What I Have Learned (Sometimes the Hard Way)
I have been married for 17 years to my high school sweetheart. This December, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of our first date. And yes, for those of you doing the math, Reagan was president.
Most of those years have been very happy and I feel very blessed by this man and this marriage. Over the years, I think I have learned a thing or two.
Lesson #1: Listening is different than being quiet when the other is speaking. My husband is a terrible listener. God love him, if he is distracted at all, he has probably only processed 10-20% of what I’ve said. Unfortunately, his way of dealing with this is to nod and say, “okay.” So to save our marriage, we have had to come to an understanding. I do not share important things in passing. If it is something that I need him to care about, I choose my moment and make sure that I have his full attention. I also ask more than yes/no questions so that I can discern if he has heard me. Also, if it is an event, I reinforce it in writing. We share a Google calendar and I try to give non-naggy reminders. (Notice I said “try”.)
Lesson #2: Sometimes the advice your parents gave you is true. You know all the adages – “God gave, you two ears and one mouth, use accordingly”, “Don’t go to bed angry”, etc. These are true, true, true! I especially believe in “Don’t go to bed angry”.
Lesson#3: Sometimes the advice you get from parents, friends, family, co-workers, and anyone willing is share is not true. Or at least not right for you. Just because your best friend was successful using the silent treatment doesn’t mean that you will be. Just because your mother-in-law wanted a model home quality house wherein she did everything for everyone (including your now-husband) does not mean that is what is right for you. Take advice with respect to the good intentions but with enough cynicism to realize that every relationship is different and only you and your partner really know what works in your home.
Lesson #4: Say thank you a lot. Say please. Use your manners. If you wouldn’t speak like that to a stranger, don’t speak that way to the one you love.
Lesson #5: It will be harder than you think. My husband and I have survived a lot. My brother died tragically our first year of marriage. He was deployed to Iraq. I was hospitalized with each pregnancy. He has been laid off. No gift registry can immunize you against tragedy. Rough times will come but if you choose to come together rather than move apart, you will gain the grit and resolve that lasts the years.
Lesson #6: It will be more worthwhile than you can imagine. No success in my life will ever bring the joy and fulfillment that making a life and family with my husband has. Yes, it is work; some days more than others. But I love this man more today than on my wedding day. He simply makes my world better.
Lesson #7: You cannot tell your partner you love them too often.
I think the last matters most. Never assume they know. We all like to hear it. There is no magic for staying in love but the Golden Rule is a good place to start. Make the other person feel how you’d like to feel and you will go a long way to keeping those home fires burning.
Good luck to you, and all those brave enough to commit your lives to another. May you have more happy days than sad and more kind words than mad. And may God bless and keep you through the years.
Traci Shannon blogs over at A Star in My Own Universe. She describes herself as a slightly weird, very sentimental, out-of-work actress in love with her husband and two kids trying to find herself in the life that happened while she was busy making plans.