Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Perfect Marraige

I was raised by a single mom.  A strong and amazing single mom.  I also was never that kid who sat around planning her wedding, perfect husband and how many kids she was going to have.  I had other plans.  So with these things said, I wasn't sure what I expected out of marriage.  I wasn't raised within the boundaries of one.  I didn't dream about what my someday marriage was going to be like.  I just really didn't give it a lot of thought.  All I really remember about my thoughts on marriage was that my mom always told me "When you settle, you get what you settle for".  Those words stuck with me.

So going by my mom's unintentional rule, when I got to the point in my life where I dated I knew that I was going to be me.  I was going to say what I felt and eat what I wanted.  None of this be who he wanted me to be and certainly none of this salad eating giggling girl shit.  I knew I wanted a guy who was excited to see me.  Who thought I was beautiful and let me know it on a daily basis.  I wanted a guy who was devoted to me.  And raising your voice to me was never going to be an option for my man.  Ever.  I wanted a partner.  Not a master.  Cheating would be a deal breaker.  Raising a hand to me would be a deal breaker (and a jaw breaker because I would fuck you up!).  And some day if we had kids, the duties would be 50/50.  No diaper dodging. 

So suffice it to say, prior to my husband, my relationships were short.  No longer than 9months to be exact.  I didn't see it as a failure on my part.  I saw it as a failure on their part.  Because I knew what I wanted and for some reason those particular relationships didn't fit.  No biggie.  I didn't see the purpose in prolonging things if they didn't fit.  Were there tears at the end sometimes?  Sure.  But in the long run there were far fewer than if we dragged it out for the sake of being in that relationship.

Enter my husband.  We met when I was 22 and he was days shy of 28.  I was a strong willed, mouthy single mother of a beautiful 2year old baby.  He was an independent bachelor.  Both of us were about a six pack away form being gay!  Neither of us was looking for someone.  We were on hiatus from love due to the exhaustion caused by previous dating endeavors.  My husband, in his years, had been better in relationships.  He had a couple long and meaningful ones.  Me?  Not so much.  See above.  But there was something there from the first day we met.

Things went slooooooooooow for us.  He slept on my couch for months.  We didn't day I love you for two years!  We dated for six years before getting married.  Much of our concern was for our son.  I remember when we first started dating he looked me square in the eye and told me "If you EVER put me before your son, I'll walk".  To which I let out a hearty guffaw and responded "You won't have to EVER worry about that!".  But that was one of many "Good man flags" he put up while we were dating.  He wanted to make sure that my son was the priority for both of us.

So apparently things went well because we have been together for 13 years and married for 7 of them.  Our friends always tell us how they admire our relationship.  And that goes for those who have lived with us. Day in and day out!  It's not just a show y'all!  So how do we stay so happy?  It's kinda easy.   Here's how I have the perfect marriage.

1) Accept that the perfect marriage doesn't exist- Wait.  What?  Have I read the title of my own blog?  Here's the deal.  Years ago I watched an Oprah show where some guy was talking about how Hollywood is ruining marriage.  He said that we watch these movies about these perfect happy endings to these perfect happy marriages and we assume that's what ours should be like.  So when we get in a lull or have a hard time we automatically think our marriages are broken and we file for divorce instead of accepting that it's a period in time that we will get through.

2) Sometimes you love them, and sometimes you like them- Marriage and relationships have ebbs and flows.  There are times that I look at my husband and I am so deeply and profoundly in love with that man that I could just explode!  Then there are times where I look at him and I just kinda like him like he's my best friend (which he is!).  I don't feel guilty when I'm not falling all over myself with love for him.  Have you ever dated someone who is like that all the time?  It gets old.  So be okay with the ebbs and flows.  It doesn't mean you don't love him just because you like him.

3) Be grateful- I'm so serious about this one.  Show gratitude to your spouse EVERY DAY.  It doesn't have to be a big show with cards and flowers.  I'm talking about a simple "Thanks for doing the dishes babe" or "I'm so glad you were able to take the kids to baseball practice".  The every day things are the foundation to romance.  Who gives a flying fuck about flowers and candy if your partner is only doing it to placate you because he/she doesn't do anything else to support your daily lives?  Take the expectations out of your marriage and insert gratitude.  It works wonders!

4) Let it all hang out!- My husband and I tell each other everything.  But that's not enough in a marriage. you have to be willing to hear everything and accept that you may have a different outlook on things.  Even though you are married, you are still two different people with different opinions.  If I am feeling like the balance in our home has shifted from 50/50 to 60/40 I will tell my husband that I feel this way and why.  Please note that it doesn't mean that it really IS 60/40 or that he let it become 60/40 on purpose.  It just means that's what I'm feeling and we need to fix it.  If I don't communicate about it it becomes a festering resentment inside me.  If I do something I'm not proud of I my husband.  If he has a naughty dream, he tells me.  It's all out there folks!  This is what makes me trust my husband completely and it allows me to admire him more for who he is.  This honesty extends to social media folks.  My husband has all my passwords and I have all his.  I read him my blogs and Tweets.  He knows alllllll about my Twitter life! And he loves me anyway.

