30 Day Challenges,  Fashion

Thoughts on Marriage

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Sometimes I feel as though because I’ve only been married for two years, or because I had  a great pregnancy and have a nearly-always-happy child, I am not qualified to give advice. Because I haven’t experienced hardships, I haven’t gone through a rough period, I didn’t have terrible pregnancy symptoms, my boobs didn’t suffer through nursing, my child sleeps fine and only has mild teething symptoms, and I’m still in what most people would qualify as the “honeymoon” stage of marriage.

But I read Kristen’s post this morning, and I thought… why can’t I share what I have learned? Just because it hasn’t been hard doesn’t mean I haven’t discovered things to make our marriage better and stronger. Just because Asa isn’t having a rough babyhood doesn’t mean I don’t still Google the heck out of things to figure out what to do sometimes. (I Google everything. I even asked Google whether it was normal that I didn’t like kissing back when we had our first kiss.)Thoughts on Marriage | www.eccentricowl.com In the last two years of marriage, I have learned a great deal. Through my own marriage, through watching others’ marriages, through advice and experience and observation. And, through my own failings. I am not a perfect person. I can be lazy and snide and unwilling to cooperate. And my husband… well, he’s one of those annoying (read: wonderful) people who only actually brings up legitimate issues, and he’s pretty much always right. And nice about it. SIGH.

In these last two years I have learned that quite literally, sometimes the key to a happy marriage is a clean kitchen. I am not a neat person by nature, but I’m learning. Because seriously, having a clean house is the difference in our marriage between happy and slightly discontent. It was a surprisingly simple revelation to me, having come from a house where neatness was not as large of a priority as other things.Thoughts on Marriage | www.eccentricowl.com I have learned that a major thing is respect. Which I knew, but I’ve learned how to respect. They always tell you that men need respect, but they never tell you what that means. And for a long while, I wondered: how do you show respect?

Respect means listening with your full attention. No checking your phone while he’s talking, interrupting mid-sentence with a thought, or spitting back your own reasons for why you’re doing something he doesn’t understand. Respect means that even if you have a perfectly legitimate excuse for why you didn’t clean anything today, you let him tell you why it bothers him and you take his advice to help you do better next time.

Let me tell you something: I HATE taking advice. I want to be perfect and I want to do it all by myself. But I can’t. And my initial response when he’s trying to help me fix the problem is to get defensive. I did that wrong because xyz happened so that’s why and don’t try to tell me I could actually get it all done if I took your advice, because I don’t want to. Even if, deep down, I know he’s right.

But the thing is, he’s not sitting there trying to attack me or even tell me that I failed. He’s trying to understand why. He’s trying to give me the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I didn’t clean house because Asa had a really bad day, and that’s okay. But maybe next time it would be easier to get things done if I asked for help, if I asked his mom or my mom to come over and give me a break, or to clean my dishes for me or get my laundry done while I deal with a cranky teething baby. Just because he’s pointed out something I’ve done that is less-than-admirable doesn’t mean he suddenly thinks I’m terrible.

Respect means acknowledging that he’s got a good point, that his advice is valid, and that he loves me even when he’s bringing up something I could improve on. And not crying, arguing, spouting excuses, or walking away from it with irritation.Thoughts on Marriage | www.eccentricowl.com I’ve learned over the last two years that just because he doesn’t crave physical affection like I do does not mean that he doesn’t find me attractive. Girls, you may be told in premarital counseling or growing up or by whomever that men always like sex more than women do. And I’m going to be really blunt and personal with you (sorry if it’s awkward mom and other family members who might be reading this), because I don’t want you to worry: sometimes, that isn’t the case. Sometimes, it’s the woman who likes the physical more. I am one of those people. My two biggest love languages are physical affection and words.

My husband’s are not. And obviously he does like the hanky spanky stuff too, but it’s not as important to him as it is to me, which I found really weird and worrying at first because my female premarital counselor told me that sometimes men just need sex and we should give it to them even if we aren’t really in the mood (which, by the way, is all about being selfless and looking out for your spouse’s needs, and it doesn’t mean he’s just gonna take it whenever he wants it no matter how you feel. Unless he’s a jerk). And you know what? Usually it’s the other way around in our relationship. For a while I obsessed with the fact that his hands weren’t all over me all the time and what was wrong with me and… it was kind of destructive. Not in big ways, but little, niggling ones. I lost some confidence in myself and in him and in us for a little while. It was stupid.

