Relationships

DARE to Build a Better Relationship

I’ve met and worked with a lot of people in my life. One of the consistent people in my life right now is the nurse I work with. If I had had a daughter, I would have wanted her to be like this nurse. She’s kind, compassionate, funny, friendly, smart and has a good head on her shoulders.

But she’s young. She’s a young mother with two small (and VERY ADORABLE girls) and I remember what it was like trying to navigate trying to be a wife and a mother while not losing myself in the meantime and I know – IT’S HARD.

There comes a time when you have to think outside of yourself: life is no longer about you, it’s about your husband and your children.

In that order.

Again, maintaining that precarious hold on yourself is also important but that’s a whole different topic – this is about finding that balance working on your marriage so that you have a solid foundation to raise your children. Because if your marriage isn’t strong, then your parenting skills will not be strong enough.

Too many times, people get married, have children and suddenly, the spouse becomes an after thought. It’s all about the children. It’s all about how tired I am and trying to find myself again in the (normal) chaos that is my life now.

What about your spouse? He/she gets left out, he/she feels left out and suddenly, problems start developing. Which only makes it worse because WE HAVE CHILDREN, and I’M TOO TIRED TO DEAL WITH YOU RIGHT NOW.

News flash: that’s the wrong attitude. It’s a human response, sure, and to curb that natural response is hard, but it’s necessary and rewarding if you push past the internal dialogue and rewire your brain to think differently.

I too went through this. And I think it was especially hard for me because I’m fiercely independent and selfish with my time. But I was motivated to rethink my reactions and emotions and analyze myself a little deeper to understand WHY I was reacting a certain way or WHY I felt angry and tense when I was a young mother.

I mean, it’s normal to feel these emotions, you are, after all, a YOUNG person. You don’t have the life experience to objectively analyze yourself and we all know there is no such thing as a parenting manual, we all do the best we can, but the point is, when you’re a wife and mother, husband and father, your life is not all about you anymore.

It’s just a fact.

This nurse and I talk about relationships and she often asks for my advice when it comes to marriage and children. I’m actually quite honored that she thinks I have anything valuable to share, but I do have quite a bit of life experience under my belt and like many young couples, Kevin and I went through a pretty serious rocky patch in our marriage when the boys were young, SO I GET IT.

Which leads me to the reason behind this post.

It’s February, love is in the air. Which, honestly people, why do we put so much stock in ONE day of the year where we have to scramble to come up with ways to SHOW our significant other that we love him/her?

Shouldn’t we be striving to do this every day? Shouldn’t every day be Valentine’s Day? There are more than one way to express love, you know. Love goes WAY beyond a box of chocolates and a useless stuffed animal.

And that’s where the Love Dare comes in.

It teaches people to think, and act, outside of themselves. It teaches people that love can be expressed in many different ways. It’s just that we are so focused on ourselves, partly because we’re in survival mode because for the love of God, I JUST WANT UNDISTURBED SLEEP, and partly because society has drummed into our heads that WE ARE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE that we have lost sight of how to love outside ourselves.

Anyway, I’m going to re-post the Love Dare challenges not only for my daughter from anotherĀ  mother but for you, dear reader. Perhaps you’re currently going through marital issues and this hits home for you. I feel like February is a month that highlights our own love lives and sometimes shining a light on an otherwise dark corner of our relationship is healthy.

Caveat: if you are truly wanting to make changes, you have to start internally. You have to examine AND BE HONEST with yourself and your shortcomings. How can you fix something externally if it’s broken internally? You will need to approach these challenges with humility and with honesty. You will need to examine your own emotions, reactions and agendas before you can hope to fix your marriage.

And your partner is going to have to make a solid effort to meet you halfway, as well. It takes two to fix this particular problem and that’s a conversation only you can have with your partner. But someone has to blink, someone has to be the first one to give a little and be more patient because if no one offers the olive branch, then your family will always struggle to find peace.

The Love Dare was inspired by the movie, “Fireproof.” That movie was a GAME CHANGER for me. I cried FOR HOURS after watching it and let me tell you, I’m not a crier. But the movie really opened my eyes to MY behavior and showed me what I was doing wrong and what I could do better.

 

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend watching this movie. Yes, it’s a Christian-based movie and faith is a large part of this process, but ultimately, the fundamental message can, and should, be applied to all serious, long-term relationships.

So put your big boy/girl pants on and let’s get honest.

Good luck.