I am by no means an expert on marriage and relationships. I am however in a successful and happy marriage that went through trials and errors just like everyone else. We have just learned to overcome and find that love is the most important part of a happy life. We choose love instead of running from it.
Anthony and I were recently talking about how happy we both are. How happy our marriage is, how happy our family is and how much joy we have everyday. As we reminisced, we remembered it wasn't always quite as "happy." Anthony and I had our first child a year and a half after getting married. We were still figuring out life as a married couple, just purchased our second home, and Anthony had just been hired on full time at the fire station and took on extra projects at work that added to all of the new stress. When our daughter was born, life changed more than I could have ever imagined. I was so blessed with this tiny life we created together even though she NEVER slept and screamed until her tiny little voice was hoarse, every single day. I quit my job to raise our child and we just moved to a new town where I didn't know anyone. I tried maintaing my old friendships but everytime I would get on the phone, Alexis screamed so loud that the phone calls started getting less and less as my need for adult conversation became desperate. I wasn't warned about losing the only identity I had ever known and feeling so lonely at a time everyone says is so magical. I made a lot of mistakes in my marriage early on and one of the biggest ones was resentment. I actually resented my husband for going to work. He was earning a living for our family and allowing me the ability to stay home and raise our daughter but in my sleep deprived eyes, all I saw was him having an escape. He got to go hang out with other guys, sleep a little more than I, and keep his pre-baby life. Or so I thought. We weren't communicating very well at this time because I started building a wall between us filled with jealousy, resentment and anger. I wasn't happy with how I looked or how I felt. Looking back I'm pretty sure I had post partum depression. Eventually I was getting more than an hour and a half of sleep and things started to get better. That is when we had baby #2. The second time around was a complete 180. We were in our groove. I figured out how to be a mom, I made some wonderful friends, I slept a little more and being a family became the only life I ever wanted. Looking back at the tough year, I completely blame myself for any problems we had as a couple. Sure, it would have been nice for him to let me sleep a little more but we made it through alive.
And then.... 3 years ago I got sick. This is a point in some couples lives where they take one of two roads. The road traveled together or the road traveled apart. It was never a thought for us, it was just what we do, we travel together. Our love has grown so strong through this journey. We turned to each other, held on, and haven't let go. We started walking through a life path that wasn't what we thought but we know we are doing it together. Realizing that my health wasn't going to be the same put the importance of love and life into perspective and gave us a realization of how precious life is. I stopped caring about the unimportant things that used to bother me. (that right there might be the best marriage advice I could give) I have put loving my family first and because of that, we have a happy family. It is so important for my family to know how much I love them.
Our marriage is so full of love and laughter that I often feel I could burst with glittery hearts exploding all over the room. That's how in love we are!
We are best friends, I trust him with all my heart. He is the person I can cry to when I just need to let it all out. He is the person that will be there to pick me up. He will always make me laugh until I snort. I will always be his number one supporter, his lover, his wife.
The two most important words to keep a marriage successful are: LOVE and RESPECT. When you show your spouse respect, love will be returned. It's kind of like the law of gravity. It just happens that way.
Here's a few things we do to keep our love sparking:
*Hold hands often
*Say "I love you" 28 times a day (or more)
*Have lots of sex
*Speak well of each other and of other people
*Think about each other and pray for each other
*Talk to each other and make a point of making eye contact. Take turns and be respectful.
*Keep your friends. Girls need girlfriends to talk to and shop with and do all the girly things and guys need other guys to have their man time and do whatever it is they enjoy together.
*Be compassionate towards each other by listening and caring about what the other one is saying.
*Help each other out. If you normally do the cooking, dishes, laundry... all the housework then men, surprise your wife by taking care of it once in a while. And women, take out the trash, scoop the dog poop, wash your car or better yet, wash his car. Most importantly, when your spouse helps you, show your appreciation. Let them know how special they are and how much help they are. When Anthony and I were first dating, he told me that I made the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This was 11 years ago and I'm positive he doesn't remember saying it but it stayed with me and I am always happy to make him one.
*Date each other.
*Don't let the flame burn out.
Remember when your mom said to treat others as you wish to be treated? Well, be the spouse that you want to have. Give everything you have and you will receive everything he has.
"The secret to a long marriage is to have no secrets." ~Anthony Fieri
I don't claim to have all the answers and we are both human. I guarantee we will make mistakes. But the one thing I know is we have vowed to love each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer and in sickness and health. We promised each other in front of God that we will always love each other. When things get tough, we turn to love. We choose love and we choose each other.
When you take that vow to marry someone, you are making a lifetime promise. Knowing there are no outs will always force us to work on and improve our marriage instead of running away. I'm not saying I disagree with divorce... there are situations that are unsafe to stay in. But if you are living a life for God, there shouldn't be a reason to end a marriage.