Last month, the Hubs and I celebrated seven years of marriage. After saying Congratulations, most people have one of two responses:
“You know that seven was God’s favorite number.” (My Daddy)
“Ohhh Girl… Be careful. It’s the seven-year-itch.” (Everybody else)
Google tells you that “The seven-year itch is a popular belief, sometimes quoted as having psychological backing, that happiness in a marriage or long-term romantic relationship declines after around seven years.” I’m not sure that I believe that.
But if I’m honest with myself, the seventh year does make me nervous. My first marriage ended on the last day of year 7. Literally, I was at the courthouse on Oct 31 confirming the dissolvement of my marriage. I walked in married and walked out divorced the day before our 8th anniversary. It was poetically heartbreaking.
Now, here I am, entering another seventh year in my second marriage, and I’m a little nervous. If I speak about all my fears, it will only give them power, right? Or, is it that I have to speak them to remove them from my heart and mind? Either way, I’d like to think that I learned some things during this second set of seven years that made a difference in how I approach marriage and life in general.
- Sometimes silence is golden. You don’t have to talk ALL THE TIME. Yes, you have an opinion. And yes, you need to be heard. Yes, your spouse should be the one listening. But does it have to be right now… today… every day? I believe that on several occasions whatever point I was trying to make would often get lost because it’s still the same point I’ve been trying to make! Take a step back. Breathe. Let what you’ve said soak in and take root. Sometimes, it just might need to settle with him before he can move or respond appropriately.
- Emotions (like anger) don’t have to run the show. I used to get angry at certain things and just be mad. Lately, I have started to ask myself, “So why are you angry, and is that the emotion you really want to express? Or, is it something else like confusion, hurt, disappointment, etc?” Generally, being mad or angry is not the actual emotion you feel, so stop operating from that space. Work on clearly identifying the proper emotion so that you can respond to it in those terms.
- Be more creative… with everything! It is easy to get bored with the routine things. Try dressing up for dinner. Have a theme night or week in the house. Change the location (and positions) where you have “adult time”.
- Stop the NEGATIVE conversations that you are having with yourself about your current situation. If you haven’t even discussed your issues or concerns with your spouse/partner, then you are only going to drive yourself nuts having the conversation to yourself by yourself. You assume you know how your spouse will respond or what he/she will say. Truth is…you don’t.
- Do what works best for your family – even if it is not traditional. Every family situation and dynamic are different and ever changing. What works for the Smiths might not work for the Joneses. But also note, that what works for the Smiths in 2008, might not work for the Smiths in 2021. Be flexible with your “plans” and be willing to step outside the box to reach your goals.
- A good friend of mine once said, “Sometimes the thing you think is dead, is really just asleep.” Read that again. Admittedly, we will automatically count something or someone out when we think it isn’t going the way we imagined. But what I’ve come to know is that all it takes is a shift – in mindset, perspective, motivation – to alter the course.
- Our marriage isn’t perfect. We aren’t perfect. We are just two imperfect people who wake up every day trying to be better than the day before. And it’s the best way I know we can be.
Now, I’m not saying you need to try these, and I am not even going to categorize them as “tips”. But these are the changes that I’ve made within myself to help me see the outcomes that I desired in my marriage. You will never find a “perfect” partner to love you in the exact way you had envisioned. But prayerfully, you’ll find a person who is willing to love you with all that they are. Someone who will accept you for who you can and cannot be. And although they will never be perfect, finding a partner like this is even better. So cheers to these past seven years. I’m looking forward to what I will learn about myself, the Hubs, and our relationship.