January 14th is my 40th wedding anniversary.
I was 17 and pregnant when I got married. I was mom to four little girls by age 22 (my third pregnancy was twins).
The odds were stacked against us.
The first 10 years were filled with drama and insanity. We talked about going our separate ways. Deep down we knew we never would.
We knew there had to be a better way.
A friend suggested we seek professional help.
We overcame the fear of change, the fear of getting real, with ourselves and with each other, and the fear of getting professional help.
In 1982, every Wednesday night for six months, we hired a babysitter, drove 45 minutes to town, and paid $50 an hour out of pocket to see a therapist.
We were ready for change, we let go of blame, excuses and took responsibility. We were willing to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our therapist would give us homework. We never missed a lesson.
The secret to a loving relationship is to do the work it takes to grow lovingly and peacefully into the future.
We learned to take down emotional barriers, open up and reveal our true selves, and do away with long silences. We learned to choose to be happy over needing to be right. We learned how to be good friends.
Most importantly we learned to forgive.
Today we know how to work together and be together. We know how to give each other space and trust each other. We know how to have fun, play, and be adventurous together.
We also argue, blame, get mad, forgive and begin again.
When it’s difficult, we take it slow. We take a time-out, walk away, get centered, and look within for the answers. When it’s difficult, we lean on each other.
You don’t have to wait for tomorrow to be again. Every moment is a clean slate.
When it’s easy we celebrate. Over time, you learn how to do “easy.” The other is too exhausting.
Once you commit to the end, there’s a certainty, a knowingness that brings inner peace and peace to the relationship.
The following tips when practiced will help you have a long and healthy relationship.
Kindness creates a mood of love.
Make a decision to be kind. Set a loving intention each morning. Use your manners. Look at each other with loving eyes. Love is a choice. The more love you choose, the more joy you feel.
Let go of fear.
Love is letting go of fear. Learn to trust each other and count on each other. Know when to speak up and when to calm down. Open your hearts and offer each other a sense of safety. That’s how trust grows.
Your partner isn’t the source of your pain.
You are 100% responsible for your relationship. If your partner is abusive, you’re responsible for “being” there. Get help and do what you have to do. Give up blame and learn to be accountable.
Focus on changing your own annoying habits.
It bothers me when my husband eats too fast. I only need to focus myself. Drop your attack thoughts. Add the words, “Just like me,” to anything you want to accuse your mate of doing. For example, “You eat too fast” changes to, “You eat too fast, just like me.”
Make forgiveness a way of life.
Think of yourself as a forgiving person. Grow into it. You can’t experience love when your heart and mind are full of hate. Let go of hurt and resentment.
Give up the pain of the past. It’s impossible to have a loving relationship without forgiveness. Impossible! Turn your burdens into blessings.
Create a spirit of unity.
Learn to ask for and receive love. Give more than you receive. The more love you share, the more love you have. Point all of your actions to love. Believe the best is yet to come.
Create room for intimacy and sex.
Turn off your electronics and spend quality time alone. Intimacy can be described as, “the ability to open up and reveal your true self or in-to-me-see.”
When you create intimacy in your relationship, sex is filled with meaning and love.
If these steps seem to difficult, reach out and get help. Don’t use money ask an excuse. If you have to scrub toilets or collect garbage for extra cash, do it. Your marriage is sacred. Learn to value it above all else, never let it fall apart or die.