From Strangers to Family

We’ve been doing some home renovations for the past few months. Most recently, the whole family was involved in painting the kitchen cabinets. Hubby and I painted the upper cabinet doors, while the kids did the lower ones. While we were working, I remarked to hubby that we (he and I) have done quite a lot of painting together, starting from when we were dating. He looked at me with an amused expression and said, “Yeah, you surprised me. I didn’t know you very well back then.” I grinned and replied, “I didn’t know you well back then either!”

Our first painting experience together took place almost fifteen years ago when I helped his family paint their house; since then we have come a verrry long way. We went from “Oh, I think he/she’s cute and I want to know him/her better” to getting married to showing our true selves to each other on a daily basis. It’s almost funny to think that as newlyweds, we were embarrassed to fart in front of the other person! That however has totally changed and we’ve seen, heard and smelled more of the other person than we ever imagined we would. HAHA

Isn’t it strange how two people go from being complete strangers to becoming family? It’s a comforting and scary thought all at the same time. Comforting because when you are able to be that comfortable with your spouse, you get to experience a deeper kind of love.

It’s the kind of love that drives someone to…
~ kiss you when you have morning breath
~ buy you chocolate for your next PMS attack
~ allow you to squeeze the life out of his hand during a contraction

It’s also the kind of love that motivates someone to…
~ not nag when you leave your socks in the middle of the floor
~ listen to you complain about your stressful day at work
~ let you buy that new electronic gadget you’ve been drooling over

However, when you are that close to your spouse, things can get a little scary, too. There are plenty of chances to rant and complain and blame and belittle. There are more than enough opportunities to show that side of you that you would never, EVER think of showing to your coworkers, friends or neighbors. But if you have a good foundation of that deeper kind of love to sustain you, you learn to apologize, forgive and try again.

Now, how do you keep the love flowing in your marriage so you not only don’t kill each other, but you actually like one another?

I don’t have any profound answers, but I think it helps to go back in time and think about what worked before. Back to a time when you and your spouse tried to impress one another with the things you said and did. Back to the days when that one Facebook message, text, email, phone call or snail mail letter (depending on how far back you need to go!) from your spouse made your whole day.

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When all else fails, you can always go back to these three timeless basics of a relationship:

1. Practice your manners. Smile at your spouse every day, so it looks like you’re happy to see him/her. 🙂 Say “please” and “thank you”, even for things you think he/she was supposed to do or should have done last week. It not only makes him/her feel treasured, it helps you to have a grateful attitude.

2. Be courteous. Treat your spouse like the person you once so desperately wanted to get to know. Make eye contact and ask about their day (and put your phone down). Listen attentively and nod once in a while (and resist the urge to peek at your phone). Make him/her feel like you care about their concerns – cause you do! Ask for their opinion when making decisions. Be a team player and make your partner feel needed and appreciated.

3. Go beyond yourself. Do something you used to do when you were trying to win your spouse over. Maybe you used to buy her that dessert she likes or leave work early just to surprise her? Or maybe you used to watch basketball with him or compliment him on how hard he works? Go above and beyond yourself and invest a little time and energy into making your spouse feel important.

Marriage is like our bodies. What goes into our body and how we treat it determines how healthy, strong and energetic we feel. Similarly, what we put into our marriages determines if our homes are happy and healthy sanctuaries… or if they feel like suffocating and depressing traps. The choice is up to you. The good news is that every little positive thought and action counts – you just need to start. You, your spouse and family are worth it.

To help you remember what it was like to date your spouse and why you wanted to marry him/her in the first place, listen to Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran’s song, “Everything Has Changed“.

What drew you to your spouse when you first met as strangers? What do you appreciate about him/her now that you are one family?

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