Wow, it's been two weeks since the last time I posted. I don't have a good excuse other than life. Things have been crazy. Not necessarily in our life although I'm sure others would think so but all around us. Actually at times it's been a bit scary. I know that one of the reasons I haven't posted is because I've been trying to digest some of the craziness and see if I could make sense of it all. Unfortunately I haven't been able to the way that I would like so I've resigned myself to not having to make sense out of everything but to just watch and wait and maybe find the answers in that.
In the pursuit of happiness quest for this month we were to focus on our relationships and I was all set for that but got sidetracked when a good friend announced that her husband had decided that their marriage wasn't working for him anymore. That stopped me in my tracks; made my head spin, my stomach knot up and my blood run cold in my veins. I just couldn't fathom this couple splitting up. They were so suited for one another. Had battled their share of disappointments, hardships and setbacks but seemed to bounce back stronger than before. At least this was what I thought, from the outside looking in. I thought they had finally reached their sweet spot in life with each other and that despite the financial millstone around their neck they were doing well.
Obviously I was wrong and that bothered me. A lot more than I would have imagined. After all, what did that have to do with me and my relationship? Everything! It was a pulse check. I had to do my own internal assessment of where my husband and I are. Where I am. Was I truly happy and content with what was taking place in my marriage? Was I giving it my best? And what about my husband? That was the biggest question. How was he feeling? What was he thinking? Yes, I know we've only be married for 9 months and together for 22 but there is no set rule as to when you should start thinking about these things that I could find. I don't want to be so caught up in living our life and the day to day minutia that I don't take time and make sure we're alright. I don't want to find out that it's too much for him or that I'm not doing enough, giving, listening or spending the right amount of time with him and end up in the same spot like my friend. I don't want to be blindsided and left wondering where things went wrong.
I'm not saying that's what happened with them because I really don't know; but I do realize this second time around that my priorities have to change. I have to take the lessons learned the first time and apply them to this one. I don't want to be yet another statistic. I love my husband and I know that he loves me but truth be told our lives are full. We have six kids constantly needing or wanting something (time, attention, money, clothes, stuff for school, etc.), a house in constant need of upkeep, two jobs with opposing schedules sometimes, church responsibilities, family, friends and neighbors we try to keep up with and it gets to be a bit much. And I didn't mention working out, volunteering, or traveling for work.
So you see, with all that going on it is easy to push things aside in an effort to keep everything else going and that something usually is a someone - your spouse. I'm speaking from personal experience. Some days I want to come home, do what I have to with the kids, eat, take a shower and go to bed. Talking to my husband is optional after all we sleep in the same bed right? Wrong!! That's how I used to feel but I've learned that he needs his time to. Even if it's just to discuss the latest trade in the NBA or what's going on in his family or an idea he has about something around the house or the family vacation. It's during those moments that we are able to reconnect and get back on the same page. Although I might fall asleep during these moments, the fact that I took the time to have it wins me big points where otherwise I'd have a big fat zero. The reconnecting piece is particularly hard to do on the evenings that he works and doesn't get home until 10:30 at night because if I've crawled in the bed after putting the kids down for the night and the day has been particularly grueling I'll be asleep by 9:30. It's hard to wake up and give him my undivided attention when he gets home because I just want to go back to sleep but I try because it's important to our relationship.
I, for one, connect with him throughout the day. Thanks to modern technology he gets a stream of emails from me on his blackberry updating him on how my day is going, to what trips I've got coming up for work, who's got a doctor or dentist appointment and what groceries need to be gotten. I applaud him for being so patient with my litany of messages and the fact that he usually takes time to respond to them too. It might sound crazy to some but I feel it is important for him to know what is going on with me especially if it affects my emotions and attitude. He knows long before I pull into the driveway if I need some down time before handling the girls or if I need a little extra time to decompress before coming home. It makes the way our evenings flow much better and it keeps me honest. It's hard to fake the funk when your partner holds you accountable not just to him but to yourself.
