Down-Home Marital Advice

I’ve been married to my husband for almost 16 years. Before you start adding on your fingers in order to determine my age, I’ll also tell y’all that we initially met in junior high school and began dating at 16.

Just as the term ‘high school sweethearts’ does not involve the clean romance touch of a Hallmark movie, sixteen years of marriage does not involve …well… the clean romance touch of a Hallmark movie, either.

We’ve been having a rough patch lately. I’m a bit too honest, honestly, and have brought up our roughness and subsequent marriage counseling to other women. I have yet to encounter one who does not respond with, “Oh, yes! Marriage is tough. I think everyone ought to do counseling!”

But I’m a people watcher. I’m a people reader. Other people tell me they all have problems and marriage is a challenge, but other people do not act the way my husband and I do.

I’m not asking to be placed in other couples’ bedrooms. I am often wondering if the issues we have are really the same as others’. -Because I have also had other women talk about conflicts or personality quirks with lighthearted humor.

“You know how (my husband) gets,” a neighbor told a group of us at lunch. “He’s always cranky when we travel somewhere and he has to spend money on food.” She laughed; we laughed. She and her husband have been married long enough that they are now empty-nesters. She also said, “I explained to my son that married people like us may complain and tease, but we love each other.”

My teasing comments about my husband started a recent fight because he got self-defensive and then withdrew. Then I, quite maturely, nagged at him and complained so he (naturally) got more defensive and eventually said mean things to get me to go away or (as I told him) hurt me as much as I hurt him….

It all sounds rather childish typed out, but is quite devastating in the moment. Don’t worry; we’re working on it.

Our therapist says we’re not unique but I’m a doubter. Does everyone really have problems in marriage? Do you laugh it off and know you love each other anyway? Or, is couple-hood what Erma Bombeck used as the title for one of her books: A Marriage Made in Heaven, or, Too Tired for an Affair?

—–

What a week! This was the schedule, at least according to my sneaky back-posting:
Wednesday, December 12: What is the Beat of YOUR Creation?, a short, sweet post about music and its role in creation.
Thursday, December 13: Skinwalkers, XLV
Friday, December 14: Winner of The Fifth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations, Ruth Scribbles.
Saturday, December 15: Beginning of The (Sixth) Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Check it out!).
Sunday, December 16: Fractured Fairy Tales That Lost, my entries in Carrot Ranch Literary Community‘s contest awhile ago.
Monday, December 17: Inspirational Quote by Matt Kahn.
Tuesday, December 18: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Six,
Wednesday, December 19: This post.

I’ve been swamped with Christmas projects. I have only to make cookie plates for all the neighbors after uncovering my kitchen, then wrapping all the presents whilst the children are snuggled all very tightly in their beds.

36 thoughts on “Down-Home Marital Advice

  1. Divorce rates are high so I’m thinking marriage is problematic and I don’t know of any marriage where there’s no falling outs.
    I don’t think there’s a one size fits all solution though, people are different so marriages are different. Not only that but individuals are complicated, so relationships will be too. When I hear of some couple in an abusive relationship yet they want to keep it together, and they make it work despite this. Then another couple will have seemingly superficial differences and head straight for the divorce lawyers. And, of course, a lot in between.

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  2. I compliment you and your husband for seeking marriage counseling. Too many couples give up without seeking help. Conflict can often become unbearable. We are all too close to our problems to see answers, and an objective professional can give you good practical advice and tools to manage conflict. I am a big fan of relationship analysis using the Myers-Briggs Personality Index. When you fully understand who you are by personality type and who your partner is the areas of potential conflict are understandable. I have found that the process of understanding myself has dramatically improved my way of dealing with others. That is an excellent tool to add to your toolbox of handy gadgets. It has helped me manage depression and anxiety, too. I wish you well on this extraordinary journey. Peace be with you and all mankind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Beverly! I’ll try looking at it from the personality perspective; that’s good advice.

      I’m also sorry for not being online much to read or comment. I think I’ll catch up after Christmas Break. 🙂

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  3. Rough patches—yes, they do happen, and can be smoothed over. And quibbling is part of the give and take of committed marriages. Hang in there. It also helps to be the first to say sorry—even if you don’t feel like it. It’ll be 37 years January 1st—I know all about patching and sorting it out.

