Learning to fight better, accept more, appreciate daily and stay in love with my husband

Archive for September, 2011

He Will Never Change!

For as long as I can remember, my husband and I have had the same fights.  I mean, we fight about a lot of things, but there are two things that we always fight about.

Money and sex.  Do you fight about them too?

I am going to leave the sex argument for another time.  Today, let’s talk money.

Let’s first address our very different “money” backgrounds.

My husband grew up with his brother and his single mother.  His mom worked and struggled to make ends meet.  At one point, for a short time, they were on welfare.  He didn’t get new things. Didn’t have the toys the other kids have.  Christmas and birthdays were meager in gifts.  Money struggles were at the forefront of his life at a very young age. His grandfather, who was his father figure for much of his life, saved every penny.  This is no exaggeration. He literally saved everything.   When he died he had amassed over a million dollars in savings.  I had no idea he had that kind of money.  By the way he lived, I thought he had been struggling financially.  Quite the contrary.  He was rich, but chose to live poor and put it all in savings.

I, on the other hand, lived with both my parents.  They both had good jobs.  Money worries never crossed my mind when I was young.  We weren’t rich, but had all of our needs met.  I got new school clothes every year.  We went out for meals often.  We traveled and I always brought home souvenirs.  Christmas and Birthdays were full of gifts. When I wanted to go to the movies, I would ask my dad for money.  He would always give it to me.  I was spoiled, I suppose.  Not in a bratty way, but in a naive “I don’t know any better” kind of way.

Bring these two backgrounds together and look out!!!!  My husband doesn’t spend enough money and I spend too much.  At least this is how we see each other.

The truth is, as a couple we have never hurt financially.  We own businesses and work hard.  We have money in the bank and savings.  We get to travel and have a nice house.  We have never had a time where we didn’t have enough.  Regardless of that, we still fight about our funds.  My husband often acts like we are poor.   When I go out to lunch it makes him crazy.  When I bring in grocery bags he has a look like, “how much did you spend now,” which drives me crazy.  He is often in a panic, and I mean a real panic, over our money.  His worst fear is loosing it all, often to the point of lack of sleep and shortness of breath.  I am usually the logical one in our finances. Pointing out what is really the situation, not what is made up in my husbands head.   He knows that his fears are unfounded, but nonetheless we still fight and he still panics.

One day, last year, I’d had enough.  We were fighting about the fact that I was going to spend money on a gift for someone in the family.  I can’t remember who, but I do remember it was going to be about $40.00.  All he had to do was get that look on his face, and I was in tears.  Really? Were we going to fight about a family gift? One that I had cash for, that is a very reasonable amount? Really? Again?

I remember thinking, “I can’t keep doing this.  Why can’t he just change?  Be more like me?”

I got up and stomped away to the bathroom in tears.  As I was taking a shower, I had an epiphany.  A real, true epiphany.  Here is what occurred to me in a very matter of fact realization.   He is never going to change.

I was either going to have to live with him as he was, or give up. Giving up was out of the question.

He has always been the same man with the same fears, that clearly stem from his upbringing.  He was never going to change.  I realized that I had, unknowingly, been the cliché wife “hoping” her husband would change.  How silly I was being?  How unfair to him!

After my shower, I went back into the room and gently told him what I had realized.  That he is who he is and that I love him for who he is.  I said that I understand why he worries and that I know that his fear over loosing money is why we have such a nice life.   It is because of him and I am grateful for that.

Acceptance.  It is a key part of marriage, I have learned.

After this epiphany, our fights about money have diminished significantly.  I have taken a completely different approach to fighting.  I go to a place of understanding and acceptance.  Does it mean that he is always right?  No Way!  Does it mean I just give up the fight?  Absolutely not!  What it means is, instead of saying, “Why do you have to be that way. Why can’t you change?”  I try to say, “I understand that you are worried that we will lose our money.  I understand how important savings is to you.”    As much as I don’t like it, it is a part of who he is that will not change.     If I can accept my husband for who he is, truly understand why he feels the way he does, then I can fight better.  I can come from a place of understanding rather than blame and anger.

Guess what?  When I do, he feels heard and understood and not  as defensive.  He feels more apt to compromise on an issue.  Wow!!!

