My husband and I have been married since February 2006. It hasn’t always been roses and butterflies, either. We’re two unlucky people who just somehow managed to be lucky enough to find each other. I’ll tell you later about some of our misadventures, heartaches, and unfortunate situations that might have been proven disastrous for other couples to overcome, but not today.
Today, I would rather share one of my biggest secrets to 11+ years of a happy, healthy marriage, despite the things we have gone through together.
It starts with some advice my mom gave me 15-20 years ago.
That makes me sound old, so I have to point out that I was a young teenager at the time. That helps a little. 😉
When I was a teenager, I remember being angry about something and feeling outraged that my mom, despite being equally angry, wasn’t doing anything about it. I honestly don’t even remember what we were so mad about, but I remember the advice she gave me.
You have to pick your battles.
I’ve taken that advice to heart as an adult, and it may be one of the reasons why my marriage is still going strong after over 11 1/2 years. (That and the fact that I married a pretty cool dude)
I pick my battles. Or at least I try to. I try not to get angry or put my foot down over every little thing that ruffles my feathers, annoys me, or that I just dislike. Unless something makes me really angry, I try to ask myself if this is the thing that I am going to take a stand on, or if it just doesn’t really matter enough in the end.
Here’s an example…
I prefer my husband to have a nicely trimmed beard. He tends to let it get on the long and scraggly side (seriously, it’s a problem) and, OF COURSE, I give him a hard time about it. I’ll tease him a little, all in good fun. Sometimes I drop not-so-subtle hints. Like, when he gets food in his beard, I’ll stare at him with a completely blank expression until he gets the hint. It’s awkward, and the entire time I’m thinking, “Can’t you feel that?!”
But the thing is, my husband has never shaved his beard because I told him to. I can tease him about it relentlessly for months and he just laughs and ignores me until he decides he’s good and ready to trim it up.
If it sounds like I’m irritated by this fact, you’re actually missing the point. He’s free to be an adult and do whatever the heck he wants, and I’m more than OK with that.
I don’t care. The truth is, it’s just not all that important to me. It’s not a battle that I am willing to have. I don’t want him to shave his beard just because I have asked him to. I want him to do it because he wants to do it, because it’s something that will make him happy. It’s not important to me, so even though I don’t like it all that much, I make a point of not taking a stand against it. It’s his face and ultimately his decision.
No one should be forced to stay in a relationship where the other person expects them to bend over backwards at will. They will never be truly happy living like that, especially over an extended period of time. It’s one thing for your boss to have unrealistic expectations for you, but in a partnership where both of your feelings and values are supposed to be equally important, it’s just not acceptable.
So, here’s my advice, and it echoes the words of my mother so many years ago.
Pick your battles. Don’t automatically take up arms as soon as you decide you don’t like something your significant other is doing (or not doing). Take a minute to really think about it and decide whether it’s important to you. Then, if you decide it is important enough to fight for, try your best to talk it out and reach a compromise. Communicate openly, express your feelings without becoming defensive or hostile, and see what happens.
Fight if you must, but make sure that if you do, it’s worth it in the end.
It’s day 2 of National Blog Posting Month. I’m still so overwhelmed and thankful for the number of people that have signed up to participate in the NaBloPoMo link up this year.
If you are interested in signing up, it’s not too late! The challenge may have already started, but that’s no reason to not join in.
I’d also encourage you to take a look at some of the amazing content that other participants have already added. There’s funny, interesting, and inspirational content that you won’t want to miss.