While Andreas and I are enjoying our new-newly status, I asked a few of my favorite bloggers to blog-sit and write a bit on the topic of love.  Lindsey is a fantastic writer who also shares my great passion for travel, and writes and photographs Paris from an expat’s perspective on her blog, Lost in Cheeseland.  Her guest post seemed the perfect fit as Andreas and I embark on this new adventure together as husband and wife.  Thank you Lindsey!

5 Tips for a Healthy Marriage 

When I first came to Paris, I fell in love within days. My attraction to the city was palpable but what was noteworthy was meeting a (my) Frenchman. It may not have been the same kind of visceral reaction for him, but I fell hard. Flash forward five years later and we’ve entered our third year of marriage. Would I use the word “bliss” at all times? No, but I’ve learned a lot through the ups and downs and I’m still convinced we’re right for each other. In honor of Ashley’s impending nuptials, I offer a few suggestions for making the marriage work, particularly during the first year. 

Love isn’t enough
There must be respect, open-mindedness and support. Exchanging I-love-you’s and providing affection are important but do not trump mutual respect and support. The number of times I’ve seen couples blatantly disrespect one another in front of friends and family is astounding and ultimately destructive to their bond. 

Be careful how far you let your anger take you

Be very prudent in marital disputes. As soon as you cross the line and say something malicious, you can’t turn back. It can really change the dynamic between the couple and lead to resentment, hurt, or even further arguments that spiral out of control. This also goes back to the issue of respect, so tread gently. Consider the outcome and if you’re really prepared to assume responsibility for your words when they shatter your partner’s feelings. Civility is key. I know this from experience.

Stare at each other
There’s something to be said for the honeymoon beginning to any relationship where hours could be spent lounging, gazing into each other’s eyes and tracing every minute detail of their faces. Those moments of insouciance and joy shouldn’t have to end after marriage. In fact, we don’t spend enough time reliving new-love activities. Devote an afternoon to doing nothing but laying around and staring at one another – remember why you’re together and why you chose that person to lay beside for life. 

Discuss explicitly and openly about your aspirations and needs
Always make sure you’re on the same page, whether with regards to professional aspirations or personal goals. Arguing over travel destinations is one thing but feeling divisive because your life plans do not match as a result of holding them to yourself isn’t constructive. Goals evolve over time, of course, but candidness from the beginning is crucial not only for communication but to ensure common growth. 

Spend time apart 
I don’t understand friends who tell me they can’t bear to be away from their partner for even one day. I may have felt that way in the beginning of our relationship but it’s healthy to crave your own space and particularly necessary when tension is high due to stress or disputes. When my husband is away on business, not only do I pack my schedule full of social events that I may ordinarily decline in order to spend time with him but I advance on personal projects. When we finally speak over the phone, I feel like I have hours worth of stories to share – a wonderful feeling. After having a few days or a couple of weeks to feel their absence and really consider what that might mean long-term, the reunion is especially sweet. Give yourself the time to go out with friends alone – being in a couple does not mean your life as an individual ceases to exist. 
Photo by Winston Alford-Hamburg taken at Lindsey’s recent Philadelphia wedding reception. 

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