8 ways to make sure you have a perfect marriage.

Listen up! These 8 tips will ensure that you have a stress-free, perfect, happy marriage. 

 

1. Always make sure to….STOP TAKING ADVICE FROM LISTS ONLINE.

 

What is the obsession with these “How To” posts? Holy smokes! Do you really think that reading through an article for 5 minutes is going to tell you how to have the perfect marriage/relationship/friendship/job/life? While I cannot argue that there’s a touch of good advice in there, it’s not going to do what it promises it will. 

It’s frustrating. 

Just last week I fell into the “list” trap, and read an article titled, “How you know the guy you’re dating is the guy you need to marry”. Just like anyone would, I read and compared, read and compared. Awesome! Andrew does that, oh and he does that too! Okay, we are looking good!

Oh shoot, Andrew doesn’t do that.

…Does that mean he wasn’t the right guy to marry?

Yeah, because basing my life decisions on a list that someone typed up is a great idea, right? Wrong!

I can tell you why they’re so popular. Fear. Nobody tells you what you’re supposed to do when you get into a relationship. There’s no instructions, there’s no list of rules, there’s no way to ensure you don’t end up another sad statistic.

The divorce rate in America is over 50%. Don’t you think that if it were as simple as reading a list to have a great union, that percentage would be astronomically smaller?
Instead of looking to the internet to give us a cookie cutter layout of how to be the perfect spouse, or friend, or partner, why don’t we instead look to people we are seeing do it in REAL LIFE.  

Andrew and I have both been extremely fortunate to have been able to have friendships with, and be mentored by people who have been married and have tremendous wisdom in that area. Real people, not internet lists. It’s been crucial for us, and we’ve learned a lot in the last (almost) year.

However, that does not mean we have the “perfect” marriage, and I am so, so, glad that we don’t. I can’t imagine such a lack of passion that would illicit no bumps in the road. 

We fight, we say things we don’t mean, and we feel hopeless sometimes.
BUT, we also feel joy like we never knew we could experience, comfort in the deepest way possible, and love we never thought we would.

I’m so thankful that our marriage is what it is; totally and completely OURS.

I have a heart condition.

If home is where your heart is, then somebody call a cardiologist. This heart of mine is all over the place. Florida, California, Arizona, heck maybe a little in Texas too. I’ve got friends and family strung all across the good ole USA.

You know, the heart is arguably the most important of all the body’s organs, and it was about time I gave mine a check up.

I had called Andrew a few weeks ago, pretty upset, wondering if we had made the wrong decision. I asked him to pray for us, (which he did) that we would see a sign indicating whether or not we had made the right choice to do this whole long distance marriage thing.

The next day, my boss called me into his office.

As a child who was never sent to the principals office, I suffer from something I like to call “never sent to the principals office syndrome”.. (creative, I know). That is, every time an authority figure calls me into their office, or asks me to step aside with them, I immediately think I’ve done something wrong.

This case was no different. Joey asked me to sit down, he then pulled out a packet of paper.

              -“What’s this?”

Breathe Brooke, breathe.
I’m running through scenarios in my head trying to figure out if I’ve slacked off in some area, or I’ve done something wrong. Nothing is coming to mind. Okay, out with it boss man before I get much more cerebral..

             -“Well Brooke, you’re getting a huge raise, congratulations! I’ll just need you to look over your new compensation plan, sign, and you’re good to go!”

Needless to say, that was our sign.

Okay, now I’ve got some clarity, but that doesn’t help this heart condition I have.

So, Andrew and I made this plan to drive to Lake Charles, Louisiana for the weekend. 6.5 hours per person (ew I hate driving). However after looking into it a little more, he realized driving all that way would put him out of “the range”(which stops in NOLA) to leave his duty station without asking for leave (which is just about as easy to get approved as it would be to herd cats), so it was going to be a risky, stressful adventure, at best.

