I routinely keep track of two relationship blogs (and if you know of any others that you like, please pass on the links!); Marriage Gems and Project Happily Ever After. And often times, I will read something and think, “OH! I should blog about my own experience with that,” or, “OH! If only more people knew about that little relationship trick.”
So here we are.
I read “Eight Ways to Spring Clean Your Life & Relationships” and thought I’d share my thoughts and experiences with you on the eight things suggested:
1. Clear the air – this was specially hard to do when we were both younger. He would (and still does, to some extent) keep things bottled up so long that they began to fester and grow until finally, he would blow up at me over the stupidest thing. I would be incredulous over what he was upset about and I would chime in and the fight was ON.
I’ve learned to look below the surface of his annoyance and pinpoint the problem. I’ve also worked on him TALKING to me at the time he’s upset so that we can work on whatever it is that is bugging him. It’s not always easy to face (because it’s inevitably something I did, or didn’t do), but it’s easier to deal with it at that moment in time than opposed to later.
Now me? I don’t have a problem telling him what I’m thinking, feeling or if he did something to bug me. NO communication problems on my end, I assure you. (*grin*)
2. Make room for new commitments – This one is a toughie because it’s so easy to get stuck in the same old routine day in and day out. However, he’s recently opened his own office and I’ve been looking for a job, so things are pretty shaken up in our work lives. We also try and take one fun family vacation a year because it’s important to me to make new family memories. We’re going to Disney World and cruising to the Bahamas this year. We definitely make room in our lives for new commitments.
3. If you’ve been building up resentment, it’s time to dust it off and unload past hurts – Our marriage has definitely not been a bed of roses all of these years. We’ve done a lot to hurt each other – some of these things are pretty heavy duty and not for public consumption, but suffice it to say, it took us a LONG time to forgive each other for some of the things we did in the past. You just have to learn from the experience, take responsiblity and be grown ups about what happened and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.
4. Are there proverbial cobwebs around the marital bed? – This is probably his number one complaint about me. I’m not a very affectionate person. I’ve hurt him NUMEROUS times with my coldness. I know this. He accepts it. BUT I’ve been working on making that better. In other words, I’ve been working on ME. We compromise. And I just accept the fact that he’s a man and has certain needs. We’ve gone round and ROUND on this issue and though it still hasn’t been fully resolved, we’re better about this part of our relationship than we have been in the past.
5. Give thought to spiffing up your appearance – This one is so easy to lose track of. You get comfortable, you let yourself go … it adds up to low self-esteem and disinterest – in yourself and in your partner. I’m TOTALLY guilty of this one. I try to keep my weight under control (although I’m currently under a strict no chocolate/no pastry diet because I’ve gotten a little too carried away lately), but I’ll be the first to admit, I could do MUCH better on my wardrobe. I’ve been a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom for a number of years now and I pretty much LIVE in t-shirts and sweats.
When Kevin opened up his business office and asked me if I wanted to take over the other office to work on my websites, I think he did it primarily to get me out of sweats, because he was sick of seeing me in sweats all the time. Oh sure, I would dress up if we went out into public, but that wasn’t very often. He never said anything, but when I started dressing up to go into the office, he said, “It’s nice to see you out of sweats.”
So … yeah, it must have bothered him.
I’m working on this one. I’m working on trying to change my look a bit, and I’ve been buying slacks and have been looking for more dressy-type clothing. I just know how I would feel if Kevin walked around in sweats all day, every day and … yeah, it’s time to step up my hotness. *wink*
6. Clean and organize areas where you spend the most time – I sort of HAVE to work on this one because clutter makes Kevin one CRANKY man. In fact, that’s one of the things we’ve had to compromise on over the years. He comes from a family of neat freaks – and I mean that in the most loving way – and I don’t. My family is neat, don’t get me wrong, it’s just somewhere down the pipeline, I missed out on the neat gene.
I’m not neat, if I wasn’t clear on that.
That’s why Kevin is so good for me, and I him – we complement each other.
BUT, when we first got married, the man expected me to keep house like his mother did (does). Cleaning house is my mother-in-law’s hobby. Let me set the record straight – cleaning house is not something I look forward to OR enjoy. EVER. I do it because I don’t want to live in a pigsty. So when Kevin would come home from work and the house would be a mess and/or dinner wasn’t ready (because I had two small boys under my feet), he would get irritated, which would irritate me and a fight would be simmering just under the surface until one of us couldn’t take the tension anymore.
After one such blow out, we decided to compromise on the house cleaning thing – I asked him what absolutely drove him nuts and it was the kitchen. Now, I work to keep the kitchen clean (okay, livable) and he relaxes on the rest of the house.
Dude. You didn’t marry June Cleaver, stop trying to make me into June Cleaver. I will do my best but you have to adjust your expectations a bit. (Yes. I’ve actually said that to him before).
7. Check tarnished relationships – yes, yes and YES. Troublesome family members and/or old “friends” will drive a wedge between you if you allow them to. Sometimes it’s unintentional, but sometimes, it’s not. I’ve learned, from my own experiences, that some people just can’t stand it when others are happy. For whatever reasons, whether it’s their own unhappiness, or their own relationships that have gone sour, some people take great delight in trying to separate two good people.
That’s why Kevin and I have absolutely no desire to reconnect with old flames on Facebook. I’ve had an old boyfriend try to “friend” me several times on Facebook and each time, I just ignore him. It’s not that I’m not curious to hear how he’s doing, but I just don’t want to go down that road to find out. The road to old relationships is closed to me and to Kevin. It’s just not worth the potential problems it might cause.
We’ve been blessed with some pretty awesome families, so we haven’t had problems with family members trying to cause trouble, but I know there are a lot of people out there that DO have problems with family members, (and this includes children!!), and when it comes to your marriage, you just have to either work it out or snip it off. Harsh? Perhaps. But keeping a marriage strong requires commitment from both parties and that includes forming a strong alliance against potential trouble makers.
8. Keep it maintained – Marriage is a constant work in progress. You can’t work really hard on your marriage one day and then sit back and think, “I’m done! I have a good marriage!” It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. Things change, people change, emotions vary, every day is a unique challenge and some days are harder than others.
But let me give you a piece of advice, from a veteran wife – it all starts with YOU. Change your attitude and your expectations first, and then go from there. Trust me. 🙂
Click over to Marriage Gems for many valuable links to some pretty awesome (and helpful) marriage information sites and ebooks.
UPDATE: Just read an interesting, raw and honest post about marriage. I love it when people self-analyze and are honest with themselves.