Wednesday, November 21, 2012

5 Steps to Save a Marriage

I was talking to my mom the other day about how things are going between Hubby and me as a side note to a bigger conversation.  I said that things were good, really good.  She asked what had changed to make things better.  I thought about how we got from where we were to where we are now.

I alluded to a few things in this post that I wrote on the occasion of our 10th Anniversary.  That things were not always rosy between Hubby and me.  How at one point I was ready to walk out the door.  I told mom that I knew things were going well since I hadn't thought about running away in a really long time.  She laughed, but the comment was heartfelt.  When times were at their lowest I thought often about loading the kids up and taking off for the cottage just to get away.  Now when I think about the cottage, it's not an escape from my life but a place to enjoy the life that I already have.

Of course I have been thinking about our conversation for days now, trying to decide what changed to bring Hubby and me closer.  Where we love to be together, laugh together, touch each other, cook together, just be together.  Here is my list in no particular order.

1. I stopped blaming Hubby for everything wrong in our marriage.  My Hubby likes to play computer games.  I used to blame every little thing on his gaming.  If Hubby would just stop gaming, we would be okay.  All our problems would magically disappear.  It's funny how I changed in this area.  I was sitting on a park bench up north with my mother-in-law watching my kids play on the playground while discussing the evils of gaming and how if Hubby would just stop playing, all would be well.  And I had this thought...Are all of my marital problems really the fault of this one thing?  Can all of the problems between Hubby and me really be placed solely at Hubby's feet?  Do I have no culpability at all in the situation that I have found myself?  Suddenly it became so clear to me that all was not Hubby's fault.  Gaming was not the problem at all!  It was a smoke screen blinding me from the truth--I'd been blaming him for everything and taking no responsibility at all for my own wrong relating.  Stopping the blame cycle was the beginning of the change.

2. I learned to say "I'm Sorry."  It seems so silly and simple.  To say I'm sorry.  But for me this was not something I was good at.  Hubby could probably count on one hand how many times I said I'm sorry in the first eight years of our marriage.  I've since gotten much better at this and almost always apologize when I do something requiring it.

3. Weekly dates.  I'd been hearing it for years, the importance of date nights to keep a marriage strong.  But I had little kids, a lack of babysitters, and very few free evenings.  In September when I realized I was going to have one day a week kid-free while my kids were at co-op classes, I asked Hubby if he wanted to start meeting me for lunch on those days.  Thus was born our weekly lunch date.  I love it.  LOVE it!  I'm going to be so sad when summer hits and no more co-op.  It's only one hour a week, but it's enough.

4. We laugh together.  Another silly and simple thing.  For a while we forgot to do this together.  Last night I was saying goodnight to Hubby.  He was sitting at his computer and I was standing next to him.  I yawned and stretched my hands over my head and Hubby touched my stomach with his cold cold hands.  I shrieked and laughed, which made Hubby laugh and do it again.  Such a small moment, a blip in time, but I went to bed smiling and thinking how fun it is to laugh with my Hubby.  These days I often say outlandish things just to make Hubby laugh.  I flirt with him to make him smile.  When he's cooking in the kitchen I like to join him because we always end up laughing and having fun.

5. I stopped treating Hubby like a child.  Sometimes it's not a good thing to say everything you think.  A filter is a beautiful thing.  When Hubby is driving us to church and takes the most roundabout way to get there, instead of saying, "Hubby, why are you going this way?" I bite my tongue.  When Hubby is putzing around and it's getting to the time when he has to be out the door if he wants to be on time for work, instead of saying, "Hubby, you're going to be late if you don't get going." I bite my tongue.  Hubby used to say that I treated him like he was one of the kids.  Unfortunately, he was right.  Hubby already has a really wonderful mother.  He doesn't need another one.  It took a lot of tongue biting and a few phone calls to my sister to vent my frustration, but I learned how to curb the "mothery," slightly disrespectful, judgement-questioning comments.  These days I treat Hubby like the man he is instead of like he's one of the kids.

I know there are more changes I've made that have helped save my marriage (not to mention all the things that Hubby has done) but these are the five that I think had the biggest impact and made the most difference.  I just wish I'd figured all of these things out a long time ago and saved myself the heartache of all that floundering.  But, as the saying goes: What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.  Hubby and I now have a trialed and tested marriage that has come out stronger and better.

P.S.--I forgot one small thing.  One day as I was getting out of the shower I glanced at the steam-filled mirror and noticed some writing on it.  A big heart with "I love you" etched across the glass.  Almost two years later and Hubby and I still trade messages on our mirror.  Some are silly, some are sweet, and some make me blush, but it's always fun to see a new message from Hubby on the mirror.

Linking to:
Thriving Thursdays

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