Thank you to Red Diamond for partnering with me on this marriage advice post. Thank you for supporting the brands that support MLWL. All opinions are my own.
I can’t believe Father’s Day is this Sunday which means summer is in full swing and then will be followed up by Eric’s birthday in a few weeks, July 4th and then we’ll blink and baby will be here in mid-late August. Holy moly!
You guys have asked a lot of marriage questions off and on over the past few months so I thought I’d invite Eric over to the blog today to help me answer some marriage advice questions and then it gives me an excuse to brag on him with Father’s Day coming up too! 😉
Lots of you fell in love with my Mr. after his guest post for me a while back on our Mexico anniversary trip, so I’m so glad he is indulging me and coming back to the blog today. I posed all your questions to him and his answers are below. I ended the questions with my IG friend @BoserMom’s question about date nights in because sometimes those can be just as important as the nights out when that’s all you can make happen. Make sure you check out the bottom of this post with what we do for date nights or days in.
Marriage Advice Q&A:
“What’s your favorite thing about Eric? (and vise versa)” @mace_atcheson
Eric: My favorite thing about Heather is her infectious personality and her relentless energy. I always tell Heather one of her biggest gifts is her ability to develop relationships, she has a unique way of making everyone feel loved and important at the same time. Also she is the hardest worker I know. She works at our marriage, she works at being a Mom and she works at being a professional, I am amazed on a a daily basis.
Also did I mention her legs…great legs, I like those too (wink).
Heather: My favorite thing about Eric is his blue eyes…ok ok not really but they certainly are captivating. They’re the first thing that lured me in. 😉 My favorite thing about Eric is his sense of adventure and how he takes the time to make little moments special for us. I love when he suggests that we go on a vacation to somewhere new or plans an unexpected date night for us or even makes me fall in love with Indian food when I never thought I’d like it. Eric makes life an adventure with the smallest things like surprising notes that are so thoughtful as well. I have cried over many a thoughtful Eric Brown letter.
Eric: Interesting questions because we talk about balance a lot in our relationship and it is perhaps one of the most difficult things to obtain, and I would argue nearly impossible. Being in balance is nothing more than a period of time. Both Heather and I will be out of balance many times but mainly because we have to accomplish our goals on a day to day basis, but the thing that holds us together is knowing that we both want to be back in balance which means prioritizing faith, family, and friends in that order. Most important thing is communication so that you know when you are out of balance and can communicate a plan and need to get back in balance.
Heather: Balance is so hard to achieve in our culture. I have gotten to the point where I sometimes feel crazed because my phone is constantly going off with IG messages that need to be answered, questions from my sweet intern team, brands needing things from me or family needs. Never before have people been so easily able to get ahold of you and I think all the things we expect ourselves to do are insane. Eric and I make a point to have a date night bi-weekly at least and if not weekly and during date night we don’t text or talk to anyone else but each other. Putting away your phone is so freeing even for a night. We also make a point to get out of town together without Leyton at least once a year so far because it helps us refocus on our marriage and unwind.
Eric: Definitely more difficult with kids, but like mentioned above have to be able to communicate and plan. Heather and I look at date nights as a great way to get back in balance and we make investments to provide those opportunities such as babysitters etc. Also we both know date nights don’t have to be expensive dinners, they can be a walk together or whatever else, it is fun to be creative.
Heather: I touched on this some above but we just do. It’s not easy some months…and we look up and it’s been two weeks and we haven’t been on a date but then we just both pull out our phones and pick a date night right when we realize it’s happened. Typically Sundays are the night that we talk about what’s coming up that week, what we’re cooking, etc so a lot of times that’s when we also both put on the calendar a date night and I’ll immediately text our babysitters and see who is available. We also have wonderful neighbors who once a month will babysit swap with us which I so appreciate!
Eric: I think most first years of marriage can be especially difficult and our marriage was no different as I had just taken a job with a large accounting firm which required me to travel 300 out of 365 days out of the first year. Communication was very difficult and ultimately led me to a career change a few years after. This was something I prayed about a lot and felt like God was leading me to a new career. When I presented Heather with this plan she could not have been more supportive which I think says a lot about Heather’s faith in God and our marriage.
