Friday, December 27, 2013

7 Ways to Happily Ever After


Thirteen years ago (December 30th to be exact) my hubby and I stood before God and family and said the big I do. 

I'm wearing the same dress my grandma AND mother wore.  Three generations of women who all wore the same wedding dress in the same picture!  Talk about vintage clothing!

We were young....23 years old, fresh out of grad school.  He had graduated with his master's degree a few months earlier in Aug, and I had juuuuust finished mine in December. I like to say that I got my M.S. degree only fifteen days before getting my M.R.S. degree.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing.   Does anyone really when they get married?

Over the past 13 years, we've been through A LOT together....lots of stress, lots of uncertainty, lots of change and lots, and lots and lots of moves.   Our waists have grown while our bank accounts have shrunk.  We have a few more wrinkles, a few more gray hairs and a lot more life experience. 

Yet despite all that, our marriage is happier now and our love is stronger than it was back then.  It's been a long journey and we've both learned a lot along the way. We still have a lot more to learn...but I thought I would share my thoughts anyway since, hey...that's why I blog...so I can blather on about my thoughts.  So, from my humble experience, here are 7 ways to happily ever after. 

1. Comparisons are the enemy of the good.

Don't compare your spouse to other people's spouses.  I have a lot of friends with spouses who are very handy.  They would be all this weekend my husband built this adorable doll house, re-gutted the bathroom, assembled a swing-set in the back yard and installed new under-cabinet lights.  Meanwhile, I'm not even sure my husband knows what it means to re-gut a bathroom (actually I have no idea what it means either, I just have a vague recollection of hearing someone say it once) and the words some assembly required are enough to make us both break out into a cold sweat.  There will be no re-gutting of bathrooms going on around this here house.   And that's okay, because while my husband isn't handy, he has lots of talents that a lot of other men don't have.  I married an intellectual...not a handyman.  I knew that when I married him....so it's not fair to suddenly expect him to turn into Mr. Handyman.  

Likewise, I am no Martha Stewart....to be more accurate, I'm like the anti-Martha Stewart.  Ben knew that when he married me.  So, it really should come to no one's surprise that if I was a terrible housekeeper back then, I'm still a terrible housekeeper now.  I'm not crafty, I can't sew, I can't decorate, and I cook weird healthy food like kale and, sugar free peanut butter cookies made with coconut flour.  (I think he started to suspect something when I made him cookies with dates instead of chocolate chips while we were still dating).    I like to think I'm an intellectual, but having kids made me lose a few brain cells, so I'm not even sure I can wear that card anymore. 

2. Take the plank out of your own eye. 

I once got super mad at Ben for spending a small amount of money and on something silly like fast food.  I was all you're wasting money, we can't afford it, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Somehow, I totally forgot about the $230 dollar carseat I somehow convinced myself we needed, or cabinet full of unused/unopened vitamins I have or all the books I've purchased and never used.  I STILL struggle with this.  I'll get upset with him for making small purchases I deem unnecessary, while I myself have made COUNTLESS unnecessary purchases over the years.

3. Marry Up. 

I've noticed something over the years.  The people who are the happiest in their marriage, believe that they married up, they believe that they married someone better than themselves.  They are quick to recognize their own faults and their spouse's strengths.  And, both partners believe that about the other person. It's all about perceptive...not actually who is "better" (because of course, no one is really "better" than anyone else)...you just have to think your spouse is better.

4. Assume Positive Intent

This applies to basically all communication...not just marital communication.  One thing I've learned is to always assume the other person has a positive intent.  We all say things the wrong way at times or have things come out in a way that we don't mean.  Assuming the other person had a positive intent goes a long way towards smoother, easier and happier communication.

On that same scale...don't get upset if the other person doesn't do or behave exactly how you want.  A big part of marriage is accepting someone for who they are and loving them anyway.  Obviously this doesn't apply in cases of abuse or neglect or infidelity but barring those circumstances, it's important to accept that some people will always be slobs (like me) and some people will always squeeze the toothpaste wrong or throw their dirty socks on the floor, and part of being a family is learning how to live when people don't behave exactly how you would like. 

