Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Honest Look Inside Our Marriage



 I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.  Song of Solomon 6:3

A dear, sweet girlfriend of mine, 10 years my junior, send me a one line email yesterday that basically changed my whole day.  I have known this woman for going on 10 years now, and she is a precious gift to me.  Keeps me on my toes – just like she did when we first met!  She was in college then, and I’ve watch her “grow up” and make all kinds of adult decisions – college boyfriend problems, first real job, buying that first house, meeting the man of her dreams, her fabulous wedding, and the birth of her first child, a son, last fall.   

This is what she asked:
How do you and Britt stay so happy and not let stress of everything affect your relationship?

And this is how I answered.  It’s not one line.  Or even close to it.  It is years of life experience.  It’s going through a divorce at 29.  It’s marrying the man God made for me after a 4 month courtship – even though when I first met him the 10 year age difference scared me to death.  It’s people with 2 full time jobs and 4 kids.  It’s not easy.  But it is a choice.  Every day.  And one my husband and I both choose.  EVERYDAY!

Ha ha ha ha ha!!!  Oh, it affects us. ALL THE TIME! I don't think we spoke for about 5 hours yesterday. This 10 hour work day thing is hard. (I am working 4 – 10 hour days this summer to have one full day off each week with my kids.)  I leave before everyone gets out of bed, and when I get home I'm exhausted. 

Communication is KEY! Part of the fall apart yesterday is we both had a plan in our heads for how last night's activities (dinner, VBS, last T-ball game and party) would go, but we were on completely different pages. Plus, he's feeling neglected because I've got sorority meetings all this weekend then I leave next week for a 5 day convention. All kid free. So, don't be fooled. It's HARD!

But, we are committed to each other and to making it work. We don't hold grudges or bring up old issues. We give each other space. We always acknowledge the other person's viewpoint, even if we think they're ridiculous. We laugh. A lot. At ourselves, at each other, at the kids. We have a pretty clear definition of responsibilities, too. And if I do one of his chores or he does one of mine, that's like a bonus!!!!  

We know neither of us is smarter, tougher, more important, or better than the other. We often say, “It's not a competition.” We are both bad about when one of us is complaining about something, the other tells how bad they've got it - how much worse it is. One Uppers!  We try really hard to nip that when it starts. It's not healthy or fair. Speaking of fair, we know life's not fair. We also know marriage is not 50/50. It's 100/100!  ALL THE TIME! As is parenting.


You have to remember that no one’s life is perfect. You can't compare your daily drudges to someone else's highlight reel. What you see out in public, or on Facebook, may not be a true representation of what's going in behind closed doors...

What else? Oh! We keep our private life private. We leave our parents/friends out of stuff that's really none of their business. We tell them bare minimums if it’s needed, and tell them to butt out. The decisions we make as a couple with God’s guidance, for OUR family are for us.  We don’t like feeling judged for what we deem appropriate for US and OUR family, so we just keep it to ourselves.  As compassionate humans, we tend to “side” with our own parents or friends.  That can leave the spouse feeling left or, or worse yet, defensive.  If you don’t include those outside people to begin with, it saves a lot of heartache and bickering when others (especially parents) get involved. 

And we never tear each other down. Especially in public. No matter how stupid I think he's being. ;) LOL! If he disciplines the kids and I think he's too hard or too soft, I save that for a later conversation. If he says something off the cuff that hurts my feelings, I (try REALLY REALLY HARD to not to) don’t lash out and give as good as I got.  I don't make fun of him in public, but we do at home or in the car - so we can laugh privately about how dumb something was!  And show our kids that we know we’re not perfect, and we do make mistakes.  But we recover from them, and move forward.


We are "allowed" to have a bad day. Or two. Without consequence or nagging from the other. But, we also point it out. Either admitting to the other person that were in a funk, or struggling, or whatever – especially when we want to be left alone, and the other person KEEPS ASKING “what’s wrong?” And, we point it out, gently and lovingly, to the other person if they have not acknowledged it. Like, "I can tell you're not in a great mood. I wish I could help. Tell me if you need me to do something. Otherwise, I'm here for you, and I'll be here when you get out of your funk."  Then let it go! We all process things differently!

SAY YOU’RE SORRY.  First.  Every time.  Even if you think he should say it first.  Don’t wait for him to do it just to prove a point.  It’s not worth it.  Truly be sorry.  Maybe not for your actions or opinions, but for the hurt you may have caused or the tone of voice you used.  Apologize, and then never bring it up again.  And don’t start the next sentence with “but!”

