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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marriage Maintenance

As I sit here this afternoon - cramming as much into nap time as possible (two computers going - one work and one home, catching up on emails and all things electronic) I am thinking of my husband.  I had a message from him on each computer and had to smile.

As things get super crazy - holiday time or not - it is so easy to get wrapped up in our "to do" lists.  Lists of things I have to do for work, for the kids, for the house, for each aspect of my life that goes whizzing by day by day. You know I love crossing things off my list.  I relish in that big "X" or dark line that I can strike through each "to do".  I think Ben and I both do a good job of keeping "marriage maintenance" on our "to do" list.  It is one of those things that can easily fall to the bottom of the list...or can be frustrating - because it can never be crossed off the list...  Nevertheless...it is a mandatory item.  Sometimes it is automatic and doesn't need any special effort and other times it requires a conscious decision to think about what might make his day better, or how we can navigate through our most recent relationship development.

Our marriage is far from perfect...  I wouldn't want it any other way.  Certainly, there are things over the years that I would change if I had the chance, but I believe there is learning through imperfection.  Learning to forgive, learning to support, and learning to continue to grow in love as our lives evolve and change.

I love being a mother.  It makes my days better in more ways that I can explain.  I also love being a wife.  Someday, these kiddos that occupy my days and nights will grow up.  Someday, they will leave this little nest that we provide for them and flourish as young adults out in this big world of ours.  Then what?  I don't want to wave to my kids as they pull out of the driveway off to college (this hypothetical picture is somewhat unbelievable - as if I wouldn't want to go and see their dorm room and...you know...help them set it up?!?  Follow along anyway, it's hypothetical, remember?) and look at the man waving to them next to me, wondering, "What the hell happens next?"  I want to ease into that next phase just as we entered every other phase...together.

What can get us there?  What can we do now to remain in touch with our relationship?  It's been fifteen years since we met.  I guess my best answer (at least for today) is to stay in touch.  Make the effort.  Some days are easy and some are rough as hell.  (Today was an easy day - this post is not a post-fight rant, okay?)  Take the good to heart and work hard through the tough.  For yourself, for your partner, for your children, and for your own hypothetical wave goodbye in however many years...that will be here before we know it.

For us, this "stay in touch" involves emails, texts, and phone calls throughout the day.  At least one of them needs to be for no reason, other than to say hi.  It make us feel important to each other.  There was reason to call other than to take out the trash, pick up the kids, or stop and get milk.  We have never actually discussed this, but it is something we just do.  Freiedrich Nietzsche said, "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”  I can't agree more.  I can honestly say that Ben is my best friend.  I tell him things that I would never tell even my closest friend.  The bottom line...he is my closest friend.  The exact reason why I would call him for no reason...because I want to.

I'm not even going to try and give marriage advice.  We are far from perfect, remember?  All I will say is take the time to think about your farewell to your children as they leave for college.  Are you ready to live alone with your partner?  What do you want those years to look like?  We plan for our financial futures...it's time to spend just a few minutes planning for our relational futures.  OR - just keep having kids - then you can project your empty nest farther into the future. ;)

Oh - and by the way, that tried and true marriage advice that states that you should never go to bed mad?  That's total crap.  Sometimes you are just too tired to "talk it out" anymore.  Go to bed.  Talk tomorrow.

42 comments:

  1. Love this necklace!!! Please draw my name for it!!! :)

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    1. Well said! I needed that advice after a very trying and stressful relationship week!

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  2. I love the "Jasper Teardrop Adjustable ring"!

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  3. The Ellen Wire Wrap earring set is adorable!!

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  4. I'm so happy you guys get it! So many couples (moms) get so rapped up in raising these little soon to be adults, not looking at the next step, which I'm loving just as much seeing them be adults! So many couples don't get this! So very happy and proud of the marriage you too have!

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  5. haha - never heard anyone dis on the 'never go to bed mad' thing...but it's true, sometimes it's better. I spend so much time worrying about the kids and what they need...I tend to think that hubby can just look out for himself. I forget that we need each other - need to touch and connect.

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  6. Love this post, Nicole... Sometimes it's SO hard to work on the friendship part of marriage when I'm cranky and tired and really just want to scream because he flopped on the couch instead of helping to shovel the three feet of gunk that accumulated under the kids' high chairs over dinner... Whoops! There I go. :+) Thanks for the grounding!

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    1. LOL!! Love the picture you painted! Thanks for stopping by!!!

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  7. I agree about not attempting to talk it out any longer. Sometimes the issue just dies with a good nights rest. It is so much easier to get angry and frustrated at the end of a long day. I love knowing that I have found my best friend. Thursday was an extremely emotional family drama filled day. I called Eric and told him "Nothing is wrong here, I have the kids under control. I have the house under control. I just need you" His response was let me finish my email and I am on my way.
    My grandma always told me the secret to forever is never failing out of love at the same time. I think that it helps knowing that just because your not "feeling" it, doesn't mean your marriage is bad or heading towards divorce.

