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The Language of Love

I’m pretty sure that one of the most important things about having a successful marriage is learning to show love to your partner in ways that they appreciate. It’s not an easy task, because I’m pretty sure that most of us do the opposite; that is, we show our partners love in ways that we ourselves want to be loved. It’s easy to think that, “Hey, because I like this, then surely my partner will, too.” I spent a lot of time thinking that in my first marriage, assuming that my (then) husband would appreciate the ways that I chose to show him love.

I had it all wrong.

I’ve come to realize that the best (and only good way) to love your partner is to figure out the ways that they want to be loved, and then respond to that. Showing love is less about the giver, and more about the receiver. Doing things for the one you love that maybe you personally don’t enjoy all that much, but doing it anyhow because it’s something that they absolutely love. After all, loving someone should be about being unselfish, at least some of the time.

I feel like CBG and I have made a lot of strides lately in this department. We’ve been working on communicating the ways that we each want to be loved, and the other has been making an effort to meet those wants. I’m not even talking huge gestures, but more like small, daily acts that reaffirm over and over again, “Yes, you matter. I will make an effort for you, because your happiness is worth it.”  For me, this meant offering to watch one of CBG’s favourite TV programs with him (turns out, I actually love it too – who knew?). For CBG, this means making an effort to suggest things for us to do together (even something small like going out for coffee). These are just two small examples of how we are each making a small effort to love the other in ways that we know they want to be loved.

It all sounds simple, but the truth is, it’s a habit we fell out of for a little while there. We were each so focused on ourselves, and why our own needs weren’t being met, that we didn’t stop to remember that a happy and well-loved spouse will show love in return. Now, every time CBG supports my silly ideas (like our own personal Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day), or whenever he makes me laugh with his antics, I remember that those are things he’s doing for me. Because he loves me. And that makes me want to do something in return.

Give and take, and speaking each other’s love language. That’s what its all about.

The Good Stuff

I realize that my last post was a bit…negative.

Well, not negative exactly, but more focused on the negative aspects of life right now. We all feel it from time to time — weighed down by the burden of crap that we’re forced to deal with. Some days that burden seems heavier than others.

Some people have expressed concern about CBG and I, and the state of things. And sure, while we have a lot of stuff that’s been happening, and a lot of “stuff” to deal with, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the good stuff. Because it sure as hell isn’t all bad. Life never is. And I firmly believe that it is the ability to see the positives, despite everything else, that makes the difference between generally positive people, and generally negative ones.

As I mentioned before, things haven’t been great with CBG and I. Some days there are disagreements and hurtful words. There have been days without any words at all. Nights when I have laid in bed and wondered what was going to happen with us. But despite everything – those bad days, those hurtful words and expression of ugly emotion – one thing hasn’t changed. I love him fiercely. It’s that love that’s worn me down and worn me out, as I’ve tried so hard to help him this past while. It’s that love that has caused me to give and give and give until I’ve been emptied out.

But now, it’s that same love that is giving me reason to focus more on me right now. Because I know that if I want that love to remain, and to grow and become strong again, then I need to make sure that I am a strong, whole, and healthy person on my own. A person free of resentment. The best me that I can be. Because that’s the person that is going to do the best job of loving him — not this hollow shell of a woman that I’ve been feeling like lately.

I remember clearly the Sunshine and CBG when things are good. We are unstoppable. We are joyful and inspired and fun and free, bringing out the best in one another. They’re still there – I see glimpses of them – a little more lately, in fact. A little more as we both make the conscious effort to be our best selves. I am encouraged by this forward momentum.

I see CBG with my girls. I see how they are positively impacted by having him in their lives. I see how much they love him, and how much he loves them back. There are nights – like last night, in fact – when I see one of my girls snuggled up next to him on the couch and it makes my heart swell. I know how far they’ve come. I know the challenges that are there to bond with someone else’s children. I know how hard he works to be a good stepfather to them.

Another thing that I have seen lately is CBG making the effort. I know that it’s not easy for him right now, and that he’s been feeling a little overwhelmed. But he’s pushing back against it, taking steps forward, and trying. That counts for something. Because the thing is – I know that he loves me right back. I know there are days when it’s more of a challenge than others, but it’s still there. I see it clearly in his eyes on the good days. And that’s what I comfort myself with on the bad ones.

Good stuff? Yeah. We’ve got it.

 

Marriage is Easy…Except When It Isn’t

I’ve read the opinion before that marriage shouldn’t be work.

That, my friends, is a statement that I call bullshit on. Complete and utter bullshit.

I’m not sure if the people saying that marriage shouldn’t be work are deluded, outright lying, or just have a different definition of work than I do. Whatever the reason, I just can’t agree with that opinion.

Yes, marriage is work. It’s the kind of work, though, that is deeply rewarding and absolutely worth it. Marriage is about being unselfish when sometimes you really just want to be a dick. It’s about sharing the last of the ice cream when you’d prefer to finish it off yourself. It’s about days when you put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. All of those things, to me, are work — because they require effort. By nature I’m kind of a selfish, self-centered princess.

It’s not all work all the time, of course. There are days, weeks, months, and even years when life is good, and you and your spouse fall into the rhythm of life and everything is great.

