Just to be clear, I don’t want you (or anyone!) to just make it work. I want you to be happy in your relationship. And sometimes that’s not easy, especially if you didn’t have the best relationship role models growing up. In my last post I said I would talk about why being at my best in my relationship is difficult for me. Without revealing too much, lets just say that my parents had a roller coaster of a relationship. I grew up expecting that jealous rages, infidelity, and not being able to count on my partner, were the norm. My husband also had some serious trust issues. I’m still not sure exactly where his came from, except maybe that my mother in law is suspicious of EVERYONE. The other problem we had was that he expected a slave, apparently that’s what he was used to at home. And I of course wanted to be an independent woman who could hold her own, it’s the American way! Lets just say our expectations, along with getting together at such a young age (I was 18 and my husband was 20), oh and adding a baby within months, made for a very tumultuous marriage. We argued constantly and had some very serious issues stemming from our own inner wounds which we then projected into our relationship. The first seven years of our marriage sucked to say the least. Of course there were good times, but mostly bad. I would go as far as to say there were mentally and emotionally abusive qualities to the marriage. My husband usually says he doesn’t remember much about that time, but I’m pretty sure he just blocks it out. We’ve come a long way. The last thing he said to me today was, “I love you more and more each day. I’m so happy with you”. He went on to tell me that I was doing a great job with the house and kids. I also told him how much I appreciate him, and I do. He’s a great father and he goes out of his way to make me happy all the time. I still get triggered every once in awhile by the past but I’m learning to accept this as a part of my story and who I am. I know it’s my way of protecting myself.
I would like to first and foremost say that I DO NOT condone staying in an abusive relationship. Whether that is mental/emotional or physical abuse and if you are in that situation please seek professional help immediately. The National Domestic Violence Hotline phone number is 1800-799-7233.
With that being said, I don’t blame anyone for how things went for those first years. We each do the best we can with what we are given and blaming people only keeps us from living in the present. I know that my parents taught me better than what they were given, and I will teach my children better that what I was given. But I will also admit that I did not have the tools which would have allowed me a healthy relationship with ANYONE at the time I was married. So what is one in this situation to do? I write this for the woman who is knows something is wrong, but cant put her finger on how to fix it. I want to say something to you. It’s not your fault that you don’t have the tools, but you can gain the resources. I think I had the natural instinct that what my relationship was, was not what was intended for me. After 7 years of marriage I left and it changed me immensely. I now know that as much as I wanted to blame it all on my husband, there were some things that I was doing very wrong, and its taken me years to see them clearly. After doing my own research on relationships, inner wounds, and self-love, I realized that a lot of women are in the same boat as I was. (Disclosure: I am not a trained professional. Everything I say is based on my own personal experience within my relationships). So here are the top 5 mistakes I made in my marriage and how you can avoid them:
1. I came into a marriage wounded and before I was ready…and married someone with the same qualifications. I was insecure, had low standards in men, and had trauma that I hadn’t dealt with yet when I got married. Ideally, you will find your partner when you are in a good place of inner peace and self love, but some of us don’t have that luxury. There’s not much you can do about being in a marriage before you’re ready if you are already in one. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any power. There is some very good advice that says, working on yourself in a relationship is good because that is where all your wounds come to light. It can be hard to see when you are in the eye of the storm. But I want you to think about the most painful parts of your relationship, then ask yourself why they trigger you. I was asked this in a different way by a therapist. She kept saying, “Why does this bother you so much?” about his behavior. I wanted to scream at her, “It would bother anyone!”, and it would (um is him treating me like shit not supposed to bother me??). What I now see is that she was trying to get me to dig deeper. Why did this trigger me. My truth was that I was trying to prove my worth to my husband and I felt I wasn’t able to. That wasn’t his fault, he didn’t know that’s what I was doing, I didn’t even know! Furthermore, why was I trying to prove my worth? Did I believe I wasn’t worthy? What caused this belief? And why did I believe he was the one who should decide whether I was worthy or not? When we are wounded emotionally, we will often times expect our partners to fill a void they aren’t cut out to fill, a void we should be filling ourselves.
