Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Do YOU Spell Marriage?

Inspired by THIS POST... I think Zay and I have learned quite a few things during our (almost) 7 year marriage and (almost) 10 year relationship. But seeing as we got together super young and didn't have a clue what we were getting ourselves into, a lot of the lessons learned were from serious trial and error (a lot of our expertise is in what not to do). But that's okay. Sometimes the choices we make lead us down harder roads than others, but sometimes learning by example just doesn't cut it (for stubborn souls like ours) and we just had to jump in and learn the hard way.

Every relationship is unique... and each takes a certain set of rules and definitions to work. If I spelled our marriage out, it would look something like this:

M is for "make it work." If giving up, getting a divorce, throwing your relationship away after one bad argument (or ten bad arguments) is an option for you... if you allow it to be an option... then there's not much motivation to stick around and make it work when things get difficult. You can just quit anytime. But if you eliminate that as an option, you're forced to find the true source of the problem, work together, find a solution, be humble and forgiving, grow in compassion and patience, and make it work (and work well).

A is for "agree to disagree." We all view the world differently. There's no one right way to do anything. And no two people are perfectly compatible and agree on everything. In a marriage, you're faced with the HUGE challenge of living with someone, sharing the same bed with someone, making financial decisions with someone, raising children with someone, etc. when they could quite possibly have completely different views on how any or all of those things should be done. Bumping heads and fighting to the death about every single disagreement is silly and stubborn and will get you nowhere fast. It can't always be your way or the highway... and picking your battles wisely can usually eliminate 99% of them. The rest are more than likely nit-picky and unnecessary. It's okay to agree to disagree.

R is for "respect." Joking around and having fun together can be a huge part of a marriage and a friendship. But it's not always okay to make fun of each other or EVER okay to put each other down, even in jest. It's not fun to call each other names, treat your spouse as if they're an idiot, or not value them as a person. Think of a person outside of your marriage that you respect the most - someone you would never, ever dare disrespect. You should treat your spouse better than the way you would treat that person.

R is for "romance." Not everyone is into being cheesy and overly sweet or displaying affection in public. But that's not what romance means to me... it just means to remember why I fell in love in the first place and to recreate moments that make me feel that way again. Remembering is important, because we can easily forget the good when the bad sets in. Continue to date and to try to impress each other. Be mysterious. Be spontaneous. Be cute and silly. Compliment each other. Try new and exciting things. Reminisce about great memories you've had together... then go out and create new ones. Your spouse should be your best friend, your partner in crime!

I is for "intimacy." Be intimate. *wink, wink* Regularly and often. Never use sex as a tool to be manipulative. It shouldn't be withheld out of spite or to hurt the other person emotionally or as a ransom for something else that you want. It's to bring a husband and wife together and draw them closer, not one more thing to argue about. So... let's get it on!!

A is for "apologize." In most cases it takes two to argue, fight, hurt, deceive, manipulate, or damage a relationship. Apologize for your part in it. Apologize quickly and sincerely. Sometimes that's all it takes. And pride has no place in a marriage. Communicate your feelings and explain why you're feeling the way you do, but always own up to how you contributed to the situation and how you may have hurt your spouse in the process.

G is for "gratitude." Show appreciation and gratitude for what your spouse contributes to the relationship. I'm sure one of the most common complaints people have when they are unhappy in their marriage is that they feel unappreciated. People like to feel validated, that their efforts don't go unnoticed, that they are special and important to the other person. If you don't show appreciation to your spouse, they can harbor feelings of resentment, hold grudges longer, and start to compare what they contribute vs. what they perceive their spouse contributes. But it's not a competition! It's a team effort. We're both working towards the same goal here.

E is for "expectations." When you have a lot of ideas stuck in your head of how your spouse is "supposed" to be/act or how they are "supposed" to do things or what they are "supposed" to say in a particular situation... you're often going to be severely disappointed. ("You're supposed to have dinner ready on the table when I get home from work!" Ha ha.... YEAH RIGHT). Frustration and anger stem from expectations not matching up with reality. Instead of forcing your expectations on your spouse, you have to learn to adjust, adapt, and accept. Sometimes the problem isn't what they are doing "wrong" in your eyes, but your own unrealistic expectations. I blame Hollywood and every chick flick I've ever watched!! Ha ha.

So, how do YOU spell marriage?


  1. You have no idea how much I just learned from this post! I mean, we have a great marriage, but there's a lot more that I can do to make it better!

    1. I try to never take for granted that I have Zay by my side through all of life's ups and downs. I honestly suck at it, but I still try. I read everything I can about strengthening families. When I was at BYU, I took Marriage Enhancement classes. Whenever they offer a Marriage class at Church in place of Sunday School, we take it. I would recommend marriage counseling to ANY married couple. I don't think you can have enough help to keep a marriage strong when Satan is attacking it so strongly...


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