Hi there! It's Live the Sweet Life Sunday! Hope you decide to join in the conversation! This week, I'm talking about love. Love makes the world go 'round. Love for others, love of life, self love... all are so important in creating a sweeter life. This post is all about restoring the relationship kind of love.
Mr. Jones and I just celebrated our 12th Anniversary. Hard to believe. Seems like just yesterday we were in court fighting over child support and the Land Cruiser.
When people ask how long we've been married, I say " Twelve years... most of it happily." I get mixed reactions from people that aren't familiar with our story or my candid banter, but most of our friends and family smile and congratulate us for making it all work out.
Our marriage was destroyed. It was ashes. It was the past. And then, just before the final signatures were signed and papers were filed, there was some spark of a distant memory. That spark became a flicker. That flicker became a fire. Not a destructive fire that ravages the unprepared, but a warm glow that lit the way for us to restore our love.
I'd like to tell you that it has been a year and a half of utter bliss.
The stuff of cheesy romance novels.
But that would be complete bullshit.
The thing with being married for a while is that you have this common history. There are so many fun and happy memories that a couple shares. So many adventures and travels and inside jokes that you shared. And of course the moments that seal you together forever, like the birth of your children. There is no telling of your story without acknowledging the role your partner played in those memories. That's the stuff you hang on to. That's the stuff that we kept remembering when we first got back together. We would just hug each other and I would cry and we'd just be so thankful that those were things we got to keep alive.
The other thing with being married for a while is the tendency to fall back into bad habits. My husband and I have very different styles of communicating, but for the most part, we understand each other. Still, there are moments when a word or a phrase or a situation seems eerily similar to one years back. Back when we didn't understand each other. When we had major misunderstandings that festered into months of anger. That's when we fail and fall back into our pre-divorce stances, arguing at the old partner, forgetting that we promised to do things differently.
We promised to build on the one thing that was left... our friendship.
We promised to be kinder and to listen more patiently.
We promised to solve the big issues without blaming or shaming.
We promised to compromise.
That last one was a big one. It's the one thing people tell you is the secret to successful marriages. You think you can do it, but then you get married, and all of a sudden, you're like, "No, I'm right. YOU need to compromise!!"
To his credit, my husband has changed the way he goes about making decisions. It used to be "my way or the highway." Not great for any relationship, but especially bad for marriages. REALLY bad for me who, as a single mom for nearly ten years, was used to making all decisions for my little family without consulting anyone else. I knew I needed to compromise, but not knowing how to do it in a healthy way, I fell into practices that were kind of manipulative. Okay, guilty! They were totally manipulative. I felt entitled to that behavior because of my husband's irrational stubbornness. Little impasses become a hill to climb and then grow into insurmountable mountains. Sometimes, those little impasses that could have easily been resolved turned into this ridiculously enormous issue that would create so much strife that we wouldn't speak for days.
We catch ourselves when we start to feel those impasses becoming more than they need to be. Some times, it takes us a little longer to catch it... but we do eventually catch it. I can see it in my husband's face. I hear it in his voice. His inflection changes. Instead of anger and impatience, there's love. I feel it in myself. I hear echoes of past arguments and I shake myself out of that mode, adjusting my attitude and going at the situation from a place of love rather than frustration.
There's no recipe for restoring love, but I do recommend the following:
- Remember the friendship at the core of the relationship.
- Don't roll your eyes and walk away in exasperation. Listen and try to understand.
- Fight it out if you have to. No need to let anger fester. Just watch your words.
- Admit your personal faults, no matter how much you feel you've been wronged.
- Let go of the old fighting ways and learn new ways to communicate.
- Be grown up enough to say sorry.
- Be willing to do the hard work.
Restoring love is not easy... but it's worth it.
So tell me... what has worked for you? Where have you had a tough time in your relationships? What was the trick for making it work out, if even just for a brief moment?