Have You Lost Trust In Your Relationship?

My life changed this week.  More importantly my marriage changed this week.  I had the unfortunate news this week that my dad had terminal leukemia and the reality is that he probably has about 6 months to live.  The interesting thing about this is I am at peace with him passing.  I have been clear on my feelings for him and the impact he has made in my life.  The part that changed my life was so much deeper than loving him or accepting that he is passing soon.

He has been married for over 21 years to his wife.  They had some pretty good years.  What I discovered this week is the past few years has not been great for them.  She had some health issues and he had his own set of issues.  They lost trust in each other.  He lost trust in her and she lost trust in him.

When you are faced with mortality and the end of your life and you are coming from a place of distrust it is not pretty.  This week I witnessed my dad be paranoid about what his wife may do in the face of his death.  I have never seen so much anger, hate and hurt between two people while facing death.  It was hard to watch this man who I love turn into a vengeful and vindictive man because he is facing death.  It broke my heart to watch this play out.  I watched her turn people against him and create a segregation in the family.  There is not much time left in his life and not only will it be a tough end to his life it is a tough end to his marriage too.  It has already divided family because he did not have affairs in order and people are coming from scarcity in this situation.

I decided to take a good look at my marriage.  Is my marriage in jeopardy the same way that my dad and his wife?  Could my husband and I come to the end of our lives and have so much anger, distrust and hurt in our lives?

We have spoken about this already.  And the answer we are choosing in no!  We will not allow the end of our lives to come to distrust, anger and have our marriage unravel in the face of unfortunate news.  We took a good look at what we have in place that could prevent many of the issues that my dad and his wife are going through.  My life changed this week!  My heart is broken for my dad!  For his wife!

I love my husband!  I not only choose to be married to him, I choose to place all my trust in him.  I commit to not letting past mistakes come between us in this trust.  I commit to find more ways to be open and honest with him.  Together we will make sure our kids never see what I witnessed this week.  We already have our Trusts and Wills in place in the event something does happen to us.  Making us set for unfortunate news that may come ahead.  Our kids know that our affairs are in order and they each have copies so there will be no division among them.

Why write this blog? 

I hope to challenge anyone ready this blog to check where their trust level is with their spouse.  Could it be better?  If so, I would challenge you find a way or two to improve your trust in your marriage.

I hope to challenge you in checking to see if you are holding on to past mistakes your spouse has made.  Can you find a way to work past it or forgive it just a little more each day?

I hope to challenge you to check to see if you have your affairs in order.  Is there something you can do that sets your family up to win in the unfortunate and unexpected news of impending loss?

Lastly, I hope to challenge you to look in your own heart and ask yourself “How can I improve my relationship with my spouse a little more today than yesterday?”

My life changed in many ways this week – and there is still more I can do to improve my relationship with my husband.  How about you?

Have You Been In The Dog House Lately?

Did you know that July is “Doghouse Repair Month”?  It got me thinking about how to repair our relationships when we find ourselves in the doghouse.

It is not easy when you find yourself in the doghouse in your marriage.  You may have been doing something that seemed to be normal and not realize that it could land you in the preverbal doghouse.  But you find yourself there and then you have to get out and build on your relationship to discover how or why you ended up there in the first place.

In the first year of our marriage there were a lot of changes to my life.  I moved to a new city where a lot of people kept telling me about how much crime and danger was happening around me.  My husband was working swing shift or graveyards and I was home with my young children.  I did not have friends in the area and felt a bit un-secure in my new surroundings.  I thought I was pretty confident at the time and had a lot of self defense, police training and skills to keep me out of trouble.  At the same time I wanted my home parameter to feel more secure.  My drive was to feel safe in this new environment and make sure my family was also safe when I was away from the house.

Here is something that landed me in the doghouse with my husband that really put a barrier between us that lasted for quite a while.

Over Thanksgiving weekend the kids and I were visiting my mom and family out of town while my husband had to stay home and work.  While I was about 100 miles away from home, I was just going through the local newspaper at my moms house and came across an ad for a ten week old Doberman.  I bright light went on in my head and I thought this would be a great asset to solve my problem at home.  I went to go look at the puppy and just fell in love with her instantly.  I purchased the dog, loaded her in the car with the kids and drove home to surprise my husband!  OOPS!  Let’s just say he was not so happy with what I had chosen to do.

Mind you I had been making my own decisions without having to get anyones permission for a while and I did not think that he would have ever been upset because I got a dog.  Boy was I wrong!

