Almost exactly a year ago, Jeff and I considered divorce. We were in a rut. We weren't communicating, we were blaming the other person, and we weren't advocating for one another. We were in love, but we didn't know how to love. Scratch that, I didn't know how to love correctly.
A story for another day, but I could summarize it with a Kane Brown song.
I didn't know what love was. Thought it was just a word that people used. Until they said goodbye. Until they go and find someone new.
I was looking at marriage all wrong. I saw my spouse as disposable. And when things weren't going the way I expected, I was ready to give up and move on. As Kane Brown sings, I didn't know what love was.
I learned I was setting all the wrong examples through learned behavior as a child. I would shut down conversations or hide because that was my coping method. I would assume the worst in many meaningless disagreements. The worst thing I was doing, though, was tearing my spouse down. Through my behavior, I was shutting him out and destroying our trust & relationship.
I didn't come to these realizations myself, though. It took a fantastic therapist to help me see what I was doing. After I started assuming positive intent and boosting my spouse's confidence, our household took a complete 360 turn.
I genuinely believe that I have three critical tips for a successful relationship. We are make-you-want-to-vomit in love with each other now. Ask any of our kids, close friends, or family. And if you've been following me for a while, you've probably noticed too.
I'm publicly and intimately cheering him on every single day. He deserves to know how great he is.
Tessa's not so scientific but proven accurate tips for a happy marriage or relationship
- Never assume malicious intent
- Be your spouses biggest cheerleader
- Tell them everything
Never assume malicious intent
This one works for all relationships, not just marriage. If you trust someone enough to engage in a relationship with them, why would you ever assume they were leading with malicious intent? Yet we do it all the time. We assume that our spouse intended to put away the groceries wrong or forget to buy something at the store. Yet, we all do the same things, and it's never maliciously intended.
I try to remember this when my daughter leaves her tiny Peppa Pig toys all over the floor for me to step on when I tuck her in at night. Thinking to myself, "she's not trying to hurt my feet on purpose; she doesn't understand the consequences of her actions," while wanting to yell out in pain and frustration.
Be your spouses biggest cheerleader
Somehow, throughout relationships, it seems easy to forget all the things that make your spouse so great. It's easy to fall trap of not being there to support them. Especially once you start having kids and you stop prioritizing your spouse altogether.
I fell trap in putting my career first, my family second, and my spouse last. I forgot that together, we're a team. We need to be a united force, solid and ready to take on the world together. Anything less makes life feel nearly impossible.
Marriage is having a best friend to navigate life with forever.
Tell them everything
When Jeff reads this blog post, he's going to have words about this one. Not communicating is the most significant area of struggle for me. Shutting people out and remaining in control without emotions is my coping method. If I never share things, I never have to talk about them.
Wrong. If I never share things, I have to talk about them and then some ten years later in therapy. And wonder why I didn't improve myself sooner.
Women tend to share almost everything with their best friends. As you share your innermost secrets with your bestie, you should do the same with your spouse. If you're a united force, they need to know when you're feeling weak. They will need to step in and probably work harder than usual. I think we can all relate to the desire to be informed.
We needed to get here to make it through our crisis
I won't even get into the details of what I'm calling my "crisis of 2021." We had more badness than one family should endure over ten years in a matter of 4-6 weeks.
I was tired. I've been through a lot, emotionally and mentally, in my career, and I was tired of always having to fight so hard. I almost quit my job and gave up on many things that bring me joy in life. When Jeff is usually the one to worry in these situations, he was my rock. He supported me and pulled me out of one of the deepest depressions of my life.
Our previous marriage would have crumbled under this much pressure. Yet, somehow, when we had the most stress of our entire lives all at the same time, our relationship stayed strong and united. Only bringing us closer together as we finally approach the other side—still, with many consequences and losses, we'll never get back again.
At least we have each other, and now that is something I know will last until death does us part.