Sunday, September 29, 2013

marriage.

I've gotten two very nice compliments lately about the kind of marriage Jack and I have.  To me, there isn't a better compliment I can get than my efforts as a wife or mom because those are my most important jobs.  I don't claim to be any sort of expert on marriage or relationships; Jack and I have been together for 7 years, and only married for {almost} four of those. We also have tons of friends and family who are great examples to us and have helped us see what we want in our relationship.  After 7 years together we have learned what does and does not work for us as a couple.  I thought I would share some things that are kind-of rules for us:

We don't expect the other person to be a mind-reader.  Jack is extremely sensitive to my needs and can usually tell when I need something, but there is the occasion that he doesn't tap into my mood.  On these occasions, instead of saying "Man, I'm so worn out today" and looking at him expectantly, I will say "Hey, today has been kind of rough.  Will you watch the girls while I go take a bath?"  Or of something is bothering me, instead of just being crabby at him, I'll say "Hey, it bugged me when you left your Crystal Light wrappers on the counter for the trillionth time today.  Can you please throw them right away from now on?"

We never speak badly about the other person to ANYONE.  We used to have a framed quote hanging at the top of our stairs that "Be fiercely loyal to one another." by Pres. Gordon B Hinckley.  I love that quote.  Being loyal means that I never say anything about my husband that he wouldn't appreciate if he were there in the room.  Jack is extremely good at talking me up to other people.  I'm pretty sure it bugs the crap 'outta them to hear him praise his wife so much, but I sure like it :)

We don't involve other people in our fights and we don't fight in front of others.  There have been occasions when friends or family have told me about things that their significant other has done that have made them mad or hurt them deeply.  Long after their fight is over and they have gotten over it, I still remember the thing that person did.  No one shows their best side during a fight, and it's okay for your spouse to see that side of you occasionally because (hopefully) you make up for it ten-fold during peace times.  If other people hear about that side of you, it's harder for them to shrug it off or forget about it.  I don't want anyone thinking those thoughts about my husband, or about me!  Also, how awkward is it to have to hear a couple fight?

We take time for just the two of us.  Olivia goes to bed at 7pm.  Every night.  I love my little fireball an insane amount, but I sure look forward to her bedtime :)  (Berlin is still so easy that she required little work before her 8:45 bedtime).  Jack works from home, which means I get to see him whenever I want during the day; but there is just something about knowing that we have the evening to ourselves that is delicious.  We eat a slow meal together, watch our favorite shows, play board games, or just talk.  We also take time to read the scriptures together before bed every night.

We follow the 80/20 rule. We watched a dumb movie a couple of years ago that had an amazing little nugget of insight in it.  This nugget was the 80/20 rule.  Here is what the rule states:
Your spouse has a lot of qualities that you love and admire.  These qualities are why you married them and make up about 80% of their personality and what you love about them!  They could include being patient, fun-loving, a wonderful parent, hard-working, etc.  But, as with every person, there are things they lack or flaws they have.  A lot of times these shortcomings can take up 20% of their makeup.  Sometimes we focus so much on the 20% that the person is lacking, that we forget about the 80%.  Some people even start noticing those 20% traits in people other than their spouse, and sometimes even go after those traits.  Of course when this happens they lose the 80% they had and are even more unhappy than they were to begin with.  There are things we do that bug each other, but we choose not to focus on those things.  Jack's mantra is  "What you focus on, expands."  We choose to focus on the good in each other as much as possible and be grateful.

We respect each other.  I think Jack is pretty much the smartest, funniest, handsomest, most socially adept person I know.  I love how he can stand up in front of a crowd of people without any advance notice and speak like he has rehearsed for days.  I love what a confident and savvy businessman he is and that he has built a company from nothing that is now supporting us and makes him happy to "go" to work every day.  These things that I love about him give me so much respect for him.  I know that every human makes mistakes, Jack makes a lot ;) but because I love him, I stand behind him and see those things as mistakes instead of character flaws.

We recognize phases.  Jack has had to deal with this one more than I.  We recognize that there are going to be times in our lives when we are not being our best self.  To say that I struggle during pregnancy is a massive understatement.  I'm barely recognizable when I'm pregnant.  Not just physically, but my personality takes a huge nosedive.  I'm sick 24/7, and I'm a total b-word.  Jack chooses to have perspective and, instead of saying "I don't know if I can't deal with this", he says "She is struggling because she is pregnant and miserable and will feel better when this is over"  and I, in turn, need to make sure I can course-correct when the time comes for me to be out of that phase.  There are phases that can last years (toddlerhood anyone?); but we are both prepare to weather any and all tough spots and come out better.

We try to take criticism well.  If I tell Jack something he is doing that is making life harder for me, he listens. He takes it with a grain of salt and tries to do better.  I do the same thing.  Sometimes it is sooooo hard to be told something that you need to improve upon and my first urge is to get defensive and angry.  Sometimes you have to change small things in order to grow with the relationship though, and being willing to try harder or change small things can make a huge difference.

We pick our battles. This has big a huuuuge deal for me.  When Jack and I were dating and started to get serious, I thought it bequeathed me to to tell Jack every little thing that bothered me and make issue with it.  I thought this made me a good communicator and helped him know how to live with me :) We fought a lot.  A LOT.  Part of it was because we couldn't let the little things go (the rest was because we hadn't figured out the things in the previous paragraphs). Somehow we still thought it was a good idea to get married though, and eventually we learned that it was better to just let things slide sometimes.  I still let him know when my feelings are really hurt or when there's a big thing that I am unhappy with (and he does the same), but I have learned to ask myself "Is it really a big deal that he did that?"  And 5 minutes later life has gone on, I'm not bugged anymore, and we've avoided conflict because one of us chose not to be touchy about every little thing.


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