It’s no secret that relationships are hard. You have to work at them all the time. Life happens and it changes people and you have to figure out how you still fit with your SO constantly. Here are a couple of ways to make your spouse feel like you’re still trying.
Ask about their day
And actually listen when they tell you. It may seem like such a small thing, but the little things build the foundation to support the large weight of a fundamentally strong relationship. I’m a stay at home mom currently, and now that my oldest is back in school, life doesn’t vary day to day with a 19 month old. But it is still nice to be asked. Adult communication is vital for parents especially.
Ask about your partner’s dreams/aspirations
I’m a person that has trouble sometimes articulating my desires because it is very personal for me. I’ve had the sole identity of “mom” for so long that it is hard for me to think of doing anything else. But I want to, and I’m so excited about it. And I’m sure your partner is too. All you have to do is ask.
Support your partner
I feel like this one should go without saying, but it is often overlooked. This is kind of an umbrella category because it means so many things. Support their dreams, support their goals, support them emotionally and physically, support them against people who rail against them. Be there in every way for them.
Don’t hide things
I’m one of the brave souls of the world who doesn’t have a lock on their phone. I’m not passing judgement on anyone that does. My lack of passcode is more anxiety fueled because in the event of an accident I want first responders to be able to easily access my emergency contacts, but it’s also because at any given time, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to have anybody see the content of my phone. Want to see a bazillion pictures of my family or see the ridiculous conversations I have with my mom? Be my guest. I’m an open book. I won’t begrudge anybody their right to privacy, but if there is something on your phone that would hurt your partner, you’re doing something wrong. This heading really goes for communication in general. Don’t hide things. It might suck to hear the truth sometimes but it’s more painful to be left in the dark.
I’m not a relationship expert by any means. But there are basic things that I think people need to be reminded of. Life gets crazy and we sometimes forget to give our SO the attention they need. Check in with them and it’s amazing how smoothly that machine can run.
I celebrated eight years of marriage this past May and it made me look back at all the things we have been through together. It has very rarely been easy, but, more than anything, that has made me appreciate our union so much more. I was 20 years old when we wed and we had our first child the same year and it was a big whirlwind of crazy and magnificent. I was asked more than once why I was rushing it and my response was, why not? I was young and in love and I knew what I wanted and I haven’t looked back since.
So what have I learned in the last eight years? I’ve learned not to take time for granted. After 14 combined months of deployments, and a nightshift job, those stolen moments in the early mornings are the most important thing in the world. I’ve learned that neither of us are the same people that we were in the beginning, and it’s always exciting to fall in love again with new versions of ourselves. I’ve learned to communicate and trust because at the end of the day, he’s the one that is there to catch me when I fall, and it’s so much easier to get back up when you have a helping hand. I’ve learned that nothing is more attractive to me than watching my husband play with our beautiful children. I’ve learned to love myself again because he loves me and he shows me everyday.
We had a rough start, and it still isn’t always easy, but there is not one single person I would rather journey through life with. Just remember, everything is more satisfying the harder you work for it.
The PTO program at my 7y/o’s school is not quite as aggressive as the ones that are portrayed on television, but they have their moments. I remember walking into his school for the first time for the “Meet the Teacher” event before he started Kindergarten. We came in through the front door and we’re immediately accosted by a bright, smiling, as-stepford-as-she-could-get-in-north carolina-mom. She asked my husband and myself if we wanted to join the PTO. Her smile pierced my soul and I vaguely remember shaking my head yes, as if I were in some sort of trance. She asked us for five dollars and then cheerfully says, “Here! Have a Smencil!” The fuck is a Smencil? It’s a scented pencil. I distinctly remember ours smelling like root beer and myself being pregnant at the time, wanted to vomit. I walked around feeling dazed as we visited all the booths for kiddie sports leagues and clubs and then we went to meet our son’s teacher. After it was all over, we went to leave and had to pass the PTO booth again and were accosted once more and urged to join. After reminding the far-too-pleasant PTO seductress that we had already signed our lives away, we left with our Smencil, and without my soul.
After we got home, I called my mom and was telling her about the teacher and all the sports my son wanted to do and then I casually mentioned that I joined the PTO. Radio silence. And then my mom started laughing and asked me in between her hysterics why I would do such a thing. Let me explain something about myself, I am not the group activities kind of person. I am not introverted, I just don’t give a shit to sit in a circle jerk making bright colored posters that nobody pays attention to. It’s not that I don’t support their efforts, and I have no problem donating to the cause, but I don’t want to be involved like that. I quickly realized my grave mistake and I was horrified. When the time came for the first meeting, it turned out that only one of us would be able to attend, so my husband went. What a guy, right? I felt a little sorry he had to go. I’ve seen enough pornos to know what happens when you get a group of sexually frustrated moms together with apple juice and ginger snaps. It’s nothing anybody wants to see, so I didn’t feel THAT bad. He came home an hour later and reported that they just announced upcoming fundraisers and then were sent on their merry way. We paid five bucks for them to read off a piece of paper they sent home with my son for free? Needless to say, neither of us went back again.
Good on those parents that are willing to sit through those meetings and to come up with the different ways to raise money for the school, but I will not be one of them. I will, however, buy your doughnuts and your wrapping paper. You can keep your fucking Smencils though.