If you’re in a committed relationship (whether married or living together) do you ever take what you have for granted? I’m pretty sure divorce statistics out there will show that many of us do take our marriage/relationship for granted. After 21 years of being with my husband and 19 years of marriage, I can tell you today I am more grateful and aware of what we have together then I certainly was the first 5 or so years of our marriage. Nothing brings this to the forefront of my awareness more than to watch other couples in action. Today I will give you a few tips that have helped me not take my marriage/husband for granted. Add, delete, amend as best fits your relationship! Your comments/wisdom is encouraged!
This summer I’m taking the dreaded required “College Math” class. Luckily for me, pretty much every student taking this class is in the same boat. Going on week three most of us are already behind on our homework, haven’t studied for our first exam and haven’t even begun to think about the project that is due by the end of the semester. Such conditions make for instant friendships when “in-class” quizzes are assigned. Consequently, I’m getting to know my row-mate, the couple in front of me, the guy who sits across the aisle from me and the gal who sits in the row behind me. You can tell the young couple sitting in front loves each other, but the bloom is definitely fading and so they swing barbs at each other when one of them doesn’t get an answer correctly or figures out a problem as fast as the other one. This prompted my row-mate and I to ask them if they were married (yes) and then how long (year 3). I shared with them that the first three years of our marriage have definitely been the toughest for us thus far.
Some of the reasons I took my marriage for granted:
1.) Basic immaturity and not understanding intimacy
2.) Not realizing that in my past relationships, I had confused the state of “limerence” with being “in love”
3.) See #1 above
4.) Fear. Fear. Fear
5.) Discovering that in the midst of the “run away” recording that I would play in my head over and over again if a relationship went too long that I actually had a very monogamous value system buried inside me when it came to marriage. I couldn’t and wouldn’t run away but I sure didn’t like where I was at!
Some of the tips we’ve figured out along the way to help us not take our marriage for granted:
1.) No cursing at each other. Treating each other with respect is key. I wouldn’t curse at my Starbucks’ Barista so why would I curse at the man/woman I love?
2.) No yelling (especially curse words!) When we first began this, when I found myself wanting to yell I would simply open up my mouth and let out sound (very similar to toning)…it expressed my overwhelming feelings, gave me time to figure out what I was feeling so that I could talk about it and prevented me from damaging our relationship with the swords of words. Of course, after a few times of this one or both of us would end up in laughing fits. Think of Monty Python without the hats.
3.) Came to believe that my husband really did love me and actually looked out for my best interest. We were not in court and disagreements were not trials.
4.) Try to discover new things each day that I can be grateful for regarding my husband and our marriage. I usually can find more than two. Now does this mean that I never see his faults? Absolutely not. But it tempers the natural flow of my judgmental mind.
5.) A few years ago, I interviewed an author Saundra Pelletier about her book, “Saddle Up Your Own White Horse” and I’ll never forget one piece of advice she gave about her happy marriage: “have sex at least three times a week”. Now obviously the amount changes per need and comfort of each couple but I was really grateful to hear someone throwing a number out there with such confidence. Two years later, heeding her advice has worked out very well for us.
The list goes on and on. I don’t know about you, but I love to “interview” couples in my world who have been together for awhile and are happy. How the heck have they done it? What is their secret? What words of wisdom do they have? It’s a dog eat dog eat cat eat mouse eat veggie world out there today and many of us are having a helluva time just keeping our heads above water much less paying attention to creating a happy relationship BUT paying attention to having a healthy relationship is one of THE most important aspects of our lives that we can give our attention. For those who are single, paying attention to the relationship you have with yourself, your higher power, your family, your friends, your coworkers and other people in general is also one of the (if not “the”) most important aspects that you can focus on.
When I think of how uncomfortable my home life used to be, I understand better why some countries do not get along with each other. If we can’t get along with the people we’ve agreed to love then how can we expect ourselves to attempt to get along with those we don’t like?
Turns out that a marriage is like being inside of an oyster. There’s all kinds of things that are going to flow into and out of the cocoon of your relationship, how you handle yourself is the difference between creating a pearl or ending up with wet and smelly sand. The choice is yours….