What I’ve Learned: Marriage

I think one of the saddest things about becoming a parent is realising just how many people are living in crappy marriages.

After having Walt I joined a few Facebook groups for Mums and I very quickly unfollowed all of them, it was way too depressing! Woman would post horrible things about their marriages, completely ripping apart their partners in this very public setting. Caleb and I have been married for 11 years now (yes I was pretty much a child bride) and we’ve worked really hard to make sure we have a wonderful and productive marriage. So here is what I’ve learned –

1. Always be willing to change – This is a good idea even if it’s not in the context of marriage. If Caleb criticises me I do my very best to not get defensive and to listen to what he has to say. Then I ask myself is what he saying true? Do I need to change? Honest self examination is difficult, but there is huge freedom in saying to your partner “You’re right, I’m sorry I hurt you, will you help me change?”

2. Don’t try and get you spouse to change – Your first reaction to this may be surprise, ‘If I’m willing to change shouldn’t they be?’. Fun fact, you can only change yourself and worry about your own behaviour. The more you try and change someone the less likely they are to budge. Your spouse needs to know that you love them just the way they are, warts and all. People will change and grow when they feel supported, trying to push them to change only makes them feel insecure in the relationship. Lead by example, be willing to change, listen and it’s very likely your partner will follow.

3. Don’t talk behind their back – If you’re having issues with your spouse don’t tell the world, or even bitch to your friends. If you’re having issues with your marriage work on it together and seek help. Don’t undermine your relationship by putting down your spouse, it’s poison.

4. Fight as a team – Majority of the time we want the same things, but sometimes we forget. Instead of treating our spouse as the enemy when we fight Caleb and I have found it helpful to fight as a team. Practically what this looks like is to first find out what we’re fighting about, say for example it’s vacuuming. Instead of Caleb pointing the finger at me and saying “You never vacuum!” (which is true) and me responding “Yes I do! Anyway you never clean the toilet!” we sit and first acknowledge when the problem is, our floor is dirty. The thing is we both want the floor to be clean, this is something we can agree on and so instead of being accusatory we become a team attacking the common goal of cleaning our floor. It’s crazy how much this small idea improved our marriage, productive fighting is the best…actually it’s pretty much stopped being fighting and it’s become discussion time.