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When a Good Man Goes To War

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
-Art Williams

No one is perfect, we all know this to be true. But sometimes it’s even harder for us to see our shortcomings in a relationship. Most of the time we feel that all our problems are the fault of our significant other (SO) and surely we didn’t do anything wrong.

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Over the past few months I have talked to my husband more than I have in the past ten years. And I am listening, REALLY listening for the first time too. Three years ago we split up. It only last a short month before we found our way back and were dedicated to really put in all of our effort to fix our marriage. A lot of things were said and done during that time that we both wish we could take back, but we never understood why the other felt the ways that we did.

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It was years and years worth of built up mistakes that had never been talked about. There was so much animosity and resentment it’s no wonder that we had fallen apart. We talked, and we listened, for hours and hours as we both finally got out our feelings. We let go of each other shortcomings and began to recognize our own. It was amazing.

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Why am I writing this? Because I had very little example in my life of what a marriage should look like. What a healthy relationship looks like. How to be a good wife. What a good husband looks like. Let me say, that Curtis and I have been together longer than any relationship either of my parents have been in. So yes, I had very little example of how to make it even this far. I’m not an “advice columnist” type of person, but if I can help anyone in their relationship, help someone fight for love, well I will gladly help. Here is a few things I’ve learned in ten years with my husband:

  1. A teenager will never be a good spouse. I thought I was so grown up when I had Emma at 15. And even more grown up when Curtis and I got married when I was 16 and he was 18. No. No matter how much you go through as a child or teenager, it’s just impossible. You’re still going through puberty, you still think about what you want and trying to find out who you are. My advise is hold off. If you truly love each other there is no rush to get married, save it for when you’re really ready.
  2. Talk about everything, when you AREN’T fighting. Don’t try to make amends or tell your SO about issues while you’re fighting. When you’re fighting your defenses go up, you aren’t receptive. I’ve found that making yourself MORE vulnerable to your SO really helps. I like to have our disagreements sitting in a shower. Your naked, water is calming, and you have nothing holding you back, no distractions. When you aren’t fighting and you think of something that has been bothering you, talk about it. Let them know you aren’t looking for a fight but you need resolution.
  3. Put yourself first, but never forget about them. We all need “me” time. It’s good to have things just for yourself, friends, activities, work. But don’t ever make a decision that effects your “family unit” without thinking about them or talking to them first. And don’t get jealous when they need some time away. It’s not that they don’t want to spend time with you, but we ALL need that time away. It’s good for you both and at the end of the day, it gives you something to talk about. If you spend all of your time together, there is nothing new to talk about.
  4. Own up to your shortcomings. Don’t get offended when something that you did upset your SO. Put yourself in their shoes. Would this specific situation upset you if it were the other way around? Be honest with yourself. Stop and really think about it. Don’t ever be too stubborn to say you’re sorry.
  5. Stop keeping track of the past, let it go. Don’t keep having the same fight over and over again. Have it once, get all your feelings out on the table and make sure you’re being heard, don’t walk away until it is resolved and you can put it to rest, and don’t bring it into the next fight. Let. It. Go.
  6. Say I love you, and mean it. Get out of the habit, of saying it out of habit. When you say it, feel it. Know that it’s true. Let them know it’s true. Kiss them, hold them, feel your warmth and love. Don’t ever stop.
  7. Keep it OFF social media. Don’t ever complain about your relationship on facebook (or any other outlet). It’s okay to need to complain about your SO sometimes. Call your mom, call your best friend. Get it off your chest, get some insight and then let it go! When you complain on social media you belittle your SO for all to see, you give people a skewed perception of your relationship and SO. Remember that there are three sides to every story. Yours, his (or hers) and the truth. Don’t make your family/friends hate your SO because you’re pissed off in the minute.
  8. Support their dreams as if they are your own. Push them. Encourage them. Believe in them. Never let them stop fighting for what makes them happy and complete.
  9. Always remember, the best things in life are worth fighting for. You don’t throw away your favorite book because a page is ripped, you tape it, you repair it. Treat your relationship the same way. Do your best to make sure no pages tare, but if (and when) they do, repair it instead of throwing it away. It can last forever and the wear and tear remind you of how long you’ve had it, how much you love it. Never let it go.

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In my relationship, I’ve been the main offender to tearing pages. There have been many times in my relationship when I was just a bad wife. I didn’t put my husbands feelings into consideration. I did things for myself that hurt him. I was immature and ungrateful. Many days I have wondered why my husband has stuck by my side. But when you love someone so much, you’re willing to go to war for them. Sometimes you battle other people, sometimes you battle yourself, and sometimes you battle the demons of your SO. My husband is a good man, a great man. This man has been at war for a long time for me, and just over the past two or three years have I joined the fight. Out of ten years together, I have never been happier than I am now. I have never felt so loved, or given so much love. I have never talked so much, or listened so much. Our wounds are healing and we are nursing them for each other. We are happy. You can be too. It all starts with a choice. Of course it takes two, but if you truly love each other, when one sees the other putting in the effort, normally the other will follow.

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“There’s one thing I do know… and that is that I love you,… In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we’re alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names.”