MY MARRIAGE RULES
Here we are again......Monday. WOW, I'm still coming off a high from last night! The jewelry collection launch was CRAZY AMAZING!! Thank you all for the excitement. I could have never dreamed they would go that fast! Not to worry, I will be doing another run. Just hang tight while I figure out all the details. If those little fingers weren't so fast, you can add yourself to the wish list at the bottom of the page by clicking here.
Last month, in preparation for Valentines's Day, I asked you guys if you had any questions about love + marriage? And boy, did those emails ever start flying in. They now have a dedicated folder on my computer called "February Love". I certainly don't have all the right answers. I'm still figuring it out daily, but I will clue you in on a few things I've learned thus far. Things I repeat to myself daily and the rules I live by.
IF YOU WANT IT, MAKE THE INVESTMENT
Here's the deal. Men are very simple creatures. Let's don't over think it. They need FOOD + SEX + TO FEEL LOVED. And not necessarily in that order. Now, let me just start by saying I'm a 50's wife at heart. Some of you may find what I'm saying to be sexist or generationally extinct. But these are all cues I took early on, from the women before me. Women that have strong marriages. Are happy. Are fulfilled. Feel empowered. Walk with confidence. Are treated with respect. Loved. Raised good kids. Kept it real, and laughed along the way. I soaked it all in and wanted the same. So here I am..... 25 and about to get married. Now what? My girlfriends had different view points on relationships. Marriages around me didn't follow the same rules, and seemed to just be going through the motions. Was everyone truly happy? Was this just what happens after years of being with the same person? Whatever it was, I wanted more. I didn't want the butterflies to go away. I made up my mind that day, that I wouldn't let them fly away. My marriage IS a priority. Just like anything else, it takes work. Isn't it worth the investment?
A WISE WOMAN ONCE SAID
Jolene is my grandmother. She once was a blue eyed 17 year old catholic girl raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She fell in love with a 19 year old hunk with brown eyes in the spring of 1949. He proposed and she hid the ring from her family for months. But during that time she worked on embroidering the collar of a blouse each night, with a flashlight under her sheets. The one she would wear when they eloped. On Sunday, December 18th, 1949 along side their friends, they drove across the state line into Tupelo, Mississippi and said I do. Months went by and Earl couldn't keep the secret any longer, he wanted to be with his new bride. One afternoon he slipped the marriage certificate inside her mother's book. She turned to that page and the certificate fell out. She looked at him and called Jolene's father. Let's just say, they moved in together that day. A modest tin house with two rooms, no indoor bathroom, but they were in love. Big time.
Fast forward. Together they've created 68 amazing years of marriage + three homes + four kids + seven grandchildren + 8 great grandchildren and countless memories. They are still going strong. Still holding hands. Still kissing goodbye. Still very much in love. They are what I wanted. I've been lucky enough to witness their love story. She's said some things over the years that have just resonated with me. I chat with them weekly, and last week was especially sweet to have them both on the phone sharing their tidbits about marriage and what has worked for them for almost 70 years. They have a real American love story and I continue to take pages from their book.
JOLENE'S WORDS OF WISDOM
KISS THEM WHEN THEY'RE SWEATY
It's never gross. They've been working hard for you. Let them know you appreciate them, with a kiss on their neck and tight squeeze. No matter how dirty they are.
ALWAYS HOLD HANDS
It's that touch that helps you stay connected. It let's them know you're there. A simple touch can do wonders for a marriage. Even if you brush their shoulder as you walk by.
NEVER GO TO BED MAD
This can be a hard one, but is so important. Communication is key. Admit when you are wrong. Be a good listener. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember, it's okay not to be right.
DO THINGS FOR ONE ANOTHER
Want to take care of each other. He still gets her coffee every morning. She makes sure he has what he needs, before she gets her own. He starts her shower. She brings him the paper. It's these simple gestures that let's the other person know, you care and don't mind putting them first.
Think of each others feelings. Do things you don't necessarily want to do. If she wants to go shopping, then go. If he has a work dinner that you're invited to, and it's the last thing you want to do, go anyway. Being there for each other is part of the deal. Support in a marriage is crucial.
A FEW RULES I LIVE BY
#1 NEVER SAY NO
You may not be in the mood. You may not be feeling sexy. Luckily men don't see our flaws and imperfections. We really are our own worst critics. The things we don't like, are often times what they love the most. Don't put yourself down in front of them. Don't call out what hate about your body. Love yourself, they do. Go with it, relax and enjoy the intimacy. It's one of those things..the more you do it, the more you'll love it. It's one of the simple things that seem to help make other parts of your marriage work better. It's not just sex. It's the connection.
#2 MAKE DINNER
He works hard all day. Sitting down to have dinner together is very important to me and a huge deal to my family. We look forward to that time together. I believe having dinner ready when he comes home from work is a priority. It doesn't necessarily need to be fancy or straight out the pages of a cookbook. The sheer fact that you thought to have a meal prepared means the most. It's like celebrating his home coming. Some days it might be a can of soup and a turkey sandwich. The point is that you thought about it and put forth the effort. I cook Monday through Thursday and Friday we go out. You remember the old saying...a way to a mans heart is through his stomach. Truth be told.