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  4. I’m not really in a position to comment on relationships but I’m not a fan of couples counseling unless the therapist specializes in couples therapy. All relationships are tough and I think it’s the bumps along the way that make them stronger. Anyway, my advice (which I’m really not in a position to offer!) is to not laugh it off and don’t think it’s anything bad and remember that you both love each other.

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  5. I am probably the wrong person to answer this question since I have been divorced twice.BUT, I do have many thoughts about that institution and about men!!!!
    First of all, I am amazed that anyone stays married!!! My first husband and I got married at age 20 while we were in college. I think if he and I had met at 30 we would have had a strong, long lasting marriage. But being young and married during the late 60’s early 70’s was not conducive to being monogamous.

    We are still friends to this day. But that is because he is the father to my oldest son. Our marriage only lasted 5 years and I was stunned when it broke up when my son was just ten months old. Anyhow…. he still calls and we chat and when his parents were sick he would call and cry to me. So we truly still care about one another. I think his folks pressured him to pursue a career and encouraged him that it would be easier to do without a wife and kid…. who knows it was so long ago. But we got along really well. In fact, we have ALWAYS been on the same page about everything. If ever a marriage should have worked that one should have. But it didn’t!!!! Crazy, I know.
    My second husband was 7 years younger than I and a good guy. We were married 23 years. He had issues with being faithful at the end of our relationship and I kicked him out. He wanted to work on the marriage and I said no way. Some things cannot be repaired. However, when he became sick with pancreatic cancer we did get back together and I helped him through cancer before he passed away. It was the right thing to do.
    Life, men, marriage, all things that I can’t answer for you. I believe that some people are just better suited for one another. Others you can love but not with.

    After my 2nd husband died and time passed I dated two other men. Each nice, both wanted to marry me and I refused and stopped seeing each of them. Why? Because you see, what I realized was that I would have had to cater to each of them and give up my independence. And once you get a taste of freedom, who the hell wants to give that up??? Women give up everything for others. When you are young you raise your children and take care of everybody else!!! You run the home, take care of your family (husband and kids) and I was a working mother who taught so I took care of everyone else’s children too. So I spent my entire life thinking about other people and their needs. My needs never came into play.
    And I realized that I didn’t want to do that any more. And most men, (not all) want women who will take care of them.
    So… I don’t date any more because I don’t want to have to give up what I want in life for a man. And since Johnny Depp or George Clooney aren’t knocking on my door I have decided I am just fine by myself! LOLThe successful marriages I know seem to have one partner giving in to the other. And that does’t seem very fair to me.
    My parents had an equal partnership and so I thought the men I chose would be like my father. My dad respected and trusted my mo enough to let her be her creative self and do things equally. I never found a man anywhere who was like that in real life. Just my father Most men are too insecure for that.

    So, IF you can go to therapy and work things out then I encourage that. But you both need to go to independent therapy too. So you know what YOU want. We are all complex individuals. And now I am getting up there in years and I love, love but shy away from romance these days. Men my age like me because I look good for my age. But quite honestly, I am not attracted to old men, nor do I think their ideas about life are progressive enough for me. And I refuse to date someone young enough to be my son. So I am happy to live life and worry about myself for a change. I can’t tell you what to do about your marriage. BUT I CAN agree with Shakespeare and say, “To thine own self be true!”
    For if you lose yourself than what good is being with someone else???? Just be happy. ** However, being divorced with kids is hell, so if you can stick it out with two paychecks for a few years then do it. It sucks working multiple jobs as a single parent to raise your kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lesley, you crack me up. I think we’re sisters from a confused separation in the before-life or something.

      I am totally feeling that crunch of lack of independence and time for me. My husband and I got married young and get along very well, so we just need to keep working at it.

