by Cameron Butler, LPC, LMFT
My husband and I will celebrate our One Year Anniversary this weekend. This year has gone by so quickly, yet he & I joke about how it feels like we’ve always been married. As mentioned in a previous post, just because I am a professional counselor does not mean I am a pro at being married. It has truly been through trial and error, not book knowledge, that I have learned the most. To follow up on my Post, 4 Things I’ve Learned in 4 Months of Marriage, I’d like to add four more lessons I’ve learned throughout my first year of marriage.
- Marriage as An Emotional Bank Account: There will be times in marriage when one person feels like they are putting in all of the work, or making all the deposits, and the other partner is making all the withdrawals. This can feel unfair. While I don’t agree with one partner always carrying all the weight of the responsibilities, there will be times when the workload may be uneven. For example, if one spouse is injured, sick, or slammed with work. This is where you need to think of your marriage like an emotional bank account. The more deposits one partner puts into his/her Marital Bank Account (i.e. the more you give & serve your partner), the more there will be to withdrawal when you need your partner to step up and carry more of the load. While we try to maintain a balanced load of responsibility, there are times when life throws curve balls and we need to adjust. This does not mean having one partner carrying most of the household responsibilities all of the time, because this will cause other problems….but it is helpful to see your marriage like a bank account. When you are continually depositing into it….there will be more for you to withdraw from later.
- Use Your Manners: As simple as this sounds, it can be difficult to always follow through with. We can become comfortable with our spouse, knowing that they are committed to us forever, and it can be easy to take advantage of this in how we speak to them. Its amazing how far “please” and “thank you” can go in marriage. While it is nice to be able to be completely yourself with your partner, this does not mean it is okay to be rude. It is not okay to take out your stress on your partner. It is not your spouse’s fault you had a tough day at work or your back hurts. Use your manners, take a hot shower or fix a cup of tea to relax, but don’t be rude to your spouse. Being rude will only create a problem that was never there. And if you do mess up, “I’m sorry“ can also go along way. Use your manners!
- Listen to One Another: My husband is a problem solver. He is very good at coming up with solutions to a wide variety of problems. Sometimes I am so focused on my point of view that I’m not hearing what he has to say about a situation. I typically later realize that he had a really good point/idea all along! We need to really listen to one another in the moment. So many of the couples I work with don’t ever “hear” one another – when in discussion they are only thinking of how they will defend their ideas/feelings rather than truly listening to their spouse. Feeling heard can and does equate with feeling loved.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: There is a lot that happens in life that is difficult, but leaving the dishes out on rare occasion is not one of them. My husband and I have both been reminded of the fragility of life this past year through various circumstances. We have learned that we have a choice on whether or not to make something a big deal….and perspective is important. Living with another person will inevitably cause disagreements at times, but there are too many “big” things in life to let something small becoming big. If your spouse leaves his or her (let’s be honest – his) clothes in the floor, don’t let it ruin your day!
I look forward to continuing on this journey of marriage, learning a lot along the way. There are so many more ways to learn and grow, but for now we plan to sit back in thankfulness & celebration over the past year of joy.
Cameron is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Foundation Counseling. She enjoys working with teens, adults, and families in the Marietta and Kennesaw area. Find out more about her and other therapists here.