Anniversary post including Tips to a Successful Marriage

As today is our four-year anniversary, I only thought it fitting to write a post about my partner in crime, Bryce Whitehead. After all, each member of the family has a post dedicated to how they came to enter in our family. I might as well start from the beginning.

The start of the eternity together!

Our love story has never been a fairy tale, however how we met is still comical in my mind. It was honestly by chance. I had worked in Beijing, China for two years as an international teacher, and had just accepted a position to teach second grade in Kiev, Ukraine. I  shipped all my belongings to Ukraine, and decided to spend the summer visiting my family. I loved my experience teaching abroad, I was not sure if I ever wanted to return to live in the United States permanently again.  All of my plans changed, a week into visiting my family.

I was at church catching up with my childhood friends (it had been years since seeing them), when all of a sudden a very handsome kid interrupted our conversation with the very smooth line – “Hey I like your glasses”. He left just as quickly as he barged in. He left an impression.

Honestly, I though he very handsome, but possibly a little young. Maybe still attending undergraduate school. He did seem very confident about himself, which I found attractive.

Of course I found him attractive! Look at this hunk!

The next day our paths crossed again at a service project. He followed me around and never left my side. He asked for my number and a couple of days later we went out on our first date. We found out we had the first initial thoughts about each other. I thought he must have been 21, but found out he was really 28. He thought I was 18, but I was really 26.

We began going on dates. Although, I was about to move to Ukraine, where I was in life I was not interested in playing games with Bryce .  After a month of going on a few dates I decided to not move to Ukraine. Despite what you think, it was not for Bryce. I just realized I really loved being abroad and traveling the world, but I wished I had someone to share it with. Also the two years I was abroad, my dating life was put on hold. I did not want to put it on hold anymore.  I quickly accepted a position as a permanent sub for a kindergarten classroom (I had to transfer my teaching license to an Arizona license).

After about two months of dating and thinking this relationship would not going anywhere, I decided to thank Bryce for his time and told him we should go our separate ways. Probably not exact wording, but pretty close. A clean break, I thought. I think this took him off guard.

Before I knew it, Bryce unexpectedly stopped by my classroom.  I think he said he wanted to see me and show me he still cared. I am sure teacher friends can relate, unexpected visitors are not always a good thing.  His visit actually annoyed me, so I had him stay and help out.

After that visit , we worked out a few things and decided to date again.  We dated a total of five months before Bryce, shockingly, proposed. I was surprised, and quite frankly did not know what to say, but decided to take a chance and say yes.

Bryce and I a couple of weeks before he proposed!

A month later we were married! We have lived happily ever after since! Hahahaha that is what the fairy tales and media like to display.

Our first year of marriage was incredibly difficult.  We were two people accustomed to living on our own.  The first year, was spent getting to know each other better.

Our second year of marriage, was filled with heartaches.

Our third  and fourth years of marriage, Bryce and I started our fostering and adoption journey. We grew from a family of two to six.

These four years have only brought Bryce and I closer together. It has not gotten easier, but as we work through challenges we have become a tight team. He builds me up when I am down, and I hold him up through his hurdles. We make the best team!

Bryce is probably my exact opposite. Maybe that is how we compliment each other so well. Bryce is incredibly patient.  It is amazing to see how patient he is with the kids. I am trying to learn from him. He takes things slow and not personally.

In our four years of being married. I have seen Bryce turn into such a man. He is the best husband and father. He loves our kids and accepts them for who they are. I am excited for our future together as our family continues to blossom.

Bryce and I came up with the following tips to having a successful marriage:

  1. Be loving – Be kind to each other. Speak kindly of each other, even when the other is not around. Respect each other. Do not rush things in your marriage. Let things marinate to better understand the process of them, such as how your partner functions.
  2. Happiness is a choice – Nobody can make you happy. Happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy. Be positive and choose to see the good. Try not focus on the negative.  Dwelling on things, does not make them better. What always helps me is remembering that tomorrow will always be a new day.
  3. Love takes work – Fairy tales do not exist. It takes work. Everyone also has a different love language. Get to know each others love language and be sure to focus on speaking your spouses love language.  If you are feeling unloved, more than likely your spouse is as well. It is like a muscle you have to exercise. If left dormant, it will become weak. Keep those sparks alive!
  4. Communicate – Share with your spouse how you are feeling, but believe me watch the ton of voice in which you communicate in.  Yelling does not help and try not to cast blame. I always feel so much better if I share with my husband how I am feeling and it brings us closer together. You cannot expect your spouse to guess or know what is on your mind. Talk through your feelings.
  5. Listen – It easy to keep talking, do not forget to take pauses and listen to what your spouse has to say. Remember there is always another side of the story.
  6. Trust Each other – Trust your spouse and their intentions. Let your spouse know that you trust them and their decisions.
  7. Spouse goes above the children – Once children come in the picture, it is easy to put them above all else… including your own needs.  Finding balance is key. A wise friend and leader of mine taught me that kids will grow up and leave the house.  Your spouse will not. It is common for couples to grow apart while raising kids. The most important relationship in the home is the one with your spouse. Children learn about relationships, from watching how you treat your spouse.  Constantly work on strengthening your marriage.  A strong marriage = a strong family. Support your spouse and what they are doing. This includes what they do for work, their goals and aspirations, and even hobbies.

