When I started this blog, one of the things I aspired to do was to share with others how I do what I do. I want to encourage other women, wives, mothers, and friends. As I sit here, cozy in my bed, typing on my laptop, the movie Just Married is playing on the TV. Have you seen it? It’s one of my favourite movies. Over the last 20 years of marriage I can say we’ve lived out many of the scenes. There are a lot of crazy problems that pop up in this movie. We can relate to many of the same situations. I am in love with travel, art, history and my hubby is not. He would be just like Tom chasing birds in the middle of the Parthenon! My hubby gets frustrated quickly when he’s driving or lost and I’m the one in the side seat laughing. Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, you will undoubtedly have experienced similar trials which leave you completely frustrated. My favourite scene has the newly weds stuck in a snowbank completely frustrated, helpless and angry but they wake up in the morning snuggling and both have a new perspective on life. Mornings are my favourite for that reason; the emotions from yesterday rarely carry over until tomorrow.
But what if they do? What if you wake up and still feel upset or angry with your partner? For anyone who aspires to stay married for longer than a year, this is a skill that you need acquire early on. Marriage is work. I’m sure you have heard that before; a common saying that newlyweds get told. The people who say this are often the ones who have been married for a while and are still married.
In North America, statistics for long lasting marriage are not great. Divorce is very common now a day. I don’t believe that anyone who actually goes through the process of getting married, actually hopes to go through the even harder process of getting a divorce. I have been to many weddings and have never seen a couple who didn’t look like they wanted to be there. The love is strong then. The feelings of joy, harmony and lust are all there. For some couples it tends to be there for the entire engagement. My husband and I were not so lucky!
We are probably the only couple who was banned from playing board games during our engagement. Yahtzee would send us to the boxing ring. Monopoly would have us yelling. Dutch Blitz would have me screaming. Risk was too risky to even begin. Sorry had us in a tither demanding apologies from each other. My parents had listened to enough fighting over rules to know that board games would end in disaster for us so they banned board games until we were married and in our own house. Pretty sure we are the only couple to have been banned from board games but it shows just how competitive we both are. 20 years later we have learned which games we can play safely together and which we still should not attempt with each other.
I am glad that we had those days of arguing because it gave us some practice. We went into our marriage with blinders off and some idea of how we fight together. I’m always a bit worried when young couples who are engaged say they don’t argue. No two people think exactly alike so there is no way that a couple can agree on everything. Learning to argue is an important skill if you want your marriage to last the long haul.
The feelings of happiness and unity do fade. That doesn’t mean we need to call up a family lawyer. We have had spells in our marriage that we not the most fun we’ve ever had. Times when we really didn’t feel like love was number one on our minds. The great thing is that when you commit to hanging out together forever those feelings come back. That is how the movie ends. *Spoiler alert* (If that is a thing for a movie that came out over 16 years ago!) The couple were already talking divorce by the end of their traumatic honeymoon. Her family was bent on calling the lawyer but his father gives some wise advice to keep going. The couple make the conscious decision that they gave their vows to be married and married they will stay. They work through their feelings and both spend time thinking about how much they care for the other person. BINGO!
Our minds can play tricks on us if we let it control us. I am an especially imaginative person and my mind can go wild with thoughts. If I let negative thoughts about something my husband has done go wild, I could stay mad for days. I have learned to start finding things that I love about him invade my thoughts. I remind myself of all the great things he has done for me, for our kids and for others. When I consciously focus on doing that, an amazing thing happens; I start liking him again! I forgive the wrong and start focusing on all that’s right.
I believe that if couples who are thinking of marriage spend some time doing pre-marital counselling you can find those triggers that will cause a divide and work through them. If you can’t work through them, at least learn to recognize them and come up with ways to work through arguing about those issues. One of the topics that we argued about in pre-marital counselling was money. We both had different ways to deal with it and it’s the one thing we still argue about the most. We have learned to deal with it but are always learning to talk about it without judgment or arguing.
Engaged couples should also take the time to talk to couples who have been married for years and learn skills from them. I am thankful to have many family members who have been married for longer than 30 years. They have taught me a lot. Finding people who have good experience with marriage are crucial to helping you get through those difficult days when happiness seems far away.
I’m ending this post now because it’s long enough but stay tuned for many more articles on marriage. I have so much more to share and if no one else reads these I want this sage advice available for my children as they grow and get married.