It got me thinking. If we’re going to see each other for the first time in 6 weeks, I don’t want it to be after a long drive, with stress hanging above our heads like a cumulonimbus. You know what? Life is too short. The saying, however cliche has stood the test of time. For good reason, It’s true. And it’s truer yet when you’ve been missing the one you love like crazy.

After a couple phone calls, a dash of data usage, some grouponing and A LOT of impulsivity I had a confirmation number for both a Southwest flight and a room at the Omni Royal New Orleans hotel.

Naturally I called my mother to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I was pleasantly given anything but reprimand and was told to have a great time.

After my verbal thumbs up, I avoided my bank account and my sense of practicality and boarded my flight for New Orleans, Louisiana.

It’s so weird, but I get SO nervous about seeing Andrew when it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. Is he going to think I look pretty? Will he notice that I begrudgingly lost 3 lbs? Is it going to be the same like it always was?

I was shaking when I saw his truck stuck in the molasses of traffic outside the arrival gates. I ran into the street, practically shrieking and jumped high enough to kiss him through his window.

What a weekend, it was everything and anything I could have asked for it to be.

No, I didn’t fall in love with Andrew all over again, because I never stopped being love with him. It is so amazing to be reminded that you were made for somebody, and they for you. Being married to your best friend is amazing. I highly recommend it. 

The woman checking my ticket on the way to New Orleans asked me if I was headed home. I almost said no, until I realized who I was going to see. I was going home, I was going where my heart is.  

I’m so glad I didn’t peak in high school.

At one point, it was a life goal of mine to be the girl that sits on the sidelines at the football game, wearing the star quarterback’s letterman jacket.

She runs out to the field after the game, jumps in his arms, literally wins high school in a single fleeting moment…

When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I settled into the aspiration of getting the chance to wear any one of the football players’ letterman jackets.
When I realized that too wasn’t going to happen for my acne-faced 5’11” taller-than-99%-of-the-guys-16 year old self, well..

I just bought my own.
                (And I had some legit patches on there too.)
letterman                                As you can see, I was going to wear that letterman one way or another. 

It is crazy to look back and think about the amount of value I put into being the girlfriend, or even just the “exclusive jacket-wearer” of the star athlete. Or just having all the boys like me. Or just having ONE boy like me (haha). It’s crazy to think that at the time I was absolutely crushed that it was never me, but instead my friends. I hated it then, but OH how I am thankful for it now.

As useless of a skill set you might think this is, I learned a lot from my predicament as the #foreveralone girl in high school.

1. I avoided drama almost completely. While this may seem like a bit of an anomaly for a high-school girl, its true. And, sorry boys, but 99% of the time it’s you who are causing the drama within the already hormonal and crazy girl circle. My job was more of the “conflict moderator”, not the “conflict partaker”, which made for a stress-free and drama-free four years of high school.

2. I didn’t care how I came off to pretty much everyone. Since I gave up on the idea of dating anyone in high school, I had the chance to completely be myself, branch out, get a job, and not care about the high school dating scene. Which as an adult I can now conclude is a practically a complete joke.

3. I’m a kick-ass third wheel. I don’t usually cuss but there’s really no better terminology for this one. My friend Kelly even used to ask me to go on first dates with her, to help move the conversation along/make things less awkward. I simply cannot tell you how many times I have sat in a movie theater solo, next to a friend and her boyfriend. My girlfriends loved it, I’m sure the guys hated it, but hey, none of my friends got pregnant in high school. Just sayin’.

I truly believe that a lot of my success and ability to branch out was attributed to this time in my life as a single high-school girl. I never had any reason to be tied down, or slowed down in what it was that I wanted to accomplish later in life.

It blows my mind that there are people from my high school doing the same thing, working the same job, making the same mistakes, just shy of being 5 years out of high school.

I’m not judging, I’m just saying I couldn’t have stayed stagnant like that.

My experience in high-school gave me the chance to eventually find something great; to not be afraid to commit to important things, namely God/Andrew/my marriage/my family/my job/my education.

I really envied those girls who had high-school completely dial-ed in, and hated that I’d never be on the inside of things, in that winners circle.

THANK GOD I WASN’T.