#3 PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER
I might look like the hot mess most of the day. Chances are I'm still running around in my own sweat till 4 PM. I typically only get to shower and put real clothes on twice a week. Whateves. But I DO take 10 minutes to pull myself together before he walk through that door. Often times it's a mad dash when I hear the garage door open. Sometimes it means putting makeup on top of sweat. Adding a little lipgloss or changing your shirt. Putting fourth the effort and looking presentable when he walks through that door is a must for me. I've never let the rush of those early dating feelings go. Don't let yourself go. Be the girl he married. When you take the time, he will too. Remember, you should want to look and feel good for each other.
#4 DON'T BITCH ABOUT THE KIDS
Nobody wants to hear that as soon as they walk through the door, not after a long day. The LAST thing he wants to be hit with is how Timmy didn't nap and Susie spilled her drink at lunch. Woman up. Yes, it's crappy and it almost brought you to tears, but it's #momlife and it's what we do. Bite your tongue. It's our job. We can bitch to our girlfriends. By all means, DO THAT. You need to in order to keep your sanity. Chances are he's not going to come home a tell you how Bill didn't have the bid back on time and Martin pissed him off during the meeting. So, do what you can to keep that façade of having it together. You got this. If you MUST, let him walk through the door, eat dinner and then hit him with it later.
#5 A TIDY HOUSE
Listen, it's a thankless job, with no pay. And picking up after people is NO FUN. As a matter of fact, it's all I do. But in the same breath, I run a tight ship and since my kids have gotten older they've become quite helpful, or they know I'll go mommy dearest on them is a hot minute. Either way, everyone has a job around here. I don't know what it is, but there is some part of me that wants everything to be picked up and in its place before he gets home from work. It's amazing what you can do in 20 minutes. It should be a place he wants to come home to. We all need a place that is calm, and somewhat in order. It's a crazy world out there. Let home be your place of peace.
#6 DATE YOUR HUSBAND
This is VERY important. Something we vowed to do from day one. It happens weekly. It's definitely been postponed from time to time. Whether it's been because one of us is traveling, a sick child or the babysitter cancels last minute. All sorts of things have tried to get in our way, but no matter what, we've kept a standing date night for almost 15 years. Even if it meant starting our 'date' at home after the kids went to bed. Whatever the circumstances, it's important that we get that time together. Just him and I. Most weeks we pick our favorite spot or try a new restaurant that's all the rage. Maybe even grab a movie if we're not too tired. It's an opportunity to wear that new shirt, he shaves and I lay on that eyeliner just a little bit thicker. The kids don't cry when we leave, they never have. They've all always known the importance of our relationship and I believe it's important to lay down those foundations early on. It doesn't have to cost money or be elaborate. It's often times as simple as picking up a Publix sub and eating it on a park bench. We've even gone grocery shopping, alone. I have to tell you, that's kind of nice. The importance of it all, is blocking off that time in your schedule for one another. It is necessary and should be a priority. No talk of the kids. Instead, try starting a conversation with, remember when we....
#7 HE'S MY NUMBER ONE
I once sat bouncing my 10 month old baby girl on my knee while watching an episode of Oprah. This show was titled, I love my husband more than my kids. It was an article written in the New York Times. As you can imagine, it caused quite an uproar. I felt this way. Was it wrong to feel this way? How was this audience full of husbands and wives going to react? They were divided into two sides, 100 women that felt that way on one side, and 100 women that love their children more than their husbands on the other side. I was intrigued. The author explained her feelings and view point to Oprah. How she always valued her husband and that he was her rock. He was number one in her life. It wasn't that she loved her children any less, It was a different kind of love and that he would always be a priority. It's like she took the thoughts right out of my head. It was on that day that this 27-year-old girl realized that it was okay to put him first. And that my kids we're going to be okay and not feel any less loved. I've continued to say that loud and proud over the years. You can imagine the reaction you get when saying that in a group of women. Some of them look at you in disgust and their reactions are quite interesting. I never backpedaled or felt the need to explain myself to them. This is truly how I feel. He is the reason I have these beautiful children, and he was here first. He is my rock and I will not be ashamed to say that. My children are well aware and secure. They realize the importance of our relationship and how it provides a beautiful and happy environment for them to grow up in. It's especially important to lay this foundation when raising a daughter. I want her to seek out a partner that treats her with the same respect and love. While it's just as important for my son to witness. Teaching him how to treat a woman and how to be a great man. Whenever I come across a young woman about to be married, and she asks for any pieces of advise. My answer is to always put your relationship on a pedestal. It's very easy to let that slip to the side once children come into the picture. Remember, one day they will move away and you'll be standing there looking at that someone you really haven't seen in 20 years. Keep feeding your union and it will continue to reward you.
DON'T GET ME WRONG
There will be times when the above just doesn't work. That's ok. That's life. But I do my best to stick to these 7 rules. Why? Because they work for me. They work for us. Like I said above, they may sound like something that your mother read out of a Dear Abby column and will make most feminist wanna gag, but I do believe these ways of thinking are a lost art. Let me be clear, I'm not going to just give, give, give and not expect the same respect and care in return. That's just it. We are a team and he does all the same for me. It's a beautiful game of give and take. I've shared this exact advise with my own girlfriends, because they've asked. Wanting to know how WE do it? How are we still this happy after being together that long? (25 years) Why does he still look at you that way? How do you get him to help around the house? Well, I shared, they listened, and often times came back to tell me how these simple tweaks made other aspects of their marriage better. Give it a try. Isn't your marriage worth it?