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.

Me Time – When The Time Is Right

We were speaking with our oldest son last night and we were reminded about how life was many years ago.

When we first go married we were broke!  That’s right, pretty much no money.  We started our business more than six months before we walked down the isle.  When you start a business and are working it, it takes everything you have to get it going.  That is if you didn’t have a nice stash of money to start your business.

We lived in a house that was owned by my husband’s great uncle.  Very small three bedroom house with a leaky roof.  Our boys had one bedroom, we were in one room and the business was in the smallest.  We could not afford much.  We were barley making ends meet.

Gifts for our kids where pretty much what ever grandparents or aunts get for them.  Christmas and birthday’s were the basics and a couple small toys I could find on sale.  I took a job in retail to make ends meet.  As my husband said “we had nothing to lose”.  Life was stressful and felt hard.

My son who is learning about some hard choices in life right now.  He remembers how the last ten years have been and he wants to live that kind of life style.  He does not remember the hard times we went through in the earlier years of his life.  I do though.

Marriage and relationships are difficult.  There are hard times and times when everything seems to be on the right track.  When we get off track many times we just want to through in the towel or become more selfish.  Me time and what about me is usually what one person in the relationship is quoting.  Me time?  There is no “Me Time” when your relationship is at stake.  That is when you have to dig your heals in and remember this is about us!  Our life together, how we are going to solve this issue and what we need to do to make the relationship better!  “Me Time” comes when the relationship is stable. When the hard work is done.  Just like working in the world – most people do not go on vacation in the middle of a real important deal.

I am not talking about time to take care of yourself.  I am talking about the self destructing habit in relationships when you have to dig down and work hard to create the kind of relationship you deserve.  Many people will take the hard times and become selfish and the end result is divorce.  If you hear yourself talking about “me” during a tough time re-choose and start focusing on the we and us in relationship.  It is not easy to do.  I know you can do it.  Reach out to people who are doing well in their relationships and ask for support.  Ask how they have made it through the tough times.  Keep your marriage on track even when it is hard and the reward will pay off.

 

What Does It Take To Be Happy In Marriage

I really do not know!  I have often wondered about what makes a marriage a happy one.  I want my marriage to last forever.  So I commit to it everyday.  But what makes us a happy couple?

It could be that we trust each other enough to not have to stress about infidelity.  It could be that we respect each other enough to do the right thing even when the other is not watching us.

Maybe it is because my husband has a sarcasm streak that is ten miles long!

When our marriage has not been a happy one I have often had to take the time to look at what the issues are and take notice at what I am focused on.  There have been times that I thought my husband was a no good so and so!  He was making life hard, being arrogant and just plain ole not nice in the relationship.  Me on the other hand have always be the sweet, adoring wife to him…Not!  I have had my times of not being so loving and lovable.  I am sure you will never hear that from my husband.  You want to know why?  Because we do not air our dirty laundry outside our home.  Clean it up before you plan to hang it out to dry!

I have to take a look at what I am focusing on in the marriage during hard and stressful times.  Is he making me unhappy or is it how I am handling the situation!  I love the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.  My husband can not make me feel unhappy, only I can do that.  If I am unhappy then I have to ask why?  Is it because he has done something that does not fit into my values, morals or beliefs?  Is it because he has done this so many times that I am just warn down by it?  It is because I am tired, over worked and in a grumpy mood?  What is it that is causing this to happen.

My thirteen year old daughter has a little drama streak.  When she is mad or upset I ask her what is wrong and she almost always goes to “it because of ____”.  Blaming the other person for how she feels.  I always say to her “no you are choosing to be mad so what specifically is making you mad?  She calms down and looks at me and now we can get down to the issue and find solutions to solve it.

This is how you must look at the issues causing your unhappiness in marriage.

  • What is the issue? (and do not blame the person)
  • What expectation did you have that was not met?
  • Where the expectations clear or unspoken?
  • What do you want to do from here?
  • How can we solve this and get back on track?
  • How do you want to feel at the end of the day?

These questions help me to have clear communication with my husband and anytime I feel in conflict with something or someone.

You are in charge of your happiness!  You can be happy and your spouse may not be.  Do not allow someone else to steal your joy from you.  Choose to be in a different room, choose to disagree, choose to be happy in spite of your circumstances.  Your happiness in marriage is a reflection of your own heart.  Keep your heart filled with joy and you will be happier in marriage.

By the way this was something I had to learn over the years.  There have been many times in our relationship that I have not been happy.  I have actually had a couple of bouts of depression.  Because I am a strong woman and often stay private with my personal life most people would have no idea that I have had my struggles with this issue.  But I am like every other wife in marriage that has challenges, problems and issues.  I fail at so much and I get up always and dust myself off and begin again.  For many years the Disney character Grumpy was my companion.  I had a Grumpy statue on my desk and I would set him on the edge to warn people that today was not a good day to bring me your problems!  I have been so low and I have experienced so very high points in life.  I am not saying being happy in marriage is always easy.  It is always a choice!  Choose to be happy in your marriage today to make your marriage a stronger commitment.  Be willing to be in charge of your choices and keep blame out of it.  Whenever you are helping others there is a sense of satisfaction that creates joy.  So go do something for someone else and for yourself at the same time.

How do you stay happy in marriage?  Share your ideas and thoughts.

