oh, hello people that made me a home to live in
and share your food with me
and listen to me cry
and share midnight laughs with me about bats being trapped in the bathroom
cool, this is my family.
And then you do that for a really long time (18 years give or take) and it's sort of like okay,
these are my people
and they get me
and I love and hate them at the same time
and its awesome.
I am lucky in that I have a truly amazing family (as does my husband) and although there are moments when we all feel like wringing a family member's neck - at the end of the day, these are the people that would go down swinging for me. no questions asked. These are the people whose name I hear and a little flame in my heart strikes up and whispers, 'mine.'
hey you - over there - random person that I really like.
How 'bout we both leave our families
(that we've known and been loving and making memories with for our whole lives)
and, ya know, just make up our own family together?
because that's how much I like you.
That's something I really love about marriage- that it's the conscious decision that you like being around someone enough that you want are choosing to create a brand new family (love/hate, go down swinging, 'mine' thing) with some random person out there in the world. Like out of every person on the planet that I really don't have to care about at all - I really freaking care about you. Let's get together for forever and make something new, like say, a family.
When B &I laugh at the same time in public at some obscure inside joke, when we have parties where my mum and mum-in-law are sitting together laughing with their grandkids on their laps, or I see our kids' faces light up at the sight of us, or when the kids giggle or share together or even when they egg each other into naughty, sneaky behavior, I think - we made that. We made a family (love/hate, go down swinging, 'mine' thing) where there was none before.
Brandon and I have been married for five years and together for nearly fourteen. We really freaking like each other. But that doesn't mean that marriage isn't hard. That we don't fight or disagree or need to find patience with each other's quirks and differences daily.
Brandon and I are both very, very different from each other - which is probably why we work so well, but can also lead to some disagreements that can feel like an impasse. And an impasse, a happy family does not make. (fyi: i had to look up correct yoda grammar)
Besides being different in lots of things, we also have different love languages (him: physical touch, me: quality time) which tends to leave each of us feeling neglected occasionally during busy weeks. In the heat of an argument, it's really hard to see any other perspective than your own (is this for everyone or just us?) so we have found it helpful to step away from speaking and write it out separately before coming together to talk about what we wrote.
Recently, we did an exercise to get down our feelings and also think reflectively on how we could each try differently/better/more effectively at making sure the other feels loved. We each had time to fill out a chart labeled with:
Ways I show you Love (purpose: Look! I do love you and here's my proof...the everyday variety)
Ways I feel Love (purpose: And actually, when I really think about it, you are giving me love that I sometimes take for granted because its the everyday variety - shame on me)
Ways to show Love to improve (purpose: I know there are things that I can do better to show you my love that I am not doing because we are so busy or tired or just plain lazy, I'm sorry. Taking note, now.)
Ways I'd like to feel Love (purpose: here are exact examples of how you can make me feel loved in the near future)
We don't have this displayed anywhere in our house or anything, but it was helpful to each have our own time to reflect and 'speak' our peace without the other's personal argument blinders up.
One of my improvements in the list was that I need to try harder to be visibly excited when B gets home from work. I (shamefully) am normally so tired at that point of the day that I toss him a quick, 'hey, how was your day' while trying to peel children off of me and reattach to him for a moment of freaking peace. I want to try harder to stop what I'm doing, take note of what it sounds like when he walks in the door, and relish in his arrival back home to us (is there any other part of our day that is exciting as that moment? the sound of the door handle clicking and sliding across the front carpet, dogs barking and wagging tails, kids shouting 'Daddy!', and his voice calling out, 'hello, family!'...why, oh why don't I cherish this more? It will be so short-lived, Tabitha, please do better).
Brand reflected that he wants to be more a part of our weekly routines by choosing certain evenings or weekends that are 'daddy days' or 'daddy cooks dinner days.' (sometimes it feels like we lose all routine/schedule when Daddy comes home which makes me feel unorganized and sort of invisible).
It's wasn't revolutionary by any means, but it was a helpful way for us to say what we needed to say and also look at ourselves as a contributor (probably main contributor) to the other's happiness and frustrations.
Being married to someone is no picnic everyday; it takes work and patience and so much personal reflection that it is downright silly. But when you get right down to it, the fact that we were two random people that have decided to make a family together -that of all the people out there that we've ever met (and those that we haven't yet), we chose each other to make a family where there was none before - that's pretty mind-blowing and amazing to me. Certainly worth any amount of work, patience, and personal reflection.