Heather: First of all, let me say that I think pre-marital counseling was KEY for us! Our pastor did an amazing job and we really enjoyed it plus learned a lot about expectations and each other. I struggled in our first year of marriage because Eric was gone so much and I certainly wasn’t prepared for that. Then I also didn’t know to expect that because of him being an introvert and me being an extrovert with different love languages that miscommunications could happen so easily. Being involved in a young married small group at our church at the time was SUPER helpful for us to see other Christian couples going through some of the same things and having the accountability to stay plugged into studying and learning the same things together gave us good roots on how to navigate marriage.
Eric: Don’t take yourselves too seriously, that says a lot from a guy that often times at the beginning of our marriage took things too seriously. Show each other grace on a daily basis and be a encourager. Also travel early if you can, nothing brings a marriage closer together than traveling together and building new stories and memories.
Heather: Pre-marital counseling for sure and then also get involved in a young married small group. I mentioned both of those above so I won’t elaborate too much more but I definitely agree with Eric that finding ways to COMPLIMENT each other on a daily or weekly basis is super helpful! I also agree that you grow closer to your spouse through trips and adventures and it’s certainly easier to do before you have kids!
Eric: Much like before my advice goes back to communication. These things need to be discussed. I find the areas where Heather and I will have disagreements is when our expectations are not in line. Nothing can create disagreement like an expectation not being fulfilled. Often expectations are not met because the other person in a relationship is unaware of their partner’s expectations. This is why communication is so important.
Heather: That is hard, girl! I think talking about WHY he feels the way he does and WHY you feel the way you do and what your expectations are can definitely help and if it doesn’t perhaps even speaking about it with a Christian counselor can help. I also think talking to a financial advisor can prove to be helpful at helping both parties think about the future and the present and how you want to spend your money.
Eric: We try to go to bed together and make that a priority but it is often very difficult. I am a morning person and Heather is definitely a night owl. She is more productive at night and I am more productive in the morning. This is something we continue to work on.
Heather: I wish we were better at this! As most everyone knows I’m such a night owl and Eric is an early riser. This can really help us out with baby situations because Eric is better handling stuff in the am and I can late at night when I’m not tired yet…but overall I’d say this is something we’d both like to be working on. Many nights I try to come back to bed with Eric even if I’m still working while he’s winding down watching Netflix or whatever just so we can get in bed at the same time together.
Eric: We like to keep it simple, grilling in the backyard, drinks around the fire pit, or even grabbing a pizza on the way home from work and then going to the neighborhood pool to enjoy the end of the day. One date night that I remember Heather planned was a wine and cheese tasting home date when we were first married.
Heather went to Whole Foods and got a couple of cheeses and what we thought were good wines at the time and had a great night. It truly does not have to take a lot of time or money, as cliche as it sounds, often, it is mainly the thought that counts.
Sadly when I shot these pics of my date day set up, Eric was at work, so you’ll just have to deal with me per usual on that front. 😉 Here’s one of my go-to at-home date day or night set ups. As Eric mentioned, he loves cheeses! So, I really like to sit out on our patio or swing on our front porch with some easy appetizers like a cheese board and have some tea if it’s during the day (hello pregnancy and HOT weather!) and/or wine at night.
I love to brew a pitcher full of Red Diamond unsweet tea to have on hand during the week in the summer. I love lots of lemon in mine and it’s nice to have a healthier option to drink on hand that’s different than JUST always water or coffee. Although y’all know I love my coffee too. 🙂 I asked Red Diamond if they’d give y’all a coupon code and they obliged so you can use code fathersday20 for 20% all products on their website through 6/19/18 at 1 am EST!
Anyway, back to our date day…
We’ve found that if we take our wireless speaker outside with us and listen to some music, enjoy a drink together and just take the time to be together away from Leyton we are much better in our marriage for each other and as parents.
One unique thing that Eric does that I really appreciate is come up with unique questions. So, sometimes if we are planning a date day in we’ll even make a game out of coming up with 3 questions each to ask the other one for our date or something like that.
I really do believe that just making the effort to get outside of your couch/living room area and enjoying the outdoors together can be really cathartic. Just breaking up the “routine” of sitting on the couch is nice because it signals to your brain that it’s time to not rest. As much as I love that our home is a resting zone for each of us, it also can make it hard to turn on the “date head space.”
Music also plays a large part in our ambiance for a date night. That way you don’t even have to say anything if you don’t want to, and you can just enjoy your favorite artist, good food and the companionship in a peaceful environment. I hope this helps!
What marriage advice would you offer to another married couple? I’d love to hear in the comments below!