i have been lucky enough to have the example my parents set for me to follow. i've told their story before to you few followers i have out there (and thank you, blog high-five), but i'll run through it again.
my parents met at some party when they were younger after college, and i think they were both on the rebound. two weeks after their first date, my dad asked my mom to marry him and she said, 'sure - sounds like fun'. that is literally what she said.
my parents friends, i'm sure, all thought they were crazy. they are still friends with some of those people, and many of them are divorced now, and i think some others are in unhappy marriages. but still, my parents thrive. they have had their challenges, sure, and i'm sure at a couple points they could've walked away. but my mom has also said not only are they committed to each other and the family they made together, but they are committed to their commitment to each other. at first i thought that statement was confusing and the same thing as the other, but i realize now it is not the same thing at all - the two are entirely different.
i've asked my mom before, 'why did you say yes to someone you you met?' it sounds ridiculous and crazy, right? but she said that in that moment, her gut said 'yes' and she knew she would spend the rest of her life with him. my dad, more of less, had that same feeling deep in his gut. and thus, the first example they have set forth for me is to always, always go with my gut. you know when you know, and you also know when it's not right. but no matter which, go with your gut instinct - it will never lie.
here's the link, his bullet points, and my commentary below (per usual). rogers talks about 'her' as in his wife, but this is advice for both parties of course.
1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.
i think this is so important, especially if and when you have kids. my parents always did and still do go on dates. in fact, they have a date night - they go to dinner, have some wine, and date each other. they've been married over 34 years, but they never stopped dating each other. they went on dates when we were little, took trips together, and they've always done that.
over the years i've noticed a trend - couples getting divorced after their kids graduate high school. their relationship as husband and wife turned into only a relationship of mom and dad - their kids dictated and defined each other and the roles they played. so when the kids left they house, they were left alone with each other and the relationship they had with each other didn't exist anymore. they had changed over the years, and instead of growing with each other, they grew apart - they looked at each other after the kids were gone, and didn't recognize or connect with the person in front of their eyes.
my parents always maintained a relationship outside of myself, aren, and perry. sure, they were our mom and dad, but they maintained their relationship as lovers and husband and wife. so when we all left the house, they were strong and their relationship grew. and i think it made them better, happier parents to be honest. and they continue to date, go on trips, laugh, play, and discover each other after 34 years of marriage.
2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.
protect that place in your heart, mind, and spirit that belongs only to your partner. i have witnessed relationships over the years when one or both parties cheat. their eyes wonder, secret texts start, your mind and heart start to wonder and follow your loins to 'greener pastures', your spouse becomes suspicious, checks your phones, starts to lose their trust, need i go on? protect that trust. protect that place in your heart that is dedicated to your spouse, and your spouse only. keep that passion alive and growing. i plan on marrying a man that i adore and passionately love. love hard. when you kiss your spouse, really kiss them. when you hug, hug tight and hug long. have sex like teenagers, maybe in the back of a car one night on a date. keep the desire.
3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.
people change, it's no secret, and it's just a natural part of life. as we grow older, as we encounter new life experiences, we change. as you and your spouse change, learn to grow together. in their 34 years, my parents have faced many obstacles. they have changed, but they have done what they needed to do to grow together as they encounter those changes. they have gone to therapy to check-in with each other and learn how to face obstacles and growing pains they encountered. some might thing that going to therapy is a weakness and sign towards an ending marriage, but i think the exact opposite. working through all these things, getting guidance from a third party, was a key part in their success as a couple. hell - i've gone to therapy over the years as i have changed, adapted, faced obstacles, faced death of loved ones. you talk about them, work them out, and learn how to face them head on - in a marriage you just face these things together.
4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love.
5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.
when you love someone, you need to love that whole person, faults and all. we all have our faults, and they're part of what makes us who we are. i grind my teeth and wear a night guard - sexy, i know. that damn nightguard is an insecurity i kind of have that comes along with me. i take naps and can fall asleep at the drop of a hat during the day, and will fall asleep in movies (including at a theater). i will fall asleep while in the passenger side of a car on road trips sometimes. some might find that annoying, but it comes with the zoe territory. i'm like a tornado when i sleep, and a hot pocket. i'm ocd when it comes to the kitchen. i have an unhealthy attachment to my dog. i am sloppy when i brush my teeth - i get toothpaste all over my mouth, and water all over the counter. i follow the speed limit to a 't' with both hands on the steering wheel. i tell the same story over and over again, and might forget one you have told me because my mind wandered. i have trouble sleeping at night sometimes. these are all traits i have that could be considered 'faults', but they are mine and part of me.
i've witnessed some who are in relationships, and they are attracted to the person they think they *could* be one day. if only they could change this, modify that, stop him or her from doing that because they hate it and it drives them crazy. people, you can't change them. and if you think you can and you want to, get out of that relationship. you will continue to get agitated, annoyed, you'll fight over petty stuff, you'll grow apart, your mind will wander, your eyes and hands might stray, and it's going to be bad news. love that person wholly, fully, accept their faults, and maybe even find them cute and endearing :)
6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.
i've talked about this before in some other entries. so, yea. folks, do not place your own individual happiness contingent on someone else. you are responsible for your own happiness, no one else. and in my opinion, if you aren't happy and fulfilled just being you, you have nothing to offer anyone else in a healthy relationship. if you're placing your happiness contingent on someone else, i can see that leading to some major codependency issues. i think that's one of the reasons i've remained single and haven't settled. i'm so incredibly happy, fulfilled, and thrilled with life just being me that it is going to take someone very special for me to invite him in. and i want someone just as happy and just as whole. two halves don't make a whole, two wholes make a fuller whole. and when you are happy and full and enter a relationship, just like rogers says, your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love. it will make your relationship so much stronger - how could it not? positive energy is so contagious, and makes someone look so much more attractive.