I found myself in the doghouse for many reasons:

  • For not talking to him before I got a dog
  • For purchasing something that was out of an “unspoken agreement” of cost without talking it through with him
  • For making a decision that effected the whole family without talking to him

Let’s just say I was deep in the doghouse for these reasons.  This became a bone of contention for a long time.  My husband seemed to have lost trust in me and I was then questioned for every purchase that I made for a couple years.

Let’s be clear, I never intended to make him feel like he did not have a say and I also never imagined how much damage the simple thing of getting a dog would cause in our relationship.

Here are a couple examples of how young and immature we were early in our marriage.

  • My husband would not touch, pet or have anything to do with “my” dog for over a year.
  • My husband decided that I could not be trusted with money both at home and in the business and would not let me write checks or make decisions about money without his input.
  • I lost respect for my husband because he put me in a box (doghouse) and acted as though he was above me in marriage and business. I was not treated like a partner more like a minion.
  • I lost confidence in our marriage.  I was pretty certain that we would end up getting divorced.
  • I found myself being more sneaky and finding ways to do what I wanted without being under his thumb.
  • I also found myself taking on other jobs to get away from my husband and creating my own income because he could not trust me with “his” money.

Let’s just say we were not living a healthy and happy marriage at that time.  Getting a dog for safety and security reasons was not good enough for him to see the value at the time.  And as a result of this action I was in the dog house for a long time.

We had to learn how to rebuild the trust in our relationship.  We both had to be honest about what we were going to be doing and we had to mature in relationship with each other to be able to make decisions without offending the other.

Many times in relationship we offend the other person without even realizing it.  We do not intend to offend or hurt or even leave out the other person yet somehow it seems to happen in most relationships.  If you do not talk out the issues and make sure that your spouse understands why you make the choices you do, you both will continue to build barriers in your relationship. Put it all out on the table!  Share what you want and discover what they want and find a middle ground where you both feel valued in the relationship.

Be quick to forgive and know that you both are going to make choices that my offend or hurt the feelings of the other person even when you do not intend to do so.  Talk it out, do not go long without getting issues cleared up.  It is the long drawn out stuff that breaks down the relationship and it is much harder to break down the barriers than putting them up.  I know that we did not really know how to handle the issues that sent me in the doghouse all those years ago and neither of us really tried to figure it out.  The marriage scars from us both chewing on the same bone of contention for far to long could have well ended our marriage. The blessing in it was that we both knew we were committed in marriage and had to figure out ways to get past the barriers that we had built.  I am sure I will be sharing some of the support, resources and gifts that others gave that helped us though all the doghouse moments in future postings.

Remember, a dog does not stay in the dog house forever.  She/he has to get out and explore, care for themselves and get back moving in the right direction.  So do we!  Care and nurture your relationship, explore more about your spouse and get yourselves moving in the right direction to stay committed, happy and healthy.

Speak Highly of Your Spouse

It has been months since I have blogged on marriage.  Let myself get caught up in other life happenings.  So I am back in the saddle so to speak and getting back on the trail of building quality marriages.

Marriage is a commitment to me because it is something I choose to do.  It is easy to be mad at your spouse, or even just plain old comfortable to where you do not notice the best things your spouse brings to the relationship.  It will be up to you to get past those comfortable or hard times to remember the benefits your spouse brings to your life.

I have seen it played out on Facebook and Twitter all to often.  Husband and wife get into an argument and now everyone on their social media account knows all about it.  Whose side do you pick?  Do you get in there and start sharing about how your spouse is just as bad or even worse?  Then it just seems to escalate into a spouse bashing frenzy!

My advice is this… Keep your troubles to your self!  Do not splash all over the place about how much you are mad at him or how she is just a B—-!  It does not serve you, your spouse  or your friends in any way to be in the middle of your stuff!

How you speak about your spouse is very important in your relationship.  Every time you speak down about your spouse even when you do it in a joking manner,  you begin to tear them down in your head.  By doing this you begin to lose respect, compassion, tolerance and patience with your spouse.  You are in essence saying that they are not enough or that they do not deserve to be treated better.  You begin to break away the commitment for your spouse and it makes it harder to fall in love with them every day.  By tearing them down in your mind and in front of others you are tearing away trust and honor for them.  This turns to resentment and distrust which blocks true intimacy with your spouse.

When you speak highly of your spouse, you build them up.  You remind them and yourself about how valuable they are in your life.  When you speak highly of your spouse to others people begin to see those same characteristics in your spouse which shows honor and trust in your community.  Your friends might notice some of your spouses flaws but because you speak highly of them they are willing to look past those flaws also.  You won’t often hear others bad mouth your spouse because they do not hear it from you.  You are creating boundaries that will not allow anyone else to step into the line of your commitment.  People will want to have a marriage like yours and will want to act the way you do.  You get to be a role model for those people who have never seen someone treat a spouse with respect and compassion.

