Towards a happy marriage

11 years of marriage. I cannot tell you that marriage is a perfect place. It is full of love, laughter, frustration, emotion, and so much more. I love almost every minute of it, because I am walking forward with Chris. More than being lovers and spouses we are best friends. A best friend that I can truly say anything to at any moment. He might not always like what comes out of my mouth, but at least it is the truth. Here are a few ideas of what I think are steps toward a happy marriage:

Go to bed together every night. If you cannot orchestrate that, then if one is going to bed before the other, come and tuck the other in. I know that might sound old school, or childish, but do it. It will make a difference. It is a way to connect at the end of a long day and allows your spouse to relax. Having said all that, Chris is the night owl and I rarely get to tuck him in. Better yet, what we often do is go to bed together, snuggle, and then the one that is not tired gets to read and/or catch up on episodes of their favorite TV show on the iPad. A win-win situation.

Tell each other what you think as much as possible.

Try not to snap or react. Sometimes we are grumpy, have a poopy day, and we snap. Okay to be fair, Chris is WAY more patient then I am, and I snap way more often than he does. Do not take it personally. You know when your pants feel too tight and you plop down on the floor of the closest ready to explode with tears? Be there for each other at those moments. I know, I know 99% of the time it is the woman sitting on the floor. So to all those husbands out there. Sit down next to your wife and listen to her emotions, her hormones. Just love her immensely on those days.

Eat together at your kitchen table. Do it without your iWHATEVER device, your DVR, or Netflix. Absorb those moments together. We do not do it often enough, but when we do if makes life feel so different. Sad, but true.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Just because you might have been with and lived with someone for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years does not mean that you should ever stop communicating. I should have made this point first because to me it is by far one of the most important aspects of marriage. Talk it out. Share what is on your mind. Listen. Discuss and resolve.

A happy marriage. No prescription. Just start with respect, love, and a listening ear. It is all up to both of you.

Keeping things inside

I was talking with a few individuals over the weekend, and the topic of keeping things inside came up. It made me think about growing up and how we are taught to communicate. Growing up my dad always said that children were to be seen and not heard. We were not given a forum or safe place to speak up and say what we felt. Often I knew that I disagreed with my dad, but if I spoke up and said what I really felt, I would hear the wrath of my father. He always felt it was disrespectful to go against his viewpoint.

Ah, the anguish I felt to have to keep my thoughts and feelings inside. My home growing up either had thoughts and feelings put under carpets, stored in the attic, or they came out with rage and anger. I never saw the balance of real communication. However, somehow I was always fascinated with how others communicated. When I saw a man gently interact with a woman, I was fixated. When I saw a couple communicate amicably even while in a heated discussion, I was intrigued.

It was not until I was in college in my early twenties that I found my voice. I can almost remember what it felt like. I was writing a paper for a Sociology class, and in the process of writing that paper, something shifted and I knew that it was a pivotal moment in my life. I had found my voice. Ironically, the paper I was writing was on the topic of “voice” and in writing that paper, my voice had surfaced.

I no longer keep my thoughts and feelings inside. My dilemma now is to continue to work through the balance between speaking up and saying what I think needs to be said, and how that voice comes out. There is a graceful way to be bold and direct, but also to do it in a way that the other person can hear what you have to say. If you are angry while being direct, you can piss someone off, offend, and turn them away. Speaking gracefully for me is a work in progress. I do not always do it right, but I am learning along the way. The important part is that I speak, use my voice, and have it out in the open.

Do you keep things inside, or is it easy breezy for you to say what you think?