5.  Give, give and give some more. 

Marriage isn't about what you can do for me, but rather what I can do for you.  Marriage takes sacrifice, and it's better to just accept that right away. It's not always easy, in fact it's frequently not easy.  But it IS always worth it.   It's the little things spouses do for each other...things they do without expecting anything in reciprocation..just because they love the other person and want to do something nice for them that are so important. 

And one of the most important things you can give are compliments.  I LOVE it when my husband tells me I'm beautiful or that I'm a good mother.  And, I know he appreciates it when I tell him he's a good father and a hard worker and has the magic daddy touch for dealing with contrary toddlers.

6.  Have Kids Early On

Of course, sometimes infertility or other things prevent a couple from having kids right away.  But, the happiest marriages I know involved babies coming along soon after marriage.  Babies force you to be unselfish...to give of yourself completely to care for this new, tiny, helpless being.  And, the unselfishness you have in parenting carries over into marriage as well.  I will admit, I was kinda crazy when we first got married.  I had moved to a new city, didn't really have any friends, was pretty lonely...and getting pregnant just 5 months after getting married was the best thing ever for our marriage.  It really was.  That baby gave me someone else to focus on and really brought us together.  I'm sure people thought we were crazy for having a baby right away, but it really was the best thing for us. Having a baby is the best thing to give a couple a shared purpose and intention. Plus, we really love our oldest daughter and couldn't imagine life without her. 

7. Make Intimacy a Priority. 

It's important to a marriage...it really is.  And, I totally get feeling tired and touched out and all that.  But, it IS important enough to make a priority.  I get that NFP and pregnancy worries and babies/toddlers that don't sleep can make things difficult, but that connection is just so important.  It really is...even if it means giving up some sleep or putting off some cleaning (ha...any excuse to not clean, I say).

So, that is my humble advice from someone who probably has no clue...take it for what it's worth.

{Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary) 

9 comments:

  1. Love your dress and your happily ever after list.
    Happy Anniversary!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this! I completely agree on all accounts :)
    Happy anniversary!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, I married a champ, huh!? I would add another, and make it #1, and say it is the #1 reason why loving couples fail to marry, or married people regrettably divorce. It is: don't confuse your (potential) spouse with God. Your happiness must be based on a bedrock relationship with God first, and only afterwards spouse second. Your marriage flows out of the former relationship. Yes, man has natural reasons for marriage, but our supernatural reasons are to devote our marriage to God's will for our heavenly good, to procreate with new souls for God's service, and to mirror the love of God the Father and God the Son for the rest of the human race that they might be more attracted to God than if a couple weren't married. If you make out your spouse, a sinner, to be God ("knight in shining armor" comparisons on steroids), then you will feel confusion, betrayal, and a lack of trust when he or she sins against the relationship, even in minor ways. Depression and divison, generally. The misplaced pressure you put on him or her to be such perfection will contribute to that ruin. So love your spouse, not as God, but as a child of God, someone that God loves, faults included, even more than you do, and only then in that context of esteemed shared brotherhood, offer him or her the gift of your own heart every day.

    I despise my own major and minor instances of selfishness that have acted to drive us apart, but as I mature in life, I am so grateful that you have been able to put up with and forgive them, and I can truly say with you that I love you more as the years pass. Thanks for being my wife, Amelia! Great blog, today (as always)!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy Anniversary, you two love birds :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Happy upcoming anniversary! Great list!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Found you by way of quick takes and this was just what I needed to read today. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with this still-technically-newlywed! Happy anniversary!

    ReplyDelete
  7. #6: TOTALLY agree. But nobody believes me when I tell them this!

    Happy Anniversary!
    Theresa B

    ReplyDelete
  8. AWESOME post, that I will have to link! Love all these!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for sharing, and Happy Anniversary. These are great happily ever after tips, Amelia!

    ReplyDelete

Please comment! I love reading your comments!!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...