Am I perfect at my new method?  Of course not.  I slip up often.  But, somewhere along the path of an argument, I find my way back.  I remember that I love my husband with all my heart.  That he is a good man, just trying to look out for the best interests of his family.  That he wants to be heard and understood and valued, just as I do.  That we can work this out.  And we do.

Tammy

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Do You Sleep Together?

I was flipping through one of my magazines this morning while enjoying a moment of peace over my oatmeal.  I came across an article on how couples sleep together.    Do they go to sleep at the same time, share the same bed, do they sleep cuddled together or facing away from each other?  What does the way we sleep say about us as a couple?

This was interesting to me.  Movies show us that a couple who is in love is spooned together in bed or the woman is sleeping on the man’s chest.  Sweet right?  This is what love looks like… right?

Wrong!  At least in my marriage, this is not the case.  But, I have always felt a little guilty about the sleeping habits in my marriage.

My husband and I are very different in more ways than I can count, but one of our major differences is in our sleeping habits.  He is a late night guy, I struggle to keep my eyes open past 10:30.  I wake up at the faintest noise, he sleeps through 5.5 magnitude earthquakes.  I have nightmares often, he rarely dreams at all.  He sleeps on his stomach, I sleep on my side.   He falls asleep 2 seconds after his head hits the pillow, it takes me 15 minutes to get in sleep mode.  I need at least 8 hours to function well, he can easily function on 5 hours of shut-eye.

Sleep is vital to me.  I am not a nice person when I don’t get my sleep.

Because of the fact that I am a light sleeper, falling asleep all cuddled together is just not for me.  If I am not positioned just so, I am uncomfortable and sleep eludes me.  Sorry, baby!

Thankfully my husband understands.  It doesn’t bother him.  To make up for it, I let him fall asleep holding my hand or with his arm drapped over me, but the second he is asleep (literally in seconds) I turn away and get cozy.

Does this mean our relationship is bad? That we are not as intimate as we could be?    I think the contrary.   Respecting each other needs is vital.  I respect his need to feel close to me and he respects my need to get a good nights sleep.

Really, it is for his own good.  Heaven help the household with an un-rested Mama.  If Mama is tired, everybody look out!!!

Intimacy is a huge part of our relationship, just not while we are sleeping.  It works for us.

This made me curious about what works for other couples.  Are sleeping arrangements a problem in your marriage or have you figured a system that works for both of you?  One that meets each other’s needs, but keeps you connected?

Just curious.

Tammy

A Word, Or Two, About Date Night

The infamous “Date Night.”   What does that mean to you?

Here is what I have found to be true.  My husband and I  usually use the weekend to catch up with each other.  To hang out late and watch movies.   To catch up on some romance that is severely lacking during the week.  We sometimes get one of the grandparents to watch the kids while we go to dinner or the movie theatre.  Weekends are awesome.   They allow us to rejuvenate ourselves and our relationship.  We feel in love, connected, happy. 

Then Monday comes and it all quickly heads downhill.    Monday thru Friday is a big blur.  Shuttling my son too and from preschool, picking up my daughter from school, cleaning,  chorus, dance class, work, making dinner, laundry, work, volunteering at my daughter’s school, meetings, work, helping with homework… well you get the picture.  I am sure you are very familiar with it yourself.  

My husband an I quickly slip out of our sweet pocket of weekend romance  into two people who seem to run on auto mode.  The week is exhausting to say the least.  Every night I collapse into bed, aching for sleep.  Most weeks, I reach Friday and have to really think  back through the week  to remember if I had given my husband a real kiss or to try to recall when the last time we were intimate was.    I get to Friday and feel short with my husband and disconnected and aching to have a moment alone  just to breathe. We both agreed, the problem was we didn’t really feel like a couple.  We didn’t make time to cuddle, kiss, listen to music together, chat about nothing in particular.  Everything was always so rushed.  We were too tired for those simple things.

We decided, enough was enough.  If we were going to make our marriage our priority we needed to figure out a way to connect during the weekdays.  A way to feel stronger as a couple.  Romance and connection should not just be a weekend treat. 