      I agree about all your points (of course). Remarkably, we’re a single-income household so I feel bad when I whine about my state. 😉

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      • You are really very lucky to be a stay at home mom. I never got that luxury. However, that can sometimes be as frustrating as working. I think moms just have a balancing act. When you are a creative soul there is no easy answer. Just plug along and do your best. Once your kids become teenager, they won’t really care what you say or do. LOL My suggestion is that if yo can sustain things then that is preferable. I know that my brother and his wife had similar issues at your stage in life. He worked, she stayed home with the kids and she was a creative soul. They did work it out and now in middle age with grown kids have a wonderful relation and a terrific marriage. He just retired and they moved to California to be near their grandkids. But there was a few years in the middle where It was difficult. However, their relation is better than ever now. So hang in there if you can.
        I think in regards to myself, as my oldest son says, “Mom I love you dearly. There is no one who is more caring and loving than you.. BUT…you are piece of work!!! You are definitely a handful!” LOL And that is probably very true. I am not easy. Never was, never will be. hahaha

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  6. I love what Lesleykluchin wrote! Marriage is tricky. I was married once before and I spent the next fourteen years bringing up my two boys on my own. It was tough but I should have gone to therapy which would have helped me. I also found that a lot of my married friends dropped me once the drama was over. One is considered a ‘threat’ and they want to protect their own. Only you know if it’s right, if you can still have those lovely silly giggly moments together that nobody else will understand. One thing I have been taught which I really, really like is to every week or two, take it in turns to allow each other to talk. Five minutes, absolutely no interruptions about anything that they want to. Then the other person will roughly repeat back in summary what the other person has said. If they’ve got is slightly wrong, then they can be corrected. It’s truly lovely to know that you’re being listened to, can voice your thoughts and not have anyone interrupting you and contradicting you. Just a thought. Have a wonderful Christmas and relax! Katie xx

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  7. I think we’re all the same, and we’re all very different. Kind of like the 10 basic stories in writing, but they can be told with such incredible diversity.
    I’m heading into my 20th year of marriage, but we married when I was 35, so we both had a lot of relationship experience. Since you went into marriage younger, perhaps you didn’t get a chance to see relationship patterns – and your own patterns – so much.
    Because of what we’d learned, our marriage vows focused on things like: To encourage you and to believe in you even when I doubt myself. We agreed to respect the other person’s choices, preferences and dreams whether we fully understood them or not. That effort at encouragement and acceptance has helped set a safe place and has fostered affection alongside our love.
    But even so we’ve had some Real fights a few times over the years. Taking out name calling and that mean place – as an agreement – works most of the time. The couple times either has breached it takes some patient reconciliation. Not easy, but that intentional belief in the other person helps. If you lose the belief that they’re a good and special person worthy of your encouragement for a fair length of time, then it’s time for deep soul-searching and professional counseling, for sure.
    A practical thing we used to reduce arguments is we watched for patterns of triggers if we ran into a patch of crabbiness at each other. At one point, we noticed we were always fighting just after I got home from work, before dinner. We agreed not to talk about anything negative or disagreeable until after we ate. It was really hard to break the habit for the first week, but…arguments nearly disappeared entirely. Probably much to do with his low blood sugar and my traffic fighting stress rather than real issues at that time. We got to looking forward to seeing each other again. Little things can help massively! I wish you the best!

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  8. An interesting post that has inspired significant dialog. I attribute lies as responsible for the majority of domestic (and life) problems.
    — In a perfect marriage you never have disagreements.
    — Love is based primarily on feelings (e.g. eros rather than agape).
    — You can’t expect a man/woman to be faithful to a single person for a lifetime.
    — Love means never needing to say you’re sorry.
    — Etc.

    Because we humans are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings, we’re quite complex. As a pastoral counselor I’ve found that most people focus on the first three considerations when choosing a spouse. For me, it’s more than an abstract “doctrine” that God can make two into one.

    After 42 years of happy marriage–one that weathered a couple years worth of family separations due to a military career–I am pleased to see our three children happily married. Are our four marriages perfect? Far from it, and one of our sons and his wife are currently in counseling to make theirs better. [Caring enough to pursue counseling is a sign of a marriage’s strength, not its weakness.] Nevertheless, when a couple make a lifetime commitment, and do not open the door to infidelity, the odds are good that they can experience lifelong joy in their marriage… despite the inescapable bumps and the adjustments that need to be made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. You have raised many valid points; the most important for me being love based primarily on feelings. I tend to assume an extreme, negative conclusion based on current emotions, then completely forget I was nasty once situations or hormones change for the better.

      I think I am logical, when clearly I am not. I am human and so is my husband. 🙂

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