So, I’m that high school sweetheart story. You know, the one no one ever really believes (or secretly judges you on as you explain it). I judge myself about it too, so no offense taken as you were (maybe) rolling your eyes reading that. [can you see me?!]
The crazy thing is… I don’t think we fit that stereotypical mold. We’ve grown up together and faced a lot of ups and downs along the way. We’ve had the ability to do that as best friends, which in itself is pretty cool. [gag]
As many milestones have come and gone, the one thing that we tend to fall back on is communication. They aren’t lying when they say it’s key… It is KEY. When we aren’t on the same page and communicating clearly, it’s not fun. When we go through major life events, like having kids, it’s another layer of communication needed and not always fun. The point is: we acknowledge that it takes work.
Here are a few things that have worked for us over the years, keeping in mind we are still trying to find the right balance:
One thing we’ve both done over the past 18 years [how does it feel that you’ve been together as long as a college freshman has been alive?] is creating individual relationships. When you’ve been together since you were teenagers, you get into a rhythm and can have all of the same friends. We have found it very important to create space for one another, having individual things we do without the company of each other. We also actively encourage it. As much as a day of golf on the weekend can put me over the edge with the kids all day, I know it’s important to him and his buddies to spend time together. Ladies, don’t let your husband say golf won’t be an all day event… you’ve just been lied to.
Clap if you can hear me: 1,2,3!
I joke [phew, I got scared there for a minute], but this trick to check if someone’s paying attention really does work (with kids). Full focus and attention is another VERY important aspect to strong communication. We’re all bad at this – I’ll admit it myself. We are two busy people, and sometimes important conversations only happen during the course of a workday, and via text. Talk vs. text! [this sounds like my worst nightmare…I love texting over talking] Especially with the important things. My husband has the right to get irritated because I always end up chatty while he’s in the middle of doing something or when falling asleep [I’m with him on that one] -but find the time and patience to have the in person conversations.
The power of empathy
You know that feeling when something is on your mind and you just want to get it out/over with? When you’re busy, stressed, distracted, or just over it the last thing you want is to manage the emotions of your partner. You’re focused on YOU, and that’s human nature. Flip the script, how would you feel in the other person’s shoes? Responding with empathy goes a long way. This is NOT EASY when it comes to little humans also adding to the stress and chaos of daily life.
Have you tried the 24-hour rule? Simple, when you start to get a headache thinking about telling your partner to do something AGAIN, just pause. Will it be a big deal in 24 hours? If no, then drop it… move on and just let it be. Chances are there are other things going on in their mind, and taking the trash out at that one given moment is not at the top of that list. [so… do you then end up taking out said trash?]
Do you want to go steady?
Remember how you got to where you are [HAHA did he really ask you that? Ya’ll really are ancient😂], it all started with common factors and enjoyable moments. A date night, fond memories of something you liked to do together, or just what made you laugh. This past year, in the pandemic, my husband always found happiness in being able to just be around me more [said no one ever] – having lunch together during a work day, taking a walk for coffee, or getting a drink to talk about the day an hour before childcare was gone. I appreciate that desire to just spend time together, and him. It’s so easy for me to get consumed in the 10,000 things going through my mind, and to pause and go back to your roots of dating each other. Pick a date night once a month and stick to it, make it a priority.
There are many layers and dimensions to being married, but every single pillar rests on communicating, clearly. Or, at least as clearly as possible. [I’ll keep practicing my communication skills with my dog until my husband comes around] What are some tips that work for you and your partner?