2. I blamed my husband for mistreating me, without taking responsibility for accepting his behavior. When you let someone walk all over you, they lose respect for you as well as themselves. It was easy to blame my husband when he did something wrong, and while I now know that nothing I did caused him to mistreat me, I do take responsibility for accepting it. This wasn’t about him being an asshole, this was about me not having high enough standards for what kind of behavior I found acceptable in a relationship. The point is, people are allowed to be assholes, it’s a free country. It’s free enough that we can decide whether or not to stick around for it too. These days my husband knows that if he mistreats me, I have the strength to walk away, so he’s very mindful of his actions around me, making sure they are coming from a place of love. I’m not his emotional punching bag, and he’s not mine.
3. I focused on his happiness and not my own. This included pushing my core values to the side. I was always trying to be a good wife and would try to make decisions based on what I thought my husband wanted. This is unattractive and makes me seem inauthentic. Over time I became unhappy with my decisions, and depressed. And with me always feeling down, he was never happy either. What I learned is that, while marriage is full of compromise, it shouldn’t feel like nothing but sacrifice. My husband isn’t responsible for my happiness, he can only be the icing on the cake, so to speak😉.
4. I bought into the unconditional love theory. Sorry to have to tell you this, but romantic love should not be unconditional. You can always care for a person no matter what. My husband is the father of my children and I will always want the best for him, but that doesn’t mean that I will be with him no matter what. Now of course I’m not talking about illness and other things outside our control. I’m talking about having standards, such as treating me with respect. Not doing this consistently would be a deal breaker. I use an obvious one because everyone’s standards will be different. Not only did I think I had to put up with anything my husband did, but I assumed he had to love me no matter how I acted towards him. That’s not the way it works and at first I thought the fact that I had standards meant I didn’t love him as much as I used to. But it’s not about that, its about having respect for yourself and your partner.
5. I didn’t trust my instincts. I knew something was wrong but instead of listening to my own feelings, I tried to manipulate the situation into becoming what I wanted it to be. Had I listened to my instincts in the first place I could have saved myself a lot of pain.
What it comes down to I would say, is this- have standards and do the inner work. If you are new that term, what it basically means is to work on yourself emotionally. This could mean dealing with past traumas, low self-esteem, anger issues, etc. One last tip I can give is this- seek outside resources to help you. I’m not talking about your friends, I’m talking about books, relationship coaches, your pastor, etc. Just as we were taught about math in school, we can be taught how to have higher self-esteem, deal with emotional baggage, have great relationships, and so much more.
As I learned, my husband was inspired to learn as well. He learned that I needed to feel loved and cared for by him in order to be in a relationship. He learned that he preferred being with me to being alone, or with someone else. And he learned that he also had some inner work to do. I’m happy to say that we were able to make these changes fairly quickly and were back together sooner than expected. Two happy people make a happy marriage. We’ve worked very hard on this and continue to do so every day. I’ve learned that marriage isn’t something that works out or doesn’t, it’s something that you work on daily. That’s the commitment you are making when you tie the knot- that you vow to work on loving someone, in the verb sense, every day. And I think we’ve been through enough to understand that now. Can I say forever? Well if we play our cards right, then we have a pretty good chance.
1. Mina Irfan LOOOOVEEEE her! She is definitely my number one! She is so relatable and incredibly smart. Her advice has really helped me and she explains it in a way that’s easy to understand. Relationships are just one of the many topics she discusses. I’ve purchased two of her programs which were totally worth it (it helps that she always gives discounts!).
2. Giordana Toccaceli aka Gio Elena Toca (Facebook). Amazing advice. Her teachings are genius.
3. Bernardo Mendez Best YouTube videos with very necessary and useful topics. It’s always nice to have a man tell you like it is but be very kind about it.
4. Mathew Hussey He gets it and really cares about women.
5. Monique Head For marriage minded women of faith (I think that’s her line lol). Love this woman. Her advice on how to communicate is priceless.
6. Adam Lodolce His YouTube Videos are hilarious. And very useful.
7. Shannon Boodram If your looking for a guru who is very open minded, she’s it. Sex, love, and relationships. Love her.
8. Alexandra V Abrego Incredibly insightful and worldly.
9.. Derrick Jaxn I don’t even know how I lived in the dating world without this guy. If you only check out one person, make it him!
10. Melanie Tonia Evans If you feel that you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, this is the woman to watch.
If you’re looking to take your relationship to the next level, definitely check these guys out! Do me a favor and let them know Womanwithbabies sent you😊. Need an objective opinion on a relationship dilemma? Follow me on Facebook or Instagram and inbox me, or just leave a comment under this post! Know of another great guru I missed? Let me know who it is! Until next time, beautiful😘.