Friday, November 12, 2010

Another shot at a better marriage

Time to face the music. I have been intending to write this post for some time but kept finding excuses to get out of it. It's time to do it.

Josh and I should have a much better marriage than we do. There, that's over with. Family and friends will say that we have reason to have stress and frustration, but that's not the problem. The problem is with the way we chose to handle that stress and frustration. At least, I do. I can't speak for Josh as only he knows whether he is doing a good job or not. I know that I have not done a good job. But I am trying and making a major effort. Already, I can see positive changes that are giving me the confidence to continue.

One of the things that made me really face facts came to light after a couple weddings at our church this summer. As the two couples prepared for their weddings and life together, I realized that I had absolutely no good advice to share with the two young brides. And this really bothered me. I don't consider myself old enough or wise enough to really be one of the women in the church to give good solid advice, but I should have at least had something better to offer than "whatever you do, don't be like me". What kind of advice is that? Granted, it's something and there's truth in it, but still it's far from truly helpful.

I had agonized and agonized over what I was doing wrong and how to correct it. Josh was not happy, I was not happy, our kids were not happy. Something was terribly "off" and this time I am fully committed to finding it and fixing it.

Over the summer, I kept seeing the same book being mentioned over and over again. Some good reviews, a lot of bad, but there had to be a reason I kept coming across this book wherever I went. Every thread on every forum I looked at about marriage and being a good wife, I saw that book mentioned. When I stepped out in faith and asked on a homeschool forum for recommendations for a good book on being a good wife, that same book was recommended many times over. But I had heard enough "bad things" about it that I still hesitated to get it. It wasn't until I saw a real life friend mention it on Facebook that I decided it certainly couldn't hurt to check it out and see for myself. Every Christian book is going to receive negative criticism no matter what, so glean the good from the bad and if it gives me even one good solid piece of advice that turns our marriage around then it's worth it despite any bad advice.

When we went on our trip to California to see Josh's family 2 weeks ago, I still hadn't gotten that book and the state of our marriage was weighing heavily on my heart. It wasn't critical, we weren't on the verge of divorce, but I was tired of feeling beat down and tired and I was heartsick to see Josh feeling so discouraged and run down. Something had to give and I knew that I should be the first one to strike out and make something happen.

My mother-in-law and I had planned to take a day into a nearby large city to check out a specific health food store I wanted to see and do some shopping. As luck would have it, mother-in-law noticed a Bible bookstore and asked if we should stop. As I was about to say "no, let's just head home", my mouth decided to act independantly and blurted out "yeah, let's stop here." I do believe it wasn't luck or whatever, but actually divine intervention.

Mother-in-law was busy finding some small things for the kids to have as gifts and while she kept them occupied, I browsed around the large selection of used books the store had. I was looking for a specific title. I didn't see it and decided to scan the shelves of new books, just in case. The few times I had entered a bookstore before, I hadn't seen the book and decided that I probably didn't need it, not that I had looked very hard. But this time, I saw the book. It was the last one on the shelf labeled for women. I picked it up, looked at the price, decided it was too much and put it away. But I kept feeling the urge to go get it again. I fought it and resisted it. I was ready to leave when I overheard the store owner tell mother-in-law that it was the store's anniversary and they were offering a storewide discount. That was just the prompt I needed, I immediately headed back to the book and got it.

I began reading it that evening and new right away that I would not love everything in the book but I would get something good from it. A bit of the doctrine and the author's beliefs goes against what I was raised to believe but as my real life friend had said about it, you have to take the good and ignore the bad because what is good in there will probably save your marriage. She's right.

I tested things out on Josh right away and saw a noticible difference right from the start. It's been more than worth it to keep reading and putting things into practice. I'm about 3/4 of the way through the book and while I'm not really wild about some things (for example, the book puts way too much emphasis on s*x and I strongly do not believe that s*x is as important as the author makes it out to be) I am thankful for it.

I've sat and had a long conversation with my mom, something I should have done long ago but was stupid enough to procrastinate. I brought up several issues in the book that I wasn't sure about and she confirmed how I felt and gave me a lot to think about.

The things I realize to begin with are these: no matter what, I am subject to my husband. He is to be head of our family, not me. Josh isn't accountable to me, he is accountable to God. I am accountable to Josh and I am accountable to God. I can't argue these things. Man was made for God, not for the woman; yet the woman was made for the man. Therefore, my place is behind him or beside him, not in front of him. I don't have a problem with that. It's correct. My job is to put Josh on that pedestal, to lift him up and encourage him and help him. In time, when he's secure and confident, he'll pull me up beside him. But I'm not to shove him out of the way and climb up there myself. I don't want to! I am not a leader, I never have been. I've always been one to be comfortable in the background, in the shadows providing support for others.

Being wife and mother are my only goals. That is what God has called me to do. And I am proud and thankful for that.

My enemy...the snooze button

I read something tonight that made realize the snooze button is not my friend. I have experienced many a morning of running and racing through the house, desperately trying to get everyone out the door in time to be just late enough to the doctor's office to get "the look" but not quite late enough to be forced to reschedule the appointment.

I do not like the snooze button anymore. It has not been nice to me. It has led me to believe I can trust it to give me just a few extra minutes of rest in the morning before I get up. Instead, it has allowed me to fall back asleep, snoring right on through it's next little warning that time is running out quickly and I had better get up now.

In fact, I don't really like my clock. I had set it 20 minutes early so I would always be 20 minutes early for whatever I need to do and wherever I need to be. But that didn't happen, I would look at the clock see I still had 20 minutes till I HAD to get up, then doze back off.

So I changed things. I changed the time to be exact. I now only hit the snooze button once, if at all and make myself get up. If I can sleep in, I don't set the alarm I just sleep in. If I have to get up, I set the alarm knowing full well I have to get up and I have to get going. I have been late much less, have had less trouble getting up in the morning and I don't have that anxiety hanging over my head anymore.

Now if I only I could get myself to go to bed at a decent hour, things would be much better. :)

Something I hadn't expected

It's funny how much impact the little changes in life can make. While on our trip to California, I picked up a book that I had been researching for while in the hopes of working to be a better wife. I'll save more for another post for another category, but the short of it is that while I don't entirely agree with the author's beliefs, I have gleaned some important nugets of wisdom from her writing and noticed a major difference. Josh and I are getting along much better, the kids seem to be calmer and get along better and I don't feel nearly as much stress and anxiety that I had before.

In addition, I have taken some small steps in a sincere effort to get back on the weight loss journey. I have really cut out the heavy sweets and junk food, made myself stop eating past 9pm (except the odd occasions where it hasn't been possible to eat an earlier), really paying attention to what I'm eating and cutting back my portions. The result is that I have lost a couple pounds in a couple weeks and even went on the trip to California and came home without gaining a single pound. That alone is impressive to me. I have never managed to go on a trip without gaining weight. Very cool. :)

The funny thing is that I had made some of these changes without really realizing I had done them. Two things I atribute to this: one is that on the trip I had to spend a lot of time with company and I am a very timid eater in public, I worry a lot about what people think while I'm eating; two is the aforementioned book that I started reading on the trip. A happier marriage means a happier mommy means happier kids means happier mommy means happier woman means less emotional eating as there's less emotional upheavel to contend with. All that to say, if I am less stressed, I eat less and feel much better. I can see a difference in my face and my clothes are just loose enough to notice.

Now if I can just get my rear in gear and start exercising, imagine what the results just might be? LOL! My goal is to lose at least another 10-15 lbs by the end of the year. I do believe I can do it this year.