My husband Harrison and I got married May 9th, 2015 and it has been a wonderful adventure! Throughout our whole dating relationship we lived many hours away from each other, Harrison in Tennessee and I in Florida. While our long distance relationship definitely forced us to learn how to communicate positively while going weeks or months without seeing each other, God has continued to teach us the value of good communication throughout our first year of marriage. (And I know He isn’t finished teaching us either!)

1. Communicate expectations early & often.

One week after Harrison and I got married, we both began working at a Christian summer camp in North Carolina. We both adore the camp and its mission to share the gospel with kids through discipleship and adventure. While it was a wonderfully fun experience there were times when I would feel frustrated about the lack of time we got to spend together 1-on-1. However, we quickly learned that if we both had accurate expectations of what to expect throughout the week, we could be much more content and patient in waiting for those moments of connecting, even though they were few and far between for us during that season. Being on the same page in our expectations changed everything.

2. Be quick to admit you were wrong.

I can be one stubborn woman when it comes to admitting that I was in the wrong. My pride often gets in the way and my sin nature wants so badly to blame the problem on someone else. However, I have been so humbled by Harrison’s quickness to apologize and accept responsibility when we have a disagreement. It instantly melts my stubborn heart and he is teaching be to do the same through his loving example!

3. Tone matters.

Lord, have mercy on my tone! It’s funny how your upbringing can change your style of communication. What sounds like “tone” to Harrison sounds like a calm and steady voice to me. I’ve had to learn to take a deep breath before communicating when I am frustrated because even if what I’m saying isn’t wrong, if I say it with a negative note or exasperated voice, it cause tension in a conversation.

4. Build each other up. 

Especially in front of others. In today’s culture, especially on TV, it is so normal to make fun of your spouse as a “joke” at their expense. We were encouraged in our pre-marital counseling to always lift each other up and speak positively about one another, especially in public, and it has stuck with us since then!

Suzy Collins, Creative Director