For Better or For Worse, In Sickness and In Health, Till My Gas Takes Him Out

As Valentine’s Day has arrived, I find myself reflecting on my love for my husband.  We’ve been married now for over 15 years and we have four beautiful kids. Things aren’t always easy; marriage is a lot of work! But praise God, things aren’t always hard either! The Mr. and I fully anticipate being the cute, old, gray-haired couple sitting in Denny’s taking full advantage of our senior citizen discount with meals high in fiber, chewing…very, very slowly.

It’s pretty sad to me that the divorce rate is so high nowadays. I’m not sure what it’s even up to at this point, but I can say that it’s too depressing to research. Even in our own little circle of friends, we’ve had quite a few divorces. Now, I don’t want to come across as if I think I know all there is to love and marriage, and have all the answers to what it takes to make one strong, happy, and fulfilled. Absolutely by no means, do I make that assumption of myself, nor would I ever impose it on anyone. However, I do know what has made MY marriage strong, happy, and fulfilled. Please indulge me while I lay it all out there.

Rule number one: Never go to bed angry. Sounds pretty cliché, but the simplicity of this one little rule has made for some long nights, or quick make up sessions depending on what time of the day we got mad. Mr. has oft times realized the error of his ways and humbly apologized to me, his beloved.  I am definitely the hard headed one in my marriage, stubborn even. I don’t like to be wrong and I don’t like to feel bullied into a corner. Not only do I not like it, but I have on occasion been tempted to break out the cast iron skillet and put any discussions to a very dramatic end. With that being said, I have learned over the years to whisper very quietly, slowly, and sincerely, “I’m sorry.” Yes, I whisper it because I do not want anyone else to hear that I was wrong about something. It’s bad enough to admit it to the one person that I want to see me as a perfect, meek, wise, angelic being. I’m pretty sure I shattered those dreams in the first week of our marriage when Mr. discovered that I do get gassy, and I have killer SBD. For all of you not familiar with SBD, it’s Silent But Deadly. I’m ecstatic to say that he still loved me then, and loves me now despite my handicap…or super power, depending on who you ask.

Rule number two: Hold hands. There is nothing more reassuring to me than that moment when Mr. looks at me softly, and places his hand in mine. Even after all these years, as cheesy as it sounds, I still get butterflies. This rule actually has a little fine print in it though. I actually have to make myself charming enough to the point that he wants to touch me, because who wants to touch a cranky, nagging, and unapproachable shrew? But I’ll leave my sister out of this! Holding hands is a simple touch that goes a long way. It also gives hope to others around that are watching.

Rule number three: Be considerate of his/her opinion. This has so many facets to it, but I’ll just share one way in which I do this.  I take the time to consider my hubby’s likes and dislikes as to what I wear. No, he doesn’t pick my clothes out for me. But, there is something to be said for a woman that can be modest in her apparel in public. In the privacy of our own home, however, I have often revealed to Mr. what Victoria’s secrets are all about. On the other side of this, I do pick out his clothes. He seems to be fine with this. Furthermore, as we sit in Denny’s as that cute old couple, our clothes will match. Yes, we are THAT cute.

Rule number four: Communicate. Well, duh, right? You’d be surprised to know that when I was growing up, I could always tell my mom was upset with me when she stopped talking to me. I mean, like, for days. Literally, days. I used to think that’s just her way of NOT yelling at me, and so I took it as her offering kindness because I’d rather not be yelled at…or would I? I discovered after I got married that Mr. would rather be yelled at. I also discovered that ignoring someone is actually a form of abuse. Who knew?! Early in our marriage, when I got mad or disappointed, I pouted…and ignored him. I would walk around and pretend he wasn’t there.  And let me just say, it was NOT because I was trying to be kind and withhold the yelling. I just didn’t have the tools, or the words, to communicate how I was feeling. He later told me how he hated to be ignored, and how much it hurt. Ouch. I knew this same pain from my childhood, so why would I think it was okay to inflict that on this man that I loved more than life itself? Granted, there may be some hubbies out there that would relish in their wife hitting the mute button on her mouth for a few days.  But like I said, this is MY experience in MY marriage, and I can say that MY hubby likes a little communication. I am so happy that communication has two parts: talking and listening. Not only have I found the words to express myself (without yelling, mind you), but we both have the ability to listen to the other. Some of our best conversations have stemmed from something so menial. Like my severe case of SBD. Or his LAD. (Loud And Deadly.) We manage to be okay with each other in every way, and we communicate that.

Rule Number Five:  See your marriage through the eyes of your children. If you don’t yet have children, imagine that you will someday, even if you won’t or can’t. The eyes of a child are so precious, ever learning and soaking up the world around them. Somewhere, there is someone that looks at your marriage like a child. Someone’s looking at you as an example. Pressured yet?  I’m not saying that I live my marriage life in constant critique of what my children approve or disapprove of. Smacking my husband’s derrière while he walks by me may make them blush, but the point is they know there has to be a level of playfulness in our marriage.  We do want to set the example of what a healthy, nurturing marriage is all about. Fortunately for us, we know that screaming at the dinner table, or smacking each other around isn’t going to be the best example to our kids. We don’t discuss certain topics in earshot of the kids, nor do we shy away from those topics that our kids NEED to hear about. We have two teenagers in the house who cringe at the thought of certain topics, but we know in hindsight one day they will look back and “get it”.

 Last, but not least, Rule Number Six: Allow God to be at the center of your marriage. I shamefully admit that it took us a few years to do this. I look back and wonder how many pointless struggles we had in our relationship just because we didn’t have the gumption to go to God in prayer about some of our decisions. And oh, what poor decisions we made. I’m grateful that God can see the whole picture of our marriage even though Mr. and I cannot see it all yet. God indeed has patience in us that we do not have in ourselves because He kept our marriage together knowing we would finally get around to inviting Him in. He set the example for us by showing us what forgiveness is. It’s hard enough trying to be accountable to Mr. by being that meek, humble, angelic being that I am and now I’m saying I have to be accountable to God in my marriage, too?? You’re darn right I am. He must know what He’s doing; after all, He is the one that invented marriage! For those that may be confused on that, just read Genesis. God, however, is not a good luck charm for your marriage. That’s a sermon though that I can’t preach.

There are quite a few other rules that Mr. and I go by, ever growing, ever changing. This list contains some of the most important ones to me; the ones that take priority to us.  May all your days be filled with high fiber, fun, and forgiveness! Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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