I love this month... good old November. One reason is because the harsh summer's heat has officially gone bye-bye, the dry air makes for some awesome hair-days, the leaves changing on the trees is B-E-A-Utiful, and... last but not least.. it's the month of my wedding anniversary! (our wedding anniversary) On the 25th of this great month we shall celebrate 9 years of wedded bliss... well, mostly bliss. Everyone has their moments - who am I kidding?
Getting married as teens, most people just knew we were doomed. I suppose if we'd have had any sense we might have understood their points of view. However, being so young, in love, and in the whirlwind of life - we flung ourselves confidently into marriage. Doom and gloom speeches and all - we were sure we'd be different. We always root for the underdog.
Here we sit, almost 9 years later. Truly, happily married. I am one of those disgusting people that honestly LOVES being married. Having an incredible husband definitely helps in this area. (more mushy stuff about him to come... why do it before the actual anniversary, right?)
One thing I've been pondering over the past few weeks is why we've made it. Why are we so happy when so many are so unhappy? How have we beat the odds?
I think the number one reason, for sure, is God. He is the absolute center of our marriage. Our marriage is structured in a Biblical way and when you have a Christian man and woman married, living for God, I just really think there's nothing that can break you. It does take two, though.
What about everything else? What makes a happy marriage?
I think it's actually REALLY simple. I mean.. laughably simple.
The best thing I ever read after we were married was a book by Joyce Meyer called, Help Me, I'm Married! I've recommended it to every newly wedded couple that I know since. The best sentence I took away from the whole book:
"If you wake up each day and ask yourself, "How can I make my spouse the happiest husband/wife today?" and act on those ideas... you will have a successful marriage."
Okay... seriously - how simple does that sound? In all honesty, it's much harder to make happen than one might think. Sometimes the things that make your spouse happy really annoy you. Sometimes they seem silly to you. Sometimes it's just tough for you to make that stuff happen.
One example for us would be breakfast. Oh my. Clayton LOVES breakfast. Not the typical pancakes or waffles I feed the kids, either. Bacon, eggs, hash browns, throw in some peppers, and maybe a steak if I can find one. Perhaps I should even get up extra early to kill and skin a deer to add to the mix... This would be heaven for him.
I, on the other hand, hate breakfast. The last thing I want to do is get up EXTRA early to cook a ton of food that I won't be ready to eat until around 9:00am, at 6:15am. So, in all honesty, I rarely do this. When I do, he appreciates it. I know he probably wishes I'd do it more... and now that everyone in our house sleeps all night long, I have no more excuses not to. So, challenge to myself - make a big breakfast at least once a week (to start) just because it makes my man happy. See.. simple. (ugh...)
I have to say that Clayton is an expert at doing those little things that make me sooo happy. A spontaneous foot or back rub, cleaning (anything...), doing stuff without me ever having to ask, taking care of the screaming 2 year old, even though he just walked in from work, so that I can have a break, taking care of all of the kids so I can go on a jog all alone with my dogs... I could go on and on. He knows that saying, "If Mamma ain't happy, ain't no one happy," and he makes sure that it never applies to this house.
There's another weapon of mass destruction that can make or break a marriage. This one is not for the kiddies... but we all know it's true. SEX. Yep.. I said it. (sorry Mom..)
One of the funniest, and saddest, things I ever heard someone say (can't recall who) on TV about the lack of sex in a marriage was, "You don't want to have sex with me.. and you don't want me to have sex with anyone else... so you've sentenced me to celibacy." Harsh, right? Oh, but so so true.
Each marriage is going to have its ups and downs when it comes to sex. If I may be frank (and you all know I will be whether you want me to or not) the times when we had a new baby in the house were extremely tough for us. All of my focus was on the new baby, on trying to sleep, on trying to SURVIVE. It is really a 24/7, never-ending, always exhausting, though amazing and awesome, experience. I didn't want hugs as much from my dear husband because I had someone literally attached to my body for hours and hours each day and night. If he acted like he wanted some "after the kids go to bed" fun... oh wow.. it felt like another job on my to-do list. I just had no energy. None.
Here is where the problems can begin. Problem is, many times new parents get so used to this routine of just taking care of kids, being exhausted, and living for the little people in the house, that their intimacy together totally goes away. Poof.. in the blink of an eye. Gone.
Babies do eventually sleep... and even if you're sooo tired... you've got to pay attention to your man. Listen to me mommies... trust me here. Your happy little family can depend on it. I'm not talking about when your baby is 6 weeks old here.. but months down the road. Make it a priority to get back into the groove of life with your husband. Think about things from where he sits. The amazing thing is, YOU'LL feel better about yourself, too. You'll feel closer with your man, and your family will be more stable. If I had time I'd research some facts about this whole sex and marriage thing... but trust me, it's true. The more sex that's in a marriage, the happier that marriage tends to be. Especially years down the road. (everyone has that crazy honeymoon sex... that's easy. I'm talking 7 years later... keep that crazy honeymoon sex going!)
Here's the one that's gonna get me in trouble. You can't let yourself go. Not permanently.
Trust me... after three pregnancies and three csections - I've had my ups and downs physically. Oh boy. I had times that I felt sorry for my husband for having to look at me, as sad as that is. It's just true! Having 8 pounders when you're only 5'3" does a number on ya!
As hard as it is, and always has been for me, I have committed to keeping myself in pretty good shape. I've been able to get back down to my prepregnany weight after each baby, and let me tell you, it was super hard after the third. I don't just love to exercise, I don't love not eating all of the yummy foods that I crave, but you know what I love less? Being a woman that I'm not sure my husband enjoys looking at. That is a horrible feeling. Even though Clayton has always been the type to tell me how amazing, beautiful, and sexy I am (even at 9 months pg.. the liar) I want to feel that for myself. I want to walk into a room with him and him be so proud that he's with me. I'm not the best thing since sliced bread by any means... but I do what I can.
He is the same. He works out several times a week, eats healthy, and lets me know that he wants to look good FOR ME. Now, that is quite the compliment. And, I appreciate it! I know he's tired after working his crazy hours.. but he still manages to put himself on the to-do list. We women have to do the same... we struggle with that much more than men do it seems.
Last, but not least - KEEP DATING.
One thing that I love about my man is that he is still Mr. Romantic after all of these years. Romance used to mean flowers, now he knows all I want is my kitchen to be clean when I come home. Nothing is sexier than a man loading a dishwasher or pushing a vacuum. A date night for us might just mean putting the kids to bed a bit early and having popcorn with a movie that we rented from Redbox. Works for us!
Other times, we leave the kids (and dogs!) with my mom (who we appreciate soo much) and hit the town running. We stay out late, we laugh until we hurt, and we stay the night away. Waking up with no one immediately demanding food or drink is oh-so-nice. Try it! We always say after a weekend like that how we still feel like kids dating. Even after all of this time.
Again, our marriage isn't perfect - but we do love each other and love being together. I cannot imagine myself without my husband. He is such a part of me.
What are the secrets to YOUR happy marriage? What keeps you going strong?