Ok friends. I'm cleaning up some of my blogs (I have way too many) and am posting a couple from a blog I started to write about marriage called "The First Year is the Hardest". Here's the second (& last) post!
Good morning! I hope today finds you well and gives you hope.
My husband and I often spend our mornings getting up as close to the alarm going off as possible and usually barely have enough time to take a shower and get out the door. However, this morning we both looked at each other and mentioned that we were hungry. Given the fact that we don't have any milk (so cereal is out) or time to make some eggs, we decided to use up the last of our spending cash ($30 every two weeks) and stop at the good McDonald's before driving me to work. Now, obviously McDonald's doesn't have the reputation of being "good" for you or anything like that and this one is no exception but if you must go, this McDonald's is a great stop in your day. They're always polite and kind and get your order right!
I believe that one of the things that help you live a happy, successful life is performing random acts of kindness and holding onto those to keep you going. To give people, especially your spouse, a bit of happiness or a reason to smile really helps.
Now, anybody who knows my husband and myself know that we don't often make each other smile. Life has been difficult for us (not terrible, mind you) and the emotional baggage that we both carry with us wears down on your heart and soul. We spend a lot of time in the crazy cycle and have a very difficult time of stopping it. It takes time, patience, love, faith, respect and those acts of random kindness to help get out.
Michael and I will have been married for 4 years next month and have already reached the point where we were both ready to give up and throw in the towel. October 2009 was a breaking point for me. I felt completely unloved and resentful which caused me to be completely unloving and disrespectful. So I decided that I was going to have a talk. I told him that I have found myself feeling very unkind and unloving towards him and that it wasn't fair to him and it wasn't fair to myself. I focused on speaking to him from the heart, telling him how I was feeling and how we could work together to fix the situation. I told him that things needed to change or I would be leaving soon. So we started trying to communicate more. We tried helping each other out. He started trying to help out around the house and told me that he would work at getting a job (we were living with his mother at the time, he wasn't working - only going to school, I was only able to work part-time since my full-time position had been eliminated). We tried very hard to be patient with each other... It started working - for a while.
The next month, his mother started yelling at us about her finances and how we were taking money from her (she paid for food & utilities so we could get back on our feet) and that we had stolen $2000 from her. We were taken aback, telling her that we had no idea where $2000 had gone and that we weren't taking anything that she hadn't authorized. Anyway, the argument became very heated and his mother said something very cruel to me (we'll get into that on another day) and I packed my things and told Michael that I was leaving. He stood up to his mother, who spent another hour telling him about him letting me go, to get a divorce, that I don't love him, that I'm sleeping around - the list goes on - and he told his mother that she was out of line and that he was leaving with me.
We moved in with my mother and both fell into a deeper spiral of depression. Thanksgiving was the next day and Christmas the next month... By February, Michael had finally gotten a job and I would soon be starting a new full-time job and we decided to go out around Valentine's Day. We drank and ate and left. Michael was upset about something and wanted to get some beer to bring back home. I told him I didn't want to, that I just wanted to go home. He became angry and started yelling and was driving around, looking for a place that was open and selling alcohol. I asked to go home, to get out of the car and eventually hit him. I hit him a few times, he finally pulled the car over and I got out to walk home. Then he was pulled over. He passed the sobriety test and that's when the police officer told him that his driver's license was invalid because it was out of state and he has lived in this state for more than 90 days. My mom & dad "rescued" us and brought us home fuming. I told Michael that I was done. I couldn't believe that he had been so unloving towards me, with the yelling and screaming at me... I told him that I couldn't believe that he had been so unreasonable and questioned why he didn't just bring us home. He screamed at me, telling me how disrespectful it was to have hit him. That it was completely wrong. We had both decided that things were going to end. He stayed on the couch and we both tossed and turned for hours. Around 3 in the morning, I came upstairs for water and he was awake. We talked quietly for a couple of hours and eventually went back to the room we were staying in together. The next day was spent consulting with my dad about the Love & Respect program and he gave us the book on CD and explained it to us.
Basically, men are looking for respect and women are looking for love.
Women love naturally. They have no problem showing love to people (or animals, as is especially evident with me!) and can spend their time and energy showing others love. Women show kindness and affection - even in greeting a new person. Since women are designed to love, it can be very difficult to show respect.
Men respect naturally. There is an understanding of respect between men - even when greeting a new person. The exchange is one of respect as opposed to the kindness and affection that women show. Since men are designed to respect, it can be very difficult to show love.
When the crazy cycle starts, it is fueled on by the lack of love (from a man towards a woman) and lack of respect (from a woman towards a man) and vice versa. It doesn't matter who starts what, the cycle will continue until you learn how to stop it.
We dove into the book on CD. We drove together every day and spent hours in the car. We listened to every CD within a week and found that so much of what was said made sense. We were able to recognize the things that we were doing to each other and it brought light to understand how we were making the other person feel as well as the thoughts and feelings behind the actions or words of what the other person was doing/saying. We found hope and strength to move on and work together.
The idea of Love & Respect saved us. It saved us as a marriage and it saved us as individuals.
Before you start thinking that we're perfect now, I want you to understand that we're not. We're far from it. Love and Respect is a daily decision. There will always be things in your life that cause you to stray and make things difficult. But if you make a decision to try, you can make it through. I truly believe that Acts of Random Kindness from both of you can help to keep the love & respect alive.
I Just Want to Be Ok by Sarah A. Manning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.