I’ve gotten a few email requests for this topic and honestly, it makes me blush. Though I’m no expert on the topic, I am really proud of mine and David’s marriage. We both come from parents with strong marriages and it’s a priority for both of us, which I think really helps. When I was thinking about what the ONE THING would be I had several thoughts…
Date nights! Being your best self! Communication!
Then I started thinking about this phase of life we are in with two small children…
Date nights– HA! Those are few and far between at best. I feel so lucky to have had one at the beach and that one will have to hold us until… who knows when. Our sitters left for college (wahhhh).
Being your best self- Well, yes, I do believe taking care of yourself health wise is important. It may sound silly, but when David goes for a run, books a physical or downs the broccoli, it makes me feel like he cares about our long-term future together and ultimately me and our family, which I love. However, thank goodness this ‘best self’ is more of an overall health thing and doesn’t encompass being dressed like a functioning adult with make-up done on a daily basis or else he may have left me months ago.
Communication– Well yes, of course. Ability to communicate effectively is way up high on the list. And lucky for us, we’ve mastered the art of knowing just what the other is saying through exhausted sighs, couch flops and nudges when the baby cries in the middle of the night.
Then yesterday it dawned on me. What really helps keep out marriage strong at this stage of life can boil down to two small, yet significant, words.
Those two words can lessen the weight of any load. It shows you recognize the effort the other person is putting forth. It’s synonymous with being grateful in other aspects of life in the fact that it helps you to focus on and appreciate what you DO have instead of what you don’t. It makes each other feel valued. It makes this life and family feel like a team effort, which it 100% is. Hearing those words tells me that we aren’t keeping score; we’re both doing the very best we can.
Thank you for making dinner.
Thank you for taking care of those hospital bills.
Thank you for handling that time out.
Thank you for picking up the dry cleaning.
Thank you for working your tail off and bringing home those dollah dollah bills.
Thank you for filling my car up with gas.
Thank you for saying I look pretty without makeup and with circles under my eyes.
Thank you for remembering to call.
Thank you for helping with the dishes.
Thank you for understanding having to work late.
Thank you giving me those 5 minutes to sit quietly in the other room.
When I feel the urge to proclaim all I’ve been doing lately sweep over me, I try to stop. I think about what he’s been doing lately that may have gone unrecognized. Then instead of playing the ‘who is working harder/doing more’ game, I thank him sincerely because there usually are several things I haven’t been noticing. And when I get a sincere thank you from him out of left field, it reminds me that we are in this together, both doing our best.
I may have a higher need than most to feel appreciated (David can attest to that… is it a love language? If so, it is certainly mine), but I do firmly believe a little acknowledgment, appreciation and love instead of comparison can go a long way. Especially during this crazy time in life.
What do you think the secret to a strong and successful relationship is?
Do you think that secret changes throughout each life stage?