I'm no marriage expert but occasionally I do have people ask me what keeps mine and Benjamin's marriage going. I mean let's face it marriages lasting more then a few months these days seems pretty rare. And I'm a pretty sure that people find out that I'm only 25 and I already have over 6 years of marriage under my belt and they wonder what we've done to make it successful. I wish I had a magic formula to share with you but I don't. I do have some things we try to live by that seem to be working for us!
1. Benjamin and I met very young (14 & 17) and if it hadn't been for my parent's feeling like it was too much too soon we probably would have stayed together until I was 18 and we would have gotten married. But things didn't happen that way and a few boyfriend's and a girlfriend later we found each other again. But I think the biggest thing is we still find the magic in each other. It isn't always easy and we have bad days but ultimately we remember why we fell in love and bringing our focus back to that always brings us back around!
2. Divorce isn't an option. Yes, in heated moments I'm sure I've said something along the lines of "I want a divorce" but to be honest this is something I've done my best to ban myself from doing. Because I don't want a divorce, I want us to work things out. And I know that we are capable of this. Benjamin and I can both be very stubborn and we both like to be right. But we know that deep down we want to be together more then anything.
3. Honesty. It sounds so easy doesn't it? Just be honest. But it's not always. You don't want to hurt the other person, you don't want to mess anything up, you don't want to feel rejected because of how you feel, etc. And this is something I'm only getting the hang of here recently. Don't worry, I didn't lie to my husband but I'd keep things to myself and they would grow and fester until I'd explode and it would completely blind side my husband. Now, even though it can be difficult for me, I do my best to be straight up. If something's bothering me I say so, if I don't agree I say so.....doesn't mean we always agree but when I do that in a fairly calm way and Benjamin does the same we can hear each other out, see each other's view points and come to a compromise on fixing the problem.
4. Compromise. So many people think compromise is when one person gives into the other person and are good with it. That's not compromise. Comprise is when you give a little and the other person gives a little and you meet somewhere in the middle. You don't necessarily get your full way and they may not get their's but it's somewhere but of you can be satisfied with. We recently dealt with an "issue" and to be honest I wanted to cut it off, not have to deal with it at all. But I knew, whether I wanted to admit it or not, it meant something to my husband. So we compromised. Now I'm fairly comfortable with the situation and my husband is fairly happy with it too.
5. Faith. For us, one of the BIGGEST cornerstones of our marriage has been our faith. We love Jesus and we try to treat each other with the love and respect He expects us to give. I think we struggled with this the first few years of our marriage the most. We both were reacting so selfishly.
6. Treat each other as you want to be treated. Again, it sounds simple. But naturally you want what you feel is best for you. I spent the first couple years of my marriage trying to make Benjamin treat me like I wanted to be treated. Not realizing that I wasn't giving that to him. When I stopped thinking solely about myself (and I still think about myself, don't think I have it ALL together!) about started focusing on treating him with kindness and respect and love then I started getting that in return.
7. Be quick to say you're sorry. This isn't easy for me. Not at all. I don't like to admit I'm wrong, I don't like to admit that I reacted wrongly or said something harsh or mean. But the reality is I do. Last night, we were outside enjoying a bonfire and Gigi was acting up, I was on edge with her already, Benjamin said something and I got mad and made a harsh, hurtful comment. I regretted it immediately. I wish I could say I apologized right then and there but it took a sink load of dishes for me to swallow my pride, walk upstairs and tell him I was very sorry. And then things were ok. We try hard not keep our arguments going too long!
8. Don't forget to let them know you love them. I think for a few years I just assumed Benjamin knew how I felt. You know, I married him, didn't I?! We have a child together, don't we?! Doesn't he know I love him, think he's hot, think he's funny, think he's smart, think he's a great dad? He probably does but isn't it so nice to hear it?! See it?! Yes! So I am trying so much harder to let him verbally hear it from me, and see it. I tell him more often (or try to) that I love him, that he means so much to me, etc. And he does the same and I love it!
9. Be physical. I don't talk about the physical side of love much because growing up I was sorta "taught" that PDA was inappropriate even among married people. It was something for the "bedroom". And for the longest I kinda struggled with being affectionate in public. Besides sex I'm talking about just signs of affection. I started realizing recently that sometimes Benjamin and I would go days without kissing each other or hugging. Not because we wanted to but we were busy, tired, in hurry, etc. We get into a routine and forget to step out of it. I think we are both trying to make a more conscience effort to touchy-feely. Taking time to kiss each other, hug each other, snuggling on the couch instead of sitting at opposite ends, holding hands in public more. It can be little things - a leg squeeze and a smile, a brush on the arm, etc. Little things. They make you feel wanted and needed.
10. Trust. In marriage trust is obviously a HUGE thing. If you don't trust then nothing is going to work. And there will be situations that test your trust. But that's when you find out for sure if you really do trust that person or if you doubt them. I'm happy to say I can trust my husband! And I hope that he trusts me (I'm pretty sure he does!).
Marriage is work but the reward is wonderful! I'm proud of how far we've come - the first couple of years were rough. Don't think we've had perfectly smooth sailing all along but we worked at it and now we're here! I know that there will be many more lessons to learn and we'll have more things to grow in and trust each other on. I'm excited to see where our future goes and what it holds for us!!! And more then anything I'm happy I get to share this life with my husband....the love of my life!