The lesson here? Learn what HIS love language is, and realize that he may be showing you he loves you in his own language, not yours. Learn to communicate love in ways he understands, and be honest enough to help him learn what your love language is. It’s pretty important that you both know how to communicate love in the way that your spouse is going to know it. (Communication is a HUGE key to a good marriage. HUGE.)

Thoughts on Marriage | www.eccentricowl.com Thoughts on Marriage | www.eccentricowl.com And I have learned that sometimes, compromising is not the key.

I am pretty sure my husband hates compromise. I remember one night when I had planned to make Mongolian beef for dinner, he suggested that sweet and sour beef might be good instead. Innocently, in the effort to make everyone happy, I offered to make him sweet and sour sauce and me Mongolian beef sauce, and everyone could have what they wanted. It didn’t make him happy, though; it just made him feel as though I didn’t care what he wanted because I was going to have what I wanted no matter what, and it made him feel like he was just making more work for me.

The thing is… most of the time compromise is a way that I can get what I want. Whether subconsciously or not, I do tend to try to find a way for us both to get what we want. It’s not sacrifice, submission, or selflessness at ALL. And sometimes, giving up what you want in favor of what your spouse wants is far better than trying to compromise so that everyone is happy. Sometimes, doing it together is more important. Thoughts on Marriage | www.eccentricowl.com

Heels, belt, brooch, and vintage dress, thrifted | cardigan and tights, Target | earrings c/o Oasap | scarf, self-made | glasses, c/o Firmoo

Those are only a few of the things I’ve been learning so far in my marriage. Respect, communication, love language, selflessness… they’re important.

What is the most important thing you have learned in marriage or your relationship so far? I’d love to know!

In other news, this is me winterizing a decidedly spring/summer dress. Well, I suppose it’s not really decidedly spring or summery, just mostly in color it’s more a spring/summer palette. But I think with lots of black additions to match the black rose pattern, it works quite well for winter! I still haven’t decided how I want to tailor the top of it (you can see the whole dress here) so for now, wearing a coat or cardigan over the top works to de-crazy it. Although we all know I have a weakness for slightly crazy clothes.

Anyway. I hope you all have a happy Wednesday!

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  • Sarah Whiting

    I love this! My hardest struggle is gracefully accepting gentle “criticism” and suggestions when I’ve had a hard day and the house is a mess and I’m a mess. I’m not where you are with that, yet. Even reading what you wrote, while agreeing, I cringe and want to go on the defensive.

    My biggest tip is to listen. Listen to advice of those gone before. Find a mentor that you can seek out privately for questions or advice that you wouldn’t go to your girlfriends for (like when he’s really offended you and you can’t let it go and you can feel resentment building, and you need someone to help you out objectively). Pray. A hug, even when you really don’t feel like hugging, can melt away any remaining animosity after a fight; always hug after a fight.

    • Eccentric Owl

      Oh man, I’m not as good as you read that I am! Haha! I still get really bristly and defensive inside, but I’ve determined lately that I will NOT respond with excuses or even reasons until I’ve really gotten to the heart of what’s bothering him, and whether it’s a fair thing or not. And always (seriously. UGH) it has been a valid reason for him to be concerned. Like this past week, I thought I had been doing great iwth keeping the house clean except for yesterday, and he mentioned something, and I started to get defensive until I realized that I’d been keeping the KITCHEN clean, but the laundry hadn’t been done, the bathroom was a disaster and had been, the bedroom hadn’t been cleaned for a week… basically just the living room and kitchen had been clean and nothing else. Heh. Soooo I didn’t argue. I hate being wrong, but I laughed at something mid-conversation and it dispelled the irritation I had at being caught in laziness. So to speak. 😀

      YES. Hugging is the best. And kissing. And… uh… yep. 😀

      • Sarah Whiting

        Well, considering I was unwilling to view my defensiveness as wrong until I read what you wrote, I’d say your a big ahead of me. 😉

        • Eccentric Owl

          Yeah well. We all know I’m better than you anyway. 😉 HAH!