We decided to start  having  date night on a week day.  But, having to go out for “date night” during the week wasn’t practical. The challenge was, it would have to be an at-home date night after the kids went down for bed. 

As of January, this year, Tuesday has become our date night.

We decided date night wouldn’t be about sex.  In fact we would take it off the table.  It would be a night where there was no pressure to have it. 

 That was a relief for me.  I longed for time with my husband that wasn’t about sex.  I wanted to talk and to cuddle.     

We also decided that “date night” should not include talk about children, work or money.       Let me tell you, it is incredibly difficult to know what to talk about once we weren’t allowed to talk about those things.  What else was there? 

I found an article in a magazine that I read that had suggestions of conversations starters for “getting to know your husband again.”  How ridiculous is that?  Getting to know my husband?  I have been with him my whole life.  I know him better than he knows himself.  But, there was something intriguing and sexy about the idea of “getting to know him again.” The questions  the article provided were fun, light and had absolutely nothing to do with our “tabu” topics.  Perfect!

So what do Tuesday nights look like for us?   We found, through many trial and error date nights, what works best for us. 

After the kids go down, even though sometimes we don’t want to or are too tired, we meet in bed.  Funny huh?  No pressure for sex, but we meet in bed.  Why? Because it is the most intimate place in our house.  It is our little haven in a world of chaos.  A candle and Kenny Chesney in the background.  We meet, not for sex, but for conversation and to hang out.    We ask silly questions like, “If someone made a movie about your life, who would play your character?” (Meg Ryan, for sure) or “What superhero would you want to be, and why?” (The girl from Hancock.  She could do it all) or “What was the best dessert you ever had?” (The lava cake at Roy’s. Absolutely sinful).  We talk about fantasies,  where we want to go on vacation,  our bucket list.  We learn about each other.

It is sweet, romantic, relaxing and,usually,  incredibly hot.  Did  I mention we do this, sans clothing?  Let’s just say, for us, taking sex off the table does not mean that we don’t have sex on date night.  In fact, not one of them has passed without, let’s say, a happy ending 🙂  It just means the pressure is off.  We don’t have to worry about a result.  It is just good old-fashioned quality time.

I love date night. It has made a huge impact in our marriage. 

All the articles I read about keeping a marriage strong talk about the importance of date night.  But, I think what is really important is to do date night right.  Find out what really works best for both of you.    It should be a time that you both enjoy and that should allow you to  focus solely on each other.  It is meant as a time to come back together as a couple and remind yourselves why you fell in love in the first place.

Although it is hard to put the time aside, and most of us can make up a million reasons not to, every couple should have a regular date night.  As Nike would say, “Just do it.”  If you are dedicated to it, the payoff is amazing.

Tammy

Class of 1992, Most Likely to Get Married

It is funny how life works.

After my first post earlier this week, I felt elated.   First of all, as many of you know, taking the first step is the hardest.

I have always loved to write. But, as many people do, I have never done anything about it.  I can make a million excuses as to why I don’t pursue it.  “I don’t have the time,” “I am not educated in creative writing,”  “Getting an agent is too hard,” “Getting published is near impossible.”   Excuse after excuse.   I have a children’s book that I wrote, that sits on my computer.  Never sent out for anyone to look at it.  Fear of  judgement, never really admitted til just now.

Putting yourself out there is hard.  But, my marriage has inspired me to stop making excuses.  It is time to step up and take charge of my life.  We are individuals, each with our own experiences.  We have so much to offer each other and to learn from each other.

Two things happened after I placed my first post that reminded me why I started this blog  in the first place.  First of all, the night after my first post, I had a dream.  A dream about my marriage.

I dreamt that another woman wanted my husband (who wouldn’t, really.)  Specifically, that other woman was my husband’s, one and only, love before me.  His 9th grade sweetheart.  She told me that she wanted him back.    For some reason, in my dream, I decided that I wanted her to be happy and I wondered if maybe my husband would be happier with her, so I let him go.  Just sitting here writing that, my chest constricts.  The dream felt so real.  For whatever reason, he did not argue with me.  He just went to her.  How could he do that?

The second he left, I knew I had made a mistake.  A horrible mistake, but it was too late.

