What Makes It Work?
My husband and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. We hear it all the time…”Oh my gosh! You are just the cutest couple!! You’re always so happy and smiling and holding hands. I wish I had some of that!”
Yes, we are holding hands every chance we get. When we sit next to each other in the car, our hands are on each other’s knee. When we are in the movies, you can bet the armrest in between is up and I’m snuggled in! We even changed our minds on a vehicle one time because it wasn’t conducive to touching each other.
Bill explains it like this: “I’m like cheap metal and you’re a powerful magnet!”
So, the question remains and is asked all of the time; “How is it that you are still on your honeymoon after 15 years?!?” I do have to say, we may make it look easy but if you really want to know, it isn’t always. We created this beautiful marriage ourselves. We nurture it, we protect it, we put “US” first and it has indeed created our very own “Heaven on Earth”.
Bill is my 3rd marriage and I’m his 2nd. We had a great deal of experience in figuring out what we did and didn’t want in a marriage. We were sick and tired of drama and unhappiness and wanted only one thing…TO LOVE AND BE LOVED IN RETURN. Our appreciation for each other and the willingness of each of us to go above and beyond the normal “call of duty” has played a huge part and kept us together, even when the going got REAL tough.
I thought I would summarize just a few of the things that has largely contributed to the success and elevation of our marriage.
- We are each other’s first and last line of defense.
What does this mean? It means, we will protect and defend each other with our lives. Our priorities are crystal clear…each other. We will stand up for each other, be loyal to each other and seek out what is best for us as a couple.
- We have personal boundaries within our marriage.
I would classify Bill and I as being very easy to get along with, but I do want to clarify, WE BOTH HAVE BOUNDARIES FIRMLY IN PLACE. This makes it incredibly easy for both of us to know where we can and cannot tread. If his boundaries have been breached (and I’m talking more about MY overabundance of clothing and shoes, wandering over to his side of the closet) I will know about it immediately. The clothing example is a humorous one, but it translates into other areas of our life too. We both need to know we have the freedom to set boundaries and have them respected.
- We know that whatever words we say, we can never retract.
The words we say to each other are carefully chosen. It’s not like we are on eggshells when it comes to communication. It’s knowing that you have another person’s heart in the palm of your hand, vulnerable and trusting and with your words and your actions, you have the ability to strengthen or destroy this very trusting heart. We will always choose to strengthen each other with our words.
- Apologize sincerely and immediately.
Do we make mistakes in our communication and in our daily life and on rare occasion, hurt the other person with our words and our actions? Yes! We are human, we have moods (we both have some doozies!) and days when our words and actions come out sideways. I believe I speak for both of us that we can read each other’s body language or expression and if we didn’t get it right away, we become aware we have said something that hurt the other. We have the option of making the other person “suck it up” and deal with it OR apologize on the spot, sincerely and deeply. This immediate apology keeps the wound from turning into an injury or a festering sore. Suck up your pride and apologize the minute you become aware you have hurt the other person.
- Take your differences and make them an opportunity to show love to your partner.
What does that mean? Bill and I have a great deal in common but there are huge differences in our personalities and preferences. He has, on many occasions gone to events such as a full moon meditation, sound bath, psychic reading or shamanic journey WITH me. This is not his “thing” so to speak but he will be there because I have asked him to be, or he wants to simply be with me. With this type of love and dedication, do you think I would ever begrudge going through an aviation museum or civil war battle field with him? We are both willing to entertain each other’s preferences because we care about each other and believe that what they love, MATTERS.
- Be willing to be vulnerable to your partner.
Honor your partner by giving them all of you. Partnership is raw and revealing. You have in your hands, the perfect opportunity to allow yourself to grow past your fears and prior disappointments and really be vulnerable and REAL. If you hold back, you are hurting both of you and robbing each other the joy of intimacy and true connection. Honor that your partner is opening themselves up in a way they will to NO OTHER and never abuse that trust.
- Speak and act as if it’s the last time you will ever see each other.
Heavy, I know! I don’t know if this realization has come with age or if we just really get how fragile how life is, but we are starkly aware that whatever words we say to each other, could be the last (especially when your husband rides a Harley Davidson to work every day!). We don’t dwell on it but with that somewhere in the back of your mind, you hug each other tighter, each kiss is sweeter, and you don’t forget to say, “I love you!” and really mean it as you walk away. I’ve always teased him and told him, “Of all of my husbands, you are definitely my favorite!”. He never walks out the door without me saying “You’re my favorite!”
- LAUGH! A LOT!
Since the last one was so heavy, I thought I would throw this in. Bill and I laugh ALL of the time. Yes! Every day! We laugh at ourselves, we laugh at most everything we can find. We can’t be so thin-skinned, egotistical and fragile that we cannot laugh at ourselves. One of our greatest pleasures is hearing the other partner laugh at something we said or did. It’s tempting to take ourselves and our lives too seriously but DON’T! Life is too short not to have JOY in it!
I realize I could probably turn this into a book at this point so I will leave you with these. The ones I have listed above have taken us quite far. I don’t know about you, but I don’t just want to settle for an OK partnership. I want a GREAT one! I love this poem from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. It sums up a beautiful partnership.
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet