Today, Ben and I have been married for 10 years!
It simultaneously feels like forever AND just yesterday...it truly truly has just gotten better and better and I feel so blessed. I say it all the time - I'm like a broken record - but I feel so lucky to have met the love of my life at such a young age. You can read our love story here!
I thought in honor of hitting the 10 year mark, I'd share my number one piece of marriage advice. Now, I in no way think I'm an expert - but I do feel very proud of my marriage and I do have a big piece of advice that I think is worth sharing. When I've told people what I'm about to share, they often brush it off or don't quite understand what I mean. So I'll explain.
Because in my opinion, it's the most important thing you can do to cultivate a healthy, happy marriage full of unity and respect. Here it is:
Ok. So, this sounds simple. This sounds like...no big deal. But it's actually very hard. Let me explain.
I feel like a very common thing is to see spouses LOOKING for things to be annoyed about, or upset by, or to be angry about. They are LOOKING to be let down. They are ASSUMING that their spouse is acting from a selfish place, or a careless place. They INTERPRET actions or words as something negative or bad or careless or insignificant. It can be an easy trap to fall into.
For example: let's say your husband leaves a mess in the kitchen after fixing himself a snack.
It could be easy to see it this way: he is careless, he's messy, he doesn't even consider the fact that I'm going to end up cleaning this up, he ASSUMES I'll clean up after him, he doesn't appreciate me, he is lazy, etc... etc... etc...
BUT, if you are looking for the GOOD in your husband, you will see the situation from a place of love. Your husband's strength may not be in tidying up - he may not care about it as much as you do...and that's ok! If YOU care, you can clean it up. Or you could ask him if he wouldn't mind helping you out by cleaning up after himself when he gets a chance. You can choose to see the situation in a positive light - maybe it's endearing that your husband is messy. Maybe that's a part of who he is - and you love him! So you accept that!
Or, another example: Your baby has a poopy diaper. You are tired and you feel like you always change the diapers. You wait for your husband to take the initiative and change the diaper. But he doesn't.
It could be easy to see it this way: Your husband is purposefully ignoring a necessary task, he's expecting you to change the diaper, he's not taking responsibility, he's not helping, etc...
BUT, looking for the good in your husband, you could understand that since you DO change most of the diapers, your husband has every right to assume that you are just going to change this one. If you want some help, simply ask - in a nice and respectful way.
These are just two examples where I feel like I've seen spouses react in a way that seems as if they ASSUME THE WORST from their spouse. Doing this breaks down respect on BOTH sides.
You will see what you look for. So look for the GOOD!
The way I look at it is this: Ben is my husband. He is the GREATEST man and husband in the world. He is sweet, loving, smart, brave, hard-working, funny, honorable, humble, devoted...the head of our house, my best friend, my life-long team mate, the father of my children.
It's easy for me to see the good in him! BUT, even in situations where we may disagree, or where we may have a mis-communication, I always stop and LOOK FOR THE GOOD. I try to see where he is coming from in the best possible light. I will stand up for him, have his back, show him respect, fight FOR and ALONGSIDE him, until the end. Because he's mine. My other half. My perfect match. Every situation, I approach from this perspective. Ben and our marriage come first. They are the cornerstone, the foundation, and the base camp. He is my person. I see the good in him. Always.
It's about loyalty. It's about seeking out the BEST in YOUR better half. It's about making your team the BEST it can be by viewing and treating your significant other with respect and with trust and with KINDNESS.
I NEVER speak badly about Ben to ANYONE. Not that I would ever have a reason to. But in general, I don't buy into women (or men, for that matter) bashing their spouse to their friends or family. As a married couple, YOU are one. YOU are a team. YOU deal with your issues or concerns amongst YOURSELVES. YOU show your spouse the respect of not speaking about them behind their backs. By focusing on the negative and discussing annoyances and problems with others, you are weakening the strong front of your relationship with your spouse. It's YOU TWO against the world.
Or, at least, that's how Ben and I see it. :)
Anyways, I'll stop there. I feel so strongly that there is a huge lack of respect and the seeking out of GOOD within marriages. I hope this post makes sense and that it is helpful in some way to at least ONE person.
In my opinion, a marriage is the most important relationship of a person's life. Everything else revolves around that union. Love, look for the good, respect, work together, trust, encourage, compliment, listen, forgive... cliche, but so so important.