In the beginning of a relationship, you are always motivated: motivated to see the person, motivated to be the right kind of person, motivated to act lovingly, motivated to dress up and look nice, motivated to treat the other person with respect.
|Hubby and I, seven months after our wedding day.|
At some point, that relationship gets serious, then committed, and you find yourself married. There are new seasons to enjoy as a married couple, but the newness wears off after a while and the infatuation dies down. You find that loving the other person, and acting accordingly, is sometimes down right difficult.
Over time, relationships get real.
And then you have kids.
Your worlds are rocked. When you get married, you make the transition from being "me" focused to being "we" focused. When you have kids, many parents make their focus "them," only to forget about the ever-important "us." As mothers and fathers, we are motivated daily to be better parents: we stress when we fail, we are proud when we are victorious. We research the best things for our little ones, making sure we do everything the correct way to raise them up right. We quickly put them first.
So when did we stop treating our marriages with the same respect, focus and determination? When did we stop being motivated to be better spouses?
Friends, I'm not sure where you are in your marriage. I've known my husband for well over a decade, and we've been married going on seven years this December. We have had our ups and downs, and I am generally very proud of our marriage. But like every relationship we have plenty to work on. Let me rephrase: I have plenty to work on (I won't speak for him!). I've noticed is how easily I take for granted the day to day. We focus so much on our kids, that we often let "us" fall to the wayside.
It's time to start focusing on "us" again, people.
So I've made a list of 5 Tips for a Better Marriage. No, these are not my "expert thoughts." I actually laugh at the thought of this. No, this is a list created to remind ME of how I can be working toward a better marriage. I figured it wouldn't hurt to share it with you, since I'm hoping I'm not the only one whose relationship is a work-in-progress :)
Sometimes it is good to just check in with your spouse. Take a moment at some point during the day - when you get home from work, when the kids are in bed, over breakfast - and ask how the other is doing. What's going on in your life? What is interesting you right now? What's stressing you? Often we think we know what is going on with our spouse, so we don't take the time to ask and really listen. You might be surprised what you'll find out by taking even 30 minutes to have a conversation with one another.
Also? Check in periodically throughout the day. It helps your partner know you are thinking of them and care about what they are doing when you aren't together. Text. Email. Phone call. Singing telegram. Whatevs.
(Bonus points to anyone who sends their spouse a singing telegram. Please make sure to video tape this and send it to me).
Be a TeamSometimes I find that Hubby and I can get out-of-sync once in a while. When we exist like this, we function as two parts - him doing his thing, me doing mine. But it is not cohesive, and the essence of being married is being a team. If you find yourself out-of-sync, or as I like to call it, "not on the same page," make plans to work on things together: tackling household chores together, running errands together, tending to the kids together. Even if you have opposite schedules, see if you can find some way to make a team connection during the day. Working together can sometimes help remind us that we're united. It is good to remember that marriage is the Ultimate Team Work.
In my opinion, respect is one of the greatest attributes of a marriage. And if you lose it, it's really hard to earn back. When relationships get lost in the day-to-day, respect can begin to dwindle: in the way you respond to one another, in the way you speak, in the way you handle disagreements and the overall way you view your spouse. In the beginning of your relationship, you afforded great respect to your partner. Make sure that you still treat your spouse with respect, even if you are struggling to feel in love.
When you fight, try not to yell. When you are arguing, don't call each other names. It's easy to say things you regret when you are angry, but remember you can't take those things back. And each disrespect awarded to someone chips away at their respect of you.
Find ways to show your spouse you respect them. For instance: If you'll be home late, call and let your spouse know what time you'll be home. Sometimes a small act like this can go a long way in showing you respect another person.
Choose Your BattlesLawdy, you'd think after 7 years I'd be better at this! And believe me, I've come a loooooong way. Many newlyweds go through this: two people with two sets of expectations of how life is to be lived coming together and trying to sync as one. It takes a while.
So let's just get to the honesty part of things: In the beginning of our marriage, I was a nag. I had expectations of how our house would be kept, and Hubby's was not quite the same as mine. I nagged about picking towels up, about taking trash out, about laundry and cleaning dishes.
Friends: in the scheme of life, whether or not the dishes were cleaned will not matter.
This was a hard realization for me to come to and accept. I wanted things done my way. And in marriage, we are not islands. There is compromise. In a marriage there will always be things that cause friction. And with each issue I am faced with, I have to ask myself, "Is this a hill to die on?" Sometimes, yes, it is worth processing or tackling. Most of the time, though? It's not worth it. More times than not, it's my own selfishness, willing me to be right.
And those are the things worth letting go.
Say "I Love You"Isn't it funny that this is one of the more difficult things for me to do? Now here's the thing: I love my husband more than the stars. But sometimes verbalizing that is uncomfortable to me. Not because I don't mean it, but because emotions are difficult for me sometimes. I processed this "Love Language Dilemma" in a post not too long ago. And while I can easily show my love by whipping up someone's favorite meal or getting a really thoughtful gift, I struggle when it comes to physically or verbally sharing love. It's something I am actively working on (and seeing progress, by the way!).
Whether you are well-versed in sharing love or the idea of public displays of affection (verbal or physical) make you panic, it's important that your spouse hears you say those 3 little words every day:
Not in passing or as they are on their way out the door. But embracing your spouse, looking them in the eye and saying, "I love you." Make that connection, because even if you think you are showing your spouse love, they may not be receiving your signals. Breakdown of communication leads to a downward spiral, believe me!
I want to hear from you:
What would be YOUR
5 Tips for a Better Marriage?