5) Sometimes I'm easy & sometimes I'm not- SEX IS IMPORTANT IN MARRIAGE.  It's not just important to HAVE it, it's important to like it!  And once children enter the picture it certainly becomes more about quality than quantity!  My husband and I understand that as parents, our love life revolves around our children.  Sometimes they won't go to sleep.  Sometimes they knock on the door.  Sometimes we have just spent all of our energy chasing after them that we have nothing left to give each other at the end of the day!  So there are some months where we are lucky enough to enjoy each other frequently ans there are other months where we forget what we look like naked.  It's just part of the deal.  It doesn't mean we don't love each other and it doesn't mean we aren't interested in sex with each other.  It just means that for a season in our lives, we may have to sleep more than we fornicate.  But when we DO do the do, we make it count!  Know what your partner likes and be willing to do it (barring anything illegal or immoral.  If it ends up on Dateline you may want to skip it).  Also, since time is precious here folks, let them know what you like.  Take care of you!  And even when you aren't making magic, remember that the important thing to do is to still flirt.  All day long!  It's important to KNOW that even if you can't HAVE sex, that your spouse still WANTS to have sex!  And it's important for your kids to see you being flirtatious and affectionate.  When ever the kids act grossed out by our affection we always say "But your parents are in loooooooove!"

6) SAY "I LOVE YOU"- Never ever assume that your spouse knows this just because you put a ring on it.  I love you needs to be said numerous times a day and every time you leave or hang up the phone.  Your days are NOT guaranteed by any means.  Don't be the woman who says "If I had only told him I loved him".  My husband and I hold true to this- even when we are unhappy with each other.  An angry, pouty "I love you" is better than none at all and it reminds us that despite the disagreement you still love each other.  We don't go to sleep without an "I love you".  We "I love you" the heck out of each other daily, especially around the kids.  "I love you" is a security blanket for each other and your kids.  Make it a habit immediately.

7) Keep it pretty people- Remember when you were dating and you dressed up and made sure your breath was minty and you smelled good?  Well what part of the vows stated that you would only do this on special occasions after the wedding?  You still need to impress your spouse.  America's divorce rate is a testament to this.  We should strive to be the person our spouse wants to come home to.  Look.  I'm fat.  I just went through 23 weeks in bed while pregnant with a 10lb baby, a car accident, & gall bladder surgery all in a year's time.  Working out hasn't been an option (outside of physical therapy).  This takes a toll on your self esteem and make you want to throw your hands up and grab the closest pair of sweats!  But fight that urge!  Each day I shower, do full make up, hair, and perfume.  I may not be the 140lb 20 something he fell in love with but I'm the strong, beautiful, amazing woman he chose to spend forever with so I'm going to make sure I look my best for him!

8) Marry the right person- It goes back to the "When you settle, you get what you settle for" rule my mom instilled in me.  None of the above listed items matter much if you married someone just to marry them and you didn't make sure they are willing to truly share this journey with you.  How many times have you known a couple who didn't discuss whether they want children or not until after they are married?  And how many couples have you known that weren't on the same page sexually and it had negative effects on their marriage?  Did your spouse expect you to stop being who you were once you "settled down"?  These are good things to know prior to the wedding.  Don't marry just to be married!  Forever is a long ass time!  Be sure the person you walk down the aisle with is not the one you are settling for.

Now I know that some of you may read this and roll your eyes.  Maybe you are divorced and your marriage WAS happy for a really long time until some unforeseen shit hit the fan.  I'm not by any mean daring to presume that this is the secret marriage formula that has been missing for millions of years until my husband and I discovered it.  Not at all.  I'm stating that this is the formula that has worked for my husband and our family.  I love this man.  I admire this man.  I am grateful for him and I want to be better for him, myself, and our children as a result of our marriage.  To us our marriage is perfect.  This family is the love of my life and I will continue the work and do what it takes to protect it.  Who knows that the future holds.  Who knows how long we actually have.  But for now I am proud of what we have built and I thank God every day for it.

5 comments:

  1. I loved this:) My marriage may not have worked out, but I do hope that I will find a partner that will believe the same things I do about marriage...most of which are written above.

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  2. Those third and fourth things are so, so difficult . . . but so, so necessary. Because, like you, little things will fester inside for me. And because life revolves around the kids, sometimes you don't really get to have those conversations about the shift in perception. I know there have been times that I felt things were 60/40, and Duffy had to feel that things were 60/40, and when we both feel that way, it's downright awful. And when things are so crazy that you can't even have an adult conversation (nevermind "adult relatioions"), well, it's bad.

    Really bad.

    Things get better - they ebb & flow, like always, but when taht resentment grows, it's really, really bad.

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  3. Great post & great advice :)

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  4. This is a great post! So well written and so to the point.

    My husband and I both had first marriages that didn't work for many of the reasons you have written about. When we decided to get married and have a family we also agreed to talk, about everything, and to respect each other in ways that we were not respected previously.

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