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Cotton Anniversary!

It's my second wedding anniversary!
And in a mere two days, it will be four years since we stated dating.
I thought I'd write a little bit about what I've learned in that time for this blog post.

1.) Make time for date night.
   This was tough to learn, because four months into our marriage we welcomed our son into the world. As soon as I had Jace, he became my primary focus and concern. It wasn't until this fall I realized how important it was to set aside time to just be with Nathan. So now we have a date night every other Friday night. We have spontaneous dates too, but twice a month we know that whether it's having a movie night after Jace's bedtime with a glass of wine and our phones upstairs, or going out to eat and having an uninterrupted conversation, we will spend some quality time together.

2.) Ask questions.
    It's so easy to get lazy, and I did. But people change over time, and if you stop taking an interest in your spouses thoughts, you start not knowing them. So when we sit down to dinner at night I ask more than, "How was your day?". I ask him how he feels about our marriage, what makes him feel respected, and what he believes heaven is.
Don't get me wrong, we still talk about the casual day-to-day lives, but it's important to ask deeper questions.

3.) Show appreciation.
       When I'm mad, I'm the type that does the silent treatment. And kind of holds a grudge. So when I'm still a bit annoyed with Nathan, I would stop saying thank you. I would stop verbalizing the things I appreciated he did, and then even when I was done being mad, I continued to not tell him thank you.
    What was amazing was how much things changed when I made a conscious effort to start doing it again. Just verbalizing that I appreciated him taking out the trash after dinner, or taking the dog out before we went to bed made him feel good, and willing to do more. Plus it made him more appreciative of me, and getting a thank you and a kiss for unloading the dishwasher feels pretty great.

4.) Hold hands.
      Somewhere along the years of our relationship, Nathan and I stopped holding hands. When we were first dating, we held hands constantly: walking to class, sitting at dinner, watching a movie, even sitting in the dorm doing homework. But the pattern fell away until this fall when we, together, made an effort to start again. We got an interesting piece of advice when we talked to our pastors about marriage, and they said to remember that you are a unified force fighting against whatever is against you. Financial stress, unexpected crisis, whatever it may be, you need to join forces and see that instance as the enemy, rather than blaming each other. Holding hands, for me, is that simple reminder that Nathan is my partner no matter what obstacle we come up against.

5.) Accept your differences.
   I still haven't totally got this one, but I know it's important. You don't end up with your spouse because you have all the exact same qualities. You end up with the person that completes you. It was, and is, unbelievably difficult to not wish Nathan were more like me. But when I actually sit and analyze my thoughts, I understand why it's good that he is different. I am a woman with a plan, but Nathan can easily go with the flow. I need to keep things organized, he is okay with a little chaos. I can get so caught up in the details that I can't see the big picture, but Nathan sees the whole thing, sometimes oblivious to the details. These differences make us an unstoppable force when combined, but it's just tough to see that when I'm picking up socks off the living room floor or not understanding why he didn't actually have a plan when we left the house for date night.

I still have a lot to learn, but I'm excited to keep learning and keep loving Nathan. I still get butterflies when he kisses me, and he's the first person I want to talk to when something big happens. He's my best friend, and I'm glad to get to share the rest of my life with him.

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