Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What I've learned in the last 12 Years!

It really took me some time to be able to put this post together.  What can I possibly say that has not been said about marriage before.

A year ago while my husband and I were having a very "rare" night out, a young "bride to be" asked me:

1.  "How long have you guys been together?"
2.  "How do you do it?- Any Advice you can give me?"

Last week Bill and I celebrated yet another wedding anniversary!! I have always wanted to be loved by someone the way this man loves me, unconditionally....  My husband and I have been together for twelve years!!  It's a bit surreal sometimes, specially for me who never really had a good role model growing up.

When we got married the evening of May 6th, we were not young nor new to marriage.  The two of us had previously been married and when we said our "I dos", we had no false assumptions that our marriage would be argument free at all times.

We knew that marriage would be difficult and to be  totally honest, there were nights, many nights in the last twelve years that I have wonder if we would end up like many of our friends, "divorced"

But here were are, still together, still learning, still growing, still changing for the better and we are doing it together!  The key word in this sentence is "together". 

When that "young bride-to-be" asked me "how do you do it?", well, it's not just me... there are two people in this marriage and I think that our marriage has worked for several reasons. 

#1 End all Toxic Relationships (Friends or Family). 

I truly believe that one of the many reasons our marriage has lasted as long as it has is because I decided to cut off any and all "toxic" relationships.  Unfortunately, that included my relationship with my own mother.  (That's a long story which I will tell you another day, but not today!)  
You truly don't want anyone who will speak negatively about your spouse, you should be able to form and have your opinion in regards to your spouse's personality and attitude.   

#2 Divorce is never the solution.

This word has never been part of my vocabulary. Okay, let me rephrase that, Bill and Divorce have never been in the same sentence.  By no means am I saying that you should stay in a marriage where physical and/or emotional abuse is happening.  What I am saying is that don't ever seek "divorce" just because you don't like the way he sips his coffee or forgets to put the toilet sit down.     

#3 Pick Your Battles.

Once the honeymoon phase ends, reality sets in.  Things that didn't bother your before will eventually begin to bother you, leading into an unnecessary argument.  This is something I have struggled with.  Sometimes it's really hard NOT to argue especially when is about money, children's homework, sports, and house chores! Trust me, some things are not as fundamental as you think they are.    

#4 Keep Family Members out of your battles.

Your battles are your battles.  Never bring "joe" or "sue" into the mess.  Bill and I, despite his temper and my tendency to blame, we have never allowed sisters, brothers, Mom or Dad to be in the middle of our arguments.  Don't get me wrong, Mom and Dad are aware of our arguments because we have great communication with them both.  However, we have never relied on them to fix our problems.  Our problems are our problems and it's up to us to fix them or to find a common ground.  By oversharing your problems, and speaking ill of your spouse while you are angry will only create a hostile environment between your spouse and your family members.  The last thing you want is for your family to treat your spouse differently.

#5 Be Able to Walk Away.

When things get to heated, when voices are starting to increase in volume, when children are present, it is best if you just walk away.  But before you do, make sure you kindly point it out that you are just too upset to argue or that the kids are present and that said arguments needs to happen later.  By pointing things out, you are letting your spouse know that you are not "just walking away" because you don't care of what he has to say. (never argue in front of your children)

#6 Apologize & Accept Apologies (don't rub it in).

Been able to apologize when you are wrong does not make you any less human.  Accepting you are wrong says a lot about your character and you willingness to move forward. This is better than continuing to argue just because you don't want to admit your shortcomings.  By being able to accept when you are wrong your spouse will find it easier to follow suit.    When your spouse admits that he is wrong, accept the apology without rubbing it in, leave comments like "i know i'm right!" out of it.   Kindly accept his apology and move on.

