Marriage is not a game

My ring finger. Yes, I have a wedding ring too. (This picture was taken while my finger was healing, so I didn’t have it on).

Okay… so this is a topic that is very close to my heart. Some of you reading my blog don’t know me at all and some of you know me very well. For those of you who don’t know me at all, I have a tiny back story to go with this (it’s really NOT tiny… I’m just going to give the very short, VERY edited version).

I have been married before. Actually, I have been married two times before. This is not something I really like to talk about and I’m not exactly proud of it. I always thought of marriage as being something that you should only do once and when you ABSOLUTELY KNOW it’s the right person. I STILL feel that way. However, I learned that sometimes people get married for the WRONG reasons or to the wrong person.

BUT, I also learned a lot about how a marriage SHOULD work and what I wanted when it came to marriage.

My first marriage was most definitely for the wrong reasons. He was a nice person and had some great qualities that I admired and loved, but it was rushed and for the all the wrong reasons.

My second marriage was a combination of being for the wrong reason and to the wrong person. I was pregnant at the time and I believe that played a big roll in it. I think we both thought it was the right thing to do. Long story short, we started off with a lot of resentment and anger between us and that led to a lot of isolation and detachment… which led to more resentment and anger on both sides. A vicious cycle. Arguing became the norm in our house. I reached a point where I decided enough was enough and didn’t see a way for it to be fixed – not without both of us trying equally, and I didn’t think that would happen. I felt that divorce was the best solution. I didn’t want to be in a relationship like that and I didn’t want my son growing up in an environment that was emotionally unhealthy.

I don’t regret making that choice. Going through something like that forced me to take a very critical look at myself and what I could have done differently from the start. I decided that if I were to ever find myself in another serious relationship, I was going to do things very differently. I took a lot of time to learn about myself and what my ideal relationship is. I thought about the things I value in a person and what would be a definite deal breaker for me. I also rediscovered my faith and began growing in it and discovering what an impact it really has on my life.

Then I met the man I now call my husband.

When we started dating, I didn’t immediately think “This is the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.” In fact, neither one of us wanted anything serious. Then again, love isn’t one of those things you can schedule or plan out.

“So, you want to realize you’re in love with me on the 5th? Let me check… Yeah, sooo that’s not gonna work with my schedule. Can it wait until March?”

As if.

I honestly can’t pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with him. It was like a candle being lit. The spark happens and it catches the wick, you see a glow, feel a little warmth and before you know it, there is a flame there. And that flame starts off small at first, but then it gradually begins to glow brighter and grow in size.

I can tell you this: his smile is what caused that initial spark.

Before I knew it, I realized I was in love with him. The thing is, just when I think I can’t possibly love him any more than I already do, he goes and adds to the fire. The love I felt for him in the beginning is NOTHING compared to the love I have for him now. That love grows daily. I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up dying at 30 because my heart is going to explode from all the love it will be holding. That or my heart is just going to grow and grow and grow. All I know is I’m looking forward to it. I’ll die a happy woman, either way.

Loving my husband is not hard. I don’t consider it a chore. I don’t feel like it’s a competition where we are trying to one up each other and I do my best to not ask too much of him. I make an effort to treat him with respect, at all times. I take him into consideration with every decision I make. I’m open with him. I tell him I love him every chance I get. I make spending time with him, alone, a priority.

Best part of it all is that I do these things and it’s all reciprocated. There are times where he returns my love and then some. He does this with no expectations of reward. He’s not the type of person to think “Well if I help with the dishes, maybe she’ll let me go to the range.” (He knows I won’t tell him “No,” unless we have something planned) Instead, he does things because he thinks it’s something I will like or because he recognizes it’s something I would appreciate. He is considerate and I appreciate that by itself.

It’s absolutely amazing how wonderful marriage can be.

To be honest, I was surprised the first time I ever had that thought. My other marriages were total flops, I grew up with divorced parents, and divorce is now a pretty common thing in our society. People crack jokes about life being over once you get married, how your sex life is going to take a dive into the dumps after a few months and never recover, how there’s always going to be that “one thing” about your spouse that drives you nuts… We have a habit of making marriage sound like this awful commitment.

Aside from those things, I see a lot of people getting really defensive when it comes to marriage. Far too often I have seen my friends complaining online about how their husband didn’t bother to help them with the dishes after dinner or how their wife is always complaining that they don’t pay enough attention to them. Unfortunately, social media only adds to this problem.

People vent to everyone BUT their spouse. I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but I realized how destructive it can be and learned from it. I don’t do this with my husband. Ever. If I ever have a problem with something he has done or if I’m having an issue of my own, he is the first person I go to. We talk about whatever the issue is and then that’s it. I feel a million times better and in the long run, so does he because I’m not posting crap about it all over Facebook and sharing our problems with the world.

Our marriage is between US. I made vows to my HUSBAND – not my husband, Aunt Martha, Uncle Ryan, Grandma, Grandpa, my girl friends, old friends from high school, my best friend’s brother, or anyone else. So if I only made vows to ONE person, why share every single problem with all those other people? It’s just not right. It’s disrespectful to your marriage and places your spouse in an awkward position because now they have all these people looking at them and thinking, “Why did you do that?!”

Are those people going to work with you on fixing the issue? No. They aren’t. They are going to pat you on the back and say things like “Oh, honey! I’m so sorry!” or trash talk your spouse – worst part is, you’re probably not giving them the full story and now your spouse looks like the bad guy. That’s not fair to them.

Want to know the secret to having a happy marriage?

The trick is making a conscious effort. Marriage takes a lot of work – it doesn’t maintain itself. You have to get up every day and think “I’m going to do everything I can to put a smile on their face,” and then DO IT. Treat your spouse the EXACT way you want to be treated. It’s as simple as that. Being kind, courteous, considerate, and respectful can go a long way. This is true of any relationship.

I don’t do anything because my husband “tells” me to do it. This isn’t because I’m stubborn (I am) or because I’m being defiant. It’s because my husband never “tells” me to do anything. Not once has my husband ever said something like, “You need to go do ¬†the dishes,” or “You have to go vacuum the house.” But he has said things like, “It’s really nice to come home to a clean house,” or “Could you make sure this gets taken care of?” I hear things like that and my first thought is “I like coming home to a clean house too,” or “I really should have taken care of that when I said I would earlier,” and then I make sure I do what it takes to make those things happen. Not because he “told” me to do it, but because I know it will make him happy and he will appreciate it.

As his wife, I want nothing more than to see my husband happy. If I have to do a little bit of work to make that happen, then you’re damn right I’m going to do it – even if he doesn’t ask me to.

After all, marriage is about one thing: love.

“LOVE:¬†unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”