enjoy being together. Lucy goes too, of course, so I call them our Family Walks.
10. We make decisions together. Whether it's a big decision like having a baby or a small decision like what we will be eating that night for dinner, we make decisions together. Our families of origin and previous relationships did not set us up well for compromising and cooperating, so the first many months of our marriage were spent arguing our way through decisions. Now we are pretty good at working together to find the best solution to a problem. We talk things out, weigh the pros and cons, and have learned what hills to die on and what issues to let go.
These are just a few things that work for us. Maybe they are the things everyone's doing too. If so, I hope your marriage is hot, healthy, and functional! If you are happily married, what do you do that works? Share your top few things that make your marriage happy!