Tim and I have been married for six years, today! Honestly it feels like we've been married longer. Maybe it's because of all of the crazy crap we've been through. I mean who else has six kids after six years? Not too many! Throw in a horrific court case, an adoption, and moves between three states and...Phew! What a ride we've been on.
I'm definitely not a marriage expert, BUT, here's what I've learned so far:
1. Always support each other.
A few years ago I decided to stop projecting my opinions on others. I really made the conscious effort to just step back and let others live their lives as best as they saw fit. I've witnessed so many people get so much backlash for what they wanted to do because other people felt like they knew better. So in general, I'm a big people-supporter. You want to move to Australia? Call me up and I promise I will be your biggest cheerleader.
So anyways, I do the same in my marriage. A few years ago Tim went through a mini quarter-life crisis. It was before he was in his job now and he just felt like he had no clue what he wanted to do. So one day he decided that he wanted to be a chef. He watched Gordon Ramsey videos, among others, as if they were going out of style. He started using ingredients I had never even heard of before and he was following recipes that seemed so exotic. He actually did learn some amazing tricks and we ate like kings and queens for a solid two weeks. Then the love for it died down. But man did I support the heck out of the messy kitchen and expensive grocery trips.
I could have rolled my eyes and had attitude the whole time. I could have made fun of him for "reaching" far outside of his normal realm. You know what that would have done? It would have caused a ton of tension and stress. We would have fought. For literally no reason. It would have been so pointless to fight him on it. So instead, I encouraged him to learn more, cook more, research more.
When that was all said and done, he still stuck with barbecuing and it's still his favorite hobby today.
He's wanted to be a stand up comedian, a college strength and conditioning coach, and most recently -- a bladesmith. But you know what? I've also had things he's supported me through.
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, he let me fly across the country for TWO months with his four very young babies to visit their Puppa. When my dad had to find a home for Easton, Tim supported the decision to adopt him. He welcomed the idea with open arms. When I wanted to start my blog and share our story, he was my biggest cheerleader. Which is funny considering Tim is not an open book. He isn't a fan of sharing super personal details, yet knows that it's therapeutic to me.
I've written a children's book and he's encouraged me to illustrate it myself. I can't draw. But he's boosted my confidence that maybe I could figure it out. He's also been a really big advocate for self publishing instead of sending it off to publishers. He must know my heart wouldn't be able to handle the rejection that well.
So, yeah. Always be supportive. Even if you don't understand it. It means the world to your spouse when you do.
2. Don't keep a scorecard.
This one is really important. It's so easy to say, "but I've been up with the baby every night for the past 17 days" or "I've taken the trash out every day this week" or "I've changed five diapers today and you've only changed two".
I get it. I've been guilty of keeping score from time to time when I feel like I can't handle much more on my plate. But I think it's super important to respect that each of you are trying to figure your roles out...daily.
Some weeks I'm really good about cleaning, doing the laundry, and having five star meals served for dinner. Some weeks I'm so mentally and physically exhausted that I can't do anything other than sit on the couch and cuddle sick or fussy kids. Some weeks Tim is really great about helping out and some weeks he's so swamped with work that he's barely keeping his head above water.
Everyday can bring on different roles. Some days I do more. Some days he does more. So it's super imperative that you both take a second to understand where each person is on any particular day.
It's also really important to communicate your feelings, wants, and needs to each other. Which brings me to my next point...
3. Communication, communication, communication
Everyone says that it's essential to have a great, open line of communication. There's a reason every successful relationship states it.
If I wasn't honest with Tim in what I needed or wanted, we'd never make it. There's been times that I've held back my emotions, only to completely explode a few days later. It never ends up in my favor when I do that. I've gotten so much better with that over the years because I know how detrimental it can be.
We really make the effort to tell each other what's going on in our heads, even if it might feel dumb. We also go into every conversation with mutual respect, knowing some conversations might not be easy for the other person to explain. We've never made fun of each other for feeling certain ways or tried to minimize each other's feelings.
Everything we do, we do with a lot of open-ness. You have to. Nothing can be secretive...except for gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas.
4. Clear eyes.
Meaning...have at least one other outlet to vent to. Get more than just your husband's perspective on a topic that's bothering you. For some of us that's a best friend we can call up. Or maybe it's a therapist we meet with every week. It's always a good idea to get a fresh set of eyes on any certain thing that's on your mind. While I talk to Tim about everything, I think it's really important to have someone else to talk things through with, too. Other people can show you a side that maybe you and your husband never considered.
Also in my experience, Tim will agree with me on something when really, I need someone on the outside to tell me why I was wrong. Find that someone and turn to them when you need another viewpoint.
5. Make sure each of you has a few weekends off with friends.
Tim and I live far away from our best friends. We haven't made good friends in Colorado yet. So for us, we have to plan trips to go see friends. But for most people, their friends are within driving distance.
Let each other go away for a 4 day weekend every summer. It's good for your mental health. It's good to connect with other people and form bonds with others outside of your marriage. It's good to get away from your everyday life and just have FUN!
While Tim is my very, very, VERY, best friend...I adore having those strong relationships with my friends as well. I'm also glad he gets to blow off steam with his friends. It's welcomed and necessary for both of us.
6. Date at home if you have to.
We've lived with no family nearby for close to three years of our relationship. We went six months without going out in public on a date night.
If anyone understands not being able to "date" outside of your own home, it's definitely us.
So improvise! Our new date nights in are podcasting on our new podcast. But we also enjoy challenging each other in the game Sequence. Oh! You know what else we've recently really loved? Watching trashy TV! Our newest favorites are 90-Day Fiance and Smothered on TLC. Or some nights we will just sitting outside enjoying a drink and a good conversation.
It doesn't have to be expensive or over the top to keep dating. Find something you can do together! Even if you send the kids to bed and cook a fancy desert you found on Pinterest...just DO something!
7. Laugh! Be silly!
To be honest, I'm the one in the relationship with the attitude. Tim on the other hand? The guy is exactly what he seems. He's super down to earth, calm, collected, and HYSTERICAL!
He's taught me the biggest lesson in life -- don't take it so seriously and have FUN!
He makes everything way more fun. He has sarcasm that kills me daily. He pulls off the best impressions of other people. His laugh when he gets it going is so infectious! He just knows how to make me laugh. A LOT and always!
Seriously...just be silly together. Do crazy stuff in public in front of strangers! Who cares?! Maybe they'll film you and you'll go viral...who knows.
Find the humor together.
Life with this guy has been the best so far. I'm so thankful that he was chosen for me.
Our relationship has been through some crazy things, but the best part is our "now". Everything feels so easy. Which is crazy since we have six kids and we have these crazy busy lives. But right now, our boat isn't rocking. It's anchored to the ocean floor, drifting in the light, sunny breeze. We're enjoying the sunrise coming up over the horizon. That's the best way I can describe it.
I love you, Timothy James! Thank you for our beautiful family and our beautiful life.