Happy Valentines Day to all who are celebrating.
Today, I wanted to take a moment to share lessons I’ve learned in my imperfect marriage, in hopes that they’ll encourage you in your relationship.
I would LOVE to hear lessons that you’ve learned in your relationship that have helped to shape you. Marriage is such a learning experience, isn’t it?
The greatest lessons I’ve learned can be summed up in: aim for love/connection and don’t let misunderstandings linger. Talk it out and get back to being the two of you.
When the goal of marriage is love/connection, this opens us up to loving the other person and not trying to change them. Let’s work toward a common goal of loving our spouses for who they are instead of trying to make them different (loving our spouses in light of imperfections).
You will never have a perfect spouse. You will also never be perfect yourself. This is another important lesson I like to remind myself of.
(This post does not apply for those in an abusive relationship — if you’re in an abusive relationship please seek professional support immediately. Do not wait. Your life is too precious.)
1. “You” to “Us”
Before you’re married it’s all about you. When you get married “two become one.” This doesn’t mean that you no longer have your own desires, likes and wants.
What I’ve learned is that this means you make more decisions together. Look at this as an opportunity – an opportunity to work together and to support each other.
If Marco comes to me and wants help in making a decision I look at it as an opportunity to encourage who he is. Does he want to buy something? Does he want to try something new? Does he want to travel and spend time with someone? All of these things are him moving toward a life that is important to him and I try my best to encourage that. I think thoughts like: “He’s going after something.” “He respects me enough to get my opinion on this.” “He’s making an effort to make a choice together.”
When it comes to me making a decision and wanting his input (an investment, a trip I want to take, a way to handle something) I’m not always eager to ask for his input. Why? Because I don’t like the word “no.” I never have. My dad used to tell me I should be a lawyer because I’d make a case for anything I wanted.
When I want something, I have reasons for it. I see it in my future, I plan my life toward it — I’m a one track mind, let’s go straight for it kind of person. If you’re this way too, don’t feel bad. I get it! You’re not alone.
However, whenever I ask for input as an opportunity to gain Marco’s support, it feels good. That doesn’t mean he’s always on board with my wants, but it does mean that I have an opportunity to share what’s important to me. And we typically get on the same page even if we take different routes to get there.
Marriage challenges us — and that’s okay.
2. Encourage Each Other to Have Fun
This is taking the first point a little further. Support each others desires. Again, remember that when someone is expressing a want, they’re typically trying to move into more of who they want to become.
Get excited about this with your partner! Help to support them, to make a plan. If it’s not a “right now” thing, help your partner to see how the two of you can work toward a goal together.
Root each other on, lift each other up, and for heavens sakes… when your partner wants to do something fun, encourage it. Tell them to go out with their friends. To do the fun thing. To fill up on joy. The more they do, the better your marriage will be. (At least, this is true in our marriage.)
3. Marriage is Never 50/50
I got this as a piece of advice when I was getting married and it’s stuck with me more than anything else. When I heard this, I was on a mission to discover what it meant. Here’s what it’s meant for us…
Somedays Marco does more, somedays I do more. Neither is bad/good. Overall, there’s a balance because we’re both contributing to what needs to be done.
That said, it’s important to make sure you or your spouse are not carrying the WHOLE load. Imagine the 50/50 as a balance that goes back and forth — somedays your spouse gets 40 and you get 60 and vice versa.
4. Don’t “Punish” Your Spouse
This is a big one. I tend to “punish” by withdrawing, getting quiet, and doing my own thing instead of being a partner. Anyone else?
I didn’t realize that this was a form of “punishing” until I read about it and discovered that indeed, when I do this I’m trying to show my husband. I’m trying to teach him a lesson.
Word of wisdom: That never works and never feels good to the person on the receiving end. All it does it draw a wedge between the two of you. When you’re acting out, ask yourself “Am I trying to punish my spouse?”
If you are, take a step back and remember that the primary goal (if you or I want to have a good marriage) should be love and connection.
NO marriage is perfect. Marriage does take work. Not everyday is a “good” day. Sometimes you’re going to feel ANGRY at your spouse. There are going to be times where you doubt the two of you. None of this is wrong. In fact, it’s pretty normal!
5. Say You’re Sorry
The last point, when you’ve messed up, be honest with yourself and say you’re sorry. I once heard in church that it’s the responsibility of whoever thinks of it first to say sorry. Meaning, it doesn’t really matter who apologizes.
All that matters is that we come back to connection and understanding one another (even if we disagree). I often say things like “Babe, we’re going to be married a long time, we may as well just talk this out.” Ha, simple and true, right!
To Wrap It Up…
I hope this post encourages you! These are things that I have learned and that help me in my marriage with Marco. Take what resonates and speaks truth to you (even if it’s hard) and leave the rest.
I’d love to hear from you: Do you have any pieces of encouragement that help you in your marriage/relationship? Any lessons you’ve learned along the way? I know I have lightyears more to learn and am eager to do so.
Marriage is a blessing and I am grateful for my husband who loves and challenges me — I am always working toward being a better, more loving, more supportive partner.