#7 Be Encouraging and Understanding

Encourage one another in your new endeavors, just the same way your parents used to encourage you as a child.  When your spouse wants to discuss things that are bothering him, listen very carefully and try to be understanding.  Relying on each other will strengthen your relationship and will also show your spouse that their opinion matters.  Let's face it, two brains work better than one.  
During our first years of marriage, I used to be really cautious around my husband, always trying NOT to hurt his feelings, always afraid that if I said the wrong thing he would be upset at me too.  
But then I realized, I was harming my husband more than helping him.  Bill was coming to me for an honest opinion and advice.  He wasn't asking me to tell him what he wanted to hear, he was relying on me to give him my honest opinion.  Now, when he comes to me for anything, I always listen carefully and tell him exactly what I think, sometimes he is wrong and sometimes he is not. 

#8 Communicate (even if its on paper)

Communication is highly required in order for a marriage to be successful.  If you really think about it, if you don't have any communication with your spouse, then how is he to know what your needs and wants are.  Unfortunately, we cannot read minds but what we can do is read our partner's body language.  After so many years together Bill is able to tell when I'm mad or sad just the same way I can tell when he is annoyed at something.  The thing is, if I don't tell him what is bothering me, then it's absolutely normal for him to think that I'm upset at him. 
There will be times when speaking your mind will not be easy and when that time comes, write them down, or texts.  This is something I do with my children as well.  As silly as it may sound, I have a form that my children fill out when they can't express their feelings and they tape it to my bedroom door once it's filled out so that I can see it.  We then sit together and discuss it.  
As long as you are communicating (screaming and blaming does not count here) then you are in the right path.  

#9 Don't Whine

This is something I just started practicing... I know right, it only took me twelve years to get there!! But it's only to show you that we are still growing and adjusting here... hahaaa

By this I mean, there will be times when your plate will be fuller than his.  Will you be angry? Obviously.... but remember, there will be times when his plate will be fuller than yours.  A month ago Bill had to go out of town for a week.  For that week I had to work my regular 8 hour job, work on my blog, help the kids with their homework, help our son with his GMAS studies, had to drive our son to baseball games and practices as well as take our daughter to dance rehearsals.  Did I mention that I still had to clean, cook and oversee our financial accounts? ok, well add that to the mix.  

In the mist of my anxiety attack, I stopped and told myself... "I can do this and I will do this by myself". I developed a routine and I am proud to say that I've remained on that schedule, my house is finally clean every day, my laundry is no longer overflowing, bathrooms and rooms organized!! 

BOTTOM LINE... I STOPPED WHINING!!  it was a WIN WIN ladies and gentlemen!! 

#10 Don't be afraid to ask for HELP!

This is something else I've struggled with as well and it kind of goes hand in hand with #9. Unfortunately, not everyone's wheels are constantly turning.  Just because it's common sense to you, it doesn't mean that it's common sense to your spouse so don't ever expect for him to do things like you, to think like you or toantiscipate your every move.  If you need him to help you with something, then ASK. (or in my case, I tell him) Now, don't be hugely disappointed if your spouse doesn't complete your "honey do list" but always give him credit for what he did complete.   

#11 Have Dates as often

Unfortunately, we don't get to have dates very often but when Mom and Dad are in town, or when the kids have a sleep over..we sure do jump on the opportunity to sneak out.  
Spending time alone is very important regardless as to what you choose to do as long as you do it together.

#12 Be Silly and Have Fun

Enjoy life and do it together.  Bill has always have a good sense of humor and after so many years together I have picked up a thing or two.  He makes me laugh with his nonsense, every now and then I have a good come back and I make him laugh.  

The important thing to remember is that marriage is a partnership, it requires hard work and the commitment of both parties.  The two of you will constantly be tested, but all you can do is be the wife your spouse needs you to be and will be foolish to leave.  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control
Galatians 5:22-23

Lord, make me my husband's helpmate,
companion, champion, friend and support.

Help me to create a peaceful, restful, safe place for him to come home to.
Teach me how to take care of myself and stay attractive to him.
Grow me into a creative and confident woman who is rich in mind,
soul and spirit.

Make me the kind of woman he can be proud to say is
his WIFE... 
(The Power of a Praying Wife Devotional Journal)

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