But onto a somewhat serious topic.
I have a blog reader who has been a reader almost from the very beginning, which I'm not kidding, I think was 2008. Yikes. But she's kind of one of those undercover readers you don't know is there until you get an email out of the blue and they tell you that something you wrote made them pause and feel compelled to write you. Which is really amazing, and just.... I just really love it.
I recently received an email from her and though I don't know her at all, she feels like she knows me through my blog (which also is very cool), and she wanted my advice. And it's just kind of humbling when a person is willing to tell you what's going on in their life and see if maybe I have advice or a solution. Because honestly, it helps. I don't know where I'd be without total strangers helping me, so I'll return that favor.
Unfortunately, her and her husband are really in a tough spot. They've been having marital issues for a few years. They've handled a bout of infidelity a few years ago, went to counseling and did the whole bit. But lately, things aren't the same. The spark is gone. They argue a lot. Both of them basically feel indifferent towards the other. And now when they argue over something pretty dumb, it snowballs into something huge and someone will resort to saying, "So maybe we should just get a divorce?". So basically, that's where they are at and she wants to know how I do it.
And to that I say, I fly by the seat of my pants.
One thing I have learned in ten years of marriage is that it is hard and it sucks a good portion of the time. I think the real benefit for me is that when we were first married, I worked for a senior volunteer program. And when I got married, all of those volunteers were just thrilled and gave me loads of advice. But the best two pieces of advice I ever got were:
- Start how you mean to finish. This actually came from my boss and she said it's so important that if you are going to be that wife that makes your husband's lunch, leave little love notes in his car, set his clothes out, have dinner ready at 5, etc- then you better be prepared to do that forever. Because as soon as you stop, he feels upset and like you're neglecting him. You'll get mad he's being a baby. He's mad because you're mad and that you don't understand how he feels, etc. And it's so true.
- It's going to be really awful, but no marriage makes it to fifty years without the awful. And it's also true. Every person I know who has been married for the long haul have all told me they hit real rocky periods in their marriage where they questioned their spouse or if this was right for them. But it always comes around. It's like the tide, it's good and it's bad. You just have to work really hard at it.
I can't sit here and tell you that I'm 100% thrilled to be married every day. I would be an absolute liar. There are days where I think I've really hit the end of my rope and I just want to cut my losses. But then there are times where I look at Matt and think I'm really in the sweet spot. I have a husband that despite his faults, is really ridiculously great. I mean, this is a guy who will run to the movie theater to get me popcorn just because I want it.
One thing we learned in counseling was you can never, ever threaten a break up or divorce unless you are 100% committed to it. And you can't be that way until you know you aren't sad, mad, angry, confused, etc at that other person. You can't break up or divorce someone and still feel all of this pent up emotions because you'll only lash out at those who don't deserve it and you'll never give anyone new a fair chance.
And I know how hard it is to be in these ruts. It's really terrible. The only thing that gets Matt and I threw it is forced quality time. Let's face it, there are times where I would much rather be alone. I'd rather not socialize. I really do have to fake it until I make it with him. But I've never regretted it. We go to bed angry some nights because again, sometimes we just need to be up early the next day. We don't have time to hash it out until we both feel there is a resolution. That has served us well- usually going to bed angry helps us put it into perspective the next day when things aren't so emotionally charged.
I am a firm believer that a lot of couples are babies. Total babies when it comes to marriage. People give up too easily. I don't think marriage is supposed to make the other person happy all of the time. We're each in charge of our own happiness and then you just have good times together. And I hate to say it, but Dr. Phil is right when he says you should do something every day to make that other person feel special. That's really hard to remember sometimes, but I think we both try to do that. I've learned to value him emptying the dishwasher and that being a way to say he appreciates me. Which, sucks. I'd rather get grand romantic gestures, but Matt's brain just doesn't work that way and I have to be OK with that. Taking out the garbage and cleaning the cat litter box can be sexy, folks.
So it's just a really long winded way to say, it'll get better. Don't give up. Try really hard. Be open to the harsh truths when he says you suck as a wife in certain areas. Don't be hurtful for the sake of being hurtful when you tell him where he really drops the ball. It's OK to be sad and feel embarrassed that you aren't June Cleaver. Who wants to be June Cleaver anyways? I'll tell you that if Matt and I can bounce back from the multitude of issues we've had, you can too. You really, truly can.
Do you have a really inspiring piece of advice about marriage that has served you well? Leave a comment, because my reader assures me she won't comment but she is reading.