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  8. I definitely needed this post tonight. Maybe it was meant for me to be two weeks behind on reading the blogs I follow and deciding to catch up tonight. Thanks Nicole~

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  9. very beautifully written.. coming from the SITS ~

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  10. Visiting from SITS...Great post! I am blessed to have a second chance at love--and this time I got it right! My first marriage--well, that ended up to be part of the first book I wrote ("Transforming Divorce). That was a really lonely time for me. I didn't believe in divorce, didn't want it in spite of all that was done behind the scenes, but it ended up being the best thing for me. Great learning opportunity! My new marriage (and new book--my husband and I wrote a book called "The Secrets of Loving Relationships") is amazing and even though we may have our differences (few and far between), we have the tools to work things out. Relationships are the single best tool for learning about ourselves and working through things such as your childhood issues and present issues. It helps if you're married to your best friend!

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  11. I agree with everything you've said here. I actually know a lot of people whose parents split up after they went away to university. It's more common than people realize, I think.
    I'm definitely married to my best friend, and we do our best to stay connected. And I completely agree about the going to bed mad thing. Sometimes I realize that I'm just exhausted and fighting for no reason. Sleep does wonders.
    Enjoy your SITS day!

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  12. We've gone to bed mad plenty of times and we've been married 20 years. Sometimes sleeping on it is just better!

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  13. What a wonderful thought...I love this idea and even though we don't have kids, everyone can use this advice! Happy SITS day :)

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  14. My husband and I started scheduling date nights in which has been fun, we order takeout after the kids are in bed or play a game, it's nice! visiting from SITS

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  15. We tried that last line for the first few years of marriage, but you said it perfectly and at this point sometimes you are just truly too tired and need to go to bed!!

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  16. I LOVE this!! I totally agree, I check in with my husband lots during the day and he checks in maybe *too much* while I am at work but in the end it makes us stronger. We feel more connected that way. And yes, the next day sometimes all we need is rest and the argument is over. Love your blog!!! Enjoy your SITS day!

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  17. Great post! Stopping from SITS...happy day to you! I agree with you about going to bed mad. Sometimes it's better to sleep on it, and alot of times I wake up the next morning and realize what we were arguing about wasn't really important enough to rehash anyway.

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  18. Whether you meant it to be advice or not, it's great advice that you've given! :) I've been married 20 years and it is not easy ... there are dry patches and difficulties, but I know that the more I put into improving that relationship and looking out for the best interests of my spouse, the more we both benefit!

    Hope you have an amazing SITS Day!

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  19. Happy SITS Day! I think if more people treated their spouse as their best friend, more marriages would stick. :)

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  20. Happy SITS! I think it is so important to talk to your spouse through out the day. Whether it's a phone call, text, email, or even facebook comment! Great post!

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  21. Working on marriage is something that is important. We are in the later phase with the girls off and married. Currently, one of us working part time and one of us working full time. That is another transition you will probably deal with.

    I believe marriage is a 100%-100% venture, not 50-50 and friendship truly is the key.

    Thanks for the post. Enjoy your SITS Day.

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  22. My husband and I are enjoying our almost empty nest. We truly are best friends and we are always reading each other's mind - a little scary! Marriage is work but we made a commitment from the start that the word "divorce" was not an option. We truly believe in til death do us part!

    Stopping by from SITS. Enjoy your day!

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  23. My husband and I have only been married for a year and a half and no kids yet, but sometimes I find life gets in the way of us time, even if we do spend a good deal of time together. I agree that marriage takes work and effort. I find an unexpected call in the middle of the day from him just to say hi puts a huge smile on my face and makes me feel loved and special. Thanks for the post, and happy SITS day :-)

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  24. This was a good reminder to text my hubby a few emoticons on his busy day. Thanks!

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  25. I absolutely LOVE this post! There is so much truth to this and I love that you added the quote "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” You totally reminded me that I need to send my hubs some love via the airwaves. Thank you!

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  26. So right about going to bed mad and talking about it the next day. Most times neither of us remember what started the fight. Visiting from SITS.

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  27. This is lovely! Great topic, wonderful thoughts and actions. Well done! Visiting from SITS!

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  28. So, so true. My children will live with me for 18 years, but my husband will live with me for the rest of my life. It is so important to nurture our marriages so we can survive and flourish through the child raising years. Happy SITS day!

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  29. I love this line, "Our marriage is far from perfect... I wouldn't want it any other way." And your insight on the going to bed mad thing... that was the #1 advise I got at my wedding but it's so wrong. Going to bed mad is OK, if not a better idea then staying up all night fighting.

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  30. I agree with everything you said. It is so important to work at the relationship along the way. The marriage gets better as the kids grow - better, but not perfect. :)

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  31. Love you thoughts.. I think working through marriage is a process and it never ends.. But again, that is what life is about, right? trial and error and picking up some revelations along the way..
    Happy SITS day! Enjoy it!

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  32. Totally agree about it being okay to go to bed mad! Great post.

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  33. Good post. I agree about going to bed. My husband does not agree...
    The little e-mails and e-cards definitely help to keep us connected and in touch. Happy SITS day. :)

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  34. Happy SITS day! Marriage is rough. Everything worth it always is. My husband are imperfectly perfect for each other.

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  35. I've noticed that a lot of the time if I "go to bed mad" I'll wake up the next day and whatever we were fighting about will seem distant and stupid. Seriously, who came up with that advice?

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  36. What a great post!! I agree...best friends are great to have, but my hubs is the one I tell EVERYTHING to and share ALL sides of who I am and I know I will be loved forever. It's about effort. It's about a lot of sacrifice and compromise. But mostly it truly is about respect and tried and true friendship. PS: My hubs and I have also been together 15 years!! :)

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  37. Very true. My husband is my best friend too

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