          Also, typos much? Geeze. Learn to spell.

          (I feel as though I should explain to people who don’t know us: I am not serious and I am laughing as I type)

          • Sarah Whiting

            Oh my word! Spelling police, are you? Whatevs! 😉

            I’m not laughing.

            Ok, yeah, I totally am. HAHAHA! I love you.

  • Christina Suko

    Great post! I can relate to some of the things you mentioned and I am still working on them. I am truly glad that you can learn all these lessons early on in your marriage. It will make your married life so much more pleasant. Happy belated anniversary! Hope you two had a great time celebrating! 😉

    • Eccentric Owl

      Thank you, Christina! I know I will definitely be learning as long as we are married, but I hope I can learn things well! I have the benefit of a godly mother and mother-in-law and sister-in-laws to set examples for me and ask advice of!

      We had a lot of fun celebrating!

  • Hillary Burnson

    Yes, communication IS huge. I’ve learned that even when we don’t say anything to each other we’re still sending messages, and those messages can be misinterpreted if we don’t make an effort to talk about them.
    My biggest struggle is trying not to take advantage of how much grace my husband gives me for being so strong-willed. Sometimes I find myself criticizing him for not being more strong-willed himself, I’ll tell him he’s too much of a nice guy. Haha, the truth is, he’s done a number on me when it comes to learning how to have grace for people. He’s pretty determined to be the better man/person in every relationship, giving the benefit of the doubt and such, and it’s taken me a while to catch up.
    My family, immediate and extended, is full of broken relationships–husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child–but they were mostly destroyed by selfishness. My husband had never heard of the phrase “the seven-year itch” until I mentioned it recently (which he quickly dismissed as absurd) with our seventh-year anniversary coming up, but I grew up with that phrase tossed around, not simply as a 1950’s movie plot, but as matter of course. I wasn’t suggesting that I felt that way, on the contrary, our marriage feels like it’s being renewed with every new experience we have together and I wouldn’t want to experience them with anyone else for as long as I live! So take that ‘seven-year itch’!

    • Eccentric Owl

      Well, I think you married a pretty great guy… but I could be prejudiced because we’re related. 😉

      Haha, I take advantage of my husband in the whole strong-willed area, too! It’s bad sometimes, but I’m working on it.

      Also, I’d heard of “the seven-year itch” but I never really knew what it meant. I’m so glad you guys feel as though your marriage is being renewed all the time! I feel the same way; every time we come up across a new issue and conquer it, I feel much better about us and much more loving of my husband and much more connected to him.

    • Sarah Whiting

      Funny you mention the seven year itch, I’d forgotten that was a thing. Seeing as our 7th anniversary is coming up next summer, I’d have to say it is absurd. I don’t know that I’d say our marriage is being renewed each day, but I certainly am quite happy and content in my marriage and certainly don’t want to be with anyone else!

  • skye

    Josh and I aren’t married yet, but we might as well be: we live together, share responsibilities, and organize our lives around each other’s. I’d say the biggest thing I’ve learned (other than the ones you’ve mentioned) is that you can’t *need* each other. Sure, I need him in the sense that I love him deeply and want him beside me, but in the aggregate, I think I would manage to be happy and successful without him in my life. And he feels the same about me. I’ve seen so many people who feel they literally could not live without their partners, and that strikes me as unhealthy: if you’re not a whole, thriving person on your own, what can you bring to your partnership? Not much. If one of us is busy, the other can still take care of themself and be productive, and I like that. It makes our relationship a choice rather than an obligation.

    Overall, great post. I don’t agree with all of it, but you’ve clearly put a lot of time and care into cultivating your relationship, and I respect that. If you’re living with thoughtfulness, whether or not other people agree with every single choice is immaterial. 🙂

    • Eccentric Owl

      Oh yes, that is a great point! I think if you aren’t also your own person and personality in a relationship, it can get old really fast. I realized that a long time ago, when I tried leading a relationship on (that never even made it to dating) by liking every. single. thing. he liked, and being who I thought he would think was interesting. Turned out, he didn’t. So with marriage… I’ve realized it’s a-ok not to love Dumb and Dumber like he does, and it’s fine for him not to watch my Period movies. It’s fine if he’s entertained by himself, and vice versa. Gotta keep things interesting!