    I had never gone fishing, until I met Bryce! Now we go on family fishing trips!
  8. Forgive – Everyone makes mistakes and mistakes will be made. Try not to hold on to  grudges. They do no good and can be toxic to the relationship. Work through your problems and forgive each other.

    Playing board games is often a win /win. Even now with the kids.
  9.  Make sure to do win/ wins  – Do not choose to do things where somebody loses.  Try even trade offs. Sometimes I let Bryce watch basketball and football games and he lets me watch the hallmark channel.  Remember this in major decisions as well such as home remodel, vacations, date nights, and the list is endless.
  10. Take care of yourself – As stated earlier, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and that can put a strain on the marriage. If you take of yourself, you become the best person and probably happier. I am sure you have heard the saying – a happy mom,makes a happy home. A quote from Jim Rohn,  “I will take care of me for you, and you will take care of you for me.”
  11. Work on goals together – Whether this is remodeling house, gardening, eating right, or exercising. It is fun to work on a common goal together! Try to do more than watch t.v. together.
    A goal that keeps coming and going, is exercising. It is nice to something with someone else!

    I am so grateful that Bryce took a chance on me! I have learned so much from him and I know that we will only continue to learn from each other.

    We want to hear from you! What tips have you found in a successful marriage? We also want to hear your love stories. Everyone has a story to share! Thanks for following along!


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  1. Ashvin says:

    Firstle, your pictures are stunning and your tips are invaluable! I am yet to get married and there are some questions which I need to ask myself and also my girlfriend. Really appreciate it!

    1. Melina says:

      Believe me, relationships take work from both parties! We are constantly working on ours!

  2. Ana De-Jesus says:

    It just goes to show that while not all love stories start like the beginning of a fairytale, sometimes love can take us in unexpected directions. I like how you showed us the reality of marriage how its not all roses but can be hard at times. The again its wonderful that you are celebrating your anniversary so many congrats x

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you so much! Love these unexpected places this journey has taken us on!

  3. Aashima says:

    I totally agree with all your tips. They are a necessity to maintain a healthy and loving relationship! Your pictures are just beautiful.

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you! All relationships take work!

  4. confettiandbliss says:

    Your list of tips to a successful marriage is right on point! It’s not just love that makes things wonderful – good communication and listening skills are vital to a beautiful marriage. Happy anniversary to you two love birds. May you be blessed with many more decades of happiness and prosperity.

  5. saltyhairtherapy says:

    Lovely photos and great tips! I also appreciate the honesty in this post. Not every love story is a fairy tale. Happy anniversary to you two <3

  6. Joan Cajic says:

    Congratulations and thank you for these tips, I love your tip on Happiness is a choice and it’s so true, never rely on someone else to make you happy as much as we all would like that, we need to make it start from within in order to make it come outwards. Loved this.

  7. Andrea says:

    Congrats first of all and happy anniversary. This is such a great list of tips on how to have a successful marriage. Thank you for sharing so much.

  8. Congratulations on your 4 year anniversary! I wish you guys many more years of health and happiness. Great post on the power of working together in a relationship.

  9. kellyhutchinson37920 says:

    What a fantastic love story! I think it is so cute how Bryce came and went so quickly at your first meeting!

  10. Ashley says:

    Congrats on making a successful marriage. Your tips are well written and good advice for sure

  11. Happy Anniversary! I am getting married next year and loved reading your advice. I have found creating shared goals can be a great way to keep each other encouraged too.

  12. Claudia Krusch says:

    These are all great tips to a successful marriage. I find communication is so important. It took us a while to find our groove. We will be celebrating 19 years in June.

  13. Such a lovely story about your journey on becoming husband and wife! Congratulations! I don’t know much about marriage but I’ll keep those helpful advice in mind.

  14. Happy Anniversary and cheers for a longer happy married life. You two are fabulous! More blessings for you guys 🙂

  15. Jennifer L says:

    Aww this just made smile reading about your love story. And amazing tips that couples or relationships should be incorporating, especially about trusting each other and communication. Happy Anniversary to you two!

  16. Ruth I. says:

    Happy Anniversary! Your story is beautiful and amazing. I agree about the tips, communication and trust are very important.

  17. Congrats! I agree with all your tips. They are a necessity to maintain a healthy and loving marriage.

  18. Happy Anniversary! I hope you had a wonderful day! I am not married yet, but one day!

  19. Bobbi says:

    These are some really great tips! So many people let the children rule their whole relationship when really you need to focus on one another every once in a while too.

  20. Leo T. Ly says:

    these are great advice. I definitely think that I can do better in my marriage and can use a bit more communication in mine. I am really glad that your marriage is working out well. Happy anniversary.

    1. Melina says:

      Everyone can always do better in their relationships! Do not worry!

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