Are You On The Support Team

Throughout the years in marriage my husband and I have come to terms that what is important to one of us may not be as important to the other.

As a young wife I thought I was suppose to conform to what my husband wanted.  If he wanted to go see a movie and I didn’t want to see it we both went anyway.  He wanted to go camping, dirt bike riding, party at a friends or what ever he wanted to do.  I tagged along and survived my way through it.

I thought this was what I was meant to do to support my husband.

I have discovered over the years that I can support my husband and be on his team by just saying a few simple words.  “Go ahead babe and have a nice time.”  I do not have to attend every event that he wants to and I can go out and have fun without him too.  If I do not want to go to the “shootem up” style movie, or he does not want to go to the “chick flick” with me then it does not take away from our marriage.  It actually enhances the honesty we have with each other.

I am on his support team.  I support him in doing the things that he likes and I do not have to be there.  I can also prepare items for a potluck party with the friends and family without having to attend.  He can go with my blessing and support and he returns to me in a good mood and I am too.  My energy is not drained by being around others that want to party a certain way and I do not have images in my head from movies I did not want to see.

Marriage is hard enough without having to think I have to be with my husband every second.  We are both different and have different interests.  I have to trust in him to what is right while we are not together.  He has to trust me to not dishonor our marriage when we are not together.  We have that trust with each other.

Funny Story:  2002 Winter Olympics came to Utah.

My husband went there to work as security for the Olympics.  He was going to be gone for thirty days.  A whole month without him.  I was at the office working about a week into his time away and had been hearing a few rumors.  “They are getting a divorce”  “that is just the story, he really left her”.  One of my staff had the guts to ask me the question “Did Lawrence leave you?” I replied “yes but he will be crawling back to me in about a month”  she laughed at me and then I cleared up the rumors. I told my honey about the call on the phone later that night and we had a great laugh.

Many spouses have claimed that they would not let their spouse leave for that long.  What is this let stuff?  We can not hold our spouses back from what they are meant to do.  Military spouses have experienced this throughout the decades.  I was raised as a military brat and I married a Marine!  If you can not trust your spouse to be away from you then you have to check in with your trust issues.  If you are dealing with past hurts then deal with them.  Do not punish your spouse for what someone else did.  Be a part of their support team.  When we support our spouses they are much happier in the long run.

If your spouse has cheated on you then get support so you can get past it.  You want the opportunity to be able to trust and be happy in your relationship.  Find a way to work through it because you deserve to be happy too.

Being a part of your spouses support team means that you offer your blessing to what ever will honor the relationship.  Find out what it is that he needs support around.  “Honey what do you need from me to have a good time?”  I am not saying that I don’t go and do some things that he wants to do that I don’t want to do.  I am saying that I have a choice and so does he.  Many times we will do the things with each other because they are new.  Doesn’t mean I will do them twice but I am willing to try new things with my husband and them make a choice after I have tried it once.  We have a lot of adventures together and we have time apart and we enjoy both.  Be supportive and loving.  Ask your spouse what support looks like and try new things too.

PS: Make sure you let your spouse know how they can be part of your support team.  Many times they just do not know what support looks like for you.  Have the courage to ask for what you want and to speak up if you do not like something.

Does Your Spouse Pass The Test

Has your spouse passed all the tests that you put them through?

As stated on my about page I got married right out of high school, had a son and was getting divorced by the time I was 20! So when I met my now husband it took a lot for me to trust him. We dated for four years before we got married. After we were married, I was certain he was going to leave me too!

For the first ten years of our marriage I put my husband through many tests to see if he would pass. You see when my first husband left, I was shocked, stunned and surprised. Okay maybe a lot naive, immature and young!

You see, my first marriage I felt I had no control over the divorce process. So when I remarried, I wanted to make sure that I was never surprised again with divorce AND I wanted it to be on my terms. So I tested my husband in every way I could. I tested his trust, loyalty, commitment and nerves. I did not go outside of my vows, I just tested to see if he was going to stick to his commitment to me. The “D” word was taunted in front of him all the time. We would get into an argument and I would end the conversation with “Why don’t you just leave now, you’re going to do it anyway!” He would get mad and lock himself in a “man cave”. He might have slept on the couch that night. Or gone to the office and stayed there until late night hours. He would stay busy and away from me. I would be on my high horse and feel like I got him. He is not passing that one so well. It is only a matter of time before he leaves now! Don’t get me wrong I really am not that vindictive! Those were unconscious thoughts that I can now look back on.

This went on for many years. Then I began to notice something different happening. He didn’t leave and go in his “man cave” so often. He stayed and wanted to work out the issue. I remember one time so vividly then we were arguing and just when I was screaming at him he began to move as if to leave when he stepped closer to me and pulled me into his arms and said clearly “I am not leaving you”. In that moment I knew I needed to stop believing he was going to divorce me. I cried and just held onto my husband. His sincerity was one of the most intimate moments I have ever had with him.

My testing began to be infrequent and I began to enjoy being married to this man. We have had some great talks and it has been about 10 years since I said the “D” word to him. I don’t think he is going to suddenly surprise me with divorce papers and his willingness to stick around and solve issues has shown that he is committed to our success.

What are some tests that you have put your spouse though? What is it you need from your spouse to help you stop testing them and truly experiencing the love and commitment they have for you? When will you believe that you are worthy enough to have the kind of love you deserve in marriage?