      And that’s the thing about this post; it’s just my marriage and my relationship! I think especially with not arguing back about things, that’s a thing I work on because I can be incredibly stubborn and unwilling to bend or consider what he might want. So that’s not something every relationship needs, but it’s definitely something mine does!

  • Marlen

    Definitely giggled over “hanky spanky”. I’m a seven year old boy, haha. I’m kind of going through that with the relationship I’m in now. I want to kiss and cuddle and do the dirty alllll the time, and he kind of…doesnt. And it’s kind of hard not to get frustrated with it, or read it in a negative light (like he might not be that into me). It’s nice hearing a reasonable (and sane) voice tell me otherwise, haha.

    Also- YES to the clean kitchen. When I was with Marc that was the number one trigger that started our fights. Isn’t that crazy? When the sink is clear and there are no crumbs on the countertop, all is well.

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

    • Eccentric Owl

      Haha, isn’t it a great phrase? I stole it from When at Home. Makes me laugh every time! And right? I think we as women are told so much that men will want it more than we do, and that once we’re in a relationship or married we’ll realize it isn’t as shiny as it sounds (that’s what my counselor told me when I counteracted her with the fact that I’m a very physically affectionate person) and then to be in a relationship where that isn’t true is… confusing. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

      It’s pretty funny how that one small act can change things! And now that I know that, things are smoother. But it’s so random that it’s just the kitchen and not other rooms. (Well, to some degree.)

  • dani

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the comments about not taking it personally. Being a stay-at-home wife (not even a mom) at the moment can sometimes make it seem like I’ve just been insanely lazy if I didn’t do the laundry, or something, and if he asks why not, instead of just saying “I didn’t get to it”, I have a tendency to flip out and point out all of the things he hasn’t done (which doesn’t help, and usually leads to a big argument, and I don’t recommend this tactic. At all. Ever).

    But we actually took the love languages test a few weeks back and discovered that my husband likes quality time, which I need to work on, because I like to be alone in the kitchen, or alone doing work on the computer, and I’ve been sort of oblivious to his desire to be around me when he’s home from work. So we’re working on that.

    But I get what you’re saying about not feeling like you’re qualified to give advice for being married a short period of time. I feel like I can’t give my single friends dating advice anymore just because I’m married. Or, worse, sometimes I feel like I’m super knowledgeable in the world of dating, because I’m married and they’re not. I’m not. I just made some stupid decisions and luckily it turned out great.

    Finally- to agree with you AND Marlen’s comment below – YES TO THE CLEAN KITCHEN. omg. Especially while living with other people – If I walk into the kitchen and it’s a mess, I go on strike and riot (in the most peaceable, passive-aggressive housewifey way possible).

    Great post! Also, super cute dress – way to stretch that wardrobe into December!

    <3 dani

  • Danie Williams-Rivera

    The physical stuff totally applies to our marriage as well. Physical Touch & Words are also my two love languages. His are giving gifts and doing things for people. It’s hard to not let it go to my head that I’m not attractive or not doing something right, because women are told ALL.THE.TIME that guys are only interested in the physical, and guys want the bootay all the time, and if they don’t – they “just aren’t that into you.” It really messes with your head! Thanks for sharing! (Sorry if it was awkward for your Mom, lol!)

    • Eccentric Owl

      I’m SO glad I’m not alone! And yes, it’s kind of sad really how women are kind of still told that men will want sex more than us, and that that’s all men want. Because for one, it makes you feel abnormal when you, as the woman, are more into the physical than he is, and for two… it’s so demeaning to guys. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I can pretty much always convince my husband to get it on if I’m in the mood, so that’s not to say he’s not ever into it or me… but I’m usually the instigator because it’s my love language. My husband’s love language is predominantly quality time, so he is always trying to spend time with me and sometimes I forget (aka, when I’m happy doing my own thing on my computer) it’s because he’s “speaking” in his love language. And when I do remember that, I feel so much better!

      Haha! I don’t know if my mom has read this post yet, although she nearly always comments on my posts… but my mother-in-law read and commented. AND my sister-in-law. Both pastor’s wives. Maybe I feel more awkward about it than they do, since it’s their son/brother-in-law. 😀