It is very rare that my husband and I talk about our personal business. The odd part about this is, if anyone asks us "how have you made it through" we would be more than willing to share. We have a blessed testimony about our relationship. There have been some terribly ugly parts to our relationships as husband and wife (without a doubt), but there is something in our marriage that has kept us together. We have made it through military deployments, being parents and care takers, and have struggled through transition and our personal demons. As my husband's uncle said at our vow renewal ceremony, "twelve years may not seem like very long, but in this day and age, it is a big milestone." Below are 9 things that my husband and I do to maintain our relationship.
1.) Holding on. When things get difficult, and they will when it comes to marriage, we found a way to hold on. For myself, it was my Christian faith, and the faith I had in God that made me through the difficult times. Prayer is what helped me to hold onto my marriage when things seemed near impossible. Find something greater than yourself to help you hold on when things get tough.
2.) Manners. My husband and I are big proponents of manners. Please, thank you, and your welcome are big in our home. We want our children to have manners and be raised up to be honorable members of society. So, it is no surprise that my husband and I have always said it to each other. We could be angry as can be at each other, but you are still going to hear us say, "please pass the salt" or "please stop doing that". Have respect for your spouse. If you cannot have respect for them then who are you going to have respect for?
3.) It takes 2. This one seems like a no brainier, right? So here it is, my husband struggles with alcohol. I am by no means throwing him under the bus. He is a strong and honorable, God fearing man. I adore him with every fiber of my being. Still, we had a very rough patch with drinking and understanding that a wife should come first before many other things. I understand that abuse is something to never mess around with, and I am not a victim of abuse in the physical sense, but there are times when I swore, I didn't know the man standing before me. It takes 2 to make a marriage work. There was no way I could hold our union together if my husband didn't understand or step up to his part in our marriage.
4.) Understand that you are two different people. Again, this may seem like a no brainier, but remember that although a marriage joins together 2 into 1, these people have their own believes and worldviews. My husband is driven nuts by my lack of housekeeper skills (though I am truly not horrible), and I am driven nuts by his ability to completely lose track of time and maybe forget to give the kids lunch instead of work outside in the yard. Now I have learned to think in terms of "so". Okay, so I always make sure that the kids get fed properly, and so does my husband, but on occasion, it's fine. I know my husband is a great and caring father to our children. He would never do anything to intentionally cause them harm. My husband has learned that I am a busy woman. He knows that if I could, I would have a spic and span house. He loves me dearly despite the cluttered house and no longer demeans me for dirty dishes.
5.) Reminisce about what it was that made you fall in love. For my husband and I, doing this really reignited a flame. Sure, we were telling the same story repeatedly, and we know this. However, it really ignited our passion for each other. We both got into the mindset of what it was like seeing and kissing each other for the first time. I giddy like a school girl as my husband of ten years told me things about seeing me or knowing me when we were younger. It is part of what started to glue us back together when we may have drifted apart.
6.) Talk to your spouse. I was in a traumatic car accident less than a year ago and have sense been diagnosed with PTSD. I make it a point to tell my husband what is bothering me and when. I may not be able to find the exact words, but I try to tell him as best as I can what is going on and what I need. Through my tears or silence, I try to tell him that I am overwhelmed. When he asks what this means, I simply tell him, "I wish I could give you an exact list, but the very thought of speaking about it seems overwhelming.
7.) LISTEN to your spouse. This goes with the suggestion. It may seem easy to listen to your spouse. After all, you hear what they are saying, "right?" Well, think again. My husband has learned that when I am crying and unable to find the words, maybe I just need to be held. He doesn't get defensive when I tell him, "I simply cannot get into all my feelings right now". He listens to my actions, my words, he listens to himself when his mind tells him, "don't be stupid, just hold her cause that is what she needs".
8.) Make the decision to stay together. This may be a controversial one but listen up. You must make the decision when you are first married to stay married. When I say that my husband was a terrible, insensitive jerk...he was, and if you ask him, he will not deny this. We have had some extreme, come to blows arguments and I have seen him at his worst. However, from the start I knew that I never wanted to be my husband's enemy, and that whatever it took, I was going to stay married to him. I imagined being on the opposite side of the fence from him and it make me sick to my stomach. Now, I understand abuse and adultery. I am not speaking about these issues. There are times when safety and sanctity should be considered.
9.) Understand that forgiveness is an option. Forgiveness can cover so many things. My husband and I committed a great sin when we first became a couple. I struggled to forgive myself and demeaned myself for nearly five years into our marriage. I learned that forgiveness through God is possible and have been all the better for it (again, my faith plays a big role). Furthermore, forgiveness in a marriage is possible. You can tell your spouse, "hey, that really hurt me," or "these things won't happen again" and move on. My husband used to hold his deployments over my head and use this as an excuse to stay out to the wee hours at his dad's house (for example). Until one day, I had to tell him, "no more, I will let you use your deployment one last time and then you have to move on". It is possible to stand up for yourself and simply forgive your spouse for the way they have hurt you. Again, this takes 2 to really make work. My husband once told me, "how can I forgive you for the things you do that hurt me? Simple, I love you." True, some things are not always easy to forgive (trust me, I get this), but you must have some sense that forgiveness is possible.
These are only a few of the things that my husband and I have done to keep our marriage together. The road we have shared has not always been an easy one, but I truly believe it has been a blessed one, nonetheless.
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