I’m a closet romantic. Took me 8 months to get a date with the woman who is now my wife and after almost 20 years together, I still love her…and more importantly, she still loves me – which she would tell you hasn’t always been easy. But let’s be honest, this “happily ever-after” thing is work – and there are days it is all just about “getting through tomorrow” and keeping the romance alive just one more day.
Just a few days ago I made the cardinal sin of “over-ruling” my wife on a parenting matter…not behind closed doors, but in front of our daughters. I was exerting my “manhood” and foolishly provided our little combatants vital intel on how to divide the commanding force.
Since my wife and I are both trained and skilled in conflict resolution, we of course gave our daughters an immediate lesson on how not to do it right then and there. My 9 year old quipped, “When you two are done, let us know.” Yep. That was a proud moment – and I, the “expert” was the catalyst.
I could be alone on this, but after years of being in this industry, I know I’m not the only one who pushes the boundaries on “happily ever-after.” Studies and current relationship numbers indicate I’m not alone, but rather sadly that my wife and I are quickly becoming a rare breed that pushes through “those moments” as opposed to giving up and starting over (truth be told, neither one of us can imagine “starting over.” It took this long to accomplish where we are in our relationship).
So how is one supposed to push through the moments of multiple deployments, uncertainty, unresolved issues, parenting, (insert here whatever you are dealing with), and arrive at “happily ever-after?”
Here’s the bottom line: You got to work at it. Listen, if we valued our relationships as much as we would value a million dollar investment, we’d be paying attention to how to improve our relationships on a daily basis. The real question is, “what value do you place on your relationship?”
Start by asking your partner these three questions:
1. What are three things I do that you really like? When you get the answer, do them. Don’t do the opposite.
2. What are three things I do that drive you crazy? When you get the answers, stop doing those.
3. What have I done in the past that made you feel loved? When you get the answer, do more of it.
After I apologized to my wife…and daughters…I walked into our bathroom and glanced up to see the battle-worn 3x5 card on the mirror with this question, “Would I want to be married to me?”
I shook my head, walked out and mumbled, “Just get me through tomorrow.”
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and CEO of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He is the recipient of several local and national awards for patriotism and commitment to military families. You can reach Mike at here.