I talk about wedding planning a lot. A whole lot. Unfortunately, I haven’t delved into healthy marriages as much as I should. So, today, I’m going to rectify that- and get pretty vulnerable- by talking about the three pieces of advice that transformed my marriage. [I truly believe being a healthy entrepreneur starts with being a whole/healthy person, and our relationships have a huge impact on our mental + emotional health.]
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When I first got married, nothing was the way I expected to be. Shocking, right?!?
Since I’m a wedding coordinator and I’m around love and marriage all the time, I naively believed I had realistic expectations what married life would be. I’d read all the “right” books. I’d observed numerous relationships over the years and noted what to, and what not to do.
Since I had seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of weddings and married life, I felt I had a grasp on the whole “marriage” thing. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
New town, new job, new marriage, financial concerns… All the change + stress crashed over me; I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. The result? I was cold and nasty. Who did I take it out on? My husband.
I can only imagine how my husband must’ve felt. He was expecting to start a beautiful new journey with the woman he loved. Instead, he got bitterness, resentment, and criticism.
Once upon a time, I had to take a marriage class in school. I honestly don’t recall anything from that course. However, as I was unpacking some boxes about six months after the wedding, I came across my old class notebook. In it I found a note that said,
“Practice Love. Loving well is a skill. Like any other skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.”
My heart sank. I realized I wasn’t very good at loving my husband. I certainly hadn’t “practiced” it. It struck me that I practiced yoga, cooking, and writing. Why not love?
I gave it a try. And what “practicing love” looked like for me was:
- Encouraging my husband rather than criticizing him.
- Communicating with him in a way he related to.
- Having fun with him.
- Dreaming with him.
- Showing an interest in the things he’s passionate about.
- Really listening to what he was saying, rather than making assumptions.
The more I did it, the easier it got. I started to really enjoy my marriage for the first time.
Look for the Positive
One day, as I was thinking about my marriage, a scene from the movie Pollyanna popped into my mind. For those of you who haven’t seen it, there’s a scene where the eternally optimistic Pollyanna happens upon the local minister practicing his hell-fire and brimstone sermon for Sunday. Pollyanna asked the minister why he was so hard on the congregation. She reminded him,
“If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.”
Like the minister in the move, I was shook. As I pondered that quote, I realized I had only focused on the bad things about my new life. I never considered what I had to be thankful for. From then on I started taking time out of every single day to list the things I loved about my husband, our life, our little fixer-upper, etc. I married the kindest, funniest, most generous person I’ve ever met. How had I not stopped to think about that?
The more I accentuated the positive, the more I loved our life together. I only wish I had done it sooner!
Be Teammates, Not Enemies
The last bit of marriage-altering advice actually came from my husband on a night I was being particularly harsh. He sat there taking my barrage of nastiness. When I finally stopped, he said this,
“I wish you saw us as teammates rather than enemies. That’s why I married you. So we could do life together.”
Tears flowed down my cheeks. He was right. The person who loved me more than anything in this world was sitting right in front of me. We promised to be on each other’s team until death do us part. It was time I started acting like it.
As I started acting on those bits of advice, things got better. And it still gets better every day. I continue to practice love, meditate on what I have to be thankful for, and approach life as my husband’s teammate. It didn’t just transform my marriage, it transformed me. I’m a happier, more fulfilled, more gracious person. For that, I am truly grateful.