I have been thinking a lot about marriage lately and wanted to share some of those thoughts with you guys. I have been married for almost 9 years and I can honestly say that I am still head over heels in love with my hubby! He is an amazing husband, friend, father, provider, and every day I strive to be a better wife for him. Our marriage hasn't always been perfect. When we first got married we both had very different ideas on what a marriage looks like. T is a checklist kind of guy, he has a to-do list that NEVER ends! When we came home from our honeymoon he literally sat down and wrote out a schedule for our week and he scheduled me in at 10:30 at night because he felt that he was finally able to check "get married" off of his to-do list and now he needed to focus on his other life goals. So after he wrote up this schedule and showed it to me I walked over, picked it up, ripped it to shreds and threw it in the garbage. He was shocked and a little bit bothered that I would do that until I told him that a marriage isn't something you check off your list and pencil in to fit into your life. A marriage is a partnership where his goals are my goals and my goals are his goals and we work together all the time, we spend more time together married than we did dating, we support each other and we have to work at it every single day to keep it going. He quickly agreed and our lives have been better for it. Over the years we have had our ups and downs like most couples, but we have approached our struggles with a positive can do attitude and have been able to grow closer because of it. Here are some of our success secrets:
1. Love your spouse more than you love yourself. I never think about what is my husband doing to show me he loves me, but I always think about what I am doing to show my husband I love him. Literally from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I fall asleep at night I am always thinking about how my actions will affect my relationship with my husband. I know T appreciates a clean house and so before I ever sit down to read a book, or get on the computer, I make sure all of the main rooms of my house are clean, so when he wakes up he won't have to worry about cleaning and he can spend more time with the family and less time cleaning. And guess what, because I am so focused on showing him that I love him, he constantly shows me he loves me! In all of the marriages that I have seen that have problems the root of their problem is that they love themselves more than their spouse and they are more concerned about what their spouse is doing for them than what they can do for their spouse.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! My husband and I are not psychics and we can't read each others minds so we have to tell the other person what we are feeling, what our plans are, what our expectations are, etc. If I am upset about something that T did or did not do it is my responsibility to let him know I am upset and why and vice versa, and then I need to be willing to listen to him explain his actions, reasoning, etc. Just because I am mad he did something doesn't mean he was wrong, I might have misinterpreted his actions, or had a different perspective than him. There have been times when I have been upset and after talking with him him about I have been the one to apologize because I might have overreacted. My husband and I are both extremely busy people so it is also extra important for us to communicate our plans to each other. Every day we ask each other, what do you have planned for the day, and whenever we make plans we let the other person know right away. If we both make plans then we compromise and decide which one is the most important. Church is always number one priority and trumps all other plans. If the other person still wants to go out then it is their responsibility to make arrangements for our kids. This way there is minimum fighting.
3. Be a support to one another. I have a dad already and so I don't need my husband to be my dad. He already has a mom so he doesn't need me to be his mom either. What we need is a supportive spouse whose main goal in life is to ensure that we are happy. So when T gets a crazy idea (which is very very often) he doesn't have to worry about me telling him yes or no, but instead we talk about how we can make it work. If I want to go out with my girlfriends once a month I don't have to ask him permission I just have to let him know I am planning on doing it and I know he will support me and take care of the kids so I can have some me time. We never ask each other for permission, we simply ask for support.
4. Have friends outside of your marriage. I think it is important to remember that we were friends with other people when we were dating and it is important for us to have friends outside of our marriage. Friends can be a great support to your marriage, they can give you an outlet that your spouse can't. Let's face it your hubby will never be a great girlfriend, he doesn't understand the intricacies of how the woman's mind works and you will never be a great guy friend because you don't have a male brain. So it is important that you each have friends that can fill that need. However, your friends should never be more important than your spouse and they should never encourage you to do things that would harm your marriage.
5. Teach other how to be the spouse you need. Before our wedding day I had never been a wife and my hubby had never been a husband so we had to learn and what better way to learn than from your spouse! I have heard so many friends complain about how their husbands treat them, and all I can think is that you taught that to them. I look at controlling relationships, where the husband tells the wife what she can and can not do and I blame the wife for part of that controlling relationship because she has allowed her husband to control her. If my husband ever told me what I could or could not do I would let him know that he can shove that notion up his you know what. I am a grown woman and I can decide for myself what I can and cannot do. But too often the wife or sometimes even the husband is too nonconfrontational and even though they are upset that the spouse is dictating their life they allow it because they don't want the fight. But believe me your needs and wants are always worth the fight! If you don't teach your spouse how to fulfill your needs then they never will and you will live in an extremely unsatisfied marriage. A great book about this is called His Needs, Her Needs - I swear by that book!
7. Teamwork! My husband and I are a team. We work together to raise our children, save money, clean the house, and build our relationship. My husband is amazing in this regard! He never complains about doing the dishes, vacuuming the living room floors, cleaning the toilets, taking the kids with him to run errands, taking care of the kids while I take a nap, etc. Our attitude is that we both live in the house and it is both of our responsibilities to keep it clean. We both chose to have kids and it is both of our responsibilities to take care of them and ensure our needs are met. His contribution to their life is not just his sperm and yet too often I see dad's having that attitude. Heaven forbid they have to take care of their own children every once in a while so their wife can have a break! We are also a team when it comes to our spending habits. I know my husband works hard to provide for our family and keep us out of debt so I work hard to manage our money in a way that doesn't add stress to him.
8. Always look for the positive. If I look for the negative aspects of my husband's personality then I will find them and focus on them and that's all I will see of him and I will miss out on a lot of positive aspects of his personality. The same is true if I focus on the positive aspects of who he is and what he does for our family and our marriage and that is what I will see. I encourage my friends who are struggling with their marriages to every night think about ten positive things about their spouse - maybe they remembered to put the toilet seat down for you, or they helped put the kids to bed. Maybe they gave you a kiss when they walked in the door and told you you looked beautiful. Focus on the good they did and they will do more god things. I also think it is important to tell them the things you love about them. I love hearing my husband tell me all of the things he loves about me, or when he first walks out of our room from sleeping and he immediately tells me how nice the house looks. It makes me want to keep doing those things.
9. Always be honest with each other. I believe in honesty in all aspects of my life and if you want to know the truth about something you can come to me and I will tell you. There is no bigger marriage killer than deceiving one another - just don't do it, no matter how much you think the truth will hurt them, lying will hurt them 10 times more.
10. Respect one another and not just to each other's face but behind their backs as well. How would you feel if you found out that the person you love was trashing your name behind your back? How would you feel if he treated you like an idiot or called you insulting names? Treat your spouse the way you expect to be treated!
There are lots and lots of more things my spouse and I do, but these are the main things. How do you keep your marriage alive? What is something you struggle with in your marriage?