Hey y’all, as we hit the halfway point in the marriage, I believe we can start to draw a few conclusions about what makes a marriage last. I’ll pinpoint what I feel are the 3 most important so far. Let’s see if y’all agree.
1. Communication is critical. Every single time John and I have had issues in our relationship, the key missing ingredient is communication. You may say, “but you argue all the time, isn’t that communicating?” Fine, let me clarify. Healthy communication is critical to a relationship.
For John and I, this became most evident in 2002-2003. When we went to counseling, one of our strategies was to journal to each other each day. Sometimes more than once. After we’d read it, we’d talk about anything that really needed worked through.
Our notebook strategy not only helped then, but we’ve used it several times since. Now though, we skip the notebook and just talk.
2. You may not always like each other, but it’s just temporary. I suspect some of you are laughing hysterically and others of you are confused. While yet the rest of you know exactly what I mean.
In 2005, my boss at the time was celebrating her 25th anniversary. As she was recounting some fond memories, she hit a year where she exclaimed, “I didn’t like him at all that entire year.” It was a sudden aha moment. By gosh, I didn’t have to pretend he hung the moon (not that I did, but I felt guilty because I didn’t). I won’t say we didn’t have issues after this, but just having her give me permission was so refreshing.
While John and I have never discussed this one with each other, I can think of moments he couldn’t have liked me. I didn’t like me. You won’t like me. Most of that is in the years still to come in our story.
3. Family is born AND chosen. Over the years we have been blessed to have so much family around. Some of the family is due to birth or marriage while other is chosen and built on shared experiences.
When we were first married, we couldn’t have done it without family. Heck, if it wasn’t for Dad, we wouldn’t have been married when we were. If it hadn’t been for Tom, we wouldn’t have had furniture. If it hadn’t been for Karen (and my younger sisters), we wouldn’t have been able to be college kids occasionally. If it hadn’t been for Mom & Jim, Alec & I wouldn’t have gone to England. If it hadn’t been for Dad & Le, we wouldn’t have had a place to live during student teaching, and we wouldn’t have had help moving across country. I didn’t appreciate them at the time, and now I’d love to be closer. But they all live in IL. I just can’t do it.
Once we moved, we no longer had the unconditional support system. But we had friends. Friends who were ready for us the moment we arrived. Jobs, babysitting, moral support, laundry services, you name it, The Flanagan’s became our family.
More importantly though, for better or worse, John and I created our own family. It was only when we moved away from the automatic support that we were able to grow together and strengthen us.
We have had lots of family move in and out of our lives over the years, but for the last 28, John and I have been each other’s consistency.
Come back tomorrow for 2006-2007. There are some changes on the horizon.