When I first got married, nothing was the way I expected to be. Ironically, since I am a wedding coordinator, I felt I had very realistic expectations of life after marriage. I’d seen so many people assume life would be all moonlight and roses only to wake up to the hard realization that marriage was a lot of work. I’m sad to say, I’ve seen more than one of my couples get divorced over the past nine years.
Anyway, like I said, since I had seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of weddings and married life, I felt I had a good grip on the whole “marriage” thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. New town, new job, new marriage, financial concerns, a run down fixer-upper in dire need of fixing up. All the change and stress crashed over me; I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. The result? I was cold and nasty. Who did I take it out on? My husband.
I can only imagine how my husband must have felt. There he was expecting to start a beautiful new journey with the woman he loved, and he got bitterness, resentment, and criticism instead.
It’s hard to admit, but if it weren’t for a few sound pieces of advice, my marriage would have ended before it had a chance to start.
Once upon a time, before I was married, I had to take a marriage class in school. I honestly don’t recall anything from the course. However, as I was unpacking some boxes, I came across my school notebook. In it I found a note that said,
Practice Love. Loving well is a skill. And like any other skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.
In that moment, I realized I wasn’t very good at loving my husband. I certainly hadn’t “practiced” it. It struck me that we train for marathons, practice athletics, art, music, and so many other things to become better at them. Why not give loving well a try?
What “practicing love” looked like for me was encouraging my husband rather than criticizing him. Communicating with him in a way he related to. Having fun with him. Showing an interest in the things he’s passionate about.
The more I did it, the easier it got. I started to enjoy my marriage for the first time.
Look for the Positive
One day as I was thinking about my marriage, a scene from the movie Pollyanna came to mind. For those who have seen it, it’s the part where Pollyanna happens upon the local minister practicing his preaching for Sunday. It was a real hell fire type of sermon. Pollyanna engaged the minister in a conversation about why he was so hard on the congregation. She shared this quote with him,
If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.
As I pondered that quote, I realized I had only focused on the bad things about my new life. I’d never considered what I had to be thankful for. From then on I started taking time out of every day to list the things I loved about my husband, our life, our little fixer-upper, etc. I married the kindest, funniest, most generous person I’ve ever met. How had I not stopped to think about that?
The more I accentuated the positive, the more I loved our life together. I only wish I had done it sooner.
We’re Teammates, Not Enemies
The last bit of marriage-altering advice actually came from my husband. One night I was being particularly harsh. My husband sat there taking my barrage of nastiness. When I finally stopped, he said this,
I wish you saw us as teammates rather than enemies. That’s why I married you. So we could do life together.
Tears flowed down my cheeks. He was right. The person who loved me more than anything in this world was sitting right in front of me. We promised to be on each other’s team until death do us part. It was time I started acting like it.
As I started acting on those bits of advice, things got better. And it still gets better every day. I continue to practice love, meditate on what I have to be thankful for, and approach life as my husband’s teammate. It didn’t just transform my marriage, it transformed me. For that, I am truly grateful.