There are enough negative nelly’s out in the world when it comes to marriage.  The divorce rate is high. I believe that many marriages could have been saved from divorce if both the husband and the wife focused on the great things about their spouse instead of all the mistakes or differences they had.  

Neither I nor my husband are perfect!  We are however perfect for each other.  That does not mean that we don’t argue, disagree or just plain need a timeout from each other!  We do!  It means that our commitment is strong with each other to be okay with making mistakes, having differences and being able to speak the truth to each other.

I recall in our early years together talking with girlfriends about how much of a pain he was, or how he cared more about this and that than me.  It wasn’t true it was just where I was choosing to focus.  My friends began to see him in the same light I would speak about.  They never saw both sides of the story and I had to do more damage control for his sake because if me blabbing where I had no business doing so.  Get my point here?

Speak highly of yourself and speak highly of your spouse.  Build trust, compassion and respect for each other just by keeping your challenges between you, your spouse, a counselor or a marriage group.  Find the right people to help you through the challenges not tear down your marriage with your words and thoughts.  Lift up your spouse, especially when you feel like tearing them down because your emotions are about ready to get the best of you.  That is when you make a list of what he or she does right.  Keep going because marriage is worth the effort. 

Who Takes Care of You In Marriage

When I first married my husband I wanted to please him.  Any man that would marry a single mom when they did not yet have kids of their own deserved nothing less. Throughout the early years of our marriage I felt like I personally did not have much of a life of my own.  Working, taking care of the needs of the kids as well as the needs of my husband was a lot to handle.  I worked hard and often asked myself what is it all for.

I wanted to be a good wife.  I wanted to show my family that I was not just the girl who married and divorced.  I wanted to appear to look like I could do everything well.  Within 5 years of being married we had a household of five.  Three sons taking up a lot of my energy, a business that was still working to establish roots in our community and a husband who wanted attention.  I felt as though I was pulled in many directions.  

To make up for the lack of jobs in our business I was working in a large retail store to be able to pay the house hold bills as my husband worked in the field with clients.  Let’s just say there was little to no time for me to regenerate.  I would get home from work and fix dinner, then my husband would leave to work night shifts while I tended to the kids and got them to bed.  Lawrence would come home early morning and I would be getting up and getting one child ready to take to school.  After dropping him off I came home and fed and took care of the younger two boys until my husband woke and then I was off to work again.. This was a cycle that repeated itself for many years.

There was no time for me!  I had put on a lot of weight because there was no time for me.  I was not feeling happy about life but I was plugging along.  The house we lived in belonged to a family member.  Since we were family it seemed that it was ok if the roof leaked and everything did not work.  We were constantly in struggle mode to keep a roof over our heads, healthy kids, a successful business and a good marriage.  It did not feel this way for many years.  It often felt just like struggling was how we were meant to live.

My questions to my self were “How can I worry about taking care of me when #2 son is sick” and “Don’t be so selfish, remember what it was like being a single parent? Do you want that again?’.  I also remember thinking “he took us in so I have to do what he wants”.  All of these were great representations of where my personal self esteem was at this point of my life.

Throughout the years I discovered that no-one else was going to take care of me.  If I continued on the path of just caring for others then I was drained and no good for anyone else.  I have been depressed a few ties in my life.  The doctors always wanted to put me on medication and I refused.  I figured for me that I got myself here I am going to have to find my way to get back.  And I have done that for myself.  I did so by taking care of my needs and by asking specifically for what I wanted and needed in my relationships.  I set up boundaries and stuck to systems with the kids so they could be more helpful around the house.  Rules, chores and special times were put into place.  The kids were not always happy with these, however since they are growing into balanced and productive adults I think it worked out for the best.

It is up to you to take care of your self in marriage.  It is not your spouses job to make you happy, it is yours.  Set up your boundaries, learn to say no to the right people and do what you need to do to keep your self both physically and mentally healthy.  Set yourself up with some goals, strategies and get some support.
Tips for spouses:
If your spouse appears to be overwhelmed then you may ask what you can do to help.  Or better still don’t ask, just do something that would be helpful.  Be partners in marriage.  Both of you deserve to be heard, helped and honored in relationship together.

When You Get Married…

When you get married… you shift from being single minded to being couple minded. You must redesign who you both are, to become a couple.

It is important for you to stay who you are alone as well as who you are together.  It is not about having to become different.  It is about creating who you are as a married couple.

Learning each others likes and dislikes is important and at the same time be willing to try again if it would improve the quality of the marriage.

What you are willing to compromise on and what you are not willing to make compromises with.