15 Years Married and Here Is What I Have Learned
My husband and I just celebrated 15 years of marriage last week.
A milestone for any couple but a hard earned one for us (like for many many of you as well).
Here is some of what I have learned in my years of wedded…eh hum…’bliss’:
It is just as important to love yourself as it is to love your partner.
Love does not make a marriage work. Work makes a marriage work.
Minding your own business (i.e. doing your own work) is the key to long-term happiness in marriage. [If you don’t get what this means, call me and I’ll tell you.]
If blaming, shaming, resenting, arguing with, and contempting (that’s not a word but it should be) your partner into being who you want him/her to be was an effective strategy, it would have been successful the first dozen times that you tried it.
The problem is never really about sex…but you usually think that it is.
Ignoring a problem never makes it go away.
Occupying yourself with vacations, work, new homes, children, athletic endeavors, shopping, etc., never makes problems go away…but it provides some distraction for a while.
Having children usually makes marriage harder…but we keep having children anyway.
Making a ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ list about staying in a marriage or leaving a marriage is a great way to drive yourself crazy.
Resentfully and angrily staying in a marriage is not a win for anyone. Working on a marriage with humility and openness is a win.
Leaving a marriage angrily and with blame is not a win for anyone. Choosing to leave a marriage with humility and openness is a win.
I have also learned a few things as a marriage therapist these last many years. Here are a few of them:
Couples who you think have the ‘perfect life’ are in my office seeking help too. Their lives are not as perfect as you think.
About 90% of couples find themselves locked in an argument over the course of their marriage. This means that this is a normal part of marriage and indicates the need for new tools and strategies — not necessary the need for a new mate.
Affairs happen. Affairs are devastating. People can heal from affairs and marriages can thrive after affairs. Really. I see it happen.
Usually marriages ‘don’t work’ because people ‘don’t work’.
Love and passion start marriages. Curiosity and kindness maintain marriages.
Marriage is an art of learning to have both autonomy and connection with your partner.
The things that you want your partner to change, are almost always they things that you need to learn yourself.
Today, I took a friend out for a pedicure for your 44th birthday. While we were having our toes done, we (like so many women) were talking about are marriages and spouses. What struck me as I was speaking with my friend is how much I have changed over 15 years of marriage. Today, I am not only a better partner to my husband…but I am a better person. I have learned to communicate better, really listen and hear him, be more empathetic, be less reactive, and frankly...be nicer. It doesn't mean that we don't have arguments or hurt each other's feelings...but we are better citizens in our relationship together.
What did I do to see such a difference in my marriage, you ask. Here are just a few of the things:
Lots of honest and heartbreaking conversation with my husband
Learning new skills by reading self-help books, spiritual books, marriage books, communication books, well, you get the picture
Practicing new skills even when I didn’t want to and it was painful/scary/felt impossible
And the most important thing...I was willing to learn and grow
If you are reading this now and any of it resonates with where you please don't wait another moment and call us today (720) 457-3342. Each of our licensed therapists is specially trained in couples therapy and we are here for you. You do not have to traverse this path alone.