There’s no shortage of advice on how to keep a marriage healthy. Many people write love letters to their spouses. Some buy flowers and chocolate. Others take sexy boudoir photos. Us? We blog about each other. It’s one of the most wonderful, and wonderfully painful experiences we’ve had in our marriage. And maybe it’s not for you, but we recommend every couple find their own version of “blogging.” Here’s why:
First, there’s the transparency. I often credit our relatively smooth first year of marriage to the mere fact of our writing about each other. It has forced us to be open and realistic about our relationship, not just with readers, but with each other. Rather than write about only the wonderful aspects of marriage, we’ve wanted to take a more critical eye about what we do well and where we fall short. We try to bring to light both internal and external issues that could stress or erode our marriage. And being aware of those problem areas sets us up to work on them. It has forced us to be intentional about keeping our marriage fit, like exercising or getting regular checkups we might otherwise skip.
Often, that leads to unintended arguments. There’s nothing quite like writing down a grievance about your relationship and then allowing your husband to edit it. I’ve gotten into trouble more than once by writing what I thought was a self-evident problem or issue, only to discover that Constantino didn’t see it that way at all. Sometimes we step on each other’s toes. Sometimes feelings get hurt. You think that about me? That’s how you feel about our marriage? It’s troublesome in the short term, but it helps us work through disagreements early on that might otherwise have lingered for years, unspoken and unaddressed. We fight early so that we don’t have to fight big.
Of course, it’s also a chance to express love. I’m not a gushy person, and expressing affection doesn’t come natural to me. But writing does. So when I’m blogging, it’s an opportunity for me to reflect on all of the wonderful things about Constantino and put them down on (virtual) paper when I might not normally express them. (Have I written lately about his adorable smile, his sense of humor, or his cute little sounds?) We’re big fans of marriage, and blogging helps me express all of the ways in which my husband has grown me and improved my life. It gives me the vehicle I need to be expressive.
Finally, it’s like going into business together. Having a spouse as a business partner is the kind of stress that makes or breaks a relationship. In blogging together, we edit each other, help each other out with graphics and technical stuff, and hold each other accountable to deadlines (ahem!). Rather than just talking about mundane things when Constantino gets home from work, we have this project that we’re working on together—something that we both believe in, and something that we feel furthers the outward-facing mission of our marriage. Men in particular often bond over a shared project, and this for us is a way to grow deeper in relationship while also creating something meaningful.
Maybe blogging is not for you. That’s OK. It works for us as a vehicle that helps drive our relationship to a better place, but it’s not the only way to get there. Maybe you want to start a family newsletter that you create together each month. It’s something you could save for yourselves or share with family and friends. Or maybe you’re both photographers and can work together on taking and editing weekly photos that capture an important moment of your week—being intentional about showing not only the positive highlights, but the authentic struggles as well. Or maybe you want to truly be intentional by going through a marriage book together, such as The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (which we highly recommend). The key is finding something—anything—that works for both of you as a vehicle to foster conversations, encourage authenticity, and open up opportunities to express love.
David Khalaf is a fiction writer living in Portland.