Wow, I cannot believe Chay and I have been married for 4 years already (and together for a decade!). If I am being honest, marriage definitely has its low points, but for the most part, from my limited experience, it is the best thing I have gotten to experience thus far in life. That is of course due to the man I married, who is my best friend and the person I would rather be with than anyone else on the planet. The struggle is real, but overcoming the struggle is what makes it so much sweeter. You end up growing so much with your spouse if both people are willing to listen and speak up, which is not always easy to do. We have a long way to go, but I wouldn't want to walk this journey with anyone else.
The Thing About Marriage...
The thing about marriage that has really helped me grow in my own relationship, is the understanding that two people are coming from totally different upbringings and experiences, trying to lead a successful relationship with different tools. The fact that they come from different households, ways of doing things, ways of thinking, communicating, viewing life, viewing religion, giving and receiving LOVE, etc., just shows me that marriage is guaranteed to be a struggle, but a worthwhile one if both people are willing to recognize "their way" is not "the way", and adapt accordingly for the good of their marriage. This is a lesson I have had to get pounded into my brain through therapy, because I used to think my experiences with my family were the baseline for everything, and I would compare the way Chay would respond to something against that baseline to decide if he was wrong or right. HOW ANNOYING IS THAT? I didn't even realize I was doing it! I just kinda thought that since I had a "Brady Bunch" family growing up that I must have the right perspective for relationship related things.. I would get annoyed at Chay at times for not responding to certain situations like my dad or brother (who I always looked up to), so it was wrong, right? NOPE. We're all so different. Chay and I just had such polar opposite experiences growing up, that the learning curve was a steep one.
iT'S ALL PERSPECTIVE...
Chay and I are on opposite sides of the communication spectrum. This has been one of our greatest struggles. To give a little perspective, I am the youngest of 5 and Chay is the oldest of 4. My family is extremely outspoken, affectionate, and communicative. Chay's family isn't as much, so of course, that plays into how we communicate with each other. My parents are together and his are not, so that also creates a lack of being able to relate in certain areas. Chay's whole experience growing up was entirely different from mine, which caused him to be extremely self-sufficient, independent, resourceful, and to grow up really fast. Chay was going to have to make it on his own if he wanted to "succeed" in life. These were and still are so many of the qualities about Chay that I fell in love with, but also frustrated and hurt me at times. This is because in the early days of dating, he might disappear for a while, not need to see me, or wall up during tough conversations. It was hurtful, but I started to understand it wasn't about me, and he was more than worth it to hold out for as we figured out these issues. Despite our differences and backgrounds, Chay and I both look past each others frusturating qualities, because we feel each others' positive qualities far outway the not so good ones.
There are so many things I have learned over the years, but these little learning nuggets have stuck with me. These are essential for me to practice because of all I mentioned above. If you are more similar to your spouse, these may not apply. Otherwise, try 'em out! I swear, at least a couple of these lessons are universal:)
1. It's not necessary to say what you feel, when you feel it. You won't explode or die, I promise. I used to feel like "communication" meant communicating IT ALL... ALL THE TIME. Ugh, exhausting. Sometimes it's good to zip it, not to think so hard, breathe, and drink a glass of wine. It might not be that deep. If it is deep, by all means, bring it to the table...but do so in a way that your partner will HEAR YOU.
2. This leads me to my next nugget. It's all in the DELIVERY. (except when it's not and they lie to you and say if you just said it calmly, they would listen, and then you approach them calmly next time, and you get the same reaction...Still figuring this part out...will get back to you) It doesn't always work, but many times, if I wait until I am less upset to bring something up, he is more apt to truly hear me. The tone, intention, and volume of your delivery have a lot to do with the success of the conversation. When I remain calm and realize Chay is not to blame, but I still need to express a certain feeling, our talks go much better.
3. Show him you appreciate him. This goes a long way. Men innately desire to give you the world and want us to be happy. They need to hear that we are and that they are doing a good job. I mean, dont we all need that? When I tell Chay he is killing it and I trust him and beleive in him, I can see that he feels more confident. Confidence is a powerful thing that can raise people up to great heights, but a lack of it can crush a person and paralyze them in life. Especially men.
4. Dont lick your fingers. Just a quick little tip. Chay can't stannnnd when I lick my fingers. We have gotten in huge fights about this. NO JOKE. It's gross apparently. Guys, I'm learning okay?
5. Go ahead and go to bed angry. I MEAN, I don't prefer it but for goodness sake, if you're like me, you'll be talking to the wall in the middle of the night with your husband snoring because you dont know when to end it. I could go on forever, so yeah, take a rest, and schedule a time to resolve it the next day after you have cooled off.
6. You can say you're too tired for sex, and the world won't end. Just be nice about it (and they might be too tired too! woohoo! jk jk) Honestly, when I got married, I got some really terrible advice from women who said "NEVER SAY NO to your man. It's horrible, scarring for them" blah blah blah. NOPE. sorry, I am not buying it and neither does Chay! He thinks that mindset is so weird. I know I am lucky because we are both very similar in what we need now. But that advice is so unhealthy in my opinion because for so long I worried about what was "normal" and there just isn't such thing. You do what works best for your relationship. Sex is meant to be fun, not full of expectation or pressure or judgement. BAD ADVICE, don't listen ladies!
7. Check in and listen. Sometimes, I think and live so selfishly because I am living in my own head, knowing my own needs. But I need to remember to check in with the most important person to me and ask how he is doing, what's happening, if work is going good...Just basic stuff. And just listen. Don't speak. See what happens. If you really wanna get some info, go on a drive. Chay turns into a Chatty Cathy and I LOVE IT!
Some of these are totally silly, but all of them are TRUE for me and my relationship. I am constantly learning and trying to grow in my marriage, and I screw up all the time. Thank goodness I married a gracious, patient, kind, and amazing man who is up to the challenge. Chay and I both lean so much on Gods guidance in our life and marriage, which helps because we are on the same page with our faith and values. Faith is the backbone to our reationship and has helped us overcome a slew of extremely difficult circumstances. Without it, we would not be who we are.
I hope you guys could relate to some of these things and if you have any tips that I left out, please comment below! I love some good relationship advice and know others would love it too!