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dissecting my marriage

August 9, 2011

Sometimes I treat my blog as my own personal journal. This is one of those time. Today I am talking about my marriage.

In my more insecure days it wasn’t enough for Keith to tell me that he loved me. I wanted to him to tell me why he loved me. The why was more important than hearing the actual words. Now it’s usually a joke between us. Every so often if I say, “I love you” he will grin and say, “oh yeah? Why?” This usually results in me rolling my eyes and giving him a playful shove. But it got me thinking about what exactly love means to me. I also am reading The Happiness Project for my book club (Actually I am reading it aloud to Keith every night) and there is an entire chapter dedicated to what she does to improve her marriage. She explains that her marriage is/was fine to being with but that there was always ways to make things better. I totally agree with that. No one person is perfect so therefore no marriage with two people is perfect.

Gretchen Rubin, the author, talks about a few points and a couple of them really hit home for me. One was to “Fight Right.” She talks about how every couple fights and that research shows that it isn’t about how often you fight but how dirty you fight that affects your happiness. Here’s the thing. I am a dirty fighter. I am a hit-below-the-belt-and-keeping-on-punching type of fighter. I am quick to anger, quick to blow up and fairly quick to calm down. Keith, on the other hand, is a slow boiler and tends to be a little more passive aggressive in his fighting techniques. In looking at our families I think it is safe to say that we learned these behaviors. Neither one is good but it is just the way we both are. Recognizing it and then working on it is the best way to try to “fight right” so that we (even when we are upset and angry) can still show our love for one another. We’re working on it. I am working on not seeing how loud I can scream and what comment I can make that will be the meanest and Keith is working on letting me know when I start to irritate him rather than waiting 2 months and make passive comments along the way. I have heard of all kinds of techniques in which people fight holding hands or fight naked. I don’t think I am there yet…but working on using an indoor voice instead of a pitch that would rival most NFL coaches in the lockeroom is something I can start with.

Another thing Gretchen talks about that really hit home for me was her need for gold stars. What does that mean? Basically she needs constant praise and recognition for a job well done. When I got to this part in the book Keith was literally trying to stifle his laughter to the point where he was snorting. 😉 It is so true. Keith is really great at handing out “gold stars” when he appreciates something I have done but when he doesn’t I feel like he doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. This is entirely NOT true and reading about Gretchen’s experience made me realize that Keith is very appreciative of everything I do even if he doesn’t tell me every single minute. So instead I am focusing on doing things like making the bed, cleaning the kitchen, etc, not because I want Keith to say good job but because those things really do make me more happy.

Gretchen also talks about not taking her husband for granted. I think Keith and I both do this without realizing it and we both got a reality check this past summer. We both went on vacations that didn’t include the other. First I went to Arizona to see Katie and Lori and then about a month later Keith went to San Diego with some of his friends. When I got home from my vacation Keith kept telling me he realized how much I do around the house. And then when Keith was gone I realized how much he does. I was literally exhausted when Keith got home. I think it helped us both to see that we each have important roles in making our lives and household run smoothly. So whenever I start to feel like I am doing everything myself I think back to when Keith was gone when I really was doing everything myself and I realize that we are both working together a a team.

Finally let’s talk about snapping. I will use it in an example. I have a competitive streak. I hate to lose. To the point where sometimes doing things with me isn’t soooo much fun. I want to win all the time. I am trying to let that go a little. Scrabble would be a lot more fun if I didn’t pout when Keith gets a triple word. Why not just tell him good job on a great play? It doesn’t make me feel good when I snap some biting comment. All this does is make me feel guilty and ashamed of my behavior and then because I feel so guilty I snap again. Not because I am mad at Keith but because I am mad at myself for acting so childish. So I am working on being more aware of the comments that come out of my mouth and if I do slip and snap at Keith I am trying to recognize it before continuing the cycle.

So there it is. All the things that one book made me think about. It’s a great book and I think that it has something for everybody in it. Above all it makes me realize how lucky I am to have Keith. We are a great team with a lot of love between us and that is really special.

Do you do any of the things I mentioned above?

What do you think the biggest challenge is in a relationship?

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2011 7:09 am

    I have some issues with nagging. Jason says that it’s not that bad, but I hear myself getting on him for a bunch of stuff (mostly health related stuff). I just don’t know how to get him to listen. I guess what this really boils down to is that I think I can change some things about him when I can’t. That’s my main issue.

    • August 9, 2011 7:47 am

      She talks about that in the book too. She has a section on accepting what can not be changed. It talks about how some things are not ever going to change and at some point it will make you both happier if you just accept it and move forward. Don’t get me wrong…that aint easy!

  2. August 9, 2011 8:16 am

    I really want to get this book! I’d already heard great things, but you just sealed it for me. Unfortunately, I’m a dirty fighter, too. Often forgoing the original topic of argument, and dredging up some stupid hurt or insecurity of Meeker’s, just so I can win. Makes me feel so immature, but it’s like the stuff flies out of my mouth and I can’t stuff it back in until it’s already done damage. I’ve been more aware of it lately, so I hope that’s a step in the right direction!

