Two Words That Changed My Marriage

Hello hello Friends!

I’m writing on the occasion of my 10 Year Marriage Anniversary, and although I may not get this published in time (read: I will not…it was May 26th) – I had an overflow of words that had to be said, so here we are.  Ten years ago I said the word’s “I do” to my husband, and while I knew that our lives were about to change in a big way; at the time, I had no idea as to how much each of us would change, as individuals.

“I do.”

Two words simple enough in and of themselves, yet two words, when worked into one’s thoughts, motives, and actions bear the incredible weight and potential to forever change the course of one’s life and marriage.

“I do.”

It’s the part in the ceremony that leaves most women reaching for their tissues as they witness the exchange of undying love and commitment take place – regardless of whatever curveballs life may throw at the young starry-eyed couple.  For some it’s the part of the ceremony that brings back memories of broken promises; mixed emotions of hope and disappointment, excitement and pain.  For the young, it’s a time of joy and celebration, as they watch dreams become a reality and think of their own dreams in turn.

Over the years, hearing and witnessing couple’s exchanging their vows; I’ve experienced all of those emotions, as I’ve walked my own journey of marriage and been at different stages every time.

I’d like to say that these past 10 years have been 10 years of bliss…but on the other hand…I’m thankful that I can not.

You see, at one time I equated the success of my marriage to the happiness in my heart…and I think that the happiness of my heart was defined by the things that others did to make me feel good…both in my friendships and in my marriage.

But that’s not what brings happiness, and that’s not what defines a good marriage.

I think what really defines a good marriage is the factor of “I do”.

Because in all reality, most times in marriage, we behave in a way that sends the message of “you do”; “you do this…” and I’ll be happy, “you change that” and I’ll change after, “you apologize” and I’ll forgive, “you love me” and I’ll love you back.  And so we create this cycle of unhappiness and bitterness, with hearts that become closed off and distanced.  I’ve been there before…and I know how miserable it made me…and trust me…when we get into that place of shifting the responsibility off of ourselves until the other person changes…it doesn’t matter how much they change or what they do…it is never enough.

But real happiness in marriage begins with “I do”.  Not just leaving it as a one-time sentiment at the altar of your wedding day, but bringing it into your every choice, every thought, every action.  Making “I do” a lifestyle…realizing that it’s not what they do…it’s what I do…the potential for change begins with me.

Real happiness in marriage begins with 'I do',not 'you do'. The potential for change starts with me Click To Tweet

“I do”… choose to let go of my way in exchange for honoring my spouse’s way;

“I do”… choose to forgive even before the apology has come;

“I do”… choose to show affection first or before I even feel it;

“I do”… choose to keep my heart open to my spouse;

“I do”… choose to believe the best about my spouse;

“I do” … continue to choose my spouse every single day and in every moment.

If I am unhappy about something in my marriage, I need to look at what I’m doing about it.

If I want to feel more respected, I need to show more respect;

If I want to feel valued, I need to demonstrate that I value my spouse;

If I want to be heard and understood, I need to start listening to understand;

If I want to experience greater intimacy, I need to begin displaying greater affection;

If I want to feel loved, I need to give love;

You see, it’s this thing of “I do” that changes us into better spouses.  As I reflect back on how much both my husband and I have changed throughout these last 10 years; I can see that every change began with an “I do”.  My husband was pretty great to begin with, but who he is today, and who I am today is not who we were 10 years ago.  We’ve both grown and changed into better people as we’ve learned to lay down our “rights” and honor the other first…and in so doing have experienced that in putting down our own guard a ripple effect has taken place with the other, causing their guard to come down too.  And it’s for that reason, that I’m thankful for the times in my marriage that have been less than blissful.

We still have much to learn, and grow in…and I’m forever learning that this thing of “I do” has much less to do with what he does and much more to do with what I do.  But I think that as we continue to walk this journey of life together, being responsible for what “I do” and continuing to choose and believe the best in one another, I can say with confidence that there’s nothing that we can’t face and conquer as One.

So the next time you find yourself at a wedding and the gamut of emotions begins to well up inside as the happy couple utters their vows, or when you find yourself stuck in that place of frustration and “if only…than I would…”, let it be a reminder that every happy story begins with an “I do”…and that my friend, is well within your grasp.

 

 

 

Thank you to Angie Makes at angiemakes.com for the pretty Free Watercolor Flowers shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site. 

 

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{FDF}: My slightly jaded Valentine’s

Well friends,

Valentine’s Day…It came and went without a hitch…I know that because I saw it posted everywhere…on the feeds of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…and I’m pretty certain every other media platform.  Happy pictures of happy couples, little heart filters decorating profile pictures, status updates of love stories, sentiments, and declarations of undying love, pictures of gifts given and received…tokens of love and affection.

And while it’s all good and great to celebrate love…somehow I just wasn’t buying into all of it this year.  Maybe it’s because it was on a Tuesday (a busy night for this household with students coming and going for music lessons), maybe it’s because I was feeling physically run-down with a headache and achy in general, or maybe it was because all of those love declarations out there on display for the general public to see hit me as more of a competition…a who-did-it-better moment.

Please forgive me if I’m stepping on toes here…and hey…I’ve put my fair share of “love declaration” posts out there myself…but I’m just saying…and maybe it was just for me…but perhaps we need to look less at everyone else’s love story, and focus more on our own.  We all like a happy love story, whether it’s real life or the movies (which are totally not true to life just in case you’re still day-dreaming about that last rom-com you saw and how that could totally be you one day), but we don’t all like to look at the regular day’s…the one’s where real love is worked out…when it’s tough…and the good feelings aren’t necessarily there…when love means choosing to believe the best in one another…when it means not getting our own way….those days that pave the way for the “feel-good” day’s.  Sometimes in the over-saturation of everyone else’s stories we can be too quick to disregard our own, too quick to take the happy posts at face value – forgetting all of the hard work of love that takes place under the surface…and ladies…please don’t tell me I’m the only one out there that’s seen those “love posts” by the men-folk and thought “well why doesn’t my husband do that?”…seriously girls….we’ve just gotta stop it (I’m talking to me here too)!  The comparing – it’s not fair to our husbands, to ourselves, or to our marriages.  It surely doesn’t cause us to believe the best in one another…either of our own marriage or of the one’s we’re comparing to…and it doesn’t lead us down the path of thankfulness to see all that we do possess in our own relationship.  Comparison will only ever make us ungrateful and miserable and those are definitely two words we don’t want in our love stories.

So while I admittedly have wrestled with these things in my heart from time to time (and felt absolutely ridiculous doing so at the time), I’m also incredibly thankful for my own love story and that we don’t have to save our celebrations for one day only….we celebrate it with every word spoken and every action done in love…on both the happy heart days and the working-it-out days…and only then, without taking away from our own story, will we truly be able to celebrate each other’s stories.

(Oh and just for the record – my super thoughtful husband did give roses to myself, our three children, and to his own two sisters. Aaaannnnnd…made me a super tasty steak dinner on the weekend. #grateful #thankful #blessed – not that I’m bragging or anything 😉 )

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