The key to a long and happy marriage, I think (besides making sure you don’t marry a douchebag, of course) is having the strength and determination to push through those rough times, those man-this-really-sucks periods of marriage, knowing that things will improve again, given time and effort.

CBG and I are coming out of one of those “man-this-really-sucks” periods right now. We’re both feeling kind of battered and weary from the experience, but the good news is that we’re both also willing to put in the work to get to a sweet spot again. We can see it in the distance, a glowing beacon just out of reach. We just have to keep trudging through the sludge just a little while longer and we’ll get there.

But I gotta say…I’m tired, yo. Good thing I have a partner beside me holding my hand.

Laughter

There’s been a lot more laughter in my world lately. It’s not like it ever disappeared entirely, but I’ve noticed lately that it’s there more — the silliness, and the ease at which it comes. The quick witted humor flying back and forth, reminiscent of “the good old days”. Though we’ve grown and changed and life isn’t exactly the same as it was, we feel more and more like the Sunshine and CBG of happier times. The Sunshine and CBG who made up ridiculous (and dirty) lyrics to 80s tunes, who giggled in the middle of night at shared silliness, who made each other laugh just because we could. The couple who relished in giddy ridiculousness.

Laughter has been the cement in our relationship from the start, and it’s a relief for it to be there again…the kind that ends with belly cramps, lost breath, and tears running down my face.

It’s good to feel like us again.

Silliness

When Life Gets in the Way

A good friend lost her husband recently. The news came out of nowhere and I’m not going to lie, it shook me to the core. Another one of those stark reminders of the impermanence of life. And the unfairness of it all. And how at any moment, everything could come crashing down. It’s one of those things I can’t allow myself to think about for too long; otherwise the anxiety overtakes me and it’s incredibly difficult to function.

This gaping hole in my friend’s life got me thinking about my own life, and how, despite our vows to NOT allow it to happen, CBG and I have gotten a little bit complacent in our marriage. It’s easy to blame it on current circumstances — stress of my new job, CBG’s lack of job, our less-than-ideal financial situation. Stupid Seasonal Affective Disorder sucking the life out of me.

The real truth is that we’ve gotten lazy and complacent with each other. We’ve even – dare I say it – been taking one another for granted, just a little bit. But my friend’s husband’s passing has reminded me that there are no guarantees in this life, and honestly, we have no idea how much more time we have together. We could have 40 years…or a single day. But even though we’re relatively certain we have tomorrow, that doesn’t mean that we should waste today. We can come up with all kinds of excuses — lack of money, lack of time, lack of energy — if we want to. But by allowing those excuses to get in the way we’re doing each other and our marriage a huge disservice.

CBG and I sat down last weekend and had a long argument talk about our current situation. I won’t lie, it wasn’t pretty. But it brought us to a place where we needed to be — and gave us both the kick in the ass that we very much needed. No, we don’t have a lot of money right now. And I’m seriously lacking in my usual get-up-and-go. And yeah, CBG’s unemployment is dragging him down mentally and emotionally. But we’re determined to not let those excuses keep dragging us down. All we have is here and now, and dammit, we need to make the most of it.

Happiness is…

…just before drifting off to sleep, hearing your husband’s sleepy voice through the darkness: “I love being married to you.”

 

love

Reconnecting

As you all know, CBG and I have had a bit of a rough go this past year. October through January were the worst months; and honestly, there were more than a few times that I was seriously concerned for us as a couple. CBG was drowning under depression, I was struggling with my own issues (namely, Seasonal Affective Disorder) and trying to keep our marriage alive and well on top of things just proved to be too much for us.

Still, we struggled along, as best we could. CBG being officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder helped a lot; he started on meds back in December and honestly, this is one of the best things that could have happened. With the exception of a small blip over Christmas, we started (slowly) getting back on the right track.

At some point over the winter I suggested that come spring, we take a trip together. Nothing major of course, since finances continue to be an issue for us, and we’ve also got a Disney vacation promise to the kids we need to keep first. But at that point, the thought of getting away for a nice long road trip, just the two of us, was just the nugget of hope we needed to hang onto. We made a plan to take an extra long weekend and drive to visit my bestie in Ontario (who I haven’t seen in person in about a decade).

And then…a mini-financial crisis hit. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say upon filing my taxes I discovered that I owed the government a big fat wad of cash.

Sigh.

It was decided that there was no way we could justify spending the money we’d had planned for this trip. We had to do the responsible thing.

However…we knew that we both still needed some time together. And time away would be even better. I remembered a cottage that CBG and I had stayed at together several years ago and when I checked it out I saw that they had an amazing off-season rate. With it being less than two hours out of town, and with us being able to pack all our own food and prepare our own meals, it was a pretty inexpensive getaway for us. And so…we booked it.

We spent three nights away at this cottage…relaxing, hanging out, watching movies and Netflix. We went for a long drive, had a mini-adventure at a lighthouse, and went on several hikes. We went to bed early and slept in. We laughed and sang in the car and were our silly selves. It was like the Sunshine and CBG of several years ago…before depression and before work stress and financial woes. Just the two of us, in love, enjoying each other’s company.

And most of all, it was us remembering exactly why we fell in love to begin with. It was exactly what the two of us needed, at exactly the right time…and an important reminder that we need to make our marriage more of a priority going forward.

We’re worth it.

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