Great, we communicate but it doesn't stop there. What about the dating, making time for each other, romance and sex. Where does that fit into this madness? If we didn't make a concerted effort it wouldn't. As part of my recovery from my past I've been in counseling for several years and during the time when we decided to get married he came to a few sessions so she could let him know what to expect from me (although he already had a pretty good idea) with regards to my PTSD and the triggers. She also counseled us to get away for at least one night every 6 weeks, if possible, to reconnect with each other physically and intimately. It was the best advice we could have been given. Our schedules don't allow a date night every week and our finances haven't always let us have a night away every 6 weeks, but whenever we have found the time and money we have made it happen and I can truly tell you that it's one of the best things we could do for our relationship. We are investing in ourselves and that makes all the difference in the world. In between those times my husband has been very creative at finding ways to make moments for ourselves. We celebrated Valentines Day on Saturday evening after the kids went to bed complete with candlelight dinner, music, flowers and dessert right in our own home. It was one of the best times I've had. We go window shopping at the malls and plan our future, to Barnes & Noble to share a treat, read and just enjoy each other. We watch movies together in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend when the kids are off doing their thing or make the sacrifice to stay up late because we know it's important to have that time. I send him cards in the mail to let him know how much I appreciate him and all that he does to make our life the best it can be and he puts notes in my lunch. Nothing breaks up a rough day at work than a love note from your spouse in your lunch box!! Call it silly, sentimental or crazy if you want but it keeps us focused on each other, our relationship and making it the best it can be.
Intimacy is a bit trickier but we keep that flame lit too. Honestly, it is a roaring fire. I'm enjoying where we are... where I am. I have found great pleasure in the romance department for the first time in my life. A lot can be said about hitting your prime in your 40's!! I have come to accept myself and my body for who I am and how it looks. I'm comfortable in my own skin and I know that my husband appreciates me for who I am. I've learned that Victoria's Secret is a cool store and opened myself up to listen and learn about what he likes and needs and do what I feel comfortable with in satisfying those likes and needs. It's been an interesting journey that I wouldn't have thought myself capable of taking, given my past, but have found that joy comes from a multitude of things including intimacy with the right person in the right way.
Now ladies, don't get me wrong, there are times when I don't feel like it for whatever reason - I'm tired, sore, stressed or just not in the mood but I know that this is an intricate part of our relationship, not to be put on shelf and taken out once or twice a month. The reality of the situation is that men have needs and the world is constantly bombarding them with images to excite those needs 24/7 therefore I have to be willing to forgo a few extra minutes of sleep, set aside my moodiness or discomfort, etc. to make sure that he is taken care of to combat those things that the enemy tries to use to make him look elsewhere to satisfy something that is as natural to him as breathing.
Disagreements, we have had a few. What married couple doesn't? I think we have a healthy perspective on how to deal with them. Especially him. Because I have issues - PTSD, there are triggers we have to be aware of and so we are careful not to get caught up in the heat of the situation but to give each other space, time and distance before regrouping and resuming our conversation. We don't believe in forcing the issue and agree to disagree on some things but not on our common beliefs and what is best for our family. We let our petty differences be just that, petty differences and move on. Life is too short to hold a grudge or have the last word. With that said and because I know he will read this let me clarify...I don't have to have the last word; I just have to have my say. It could be first, in the middle or at the end, doesn't matter - just let me have my say and all is well in our world! Bottom line, I just need to be heard. Another issue from my past, but he respects that, laughs about it and rolls with it. On the other hand, I'm probably not at accepting but I am improving. I am learning to not lump him in with my past relationships and treat him as well as he treats me. Easier said than done but it's all about doing the right thing and so that is my goal.
In the end my assessment of where we are, where I am and looking at what we are doing to maintain and strengthen our marriage was a good thing for me. I've decided that it is something I should do every six months or so because it doesn't take long for the enemy to spot a crack and make it into a great divide. I am committed to this relationship and therefore will do whatever is necessary to keep it flowing the way it should. Marriage is work. Hard work. But, the payoffs are beyond anything else that I am striving for in this day to day life I call mine besides preparing for when my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ returns. I am willing to make the sacrifices and reap the rewards here and beyond.