Wednesday, April 21

Things I Loved About My Marriage

If you guys can't make it, is there hope for any of us?

To many, we were the perfect couple. We were always seen together, we talked openly about how much we loved the other, we always won the newlywed games because we knew each other so well, we were never caught fighting or rolling our eyes at each other or saying anything negative about one another, and we always sat next to each other, held hands or were touching each other in some way. News of the divorce was a shock to many.

There are many reasons why our marriage failed but there were also many things that we did well. I even told our marriage counselor the day before the Decision that I didn't feel like our marriage warranted a divorce. And I know had there been kids involved or any ounce of desire on his part to work on things, we'd most likely still be together. I know it was the best decision to split but looking back, there really was a lot that worked for us. I've discovered that you can learn from both the good and the bad, and so, as odd as it may sound, here's my list of things I loved about my marriage:

1. Communication

When there was a problem, we talked about it. When someone got hurt, we discussed what happened. We talked about what we needed from each other. We talked about insecurities and fears as well as hopes and dreams. If anything, it was that we talked too much about stuff and made bigger problems out of small ones but I'm focusing on the good so I won't go there.

2. Comforting

One night when I was particularly hurt over something and I just wanted to cry myself to sleep, he just sat there and held me. Then he started talking about all of our favorite memories together like our first date and how he ended up pantsless with me wiping his butt because he had sat in Cafe Rio dressing trying to stop the truck from rolling down the hill while we were stargazing in the back. I not only stopped crying but I started to laugh again. It was perfect.

3. Physical Touch
I had never been huge into touching people or showing affection--just wasn't part of my nature. I learned to love touching, hand holding, hugging, back scratching, spooning, cuddling, playing with hair, any kind of physical touch. It was touch that bound us together even during times when we may have been somewhat emotionally distant.

4. Expectations
My cousin Julie told us that we should start each day by asking one another, "What are your expectations for today?" I can't tell you what amazing things that one sentence does. There wasn't much opportunity to let each other down or be disappointed when expectations were clear and talked about.

5. Budget-Friendly Fun
We were committed to staying out of debt and knew that in order to do so we had to limit our entertainment spending. We spent one night writing down a ton of things we could do for under $5 and put them in a jar. Each night that we had to spend together we'd draw a slip of paper and do whatever it had written on it--from dying someone's hair to playing on the merry-go-round at the park to baking someone cookies and delivering them. I never knew how much fun nearly-free could be!

6. Agreeableness
Some say that fighting in a marriage is a good way to measure how much love is present, meaning that if two people fight, they do it because they love each other. Though fighting may be indicative of strong emotions, I don't agree with the unspoken implied statement that if there isn't fighting, there isn't much love. We hardly ever fought. There were just few things we disagreed on... okay and maybe it had a teeny bit to do with him being so agreeable and me having strong opinions but still, when we would disagree, we were able to talk it out without raising our voices and there was never any name-calling. It was refreshing to have so much peace in our home.

7. Romance
Boxes of notes, flowers, mixed CD's, cards, paintings, home-cooked dinners, opening doors for each other, decorating cars, homemade gifts, adventurous dates, surprise parties... it seemed like we were always trying to one-up each other when it came to demonstrations of love. It was exhilarating.

8. Gratitude

Every once in a while we'd be cuddling and one of us would start a thankful session where we'd take turns saying what we appreciated about the other person. We'd go back and forth usually until someone fell asleep. It was so easy to forget the bad when focusing on so much good.

9. Social Hub
We made our house a home and welcomed friends and family to visit often. I love our home and what we made it represent. I love that we were known as the social glue among our married friends and that everyone could count on having a good time at our place.

10. Togetherness
If one of us signed up to clean the church, we were both there... and neither of us had to talk the other into doing it either. We wanted to be with each other. I can only think of one time he did something without me--he went snowboarding and I didn't go simply because I didn't know how to snowboard and we didn't have the money at the time for me to learn. We really liked being with each other.

11. Support
We only talked to family or close friends about relationship problems when we were looking for an outside opinion on things. We never got involved in spouse-bashing. We hardly ever said anything negative about the other person and if we ever found ourselves having to take sides between us and family/friends, we'd always back each other first.

Upon talking to a friend about this post he commented, "I'm not sure if I feel bad for you having gone through what you did or jealous that you experienced something that I long for." It was humbling to hear it put that way because from both perspectives I feel so blessed and indeed have learned that without the darkness I would not have been able to appreciate the light.

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