t: Hopeful, Inspiring, OMSH, photos 15 Comments
Yesterday I was IM’ing with a friend on the topic of marital satisfaction – specifically, the much needed balance where both partners have their needs met. This particular blogger happens to be the “giver” in the marriage, whereas the spouse is the primary taker. Needless to say, my friend is tired; in love, but tired in a used-up kind of way. It was refreshing to hear the hope, but heart-wrenching to hear the lack of fulfillment.
Until recently, I’ve considered myself the selfish one in my marriage. In a discussion with my husband not too long ago, I was surprised to discover he thinks the same of himself. We attributed it to our mutual fulfillment in each other, but it wasn’t always so.
Two days ago we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Thirteen years feels like a long time. Thirteen years is a long time.
Not all thirteen years were like the past year – or the year before that. In fact, the first five years were pretty much unbearable. The following two years, up until the seven year marker, were measurably better, but it wasn’t until after we scaled the seven year hump that things started flowing smoother; the major knots worked-out to minor tangles until we were able to comb through things with familiarity and ease.
I don’t believe any two pair of people are alike, so this isn’t my advice – just sharing my experience. Both Jeff and I like getting to the bottom of things. The fastest way to an answer is asking questions. Our method for a rich marriage is simple and yet, effective. For us, there are no magic formulas – just questions and answers.
Like most people we talk to, Jeff and I have a deep need to feel loved and supported, however, the way we experience fulfillment of that need is entirely different. So, not too long ago we began a process of asking direct questions and giving direct answers.
Last year our question/answer session went something like this:
One Question: “What do you need from me to feel supported?”
Me: I need to have uninterrupted work hours. I want you take the kids out of the house occasionally so I can plug away at the computer without stopping to get someone a drink, break up an argument, get down a box of legos from the closet, or any myriad of other things a mother is called on to do.
Jeff: I want to know that dinner is planned when I call to say I’m coming home. Not that dinner is cooked – we could go out to eat for all I care – but that dinner is planned. I don’t want to think about or plan dinner.
When we look back on how we integrated each other’s desires into our marriage, it is obvious where we listened and equally as obvious when we did not.
And? There have been changes since that time. Now that my youngest is in full-time Pre-K, my main work hours are during the day, so I don’t need as much extra time to work on weekends or at night. With both of us working, we’ve started sharing the responsibility of planning and preparing meals – so it doesn’t rest solely on me.
Another Question: “What do you need from me to feel loved?”
Me: I want you to be more vocal. Say the things I see hiding behind your eyes. If you think, “Man, I love her.” I want you to say it. If you think, “Her eyes look beautiful in that shirt.” I want you to say it OUT LOUD to me.
Jeff: I want you to get off the computer when I come home and just be with me for a while. I want you to initiate sex more – pursue me instead of being the one pursued.
As you can see, the questions and answers change, but the bottom line is to get to know each other over and over again.
We are changing, our needs our changing, our desires are definitely changing. In response to my answer to the question above, Jeff began vocally sharing his thoughts about me (some of which were rather…um…exciting), and the positive, indirect result he experienced was an increased libido – I pursued him with unrestrained fervor that he liked.
Our marriage will not become stale as long as we don’t stop refreshing it with new ideas, new suggestions, new requests, and surprises…the surprises are fun.
I am not the woman he married.
He is not the man I married.
I love him more than the man I married and he says the same of me.
That’s how we do it.
What do you do?