7) NEVER BLAME your wife If you get frustrated or angry, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.
this makes me think of the 24 hour rule i have. you will argue with your spouse, and that's not a bad thing - i think a littler arguing here and there means you care, and when you're not arguing at all, that's when you might need to be concerned. but if you get mad at something and want to unleash, don't! take a step back, take a break for 24 hours, breathe, evaluate the situation, calm down, and then confront the argument at hand later on when you are calm. when you are upset and in the moment, we all know we can say hateful, hateful things that are fueled by the strong emotions we are feeling. we are going to say things we don't mean. words can be forgiven, but never forgotten, so choose them wisely.
8) Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.
i think this kind of ties into #7. when we are sad or upset about something, sometimes we just need some alone time. we may want to talk it out, we may just need some alone time. and when you want to be left alone, leave that person alone. lovingly let them know you are there if and when you are ready to talk, support them, love them, and just let them be if they need to. and on the other side of the coin, if you need some alone time, let your partner know. no one is a mind reader. i know sometimes when i'm upset, i just need to be left alone and have a good cry, or sulk for a day, and then i'm fine. but that's just what i need, and i need my partner to respect and honor that. i want to know he is there for me when and if i need him, but i also want him to respect the fact i might need some room. and when the upset spouse wants to talk about it, really listen to them. look them in the eye, hug them long and tight, support them. and do the same for them.
9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.
i know for a fact this is one of the crucial parts of my parents' marriage. my dad can make my mom laugh so hard it will bring her to tears, and he does it often. and mom makes my dad laugh hard and sometimes he'll do this high-pitched thing. they'll smile, roll their eyes adoringly at dumb things the other does. they laugh, they play, they go on adventures. they got the church giggles so bad one time during yoga it was suggested they might not want to sit next to each other. it's a great thing to watch, actually - my parents laughing together. and i want to end up with someone just as silly and ridiculous as i am, and never ever stop laughing.
10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel loved.
we are all different, and feel loved in different ways. some people need gifts and jewelry and stuff. there's nothing wrong with that, but i don't need that stuff and actually makes me feel uncomfortable to an extent. some others need words of affirmation. for me, i need to hugged tight and kissed hard. i need to be looked in the eye and told, 'damn - i love you so much'. i need to make out in an elevator. passion makes me feel loved and wanted. everyone is different, know what your partner needs, and give it to them.
11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.
your spouse is your priority, plain and simple. when they talk to you, look them in the eye and really listen. when your spouse needs you, get off your damn phone and give them your undivided attention. make damn sure they know and feel they are appreciated, loved, and heard.
12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.
yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. never stop having sex - and don't treat it as a chore. sex is meant to be one of the best parts of life, not the worst! and keep it fun, silly, and exciting. go on a date and then fool around in the back of the car. pull me into an alley or against the car in a parking lot and kiss me hard. give me butterflies. let's make out. passion is so important, crucial - don't lose it. and if you do lose it, find a way to get it back.
13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.
everyone makes mistakes. learn from them, talk them out, gain some wisdom, move on, and maybe laugh at the really silly ones. just don't be stupid.
14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered.)
15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fear and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.
i don't expect you to be a hero, and i'm not one either. we all have weak moments, and we all need to feel vulnerable at times. when you're feeling vulnerable, feel it. ask for help, tell each other what you need. if you partner is in this place, be there for them and lift them up. we all lose our marbles at time. and sometimes a spouse needs to take on a little more weight off the other's shoulders, and this is okay and a sign of a good partnership and team, i think.
i love jack johnson, and he has this semi-new song - love these lyrics:
When tomorrow’s too much
I’ll carry it all
I’ve got you
16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, and part of that courage is allowing her to love your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.
make your partner feel safe and secure with their feelings, no matter what they are, plain and simple.
17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is for a relationship that isn’t focused on growing. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.
yup - see #3
18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.
marriage is a romantic partnership, but it is also a business partnership - some may disagree, but that's how i see it. again, i think that's been a key to my parents' marriage. my mom stayed at home with us kids when we were younger before we were in school full time, and today i feel incredibly blessed she and my dad were able to give that to us kids. that was important to my parents, and it was a big decision they made together. my dad would financially support the family during that time, and we were blessed to have a father that was able to provide a very nice life for us growing up. after we were all in school full time, my my mom went back to school to become a nurse. my dad retired years ago, and my mom is now the bread-winner. my dad had his own business, and my mom ran the books for the business and the family. they have made some key decisions for their retirement, and make all financial decisions together. and you know what, money stuff changes. you may think something is going to happen a certain way, and think you can project your financial future, but chances are it will be a little different than what you might have planned on. finances change, planning needs to change along with it. money is one of the top reasons for divorce, and i think it's one of the most preventable reasons. don't fall victim to it.
19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. Forgiveness is freedom. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.
work differences out entirely at the time they happen, forgive, learn, grow, move on. when you don't work things out and forgive the other for mistakes made, you will hold onto resentments and those are so dangerous and will prevent any future growth. forgive each other, be kind to one another.
20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.
always choose love, always choose love, always choose love - just like rogers said. after 34 years, after arguments, disagreements, mistakes, tears, parents and friend dying, obstacles, my parents love each other and their love continues to grow, endure, and because of that simple reason they thrive. it sounds easy, but it takes work - love and relationships take work. tell your partner you love them, even if you may hate them at the time. love will endure, love will get you through the hard times, and at the end of the day when you go to bed, in your final years, all you are left with is love.
and that's what i have for now - for some reason, this article caught my eye today when i came across it. i was recently talking to my mom about her and my dad's story. and here are some pictures of this example i've had. and how cute are they?!?