  3. August 9, 2011 8:29 am

    Darren and I are both really stubborn, and if we have an argument it will go on, and on, and on because neither one of us will give up. Since we’ve known each other for so long also, he has a hard time letting go of mistakes I may have made in the past. He’ll still bring up things I did at 17, but he’s trying to move on!

  4. August 9, 2011 9:13 am

    I fight dirty too. Its awful. I say mean things, and will do whatever it takes to win. And as for the snapping, I’m the same way. My ex and I stopped playing any competitive games or sports together. It always caused a fight when I didn’t win. Once I actually threw the Trivial Pursuit board on the floor.

  5. August 9, 2011 9:15 am

    Peter and I are pretty good about fighting “nicely” but I know we could work on not taking each other for granted as much and I know I also succumb to the “gold star” effect too. It’s so easy to just go with the flow and forget how much WORK marriage really takes and that it is worth it. Great post, Kelly! 🙂

  6. Stephanie permalink
    August 9, 2011 9:24 am

    I am also a dirty fighter. I’m so glad I’m not alone (no offense ladies that all posted they are too). Afterwards I always feel like such a horrible human being. 😦 Relationships are definitely hard work. Joe (my bf) and I have been together 5 yrs & have a 4 month old. Recently he has moved out. We have not broken up but living together is so hard. Although I always said that I can’t share my house with anyone. I like to do what I want when I want. I know that sounds horrible but we work together so much better when he’s not living here. He is a GREAT father though & always sees Randy.

  7. August 9, 2011 9:31 am

    O.M.G. I swear you are me. Kelly clones? I blow up, I snap (I had the nickname Snappy Turtle), and I always need reassurance that Lee loves me. I always ask him why he loves me and tell him that I’m almost postive that he loved me more when we first met. I’m crazy like that!

  8. August 9, 2011 10:07 am

    Now I really want to get that book. Sounds like it would be beneficial in any marriage!
    I kind be so emotional sometimes- like not crying & all of that- but my emotions can be a crazy mess sometimes..and I’m so thankful that my husband understands- just a lot of stress & crazy stuff going on in my life…just like in EVERYONE else’s lives too. I just get too caught up in the moment sometimes. I’m also grateful to have a husband that deals with all of my crazy issues (Crohn’s & all- haha 🙂 )- he’s always very encouraging about it all. I tend to look at the negative stuff sometimes too much..rather than trying to be POSITIVE & see the good in everything.

  9. August 9, 2011 11:33 am

    Kelly this post definitely makes me want to pick up that book. I fight dirty too — I say the meanest things and instantly regret it — but it is too late. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know “how” to fight without saying mean things. I usually end up so frustrated because I feel like I’m not communicating my feelings properly.

  10. Steph permalink
    August 9, 2011 11:48 am

    Hi Kelly! My friend and I are doing a long distance book club reading a chapter each month then talking (or texting) about it with The Happiness Project too. I’m not a dirty fighter but more like Keith… I’m working on it 😉 it’s so true that after being together for a long time we start to take our partners for granted or feel like they are not carrying their weight. I know I don’t give Chris enough gold stars!

  11. August 9, 2011 12:19 pm

    My sister-in-law read this book, which was great for her and my brother. I hope it is the same for you.

  12. August 9, 2011 12:39 pm

    Love this post! You are like a combination of my husband and I 😉 He is the dirty, kick you when you’re down fighter, I’m more the passive aggressive one. But I also am one of those people who needs the gold stars, wants to be told that I’m doing things right…
    Awhile ago we addressed our fighting styles. Also, I find that no matter how awkward it is, its best to be direct and confront things as soon as possible. It hurts way less than letting things fester or having a nasty fight.

  13. August 9, 2011 12:40 pm

    I loved reading this in anticipation of my upcoming marriage. Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. August 9, 2011 1:47 pm

    I am so the blow up and yell really hurtful things person (which you know as having been my roommate – ha). Having Trent has helped b/c I don’t want to him to hear/see me act that way. Sad it took that to get me to make changes, but I’m working on it…

    My biggest challenge is not appreciating Brent. I feel like I nag him all the time about what he’s not doing rather than thanking him for what he is doing!

    • August 9, 2011 2:17 pm

      It’s a struggle for all of us! You and Brent are so special…not many people can say they married their high school sweetheart!

  15. August 9, 2011 4:29 pm

    I definitely succumb to the gold star thing. I’m always looking for compliments on things I do. thanks for writing about this book, I’m going to check it out.

  16. August 9, 2011 7:19 pm

    This book is on the list of books I want to read. I love books that give us a new perspective on our life and make us conscious of our tendencies. Wonderful post! Now I’m even more curious about getting my hands on that book!

  17. August 10, 2011 2:26 pm

    Great post. I think the biggest challenge is just keeping the relationship going strong through all the life stages and realizing that what worked in one stage may not work in another. I need more ‘gold stars’ now that I’m home full time and not getting recognition from an employer. Yet, when I was working, I needed different things.

    We, along with several friends, are hitting the 10 year marriage mark and are sadly starting to see some divorces. I think it’s made us appreciate each other and what we have even more, as well as want to work hard to keep our marriage strong (and fun).

  18. August 10, 2011 3:15 pm

    Ummm you are pretty much describing me and my fiance…crazy! I am going to check this book out…sounds like the perfect read for me. Thanks for sharing a personal part of your life. 🙂

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