Don’t Rob Yourself of a Happy Marriage

6 ways to strengthen your love

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The gray, dreary morning of February 3, 2001, approached. This was it; in just a few short hours I’d be the wife of my best friend.

Sure, it was drizzling and cold for the outdoor ceremony where 360 people were to be at. My bridesmaids dresses ended up being an expensive, near fiasco that took my mom and I searching all over Central Florida for weeks only to end up sewing them ourselves.

My future in-laws had graciously offered their country property to host the event, and Bryan had woken up the day before the wedding only to find that horses had been trampling the reception site and had graced the area with piles of manure.

Regardless of endless imperfections, my 19 yr. old nerves were actually pretty calm.

This particular day wasn’t what we committed ourselves to, for it was just a brief moment that would pass quickly and we would then move on to the reality of our love and friendship for years to come.

 

I was over the top excited…there was a lot I didn’t know, but one thing I was confident about on that day 15 years ago is that Bryan was the guy I was sticking with for life, and whatever came our way, we’d face it together.

And we have.

We were so young!

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My heart is full today as I celebrate 15 years of marriage to a guy that truly blesses me day after day. We have so much fun together, love deeply, and my life is brighter in every way because of the great teammate that I have.  

But life can take anyone by surprise and has ways of robbing us of joy, doesn’t it?

Like the time when your husband makes the decision to quit a good paying job and instead start his own business where there are mostly question marks and what ifs and maybes.

Or being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a parent. When I think I’m pretty much maxed out. Only to realize that no, here’s some more stuff to figure out and handle.

Money is plentiful and then money isn’t plentiful. Ups and downs. Imperfections.

We all have our own stories and experiences.

 

I look back to the early days when things were simpler AND easier. However, if I remember correctly, I had more time to make childish mountains out of mole hills. I don’t miss that nonsense.

 

Juggling moves, and house purchases, and having kids and purchasing land, and quitting a secure and good job, and starting a business, and having even more kids, and homeschooling, and more business ventures, to kids growing into teenagers, to working on building our own home, only to have even more kids.

You see a pattern here? Yeah, a lot of kids. Anyways.

Here are those 8 kids ( 1 on the way). And we are totally blessed to be their parents.

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Of course every moment isn’t awesome and pleasant, but after 15 years, we’re pretty darn happy, and we’re pretty awful sure that the other is way cooler now than before. Actually, not sure if Bryan would say that, but it’s my blog post and I’m talking. (So yes, we’re both way cooler now.)

I can’t let all the junk and the chaos and the responsibilities and the wins and the losses rob me of joy in my marriage.  It’s a relationship worth fighting for and investing in. And like most things, if we’re not nurturing its growth, it starts to fade.

Shed pretense  I remember one night spending like an hour on the couch trying to get words out to express a personal difficulty that I didn’t particularly like having to deal with and to be authentic about it was really hard.
Pretense before or after your married is stupid. It sets you up for disaster. Don’t act is if you’re someone that you’re not. Be yourself. And if your self needs some improvement, go ahead and own that by being open about who you are, and purpose to change in areas that would serve others and you well.

Check for pretense on a regular basis and don’t get into a habit of building a facade around your heart day after day.

Laugh at each other I. Can’t. Tell. You. How. Much. This. Has. Helped. Our. Marriage. You may say, “That just seems mean!”  Sure, full blown mockery is one thing, but seeing something in your spouse that is funny, less than perfect, or totally quirky is way too awesome NOT to laugh at.

And let that be returned back at you.

Try laughing at yourself. It’s freeing. Because it’s simply embracing who you are and not taking yourself so seriously all the time. You’re YOU, and sometimes you’re kind of a laughable and quirky creature, okay?

Be gracious and forgiving I never had the idea that Bryan was perfect. In fact, before getting married there were definitely some things about him that ticked me off. For real.  But let’s be honest…uh, so about me. Yeah, he’s had to deal with plenty, too. We’ve both had to extend forgiveness and grace. A lot. That’s what real love is.
I don’t know a more gracious man than Bryan. He is authentic with me and desires that to be a two way street. In that grace we have thrived well.

Be supportive of things that have little to do with you Not everything your spouse does has to serve you directly. I’m married to a dreamer who has ideas galore. And they don’t just stay in his head. He takes action and does them. There have been times I find myself having a pity party that I’m not the center of his dream.

I ask myself: “Why don’t you want him to do this?” My reasons are usually pretty self centered.

Over time, I’ve come to genuinely value the “dreamer and doer” in him.

Instead of taking the “woe is me” route, choose to support your spouse in their endeavors. That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree, but don’t be a whiny downer.

Stay on the same track Amidst all the busyness and life’s responsibilities, it’s important to stop every now and then and communicate about where we’re both headed. While our individual tasks are often quite different from each other, are we both headed in the same direction with a common goal?

 

There have been many conversations between us that have helped clarify what we’re doing. Sometimes it points us to areas we need to let go of, and other times it just confirms that we’re on the same page and regardless of difficult times, we’re on the right path and and in this together.

Do not depend on each other for happiness Don’t wait around for someone else to make you happy. Seriously. The more independent you are in this area, the more you’ll actually have to offer each other in marriage (and elsewhere).

You’re responsible for feeding your own mind and soul with the truths that bring you joy. Other people can’t do it for you. The more you try to get happiness from others, the needier you become. Don’t wait around for others. Choose joy today. Share it. You won’t be sorry.

 

 

Here we are today, celebrating our 15th anniversary in California! (Having a blast, and yes, feeling a bit spoiled.)

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Rob Yourself of a Happy Marriage

  1. When I first clicked on this blog I assumed it was just another facebook story, but to my surprise it was yours Lelani. What a delightful read. You really are talented and gifted in this department. What a great read!