***All my posts start with how I came to write about the subject matter so if you don’t care, just skip until you see the bold letters …. START HERE
A few months ago I was almost certain my marriage was over. It was beyond sad and started having these disheartened deep-down-in-your-chest feelings I found very hard to describe. I’m sure if you’re reading this or searching for these terms in Google, you have also experienced what I just described. I was trying to talk myself up. Telling myself I was still young, I could be pretty when time called, and I had a career that would provide a comfortable living for my son and myself. Besides, surely SOMEONE else would marry me without much effort on my part. I decided I had enough. It was the same issue for the past 6 years [although we were only married for 1 of those 6]. My husband and I were dealing with a reoccurring issue [a post for another day] that consistently led to bigger issues in our marriage. I was desperate for 2 things: I had to make him understand the core problem and if that failed, I had to walk away.
Only YOU are responsible for your own happiness. Do NOT make it anyone else’s problem and do NOT make their problems yours.
Yes, this is a very selfish idea. Coming from a Vietnamese-American who was drilled to believe that your needs are last, it was conflicting. I had to just deal with the problem because my son’s happiness came first. Which meant what? Which meant living in a dual income, both parent household. I know I needed to be happy too, or else I couldn’t be mentally there for my son. The MOST important person that has ever existed.
The next few days, I felt as if I were on a raft going through a storm. The waves were harsh and sharp when it hit me. The dark moments felt like they would go on forever. It was a motherlode marathon of all dreariness. Hades himself couldn’t concoct a better hell. We were bitter and petty. We didn’t speak to each other because it would end in fighting. Fighting that went on and on. Tears that drained my life source.
So one night, I gathered all my thoughts and put all my eggs in my basket. I took a deep breathe and just let it out. What I have been feeling, why, and my plans for separation. Little did I know, those past months of fighting were the best thing that ever happened to me, my son, and my marriage.
Disclaimer: I’m not a licensed anything. Take my advice with a grain of salt. This is simply my experiences and/or observations.
It’s no secret we all want a perfect life. Perfect family, perfect spouse, perfect children, perfect house, etc. It’s also no secret that it’s impossible. Every body and they mama know that! However, I found that by dealing with the fight [argument, confrontation, whatever you want to call it] consciously, you walk away with a better marriage and the ability to hone skills you never thought were inside you.
.Know Which Battles are Worth It.
This one is obviously easy peasy. Pick you battles. DUHHHH CINDY. DON’T DUH ME! Go read someone else’s blog then! This is more for yourself and not for your spouse. I hear other husbands [and I’m sure mine have said this too many times over]…”my wife is such a b****! she b**** about EVERYTHING!” and yes, I did do that. I would complain the soap was faced the wrong way. I would complain that the drinks in the fridge were spaced unequally. These are extreme examples but we all have something that irks us. In my mind, I would think, “UGH GEEZE WTF! how hard is it? just LIVE LIKE ME, ITS THE BEST WAY!”
Pick. your. battles. not for your spouse but for YOU. Going through life picking at the teeniest tiniest issues that don’t affect your life is not only bad for your relationships but also for your heart. Give yourself some respect, dude! Your time is worth so much more than that. Don’t spend time getting pissed at something simple as your husband putting the toothpaste in the wrong spot and screwing up your morning which tricked down all day.
You’re pissed because your spouse didn’t put his coffee cup in the dishwasher –> you give the barista an attitude so she makes your coffee extra slow –> you’re late for work –> you send passive aggressive emails at work because your morning started out terribly and everyone is an idiot –> coworker delays progress purposely because you sent them a crappy email –> you have to stay late because you got the document late –> you get home super tired and don’t get any me time before going to bed –> you don’t get enough sleep and wake up pissed all over again
This is a bad example but you get it. This probably happened to me before because I was that person. I would yell at my husband for something like this. It might not happen to you because you just have great luck but why risk it? You can’t control a lot of things in your life, but you can control THAT.
