Welcome back to my blog series: My Story, where I’m sharing the biggest transformations I’ve made in the past 2.5 years to get my life heading in a totally new direction – one that I desired. You can check out the other blogs here to catch up:
Episode One: Overview
Episode Two: Life Changing Decision
Episode Three: Brian Tumor Diagnosis
Episode Four: Redefining ‘ME’
Today I’m going to be sharing a bit about my journey with my husband and our marriage. In that moment in 2017 when I realized no aspect of my life was what I ideally wanted it to be, my marriage was a big thing that I wanted to turn around for the better.
How we met…
But first, a little history. I met my husband, Dan, when I was 16 an he was 20. A friend of mine was dating a friend of his and insisted that I meet this “really awesome group of (older) guys.” I thought it sounded creepy AF. Lol, I really was not on board and resisted meeting them, but eventually gave in and turns out they were actually a bunch of really nice people.
Anyone who knew me as a kid, knew that I was like 10 going on 40, so it wasn’t a big surprise to anyone that it would be a good fit to be dating someone a bit older. Now of course, it isn’t a big deal at all, but at the time it was a bit controversial.
Honestly, if you told me I’d end up marrying essentially the first guy I seriously dated, I would have laughed in your face. I never saw this being my path to a husband, but alas, that’s just how it ended up working out.
We dated for quite a while, moved in together a little while after I started college (I went to a local, private art college so there were no true University dorms or anything like that – I had been living at home.) We bought a house in 2006 when I graduated college, got engaged in 2008, and got married a year later in March of 2009, (I was 24 so we’d been together for about 7 years at that point.)
Spoiler alert, it is now 2019 and we just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary earlier this year, (on top of the 7 years dating). Of course it hasn’t always been rainbows and puppy dogs. There were definitely times when I wondered if we’d make it to our 10 year celebration. Let me assure you, we are not some idealistic fairy-tale couple by any stretch and that is not the picture I’m trying to paint. However, I can tell you that we are in a hell of a better place than we were a few years ago and that journey is what I want to talk about today.
When I opened the dance studio in 2011, I was so preoccupied with my business and making that a success, I neglected a lot of other aspects of my life during that time. I put all of my attention and focus into that and didn’t have much left for anything or anyone else (including my own SELF). In my mind, we were pretty set in the flow of our relationship by this point, therefore, we didn’t need to “work” on it. We could just let it be and focus on the stuff that was more out of our control and tricky. Marriage was like “set it and forget it” to me during that time.
I figured if your marriage needed a lot of “work” then you were just married to the wrong person – marriage should be easy if you are with the right person! I think I viewed this “work” as something you only did if you were feeling a lot of pain or if you were always fighting. “Work” was fixing a blatant problem. Now I can see that “working” on your marriage doesn’t have to mean that something has gone wrong or that you only do it when you are on the brink of divorce. Working on your relationship can simply mean communicating, sharing, and loving. It’s keeping a connection on all levels – mental, emotional, physical – and that is what we lost during this time.
By now you are familiar with what was going on in my life circa 2017 – if not, circle back to those blogs listed at the top of this page! All of the unhappiness I was feeling in my business was creeping out into most of the other areas of my life. When you feel certain feelings that are being generated from one part of your life, (ie. frustration, annoyance, anger, short-temper, dissatisfaction, etc.) it’s really easy to let those feelings carry over and bleed into everything else. When you get stuck in seeing the negative side of things, that’s literally all you can see and you just generate more of it. Once you get on the poo-poo train, it’s hard to get off!
I would view everything Dan said or did through a negative perspective. I had all these expectations of how he should act, the things he should do, and I’d get so annoyed when he didn’t meet those expectations. To me, he never listened to anything I said. (Now, during this time, Dan had plenty of shit going on himself. Both of his parents who have now passed were very sick at the time. He had his own career going on. And like me, he didn’t really know how to deal with his negative emotions either.)
So we basically fueled our own disconnected, frustrated, and annoying relationship. The day might start with me feeling full of rage because he left the kitchen a wreck after making breakfast. “Why does he always do this? How freakin’ hard is it to rinse out the sink and wipe the counter? He must do this to drive me crazy!” And that would set the tone of all of our interactions for the day. We couldn’t have a ‘nice’ time together so we just started spending time apart. I would go do things with my friends or family and leave him at home because I didn’t even want to be around him. One thing he would say or do would have me pissed for days. I couldn’t let it go or move on.
After I had officially sold the company and that stress was over I was trying to figure out where to go from there. I remember thinking, “This huge weight has been lifted off of me, but why do I still want to punch Dan in the face all the time?” I just figured once I could get rid of that major frustration in my life, I’d immediately feel amazing about everything. The thing was, we hadn’t done any “work” yet to reconnect. I could imagine what our marriage could be like and how it could be better, I just hadn’t taken any specific action to get there.
How we reconnected…
So, we had a big ‘come to Jesus’ meeting as they say. Late one night, we just talked and talked about everything that had been going on in our lives and in our marriage, what we thought and how we felt. What we wanted things to look like and how we could get there – what would need to change and how we could both be accountable. This was basically the first time we’d ever had a conversation like this – not kidding.
And from there, everything was perfect! Hahah, I wish that’s all it took!
I started to see that my relationship was a choice. I could choose to wake up each day, get annoyed and angry, hold on to that for days, and wonder if we should go our separate ways. OR I could choose to wake up and love. That’s it. Loving Dan was a choice. Seeing everything that happened in the day from a loving perspective instead of searching for things to get pissed over, because that definitely didn’t serve me in the past. Was that easy, yes and no. No because I’d been seeing the negative for so long. But also yes because I knew I wanted that better life. I didn’t want to get divorced and start over with someone else. I realized with certainty that I just wanted to create the marriage I desired with the man I had. And as soon as we started making our marriage a priority, that’s what we were able to do.
It wasn’t long that I learned about mindset management and ‘the model’ and how it can be applied to your relationships. I know I keep saying it, but if I’d had these tools sooner, I can’t even imagine how much easier and more pleasant my world could have been. I’ve shared a lot of what I’ve learned about how to deal with negative emotions and how changing your thoughts about a circumstance can create whatever feelings and end results you desire to Dan and it’s helped him a lot too.
We committed to having monthly ‘check-ins’ where we discuss all of our thoughts and feelings about everything going on in our life currently. We talk about anything we are struggling with or anything that came up for us in the last 30ish days that we weren’t satisfied with. This communication seems so simple, but it really helps us maintain a ‘connectedness’ that we were lacking in the past.
We both have a lot more patience for each other and we can let go of our feelings of annoyance so much more quickly. I won’t let one negative thought about why he still leaves a mess in the sink mean that I should hate him for the rest of the week! Now I just try to laugh and accept that that’s just how he rolls – I can choose to feel angry about that or not, that’s on me, not him.
When you choose to look for love and positivity, you find it. You just have to make the choice to do so. I have so much more love and positivity in my life now, it’s unreal to me how I was functioning before – even when I still thought of myself as a pretty ‘positive’ person….what?!?! Makes me laugh now, looking back. I guess it’s because I didn’t see the ‘problem’ as me – it was everyone else. Well, everyone might be the problem, but you get to choose whether to view it as a something to be upset over or not.
So now I “work” on my marriage. I work on it and myself daily. It’s just that my definition and perspective of what “work” is, has changed. “Work” doesn’t have to mean you are trying to fix something, it just means having an awareness and making an effort to create what you desire. If you would like some help learning about how to implement some “work” on your relationship, I’d love for you to request a free consult call where we can chat about you and your journey!