This month Ken and I will be celebrating 34 years of marriage. That is a long time. 

Some days, it seems like it is a very long time! 

Other days, I can’t believe how quickly that time has gone by. 

I got to thinking about some things that I have learned over the years that I wish someone would have shared with me prior to us saying ‘I do’ and then struggling through. 

I realized that may be I could help you if I told you some of the lessons that I have learned. 

Amy and Ken dressed up. Ken wearing a button dress shirt and tie, and Amy a dress. They are seated at a table.

Let me share a story… so, back in 1989, Ken and I were newly married and living hours away from our families. One night he was at work, and I spent hours working on getting our little cottage we were renting all set up. I hung pictures, put things away, made it all nice and cozy so that when he got home from work that he would be so happy. 

Sweet story for far yes? And then…

He arrived home from work and came in to the cottage tired and ready for bed. I was right there excited for him to see all that I had done, and how awesome everything looked. Certain that he would lavish me with compliments and tell me how proud he was of his incredible wife. 

I had even done this artsy look on the wall with all of my lion and tiger pictures. This I knew he would see right away and be so impressed by. 

He wasn’t.  

He was tired and new at this marriage thing, so, while he wasn’t mean in any manner – he also wasn’t delicate. He asked what I was thinking putting all of those pictures on one wall, and was I planning on keeping it that way? My fragile ego was crushed. 

I told him about how much other work I had done and he simply said, ‘that’s good.’ 

My affirmations that I was expecting totally weren’t there. 

Now, before you decide that Ken is such a horribly mean person and wonder how we have stayed together this long?! … Let me share some tips with you and I would imagine your thoughts may change. 

  • Don’t bombard your significant other (or anyone) when they are first coming in the door after a long day. Me, standing there all excited and expecting him to turn from ‘thank goodness I am home’ to ‘oh wow!’ was a bit extreme. Let them come in a relax for a moment and then slowly share. 
  • Do not expect someone else to know what you are wanting their response to be. Had I simply waited a few moments, and then told Ken something like this, “Honey, I am so excited about how this wall of photos turned out. I had seen something similar on Pinterest*, and I am so pleased with what I did, what do you think?’. This would have been a game changer. While he may not have loved the look, he then would have been clued in to what my thoughts were about it. He most likely would have answered in a gentler manner, and possibly a conversation would have been done a day or two later as to some changes. (Pinterest wasn’t around then, I don’t recall which magazine I had seen it in.)
  • Don’t fully depend upon someone else to validate you. I had been so excited about that photo wall.  To be honest when he said that, it crushed me, and then next day I took the photos all down and I got rid of almost every single one. I  was completely deflated and hurt. Ken had done nothing wrong, and had no clue I was so upset. Then later when it was brought  up,  poor guy felt so bad and offered to help me rehang them if I wanted to. He didn’t like the look, but he loved me and he would have never hurt me intentionally. The pride that I felt doing it should have been enough for me, at least enough that I could talk to him about it the next day. 

The story goes on…

We lived hours from our parents, but we talked to them frequently. So, that next day, when I talked to my mom – I shared with her how upset I was. Naturally she took my side, and we talked a bit about how hard marriage is and how men sometimes are just not very sensitive. We didn’t talk long about it, but mom certainly knew her little girl was hurt.

Time went on, and Ken and I healed and moved on from that little instance. 

So, like I said, Ken and I moved on from that night; for mom though, it stuck around for a bit. She began asking me if I was ok when we talked. She started wanting to know if Ken was still hurting my feelings. She made a comment or two about how hard marriage was. She made little comments about Ken being insensitive. She loved Ken, but for her – she was stuck in the feels of that talk she and I had. She wasn’t there to see Ken opening doors for me, gently brushing the hair from my forehead and kissing me. She didn’t hear the talks we had, dreaming of a future together. 

There was another lesson…

  • Don’t air your dirty laundry in front of friends and family. What do I mean by that? When I realized what was happening with mom – I called and we had a long talk. I apologized for making her think that things weren’t great with Ken and I. Things smoothed out, and she felt much better. Her and Ken have had a wonderful relationship for years. I quickly learned that telling others of little problems or bumps in the road can actually cast a dark shadow on relationships. It’s the same with today’s technology – and putting it out there for the world to see. Have you ever seen that? Some one posts about the horrible monster their significant other is – then a couple of days later, there are posts of their undying love and dates and flowers? Sometimes it is a toxic relationship – I won’t sugar coat it. But sometimes, it was them speaking emotionally from a feeling of sadness, hurt or pain and not from a clear mind. Bashing the other person for validation from others that they were in the wrong. Then once the emotions have settled, all is well – yet it is still out there for the world to see. 

So, from the heart, let me share with you – relationships take work. They take communication. They take commitment. 

You probably have heard all of those things. Maybe you haven’t heard this.

They also take intention, discretion, sacrifice and attention. 

Stop and think about what you want from your significant other, and make sure you are clear with them. 

Pay attention to the situation and environment – many ‘heated discussions or fights’ could have been avoided by just making sure that the tummy was full. 

Think about the other person and their needs and wants, not just yours. 

Be discreet and wise with whom you talk to about your relationship. Not everyone will have your best interest in mind. People are only able to help from where they are themselves. If they don’t have the emotional maturity, instead of helping you, they may make matters worse. Also, it is very hard for others not to judge once they hear a story from one side – this puts them in a challenging position. 

Ken driving wearing a t-shirt, and Amy in a tank top in passenger seat. Both smiling.

So, what would be a better option? One, you can journal about how something made you feel. First off, be sure that you and your significant other are open with each other about the privacy of journals. Feelings can get hurt quickly if someone reads emotional entries that were not meant to be shared. Once that is clear, jot down whatever you are feeling. You can even write as if you were talking to someone. 

If it seems to be something that you need help with and that journaling isn’t enough – consider counseling. Sometimes it really helps to have someone that isn’t involved to talk to and even get some guidance, or a different angle to look at it from. 

Like I said, we are celebrating 34 years this month – it is possible. I can also tell you, that we are still learning! 

Do you have any tips for me? 

Still learning, Amy 

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