Saturday, March 22, 2008

So Happy Together

Steven and I are the happiest couple I know. We live in wedded bliss. When we got engaged, we discussed the kind of marriage we'd like to have and what was required of each of us to make sure that we did our part in keeping our marriage strong and happy.

We will NEVER fight in front of our friends or family. Fighting causes people to take sides. Once sides have been taken and lines have been drawn, it’s difficult for other people to get over it. While I may forgive Steven, I know that my mother would have a hard time getting over something ugly he might say to me in front of her. When we’re upset, if it can wait, we discuss it after we get home. If it can’t wait, we go to a private place and discuss it. Either way, we never give anyone else room to get into the middle of our relationship.

We will NEVER criticize one another – in public or in private. This includes flippant “put-downs.” We don’t even jokingly or teasingly say mean things to each other. We can be each other’s worst enemy or biggest fan. We have chosen to be each other’s biggest fan. We constantly encourage one another and look for the good in each other. We do our best to overlook any negatives. We verbally praise one another on a regular basis.

We are ALWAYS thankful. We thank each other everyday. Steven never goes to sleep at night without saying, “Thank you for marrying me.” When I cook or do dishes or do laundry, he thanks me. When he mows the lawn or takes out the trash or vacuums, I thank him. We thank each other for ordinary things as well as the extraordinary. It helps to create an atmosphere of appreciation in our home. We know that we are valued and respected and needed and wanted and appreciated by the other.

We will NEVER bad mouth each other to anyone else. If Steven and I have a fight (which all married people do at some point), I do NOT run to my mother or girlfriend and whine about it. I put on my big girl panties and work it out with Steven. Our marriage is not something to gossip about.

We ALWAYS protect each other. When my in-laws say hurtful things, my husband shuts it down immediately. He interrupts them to tell them that he won’t tolerate their speaking badly about me. Additionally, when our co-workers or friends get started telling spouse-bashing jokes or start talking bad about their own spouses, we both say, “not my husband” or “not my wife.” Then we tell the world how wonderful our spouse is.

We ALWAYS say I love you. We never finish any phone conversation without saying I love you. We never say good-bye without saying I love you. We say I love you probably a hundred times or more everyday. It’s not flippant or said out of habit. It actually keeps that googley-eyed love alive. We feel about each other the way we did when we first started falling in love. Do you remember that feeling when you couldn’t really get enough of each other? You couldn’t stand to be apart, and you counted the minutes until you would be together again. You were on cloud nine and madly in love. We live there. It wasn’t a phase we passed through. It’s life. We CHOOSE to love one another and to say it and show it all day long everyday. It’s really hard to fight and to have bitterness in your relationship when you constantly say, “I love you.” I find that in saying it, even if I’m not “feeling” it at the moment, I fall madly in love with Steven all over again and then the feelings follow.

We ALWAYS make time for each other. Some of my parents’ best friends have date night every week and have done so since they first started dating. They’ve been married 35 years now and have four children and have never gone a single week without a date night. Sometimes date night is just going for ice cream or turning off the TV and playing board games in the living room. It’s not what you do. It’s just taking the time to be alone. It’s taking the time to shut out the rest of the world and focus only on each other. It’s treating each other special. It’s celebrating your relationship. It’s saying to each other, “You’re so valuable to me that I will drop everything else and spend some time alone with you, giving you my undivided attention.” Steven and I don’t necessarily have date night every week, since his work schedule really doesn’t allow it; but we have date night at least two or three times a month. For me, I love being able to get dressed up and go out to dinner and/or a movie and/or ice cream or whatever and have my husband treat me as his “date.” And I love those quiet evenings at home alone with no TV and no computer – just playing board games or sitting in the hot tub and talking. He still treats me as if he’s trying to impress me. And it still works!!!