By fighting with my husband over this stupid sh**, I realized I was causing issues and disrupting MY happiness. I became more self-aware and my emotions because I had to be. I had to choose what was worth dealing with the effects and backlash of my own unravelling. It is one of things where you don’t know its bright because you’ve never experienced the dark. I needed to experience these moments because every battle was worth it for me. Why? because I MATTERED. I finally realized that it was counter-productive. This carries on into my daily life. By weighing how much a battle really mattered before rallying my figurative troops, I prioritize better at work, increased my person/professional productivity, fell asleep faster, and am so much less stressed. I became a better wife because I chose to see the happiness instead. My husband enjoyed my coffee. I DID SOMETHING RIGHT! He enjoyed it so much he took more time to drink my coffee and was almost late so he rushed off! [that is what I’m going to believe]
.Every Word Matters. Think of Cohesive Points Before You Speak.
We all have heard that people do crazy things when they’re desperate. In my opinion, its not only crazy things. It is things you never knew you could. When I was so desperate to find the right words, the right sentences, the right reasons to express my point of view and why he was wrong because whether it was correct, I had to show my husband that in my eyes, HE WAS WRONG. Until I could convey why I think so effectively, the root of the problem will never show itself.
My emotions were muddling my thoughts. My heart was racing and I just wanted to throw something. I had to separate my instincts from my brain. I was so desperate to fix my marriage that I did something I’ve never done. I calmed down. I calmed down because fixing my marriage mattered more than my selfish need to relieve my anger. I dug deep into my memories and pulled out skills learned in middle school on how to write an affective essay. Think of this as a limited word prompt. You only have x amount so speak simply and concise.
An occurring problem my husband has is he thinks he can do two things at once and then never hear a thing I said. This is an example of what I said: You often have to ask me about things I’ve spoke to you about. This communicates to me that I am not important enough for you to give your attention to. When its important, I will give you a disclaimer that I need 5 minutes of your undivided attention.
There is a clear problem, how it affects your mental state, and exactly how it can be fixed. Then done and stick to your guns. Do just that. If its something you NEED your spouse to hear, you must do what you said. Give him or her a disclaimer that its important. Never let them have an excuse to use, “well, I didn’t know!”
I realized this is even more productive in my corporate life. My emails have been shorter and sweeter than before with zero questions from the receiving party.
We need x info because y needs to file z form. Please send it to me before end of the week or we will delay and the repercussions are…
.Standing Up For Yourself.
There are so many times I avoided conflict with my husband or anyone else that I just shut up. Especially for the sake of a ‘happy’ marriage, I wouldn’t say anything. I just went to bed or got off work pissed off. Layers and layers later, my life felt like a spiraling state of unhappiness; professionally and personally. Fighting for marriage, I was able to develop skills that led me to stand up for myself. It was because I can. I have a voice now and I learned how to use it appropriately. Its the usual fear of what’s the point if it goes nowhere? Standing up for yourself CAN go somewhere and it CAN fix issues.
.All Around Gratefulness.
Do you remember a time when you were walking through a snow storm or when it was SOOOOOO cold and you had about 5 blocks left? Your entire body shook when the wind hit it and your nose stung when you breathed in. Man, that moment you ran into the building or opened the door of your house was the moment of instant relief. You were so grateful for that warm encompassing air hugging your tired body.
Pushing through these fights won’t only be a huge relief short term, but with these skills, you and your partner and grow into a much more appreciative family unit. There are times I lay there and I thank myself for not succumbing to who I am. I am a coward. I run away and I rather make it easy for myself. Instead, I pushed through for my son. I owe him a family. I owe him a father he got to hug every night and ate with and saw every morning. These are issues we could get over if I only put myself aside.
Going through the fire, you appreciate life a little more than a lot. You remember how hard it was and all the tears, then every tiny bit of happiness matters so much more.