1. It is inevitable, things will always change.
Steven and I started our life out in a small duplex, moved in with his parents while we built our house, then settled into what seemed like a huge house! Now we look around and wonder how to built onto the house we have now or how to save up and built a new house to accommodate our large family.
We've both gone back to further our education since saying "I do". I finished up my Master's in Curriculum & Instruction while pregnant with Brady. And Steven started back this fall and is working on his MBA.
We've changed jobs.
When we got married, most of our immediate family was still alive. Since then we've lost Steven's dad, grandmother, and grandfather and I lost my uncle and 2 grandfathers.
We endured the heartache of miscarriage after miscarriage. And we survived me living away from home for 7 months while on bed rest and the quints' NICU stay.
It was just us for the first 5 years of our marriage, then Brady arrived and we enjoyed life as a family of 3; life was wonderful. We wanted to give Brady a sibling and God blessed us with our quints. We never in a millions years would have ever thought we'd have a family of 8!
2. Hold hands.
Steven and I are the touchy feely type of couple. We hold hands when out in public. We hold hands in the car. There is a mysterious power in the touch of the one you love. I think it's so important for us to stay connected especially with this crazy life we've been blessed with. It's so easy for us to get caught up in everything we have to do for the kids, or around the house, or work, etc. that if we're not careful we forget each other. We both work hard at staying connected as a couple.
3. Make time for each other.
When Brady was born, I didn't want to leave him with anyone; I wanted him to be with us at all times, however, the older he got the more I realized Steven and I really needed time alone without Brady. The same is very true with the addition of the quints. We are busy all day every day with our six kiddos. And a lot of nights (it is getting better) we don't get a good solid night's sleep, which makes us tired and grumpy, and that's when we start bickering and fussing over silly stuff. We've been blessed with an awesome support system so we are able to get away from the house almost on a weekly basis and reconnect over dinner and grocery shopping (lol). But seriously, I can't tell you how important it is to us to be good parents to our children and we know in order to be the best parents possible we also have to be a couple who is madly in love. We want our children to grow up in a loving home where both parents are committed to each other and truly love each other, to us, that's one of the best lessons we could ever teach our children.
4. Honesty is the key!
All good relationships have to have trust. I can say, without hesitation, I completely trust Steven. The only time we're not 100% honest with each other is when we're trying to sneak around and buy gifts for one another (which is totally okay in our book).
5. Do stuff apart.
As much as we enjoy doing stuff together, we also have learned the importance in having our own hobbies and interests. He has his friends that he likes to hunt and fish with and I have my friends that I like to hang out with and that time apart is refreshing for the both of us.
6. Surprise each other.
I absolutely love it when Steven surprises me with something special. There were many times, at the end of a stressful work week (back when I was a teacher), that I'd get in my car to find a gift card for a facial. He knows I love to be pampered. And I do little surprises for him every-so-often too! A lot of times, it's the small things that make a big difference.
7. Focus on positive things.
Life is hard! It is easy to start seeing everything from the glass-half-empty perspective when it seems like everything is falling apart, but I'm a firm believer that nothing good comes from being negative all the time. Steven and I try to focus on all the positive things in our lives rather than letting all the bad stuff bring us down.
8. Don't compare.
I believe a lot of the problems with marriages now days is that couples want to compare their lives and marriages to other couples. All of us are different! All of our marriages are different! Focusing on what other people have all the time will not help you achieve anything. Some people are blessed with great jobs, financial security, and a fabulous life, and some of us are not. Before kids, Steven and I had a comfortable life and everything was wonderful. When we started trying to have a family, I started noticing all these other couples who had kids, a huge house, and went of lavish vacations and I wondered, why was it so easy for them and so hard for us.... But then I realized, I was counting someone else's blessings rather than my own. Thankfully God did bless us with kids (and lots of them too!). No, we don't have a huge house and I don't think we'll ever be able to go on lavish vacations with our family, but we are very rich in love, and I wouldn't trade that for anything money can buy! I'm so happy with this sweet family God has blessed me with.
9. God comes first.
And of course, I've saved the best for last...God comes first in our marriage. We all fall upon hard times at some point in our lives but knowing that God is watching over us and guiding us through whatever obstacles we face is what has gotten Steven and I through some really tough times. It is important to us to teach our kids about God. It's very important for us to serve God. All of our blessings, from a happy marriage to six beautiful and healthy kids, comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Trust me, I'm no marriage expert, I'm just a girl with a little bit of experience in making this work with the guy I love the most in the whole wide world. I'm a firm believer that what works for one couple/family might now work for another, so everyone has to find what works for them (and their spouse) and put their heart and soul in it! Our marriage is far from perfect and trust me, there are lots of areas that we needs improvement, but our marriage is worth fighting for and that's what we'll spend the rest of our lives doing. It is a honor and blessing to be Steven's wife and I'm so thankful I get to spend the rest of my life loving him.