Thursday, February 23, 2017

Q&A: Marriage and Relationships

In January I opened the floor to my readers and let you guys ask me anything via a survey I did here on the blog. The questions POURED in and I was blown away by all of them! I'm really excited to answer a select few of them today, all having to do with marriage. There are tons more, but I just picked a couple out for the day. I hope you enjoy my answers, but I do want to remind you, this is only my opinion, not the right way to do things for everyone! So just keep that in mind while reading and of course, give me your feedback in the comments so we can have an open ended conversation!

danielle poff photography

What suggestions do you have for long distance relationships?

Well, I feel like I have a lot of suggestions on this since my husband and I were long distance for 8 months! I wrote a piece for a publication about long distance relationships, so I thought I'd share our tips here:

1. Be sure you have the big, important conversations (about faith, family, location, etc.) early on, so you can really decide if you two are a good fit for one another past all the emotional “butterflies” of a new relationship.
2. If you decide to pursue the relationship, communicate throughout the day! Text, talk on the phone, or Skype, because this will help you not feel so far away.  Thank you technology!
3. As I wrote that last one, McCann wanted the third point to be “but don’t over do it!” :) While talking and Skyping is great and so helpful to making you feel closer than you are, don’t over do the communication. We learned that because talking is all we could do (we didn’t have the luxury of seeing a movie or going to dinner together), it would get frustrating if we didn’t have anything to talk about. Sometimes there’s just nothing left to say other than “I miss you”, and that is OK.  Sometimes we would just Skype while doing things around our house, so it was like we were with each other, but didn’t feel the need to talk or have a full on, deep conversation. Don’t put any pressure on yourselves.
4. Come up with things to do together. We would watch HGTV together at night and discuss what house the couple should choose on House Hunters. I got a good guy! :) McCann also found this app called Quiz Up where we’d play quizzes against each other about different topics we were both interested in. We both thought that was fun! Sometimes we’d both cook while Skyping and then eat “together”.  On Sunday’s after church, we’d come home and watch a sermon from our favorite pastor together on Skype, then talk about what we learned. All of these things made the distance a little more bearable.
5. This is an obvious one, but try to see each other as much as possible and try to include your families. It’s important to get to know the family of the person you are dating as well!

After being with him and married for a few months, I'd like to add that I thought I knew him really well while we were long distance because we did a lot of talking, but GOSH...there's nothing like being in person to learn even more about a person. We may have known our morals, beliefs, and family situations, but we missed out big time on those quirks, personality bits, and habits that you can only get to know in the flesh. So I would advise you to spend time with one another, in the same city, for a period of time before getting engaged or married. So much changes when you see each other every day!


Do you recommend getting married if still in school, for example, doing a graduate masters degree?

I think the answer to this one will be different for everyone! From my experience, I couldn't imagine planning a wedding while in school. I poured my heart and soul into our wedding, so maybe that was why ;) But after being married for a few months, I also think it would be hard to be married and be in school. I just feel like the first year of marriage is so crucial to developing habits and patterns together, that will then set the stage for the years to come. I don't want to say it couldn't be done, because I think it definitely could be! It would just take a lot more intentionality on both of the spouses parts. And a lot of recognizing that it's going to be hard and stretching for both of you. My brother got married last summer (just a few months before us! Sorry mom & dad!) and his wife is still in nursing school. I think they've seen their share of challenges, but they are still really glad they got married.

That's one of the biggest keys to marriage: being intentional. About our time, our words (this is a big one!), our money, our time with friends, what we do when we have free time together (we're trying to watch our ratio of being glued to the TV or doing something more life-giving), etc.


What is a good age to get married in your opinion?

I don't think there's a specific age that is best, but I do think that you should have a certain maturity before saying "I do"! To answer this question, I'm just going to tell you that when I think back on my life and the person I was before college, I was a totally different girl. A lot of things change you in your college years. For me, I went away to a different state, so I learned how to be independent, how to live with roommates (some of which were good situations, others not so much!), and I grew deeper in my faith, and I think my overall maturity as a person. I saw a lot more life in those 4 years than I had in almost the entire 18 years previous. You meet people and learn their stories, causing you to see the world differently. And obviously, your mind is expanding-- it is college! I had my first really serious relationship in college, too. So I learned what I wanted in a future husband. Then through that, I experienced my first heartbreak. I just felt like a lot of things in me grew and changed over those years.

I can't imagine being married before I went through those pivotal years. When we were married last September I was 25 (now 26) and my husband was 27. My husband was also doing his own growing in his college years, but for him, most of his growth as a person happened after college, once we were plugged into our church. He lived with a great group of guys before we were married and we both would say that was one of the best things he's ever done!

So I'm not really sure if you can put an age on it, I think it's more about life experience and maturity level and how well you know yourself and your significant other!


What are some suggestions you have for newlyweds to get to know each other deeper? 

For us this started even before we were married through a mentorship program we went through at our church. We were paired with another couple during our engagement and we walked through a book together about marriage. Then we went to a marriage retreat and learned a lot about ourselves, each other and what God wanted for our marriage. It was great! I highly recommend pre-marriage counseling.

I love this question, because it's such a great reminder to always continue pursuing your spouses heart! You never know it completely. There's always more, because we're always changing and as a husband or wife, we should yearn to deeply know our spouse. A few ways that we do this is by reading a book together (not actually together, but both read the same book, then share our thoughts). I also LOVE finding fun questions to ask each other on car trips, or even over dinner. Some questions are serious and some are silly. Another thing we try to do often is ask the other person how we can be praying for them this week. That usually brings up any fears or challenges the other spouse is facing. There is truly nothing more sweet than praying for your spouse. Finally, I think it's so important to get out and have fun together! Everything doesn't always have to be serious and deep. We like to go on walks, play basketball at the park, go on the swings, go bowling or mini golfing. Doing things the other person likes to do is also a way of getting to know each other deeper.


Do you want a baby? If so when?

I knew I'd get this question at least once in the mix! ;)

Ever since I was a child, I've LOVED babies. Like, so so so much. I played with dolls all the time (fun fact: I even printed out birth certificates for them. What a weird kid I was.) When there was a real baby around, you could bet I'd be right next to him / her, begging to hold it. I vividly remember putting my baby blanket under my shirt to see what I'd look like pregnant...ha!! I started babysitting when I was probably 12 and loved every minute of it. Sometimes when asked what I'd want to be when I grew up, I'd say "a mom". I've always had a running list of baby names in my phone notes, too (we have our girl name nailed down...ha!) The desire to be a mom has always been in my heart.

So the answer is yes, we definitely want to have kids! But we also want to cherish the first few years of marriage with just the two of us. But I do pray daily for our future babies and family. And for me during pregnancy, as I'm sort of a hypochondriac, so it does make me a weee bit nervous! ;)

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If you have any thoughts on these questions, please chime in! And if you have any more questions for me, feel free to comment or email me hello (at) michaelanoelledesigns.com

xoxo


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3 comments:

  1. Loved this! Just one little piece of advice for you about the babies! I totally get wanting to spend a few years together as a couple first. I think that's great & necessary for many couples. However, we waited 7 years to have our first baby. I don't recommend waiting quite that long for many reasons. I am now 35 & pregnant with our second baby girl. Pregnancy is not the easiest & I think it would have been much easier on me had I been 5-7 years younger. Also, I was extremely lucky to get PG so quickly at my (older) age. Many friends are having trouble conceiving now that we are well into our 30s. Just some food for thought for you. Best of luck in your decisions with this. Being a Mom is the best & I love everyday of this "job!"

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  2. Such sound advice sweet friend - and I love your love story x

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