Today my 96 year old Grandmother just told me she is happy that I am married to a man who takes good care of me and our kids. It made me cry. She is so right.
One of my husband and I's favorite songs is Turisas "Stand Up and Fight." (Yes, we are nerds. We love folk metal) The best line in that song is "Blessed are the days when life is intent and clear." Those words are so powerful because we have been through so many dark and cloudy days, weeks, and years. Only in recent months do we finally feel we survived the worst of it. We hit rock bottom, but we are building our way back up.
In the worst of times we turned on each other, resented each other, and hurt each other. It was not until we were able to forgive, appreciate, and love each other that life started getting better.
When I share these hard times, I do so because I hope our experience can encourage another person or couple who is struggling. While the main focus of my blog is weight loss, this post is about marriage and partnership.
When life is hard it's easy to feel alone, even when you are married. It's possible that your partner has good intentions, but just like you, they feel lost and don't know what to do. Even though these are the times you may need each other the most, I have learned these are also the times when it's easiest to turn away and place blame.
How can two people who are lost, hurting, and full of anger and resentment, come to a point of feeling fulfilled, loved, and supported? It was a rocky road for my husband and me, with many ups and downs, but here are some things that helped me to feel closer to my husband when so much distance had grown between us.
I Made a List.
There was a laundry list of things my husband did or said that straight up pissed me off. I repeated this list to him, my friends, my mom, and our marriage counselor many times. Eventually I got tired of hearing myself complain and so did he, my friends, my mom, and our marriage counselor. That is when I made a new list- a list of the things I love about him.
At first, in my anger, it was hard. I almost ripped up the paper a few times and went back to the list of reasons why I was pissed off, but I kept going anyway. As I kept writing it got easier and easier, until I felt my heart swelling. I thought about what a good dad he is, how he makes me laugh, how hard he works, how he has always supported me, and all of our wonderful memories.
Everything on my new list outweighed the crap I had on my angry list. It helped me realize we have something worth saving. My grandma was right. All the other stuff could be worked on because the stuff on this love list is what really mattered.
I Confided in Him.
When times were hard between us, I went a long time without every really telling my husband about how I felt, things I had been going through at work, or with friends and extended family. At one point it was all getting to me and I felt I had no where to turn so I decided to just talk to him. I literally just vented. It wasn't about him or us, it was about everything else.
Since I had been so mad at him for months, I half expected him to reply with something dumb or blow me off, but he didn't at all. He listened to me. He was supportive. He helped me feel better. It was in that moment I realized that he had always been there for me to talk to when I needed him, but I hadn't been giving him the opportunity to support me.
I Accepted That Which I Can Not Change
This is something we all know we should do, but few of us do. Right now I am binge watching Dexter, so get ready for another "nerd-sourced" quote. In the show, Dexter's sister is confiding to a therapist about all the things she hates about her brother and her therapist says, "He is who he is. It's as if he is a chair and you are trying to force him to be a table." (it was something like that, anyway).
For a long time I wanted my husband to be something he isn't, but that just meant I was not appreciating him for who he is! I chose to accept that he is not the type to plan romantic date nights or create spreadsheets to manage our bills, but instead I choose to appreciate that he IS the type to take me on adventures, work hard to make the money to actually pay the bills, support my dreams and ideas, and give me piggy back rides in the grocery store. I realized that we are partners, and if I want romantic date nights and spreadsheets- I can make it happen. He certainly won't turn down a candle light dinner or organized finances if I take initiative.
I Asked Deeper Questions
After 15 years together, one would think I know everything there is to know about my husband, and for the most part that is true. I’d heard all his favorite stories 100 times and I knew everything he loved and hated. Over time, our conversations had been getting a bit stale because there wasn’t a lot of new things to discuss. We could, of course, talk endlessly about our favorite books and bands, or interesting ideas we had, but at some point I did want to open up new topics.
That is when I started asking deeper questions. I asked him to tell me the things he loved about his high school girlfriend that he'd only ever complained about, I asked him to tell me the things he wished his parents had done differently when he was growing up, and I asked him his opinion on topics we had never discussed before. These lead to bonding conversations and also opened the door for me to share things I never thought to bring up.
I Went to Therapy.
We were in financial devastation, our relationship was growing distant, and I was depressed. In the dark periods of depression, it’s almost impossible to truly give someone the best of yourself. Marriage counseling was not enough. I needed support with my own issues and self esteem. For that reason I went to therapy and I started reading self-improvement books. I took the initiative to get better so we could start building more happy memories.
Please keep in mind this is a list of actions I took. It's not to say my husband did not make changes and do actions himself to improve our marriage, but I am choosing to speak for myself in my blog. If you are in a situation where you are considering ending your marriage, but holding on to a little hope that you can improve the situation, I hope this helps. Good luck!