That Claudia. (The last post linked to the wrong blog, my apologies, I think I fixed it). She is seriously persuasive. I wrote one blog, she wrote a follow up question and here I am responding. Only partially joking...I actually love the emails and comments I get asking follow up questions to my blogs, it gives me ideas for future posts (of which I have around 20).
So Claudia asked about our "secrets" for a successful marriage.
Real quick sidebar is necessary before I continue: Our marriage is pretty damn great, but it's not perfect. We don't believe in a perfect marriage over here. So if at any point in time you've read my blog and thought for a second that's what's happening over here, I apologize. My marriage is my most favorite part of my life, truly, but that doesn't mean it isn't sometimes difficult and frustrating. It's only to say that it's worth it. That he's amazing and it works really well.
Alas, the stuff that's working for us:
1) We have a strict "no husband/wife bashing" policy. You know when you walk into a group of women or men and they are in a frenzy describing the latest horrible/dumb/frustrating/maddening things their husbands/wives did recently? I don't know about you but it feels like an awkward joy suck whenever I come up to one. Zach and I realized even before we got married that we had no interest in culivating any kind of relationship like that. Because seriously, nothing good comes from those little sessions. At best, you say some things in the heat of the moment that you regret later, at worst your friends know every.single.thing your husband/wife has ever done to irk you. Then you call them and tell them you're rethinking this whole marriage thing and instead of telling you to fight and to love and to give grace they say, "Well, of course you are, remember when he did this and this and this?" No good.
This isn't to say we don't tell our very best friends if something is bothering us. Of course we do. It isn't a bash session. It isn't a word vomit of all the bad things they've done in the last year. It's simply "I'm frustrated because..." and the best part? My friends always says something to the effect of, "Shut your face, he's amazing. Work through it with him, it's worth it." And isn't that different? Yeah it is. One sucks the life out of your marriage and the other can, at times, give life to your marriage. Mama wants the latter.
2) Within the last year Zach and I have gotten down to the nitty gritty of what we want in our marriage. Our communication has gotten better than ever. We both came to realize in the past when we've argued one of us was trying to win the argument. It was a debate-college style. It was not "this is how I'm feeling about this action" it was "You're making me feel worse than I'm making you feel". Yeah that's not helpful. So our arguments are better now because they really feel like discussions. Small difference reaps huge benefits for us. So we disagree well now. We don't let the crud build up until it consumes us both, we take up our shovels the second we feel a toe disappear. Read that again, we both take up our shovels. We work together to get to the bottom of our junk. It works.
3) We also started to realize that the other person is actually not responsible for our happiness. I can't look to Zach to make me happy. He can, of course, add to it. He can also subtract from it. Both of those things can happen, obviously. But he is not responsible for my happiness. I am. Even when I'm hurt or angry at him I get to decide how I react. He doesn't decide for me. This revelation was like the parting of the Red Sea for me, it was HUGE. Because now when I'm feeling discouraged or frustrated or sad (sometimes for reasons outside of my relationship with Zach) I lean on things I enjoy to make me feel better. Quite a bit of the time those things include him but they don't always have to. A workout, reading a book, watching
really crappy TV. It all helps.
Mother skip the next one, no seriously, skip it.
4) Sex. You knew it was coming didn't you? Yeah we do that. I remember when Zach told one of his friends we were getting married (at the ripe age of 20) the friend was horrified to learn Zach would never be having sex again. Ahem. There is certainly that stigma that married people don't have sex, and rightfully so, as I understand statistics do not look good in that arena. However, there again we decided to try as hard as we could to not fall into the same marriage narrative just because we thought that's what was done. So we have sex. And it's the good kind (hubba, hubba!). But seriously, we both believe it's important to us so we make time for it. Moving on...
5) Zach sets his phone to give him a reminder every time he pulls into our driveway to tell me he loves me. The first time I saw it he looked a little guilty and asked, "Does that kind of ruin it if I have to be reminded?" Hell to the no. Because every time he tells me he loves me when he walks in the door I know he's choosing to say it new each time. I think that's pretty amazing. On a related note, I decided awhile ago that everytime he entered the room I was going to smile and greet him (I do the same thing with the kids). I thought of it when we watched Avatar. That whole "I see you" thing really got to me. I thought the best way to show it on a daily basis would be to make eye contact with them, smile, and greet them. I see you. I love you. I am supremely happy you're here, with me. It makes every connection of ours start off well. Also, even when we're fighting I'm still really glad to see him, maybe even more so.
6) Laughter/joy/dancing all of those. They matter so much. He makes me laugh so hard. He is hilarious. When he laughs at my jokes, my head spins. We celebrate each other's awesomeness and pick each other up from our weaknesses. Sometimes when we're cooking together we turn on some old school club music and do a little dirty dancing. When we cook Italian food we slow dance with my head on his shoulder and his hand on my low back.
7) One of my favorite Pinterest cheesy poster boards says, "A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers." Cheesy? Yes. Right on? Absofreakinlutely. We both screw up but our marriage works so well because of grace. Have I mentioned that before? I think I have. Grace is pretty big around here. I am an imperfect human being who married another imperfect human being. If grace weren't around it would be so difficult to not focus on the other's imperfections. Thankfully it is around, in abundance, and so despite my careless mistakes I have a husband who looks at me with such adoration I could cry (and sometimes do).
None of this is new or original, but it is what's working for us now. What about you? What works for you in your marriage or in your other relationships that I can learn from?