Ok, so this isn’t really a serious how-to post today but it is my 6th wedding anniversary. Whoop!
I often wonder how on earth I managed to persuade a very clever, charming and, in my opinion, handsome man to ask me to marry him, let alone keep him for this long. (I also don’t feel old enough to have been married that long but that’s not today’s point).
Believe it or not, I’m like most creatives, emotionally unstable and seriously high maintenance. He puts up with a lot of that with a smile on his face and doesn’t seem to complain.
Of course things are never perfect, we argue and bicker occasionally and have had low points in our relationship. On top of that I’m sure we’re not totally sorted in how we relate to each other but we have more fun than sadness and we’re nice to each other more than angry. Here’s a few ways I think we’ve managed it.
Firstly, compromise. I know this is one you’ve probably all heard but after having been in a couple of relationships where at least one of us was totally selfish all the time I can say it works better to put the other first and compromise on the differences where both parties are passionate about it. Often it’s actually the little things too, like where to go to eat. Sometimes I really want something, other times I let my husband have the curry he wants even though I don’t (I’d hope you know you’re agreed on the big things like kids and where to live before you marry).
Secondly, respect. This was a huge one for me. I knew I needed a guy who I thought of as smarter than me or I wouldn’t respect him enough in his own right. I’ve got a pretty forcefull and argumentative personality at times and having someone who can reason well, and with sense, often stops me from doing things that are maybe a little dumb and also stops there being any chance of me squashing his personality with mine. He’s secure and I can respect him for being him.
Thirdly, focusing on the positive, not the negative. I actually think this is a principle that works in everything but generally I try to focus on the good aspects of my husband. There are things he does to annoy me, and they can be often, but he’s amazing in other ways. As I said before he puts up with all my many emotional reactions to things. He doesn’t get frustrated when I decide I want to watch the new season of x-factor, the voice, or BGT and then randomly decide I don’t part way through, because it makes me feel sad I can’t sing as well. He’s amazing at fixing my computer problems for me and while I’m in a very financially unstable career he’s happily paying all the bills and putting a roof over my head (me giving up my job was pretty much his idea, he said he’d rather have me happy and even now he says the same thing when I get insecure and think I should be in a ‘real’ job).
Fourthly, knowing love is not how I feel but how I act. This was something I worked out in my late teens, looking at all the marriages and divources in the family around me as well as the reasons people gave for not staying with other people. Loving someone isn’t about how you feel on any given day. There are always going to be days when you don’t feel like being lovely and nice to them and they eat your chocolate, or complain too much because you’ve eaten theirs. But 6 years ago today I made a vow, that whatever things were like, bad or good, sickness or health, rich or poor, whatever the weather, that I would stand by the man who took my hand that day.
Fifthly, spending time together regularly. What is, in my opinion, the most important thing to do. You can’t show someone you love them or keep going in the same life direction if you stop spending time together and let yourselves grow separately. We try to keep at least one night a week to sit down with each other and I can’t count the number of times one of us has said to the other, ‘let’s go do this so we can talk and I can get your opinion.’ We make sure there’s time to tell each other all those little thoughts we’ve had about things and see if we’re on the same page and if there’s going to be some bigger event in our lives we try to make sure we do it together so we can share the experience, especially if it’s going to grow us as people. Growing together is always better than growing apart and over the years people can change a lot. It’s a constant process of getting to know each other and sharing what’s going on inside and that requires time and effort.
Finally, recognising God needs to be in there. I don’t normally mention God here on my blog as I don’t like to be preachy but I really do put it down as being the biggest sole reason I still have a stable marriage. On both sides of my family, through a large number of generations, there are second and third mariages and people still in relationships they are unhappy with, yet somehow I’ve managed to last 6 years and I can still say I’m happily married. In fact more often than not I still look out my husband and feel that warm, fuzzy feeling of being in love, like I used to when we were first together. I put most of that down to the prayer, time spent learning what love is really like when done God’s way and the times we’ve seen God do wonderful things together, on our combined faith and journey.
Things haven’t always been sweetness, roses and puppy dogs in my relationship but for the most part it’s been amazing and even when it’s not been everything I want, it’s still been a lot better than I ever thought I’d manage.