And I NEVER say no. When I was in Bible school, they separated the boys from the girls and discussed marriage from each perspective. Our pastor’s wife got up and told us girls, “If you don’t give it to him, someone else will. Don’t put your husband in the position to be tempted. Keep him worn out, and he won’t even glance at another woman.” She explained that this applied to friendship and sex. If your husband has a friend that he confides in more than you, you have a problem. If he has a friend he’d rather hang out with more than you, you have a problem. Anytime a man develops a strong relationship with another woman, he will become attracted to her. She went on to talk about how sex affects the male ego. When he’s rejected, especially by his own wife who is supposed to love him unconditionally, it’s a big blow to his self-image. If you say no, you need a valid reason, i.e. something medical. She encouraged us to talk about sex openly with our spouse and to share with him our ideas and views about it. We should discuss what we like and don’t like about it. I was unmarried at the time, but I paid attention. When Steven and I got engaged, we discussed this philosophy; and he was completely on board. I have to say that it’s made our marriage stronger because neither of us is ever rejected by the other. We know that we are loved and accepted unconditionally. We know that part of our relationship is reserved only for each other; and when we come together, it bonds us to each other like no other relationship in our lives. We have a lot of fun and really enjoy that part of our relationship. We discuss any issues we have so that neither of us ever feels rejected or hurt. I never, ever have to worry about my husband when he travels; nor does he ever have to worry about me while he’s gone. I know that he’ll come home to me, and he knows that I’ll be right here waiting for him.

We ALWAYS show a lot of affection. We kiss a lot. We hold hands a lot. We hug a lot. He plays with my hair a lot. I give him massages. We touch a lot. It just makes us feel closer.

Another rule in our house is that Steven MUST assume the role as head of our home, and I MUST give him the respect he deserves. This is a Biblical principle. God set the man as the head of the family and the wife as his help mate. Steven must take this role. I will not accept it, and I will not allow him to shirk his responsibility. He must make sure that all needs within our household are met, emotionally, spiritually and physically. (He’s obviously not God and cannot change some things, but he must do all that he can.) I, as his wife, do everything I can to make sure that I help him do this. As the spiritual head of our home, Steven makes sure we get out of bed and get our hineys in church even when I want to sleep in sometimes. Steven reads our devotional out loud every night before we go to bed. He prays out loud every night for us, our friends and our family. If I’m not feeling well, he lays hands on me and prays for my healing. Steven works very hard at his job to make sure that he is promoted and rewarded. He pays all of the bills, so that I don’t have to worry about it. He manages our household budget very well. If I’m ever upset or worried, he talks with me. He shuts off the TV and all other distractions and sits and listens to me. He takes time to let me know that I matter more than work, more than things, more than TV, more than games, more than anything. I know without a doubt that he values me. As his wife, I am able to submit to his spiritual leadership. I discuss the needs of our household with him and give him my input so that he can make good decisions. And I trust him with my heart and am able to discuss anything and everything with him, holding nothing back.

We ALWAYS put each other first. Nothing else in this world, no one else in this world, is more important to me than Steven. I love him more than I love myself. I put his needs first. I put his wants first. Pleasing Steven is the most important job I have. And he feels exactly the same way about me. He puts me first. He honors me above his family, above his friends, above his job. If I need him, he drops everything for me. If I want something, he sacrifices his own wants to give it to me. We take joy in pleasing each other. I am happiest when I’ve made him happy.

The result – a wonderful marriage. Marrying Steven was the best thing I’ve ever done. I don’t regret it for one second. There’s no one else in the world I’d rather be with. There’s no one else I want to talk to for hours on end. He is my best friend. He is my safe place. He is my lover. He is the man of my dreams. He is my husband. And I am madly in love with him.


Shannon said...

Amy this is a great post. I think that everyone should be reminded of the love affair that started their relationship with their spouse.

I, like you, enjoy so much being married to my BEST FRIEND!!! He really is God's BEST for me and I thank God everyday for him.

Umm, but let's face it, your brother will NEVER be as touchy feely as you guys!!! HA!!!

I really am so pleased that you and Steve found each other. I love you both BUNCHES!!!

Shannon said...

I shall like a new post please...