Strengthen Relationships

We’ve been married for 28+ years and have nearly divorced at least 7 times, YET we have managed to work through our issues and have stayed together.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, so what? I bet you’re not happy. Or I bet you stayed together for the sake of the kids.”  And you know what? You would be wrong. We have never been happier or as close as we are now. We have fun together, we enjoy each other’s company, we make each other laugh -aaaaand our sex life is the best its ever been.

Our physical relationship has always been good, but now it is more complete, meaningful, and intimate.  It truly is an act of passionate, caring love; not short-term, animal lust. It fills my soul. I feel secure and accepted; valued for who I am. I am free to be me, to give my entire self and know my husband loves me and wants me, forever. I am able to live my life without fear and game-playing.  What a relief that is. I am not sure if young people know of what I am speaking. From what I read and see, it appears much game-playing is the norm. How sad.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I can tell you with 100% certainty, I am so glad we worked through our issues.

One thing my husband and I have always agreed upon, if we don’t each work on growing our individual “self” and this marriage ends, we will only be carrying our issues on to the next relationship. It’s better to work on what we have, grow as individuals, and work through the problems.  It’s better to fix it, than to throw it away.

Here’s an interesting benefit to note: Each time we work on an issue together, our love, respect, and admiration for the other grows. Knowing that my spouse wants to work on our relationship and make it better, makes me love him even more. I treasure him and cherish what we are building together. It’s my most precious possession.

In college I was exposed to various studies indicating that marriages tend to experience major problems every seven years. When I look back at our marriage, I find this to be true.

We nearly divorced at 3 years, 7 years, 14 years, 21 and 28 years of marriage.

What were our major issues? Why did we nearly divorce? How did we get through and what advice would I offer my younger self if given the opportunity?

Before I answer these questions I should offer a little background about us. We met at Trader Joe’s in Costa Mesa, California. I was previously married to an adulterous husband. He cheated on me with a girl he worked with. My first husband looked like Patrick Swayze in the face, but nothing like him in his body. My first husband had a belly, never exercised, was flabby and lousy in bed. In retrospect, he really did me a favor by leaving.

However, my ego and self confidence was bruised and it took a few years to recover.

It was just when I was enjoying being single and planning to go back to school to get my Master’s degree, that I met my amazing future husband.

I was working near the store entrance, stocking apples when a voice behind me said, “Putting up the apples, huh?” “Yes,” I said not even turning around to see who was speaking to me, “someone has to do it.”

Costa Mesa is very near the beach and we would frequently get young smarty pants kids speaking nonsense to the employees. That is what I thought was happening to me at the moment. After a few seconds, I turned around to see who had been speaking to me. “Whoa baby”, I said to myself, and had to look twice. My head did a double-take to view this magnificent creature in all his glory.

He was beautiful to behold.

There he stood, in blue shorts and suspenders, with a white and blue stripped, short, cropped top, exposing his ripped abdominal muscles. In all my life I have only seen one other man as gorgeous as this man.

I put down the case of apples I was stocking, walked straight over to him, and said, “Can I help you find anything?” He said, “No, but I’ll let you know if I change my mind.”

That began our interaction. I learned from that point on, a few things about him. Number 1, he was engaged. Number 2, he was a flirt. He would walk into the store behind his girlfriend/fiancé, smile broadly at me and one other female co-worker he thought was cute. Over time I began to form an opinion about this man and it wasn’t good. He was a “player” I thought, just looking for a good time before he moved on to the next woman. I gave no more thought about him; he was engaged. But I would talk to him from time to time when he shopped inside the store.

“You’re just a player.”

One time, as I was stocking peanuts on the nut aisle, he walked over to chat. I don’t remember everything we talked about, but at one point he said to me, “You never know, I might marry you someday.” “Ha”, I said, “Marry you? I wouldn’t even go out with you. You’re just a player.” He didn’t reveal this fact to me at the time, but my words had hurt his feelings.

Obviously, we moved on from this point and eventually did get married. I’ll tell you what happens next in the subsequent blog.

Along the way during our marriage, we’ve learned several things, and I would like to share those lessons with you; to help you be successful in your relationships, especially marriage. That, by the way, is the focus of our blog. Check back each week to hear more about our experiences.

I wish we had someone to mentor us years ago.

We would have been spared a lot of grief. I really think couples should take a pre-marital course before getting married. There are topics that need to be discussed before marriage, and most young people, even many older couples fail to know what questions to ask each other.

In addition, adults should be taught how to listen, how to communicate, and how to work through conflict. No one teaches us these things and they are priceless tools to be used to experience successful relationships.

Not just marriage relationships, but family, parent/child, and work relationships. Ask yourself this question – How often does a bad relationship with someone bring stress into my life? Do you experience weekly stress or daily stress because of a poor relationship with someone at home, work or school?

If so, you need to learn how to effectively communicate and resolve conflict. We can help you with that.

So what were our major issues? Not knowing how to communicate our wants, needs, and frustrations.

Why did we nearly divorce? Self-centeredness and lacking the skills and tools we needed to work through the issues.

How did we get through and what advice would I offer my younger self if given the opportunity? This will be answered ongoing through every upcoming blog, covering our nearly three decades of marriage. Stay tuned.