We recently posted a blog titled 10 Essentials for a Fun, Healthy & Lasting Marriage
The first essential we want to discuss is; ACCEPTING: This one is huge.
I used to get easily irritated in my marriage. But, honestly, that attitude has turned into patience, adoration, and a deep acceptance towards my wife. However, like I said, I didn't start our marriage with the best mindset. The shift occurred over time. It wasn't until after some heavy duty counseling (for both of us) that I really decided to love my wife well. This transition changed everything.
Let's take a step back to the early years of our marriage. I remember Tracy used to do my laundry. Let's just say all my clothes were two sizes smaller and crazy wrinkled after each wash. She gets easily distracted. So, I have been doing my own laundry ever since.
Amazingly, she also gets lost while driving to the same place she has been to over 20 times. My first clue occurred when she couldn't find her way in her own hometown while we were dating. For years, I was her human GPS. I am not exaggerating. When we lived in L.A., I used to have to step out of meetings with clients to keep her from getting lost in a strange new city. Ultimately, I had to spend way too much money on a first generation TomTom (but boy was that ever worth the money!). These episodes were more than stressful because she's a passionate woman who can tend to freak-out from time-to-time. The drama has tapered off some over the years, but she still has her moments (insert smile face).
Another thing that I learned about Tracy is that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom probably more than anything. But, my mother had been a working mom. That was all that I ever knew growing up. However, I sure am glad that I accepted this about her. Growing up, I know our kids loved being around her, and she had such an amazing influence on their lives.
We have moved a lot over the course of our marriage. At first, when we would buy a home, she would always want to knock down walls and basically destroy a perfectly good house. Over time, I grew to appreciate her talent for making a house a home and for creating some pretty impressive designs. She has ended up turning that talent into a business called Nest!
Oh, and another thing. I had to come to terms with the fact that she won't kiss me if I eat mustard. How crazy is that?! She hates mustard. She won't even touch the container. But, to not even kiss me after a hot dog or a turkey sandwich? She still needs to work on that one.
Also, another thing. I've had to learn to adjust to the fact that she doesn't like to have an important conversation with the TV on. I can handle two things at the same time. But, she cannot; to Tracy, every conversation is the most important conversation that ever existed. We have both learned to compromise in this area.
Finally, the hardest one for me was the fact that she is such a light sleeper. Starting about 10 years ago, she started complaining about my "snoring" (I was on a trip once with my sister, and she said it was just some loud breathing...can you tell I'm sensitive about this one??). Tracy would sneak out when I fell asleep to go to another room. I hate to admit it, but I was mad at her for a long time for that. I thought it was embarrassing. My own wife wouldn't sleep the whole night with me. I used to love waking up next to her. But, I found through therapy that I needed to come to terms with the fact that my wife was not sleeping. She was even having a hard time making it through the day. I realized that I needed to put her physical needs for rest over what I wanted. Now I have accepted it. I'm more concerned about Tracy getting her rest than what it might look like to other people. In fact, when we were house shopping this last time, seven years ago, we ended up purchasing a home with two rooms right next to each other. And we installed a special green door to make a larger master suite to accommodate what she claims is my "snoring." I still don't believe I snore. And, I probably never will. I guess we have to accept that, too!
This sleeping thing is a perfect opportunity to talk about the topic of acceptance. Here is my side of the story. I have always been a light sleeper, even as a child. Bruce had an accident with a stair-stepper years ago, and it really messed up his septum. For years, I would wake up all night long and listen to him breath and mildly snore. I often woke up feeling sick. Eventually, I made a decision. I could not be a good mom and loving wife while continuing to be so exhausted. I had reached the point of no return. What I have learned in marriage is that you have no control over your spouse and their attitude. All you can do is be honest, loving, kind, and hope for grace when you screw up or disagree. Bruce's frustration over where I end up at the end of the night has shifted from one of hurt and anger to a loving kindness. It's like his heart melted...Sorta like the grinch.
Here are some of the areas I have had to learn to adjust in my relationship with Bruce.
TV: He loves TV...I have learned to enjoy TV...although, I didn't even own one when we met.
Driving: I grew up in a family where my dad was in the car waiting for the last child to get in. If you were the last child to enter the car, you lost. The Bells (my maiden name) were NEVER late anywhere that I can remember. Bruce waits until the very last second to go somewhere. He then drives like a New York taxi driver or NASCAR competitor. That's just how he grew up. In his time management, he does not account for traffic lights or construction. Therefore, being early is a thing of the past for me, because he insists that the boy gets to drive. Chauvinist! I know, ladies...I know....I just accepted this one years ago. Fighting it led me nowhere but tension in my marriage. It has been good that I didn't keep trying to change him. Why? Because in this area he hasn't changed. I'm sure none of you women out there can relate (kidding).
Newspapers: Bruce was really good at decorating our home with newspapers. He would leave them everywhere. I asked him to change his ways, but to no avail. I learned they bothered me, not him. Actually, neither of us were "right" about it. I decided since they bothered me, I would pick them all up as I came across them and put them on top of the outside trashcan. I had to release expectation over him changing, but had to be willing to risk him being mad over my response. At first, it made Bruce super mad. However, I remained calm and kind in my demeanor and kept doing it. Over time, he started finding obscure places to stash them. Years later, it is not an issue at all in our marriage. I had to take responsibility over what was bothering me and do something about it.
Another baby: This one was tough for me. Bruce comes from a family of two. I come from a family of three. I wanted a third child so much that it drove me to tears. We finally went to counseling over it. I heard him tell the counselor how we had kids right away and didn't have much time to enjoy being a couple. He shared how much he really wanted to be a young empty nester someday and spend time alone with me. My heart began to change. I still wanted another child. But, I began to care about what was on his heart too. I suppose God was placing the seed of OUTSIDETHENEST in his mind even then.
Food: You see, I think food should be thrown out after a couple of days, right? As I wrote this blog at 8:25am on a typical Saturday morning...Bruce was about to make his famous scrambled eggs for breakfast...but then he realized I was going to throw out some marinara and meat sauce. He wanted no part of that wasteful thinking...but then he discovered there was no pasta, so he stole the macaroni noodles from a mac and cheese box in the pantry. Thus, for BREAKFAST, Bruce made macaroni and old meat sauce pasta. I think that is gross.....ACCEPTANCE?
Acceptance: Bruce is the least judgmental person I have ever met. He is really good at acceptance. I want to paint a simple picture of what is “good” to me. I was playing My Lighthouse, a song by Rend Collection, the other day. I found myself spontaneously dancing around our kitchen. Bruce was sitting there acting like that was completely normal. I am free to be me around him. Unashamed.
Overall: Bruce draws me into being more playful and in the moment. I coax him into deeper conversations and vision-casting for the future. We have learned to not only accept each other, but to enjoy and embrace each other. The by-product is the "two becoming one" as we each change, and we more deeply enter in each other's worlds.
Bruce & Tracy Levinson - outsidethenest.net
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