That is when I woke up, gasping for breath, feeling like I had been crying for hours.  You know how some dreams can just drain you?

When I woke up all I could think (after I realized that I can’t kick my husbands ass for something he did in a dream) was that my marriage is worth fighting for.  It is not something I would ever give up on so easily.  It deserves the fight.  My husband deserves for me to fight for him.  I deserve to fight to be happy. I felt gratitude that morning for my husband.  For love.

The second thing happened yesterday.  When I went to check  Facebook, I noticed an old high school friend had tagged me in a photo that she posted of the senior yearbook picture under “Most Likely To Get Married”.  There I was with, my now, husband looking so young and happy and in love.  What is really weird is that she did not know anything about this new blog of mine called “Most Likely to Marry.”  It felt like a nod from the universe, to keep doing what you are doing.  Share what you know.  Maybe it can help someone else.

It also made me think back to high school.  To young love.  To making out in the hallway and not caring who saw.  To feeling like forever would be easy.   To not worrying about anything other than what to do Friday night.  To seeing “happily ever after” as a given. It also reminded me once again, how amazing it is that I have been with my husband for as long as I have, and that I still get giddy when he walks into a room.  That my breath can still be taken away from his kiss.  That I feel gratitude every morning for the man laying beside me.

I am reminded that  I can still have the passion that I had at 17.  I just have to work a little (ok, a lot) harder at it.

I am reminded this week, that love is worth it.  That marriage is worth it.  That it is hard, wonderful, devastating, incredible, overwhelming, boring, exciting all wrapped up and ohhh so worth it.

I am recommitted this week to putting my marriage first. To staying  in love.

Here is to high school!

Tammy

It’s My Birthday!

This is my first post of my new venture of writing a blog.  Peer pressure has gotten to me.  “Everybody is doing it.”  So here I am!

I hope to not be, “just another blog.”  I hope to offer some insight into a marriage of 13 years, that is getting better with age. 

Quick background:  I met my future hubby in the seventh grade.  Really, I did!  Slightly unusual story, but true.  We were best friends until the start of 10th grade, where it all changed.  One kiss and we never looked back.  We were voted “Most Likely to Get Married” in our senior yearbook.   Twenty two years later, here we are.  Very happily married with two kids and a life that most dream of.  I am blessed. 

But a happy marriage does not come easy.  I have learned to question the fairy tales I read as a little girl.  We all know they lived “happily ever after,”  but what about all the in-between.  Those fairy tales don’t mention the fights that Cinderella and the Prince had about money due to their different backgrounds.  They never mentioned how exhausted Snow White was after a day of caring for everyone but herself.  They never mentioned personality differences and annoying habits of your spouse.   How did they get to the elusive happy every after?

Here is what the fairy tales don’t say.  Happily ever after is hard.  Odds say, it’s damn near impossible!

But the saying, “hard work pays off,” is true in this case. I believe two willing partners who love each other, put their heart and soul into their marriage and make it priority can have the happy ever after. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am only 37 years old, today actually (that is the first time that I have had to write my new age.  Slightly terrifying).  I still have a ton of work to do to ensure that when I am 92 I am still “in love” with my sweetie.  But in the last year, my husband and I have put our all into our marriage and I have learned some fantastic tricks to fighting better, appreciating daily, accepting more and staying “in love” with my husband.  Who knows, maybe my tricks will help you too.

As I write this first post, I am sitting in a hotel room on the morning of my birthday.  A wonderful and slightly naughty gift to myself.  My husband and I checked in last night (and, let’s just say, had a good time 🙂 )  But, then he headed back home to relieve his dad from watching the kids and I stayed the night and am currently enjoying and entire morning to myself and revelling in the peace and quiet  (except for the room across  the hall that has the TV blaring.  I mean,  really? When I can sing along with the commercials, that is just too damn loud! ).   All that I have  had to worry about is what to do for breakfast and when to take my shower. 

Everybody should get time away for themselves.  Sure it is hard to find the time, costs a little money sometimes, and does not come without a little guilt.  But once you give in to it, it is sheer bliss!!!

Thank you to my sweet hubby for supporting me in having a morning away.  It is delicious.  Happy Birthday to Me!!!!

Tammy