Wifey Wednesday: What I Wish I Had Known

March 10, 2010

Wifey WednesdayWhen I heard about Sheila of To Love, Honor and Vaccum’s Wifey Wednesday meme, I thought it would be fun to write about.

I’ve typically avoided the topic of marriage on this blog. For almost 3 years I blogged here as a single mom. My marriage ended after 12 years. What the heck do I know? I didn’t want to seem like a hypocrite.

But after a long time of reflection and self examination, I’ve come to know that there really isn’t anything I could have done to prevent the end of my first marriage. My ex husband and I have a pretty good relationship now as co-parents, and I’m proud of that. I think we’ve both learned a lot and grown as people. While I still grieve for the loss of my first family and wish my kids weren’t children of divorce, I think we’ve done about as good as two people can since the divorce.

This week Sheila asked women to write about what they wish they had known as new brides. Since I’ve only been married to my current husband for less than 7 months, we’re still in that awkward newlywed phase. I’m eager for the first couple of years to be over. This time is fun but somewhat difficult as you get to know each other.

Still, I’ve been a married woman since I was 19 years old. I’ve learned a lot about men and marriage in general. Here are my thoughts:

What I Wish I Had Known About Men and Marriage Years Ago

#1 – I wish I had not taken his moods personally.

When my first husband came home from work in a foul mood, I wish I had shrugged that off. I’m able to do that now. Perhaps because I’m older, I’m able to give someone the space to have their feelings without getting sucked in? That takes emotional maturity and confidence. Sadly, I know people who have been married for decades who can’t do this very well. When one is in a low mood, they both are.

#2- I wish I had understood that good sex is a gift you give yourself.

It’s so easy to use kids/fatigue/hormones/body image issues etc as an excuse not to be intimate, but it’s a whole lot easier to put up with his personality quirks and weaknesses when you’re having lots of orgasms!

The other day a friend confided in me that despite loving her husband deeply and enjoying sex when they have it, she has no libido. Two two babies one right after another and gaining a lot of weight, not getting enough sleep and all that may very well play a role in her desire, but still…

My advice was:  “Do it anyway.” After all, we cook dinner for our children even when we’re tired or “don’t feel like it”, right? If your husband doesn’t do what you want all the time or is clueless about your feelings, you still deserve YOUR “due”. Don’t let petty annoyances deprive you of the feel good stuff that will make your relationship run more smoothly outside the bedroom.

And if your husband is selfish or has no clue that your body works differently from his, don’t blame him – SHOW him what you need. I don’t think there is a man alive who will be offended!

#3 – Marriage doesn’t make you happy

Whoa. This is a big one, and many happily married people may disagree with me, but I do not believe marriage makes you happy. Even the scriptures say that people who marriage will have “tribulation in their flesh” and the apostle Paul stated that “you’re better off as you are” (single).

Happy people are happy, period. It’s a habit, not a situation. A man won’t “make” you happy. If you’re looking for that, you’ll be miserable in your relationship.  Every time he does or says something thoughtless (see #1), your “happiness” flies out the window. It’s a terrible burden to bear, that of making someone else happy.

The answer? Make yourself happy. I don’t mean being selfish. A good marriage requires unselfishness. But in my life I’ve learned that the moment I start blaming the other person for my unhappiness, I’m way off.

But, when I start doing the things I need to do in order to be happy (exercise, eating right, spending time with people I love, writing, meeting goals, focusing on my relationship with my creator, etc) then my relationship magically improves!

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5 Responses to “Wifey Wednesday: What I Wish I Had Known”

  1. Melissa Multitasking Mama on March 10th, 2010 1:59 pm

    What a great post! I admire your ability to look back with such clarity! Praying for many years of happiness for you and your husband!

  2. Sharon McMillan on March 11th, 2010 9:02 pm

    Good post Carrie. I’ve been married 22 years and through the many ups and down, I have to say I’m more in love with my husband now than when we met (which I didn’t think was possible) and it all has to do with some of the insight you share above.

    I love what you say about not expecting a spouse to make you happy and how things almost “magically” improve when you instead focus on the good things that make you happy (in an unselfish way). So true.

    Wishing you all the best in your marriage and for your family!

  3. Elizabeth Ashe on March 17th, 2010 2:13 pm

    Carrie this is an excellent post, I feel we have many things in common as you already know. Religiously, lots of babies, natural living and so and so forth. I got married and 20 and have been married close to 10 years now, and it has had it ups and downs. The whole libido thing, I have gone through that in and out of phases but you live and learn. One thing I have learned also as well it to give him his space along with attention, I tend to focus on the children more and to find a balance between him and the kids took some time.

    All in all, it will always be a challenge to keep the family lines strong but when you have someone that truly knows you and in line with your values it makes things a lot easier.

    Oh, I learned to that when I do exercise on a regular basis it helps me to have more energy dealing with kids. Being anemic it can be a challenge sometimes to not get tired.

    Wishing you the best, I’ll have to call you sometime!

  4. Sharie on March 19th, 2010 7:39 am

    So happy to hear you’re doing so well! :)

    And your spot-on marriage reflections got me to thinking…
    It will be 25 years this July for us…a looonnggg time! ;)

    The whole ‘don’t depend on others to make yourself happy’
    couldn’t be more true. Due to some childhood issues, I tend to struggle with that, BUT–when I get it right, it is so very right! I kind
    of wane in and out of clarity on that issue, I’m ashamed to admit.

    The key as you said: Making yourself happy by DECIDING to be happy, no matter what, and Acts 20:35, unselfishly giving out of love. No truer words have been spoken. The second part I have down-pat, but the first one is a toughie…

    And we’ve surely had some tough going here lately (not marriage-wise, just life circumstances, as in our two daughters getting married 9 months apart during a really bad time economically for one;-) , so remembering that our marriage and our relationship with our Creator is indeed what will sustain our family and hold it together thru these tough times is so important, isn’t it??

    And the proof positive is that the moments we lose that focus become the moments we feel overwhelmed. So thanks for the reminders.

    Also, the whole sex thing :) not depriving yourself of that God-given pleasure in life is a smart thing, but on the other hand, I know some wives who, just because their libido is low, they deprive their husbands of that pleasure, and that is one dangerous mistake, too… Another Bible-based thought that’s sometimes overlooked, huh?

    Now if I could just get my rear end back to exercising, I’d be a long way toward feeling less stressed…

    Have a great rest-of-pregnancy!


  5. Candi on March 22nd, 2010 9:34 pm

    Nice writing Carrie! I have to agree with everything you said. We’ve been married for 11 years and we are pretty happy. We all have issues that we constantly have to improve on, it takes two to make it work. Verbalizing our concerns to our husbands makes a big difference. Men do not think like women and we have to help them understand our needs and concerns.

    Get some rest :)

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