I’m not a marriage counselor. I’m (obviously) not even a kick-ass motivational speaker for women, either. But I have been married for over 15 years and I have learned a little about love and lasting. And here’s the thing: I am totally butt-crazy in love with my husband. (Don’t fail me now, Clueless generation!) We’ve been through some serious hard times physically, financially and emotionally, but I’d still choose him again, without fail and he feels the exact same way. We have an amazing marriage full of laughs, few fights, and an intense, deep love. Maybe it’s just luck. Maybe the stars aligned exactly right and made us perfect for one another. Maybe. But I like to think it’s because we get out of marriage that which we put in.
*While reading this, please keep in mind that my husband practices these things too. It is not one-sided. If you are the only one putting in the effort, that’s not a marriage; it’s emotional slavery. You BOTH have to be committed to making it work.*
Here are a couple of my personal guidelines for our marriage:
- I never overshare my marital relationship with family. If we fight, I will admit that we are fighting, but I will not share so much that it would violate his trust. Our relationship is OURS.
- I do not ever post negative things about Hub on social media. That is something that can NEVER be called back. I also don’t leave him long, sappy love posts either, because those are words I share with HIM and not the world.
- I do not just expect him to do everything for me. I ask him. He is “mine,” but I am not entitled to his time and energy; instead it’s something he gifts me with every day.
- We throw thank yous like confetti. If he sweeps the floor or loads the dishwasher, I thank him. It doesn’t mean that I think he is a man and shouldn’t have to pull his fair share of housework and I’m thanking him for doing “my job.” It means that I appreciate that action — no more, no less. I get thank yous for stuff like making dinner or getting favorite snacks at the grocery. Our kids get thanked for helping out too.
- I speak my thoughts to him. I tell him — via text, call, or face to face — that he is handsome, that I love him, that I am thinking about him, etc., etc., etc. We are all human and we crave the feelings of being loved, desired, wanted. So don’t get so busy living life and raising kids that you forget to pursue your husband. Lack of attention is one of the most given reasons for adultery. (I’m not saying it’s ok; I’m saying I understand that the craving for love and attention can really get us.)
- I’m never the first to break an embrace or kiss. I let him hold me for as long as he wants, whether we are alone, with family, in front of our kids, or in public. No one’s opinion of me matters more than his, so he can hold me until he’s done. Of course, I’m not talking about full on face sucking fests or anything, but a hug or kiss is not hidden. Our kids get to see what a healthy relationship looks like, which should help them when they start dating.
- Physical contact… Well, there’s no better way to say this, so here goes…I never turn him down for sex. Never. This isn’t a wife submitting to her husband thing; it’s a “putting in the effort everyday” thing and we BOTH practice it. We have made fulfilling each other’s physical needs part of our marital promise to each other. Obviously, we are in tune to each other, so I’m not going to jump on his side of the bed when I know he’s sick, just like he didn’t wink at me three days postpartum.
- We celebrate everything together. Big holidays like Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and little holidays like Sweetest Day. We celebrate them all. Maybe it’s a special dinner cooked at home, a massage, or a card. Maybe it’s just a text. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but celebrate those days together. All those little dates are making up our life together, and every single one means something!
- Communication is key. In our years together, we’ve learned when to give each other grace and let it go, and when to talk things out. I am a world class stew-er. I can be ticked at Hub for a whole day sometimes and not say a word to him, but I ALWAYS tell him why I am unhappy first and that I need some time, and we talk it out later. I never just ignore him, because that is one of the most hurtful things you can do to someone you love!
- He gets the Good News first! If something amazing happens to me, he is the first I go to. If I am feeling really down, he is the one I tell. I can’t imagine what it would feel like if I had to hear stuff about him from his siblings or friends. So he gets the news before my Mom, before my BFF, before anyone else. After all, HE chose to spend every day with me for the rest of our lives…and even my parents expected me to move out eventually, lol!