Your spouse is FOR you – not against you.  They love you the most.  Stood up in front of an audience and proclaimed it.  So, just because you disagree or have an argument, he is not saying he loves you any less.  Don’t be defensive.  Listen, and hear him out.  Disagreement does not equal dislike.  It just means you have differences.  Respect that.  Revel in it.  LEARN from it.
 
I told you it wasn’t short!  Then, this follow up question came:

What about when it comes to opposite sex….? Celebrities or real people... Flirting, staying attracted to each other stuff like that- how do you handle that or keep out of the gray area? or [what do you] do if someone does start to tread into the gray or black area?

That's a tough one. Maybe it gets better with age? I remember this being a MUCH BIGGER issue with J (My first husband - married at 21, broken by 28 divorced by 30; got 2 AMAZING redheads out of the deal, and a TON of life lessons) than with Britt. Britt and I both tend to have jealous tendencies. But, we joke that we're old and fat and no one would want us except each other anyway! Ok, only half joking! ;) But honestly, we are so secure in OUR relationship that it just doesn't faze us. He knows I have celebrity crushes and I know who his are too. I do think this has evolved the longer we've been together, and the older we get. (We were 31 and 41 when we got married, 38 and 48 now.)  We had some issues with it that first year - mainly because I married him right after a string of a few 1-2 month relationships (I was “sewing my oats,” I guess.  Married at 21 that first time…) and he knew too much about those as he was my “friend” during a lot of that time.

Again, I know we lovingly point out "questionable" behavior to each other. That has definitely evolved through the relationship.  I am way more apt to call him out on something now than I was 7 years ago.  Or, if it is seriously making the other person uncomfortable, we confront them. I am a flirt by nature, and I know Britt hates that. It was an issue when I worked in [the OSU] football [office] for sure!  (I worked there when we met and through the first 2 years we were married.)  He called me out for it quite often.  I think as we have matured and our relationship has grown, we've gotten past it. Plus, I'm not turning any heads, so it's completely harmless at this point! ;)

I think the respect we have for one another and the protection we have in our marriage helps too. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We decided long ago not to put ourselves in situations that could be misconstrued by each other or anyone else for that matter. We do not do lunch / meetings / trips with only one member of the opposite sex - there has to be 2 people with us; one same sex. It's just for accountability.  We always check with the other before we make plans with other couples (or individuals) to make sure it's something they are OK with. Not for permission, but out of respect. It's that important to us. And yes, people (women, mostly) make fun of me for getting "permission" from my husband to do things. But, I respect my marriage 1,000 times more that I care about their opinions! :)

That's a good internal filter to have, too. Before I do A LOT of things I ask myself not only what would Jesus think, but what would BRITT want me to do? It helps me remember how important he is to me and how special this marriage is to both of us!

These answers came fast and furiously, tapped out in record speed (with minimal typos) on my iPhone between wrangling my four kids on an outing for lunch and pool time.  So, I didn’t put a ton of thought into them.  Just spoke form the heart and poured out the things that God brought to my mind.  After I sent this novel to my friend, I decided I should share it with my husband as well.  So, I did.  Forwarded him all the messages with this note:

Just so you know what I told her, and so you can see how important you and this marriage are to me. I LOVE YOU!!!”

When Britt got home from work, he told me he was so glad I shared all that with him.  Even suggested this blog (which I had already thought of)!  He is so good to me.  God really knew what He was doing when he made our crazy, winding all over the place paths meet.  So blessed.

After my husband and I took the kids to VBS, we were talking about this topic again, and this quote from one of our favorite moves came to mind:

“Fireproof[ing your marriage] doesn't mean the fire will never come. It means when the fire comes that you will be able to withstand it. ” 

I promptly texted it to my friend, and she replied with a resounding “I needed to hear that.”  I think we all do sometimes.  What a great reminder.  My marriage is Fireproof.  The fire comes.  And the fire is hot, and the fire can be destructive, but we withstand it, and we rebuild.  Is your marriage fireproof?


(If the above shows up as a blank black box, click on the box to see the video)

2 comments:

  1. wow! i agree with Everything you said! (which doesn't happen with hardly anyone's posts EVER! ) You said it very well! I think all married couples should at least discuss each of these topics and be on the same page. thanks for sharing!

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  2. What a great message for all couples: married, engaged or even just dating. Thanks for keeping it real and sharing your story!

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