Just last month we celebrated 20 years of marriage.  It was a milestone that was worth celebrating because as wonderful and full of joy marriage can be, the real marriage is HARD work.  So, when we reach those milestones, its something to be proud of!

Letting go of the fairy tale

I’m not trying to be a downer here.  I honestly do believe that marriage is beautiful in every way but even after 20 years, I often find myself caught up in the fairy tale daydreams of what the “perfect” marriage should be like.  I think that sometimes we sell ourselves short waiting for the “perfect” part to show up.

Take our anniversary for example.  I envisioned that our 20 year anniversary would include some fancy trip where we would sit on a beach holding hands, reminiscing about our life together, and dreaming together what our next 20 years would look like.  And you know, that very well could have been the reality but this year we bought a business and decided to do a renovation on our kitchen so the romantic anniversary trip has been placed on the back burner.

Does this mean we don’t love each other? no! Does this mean we didn’t give our anniversary the attention it deserved? off course not.  We just found a less extravagant way to celebrate our day. Its called compromise.  Now THAT is a word that describes the real marriage.

After 20 years of being married, I feel like we’ve learned ALOT.  That doesn’t mean we always put into practice what we’ve learned #honest but we certainly have collected a ton of tools along the way and learned what works and what does not work and when we use the right tools, we do this marriage thing pretty good;) ha!

Unconditional Acceptance

Being a realtor, I use this word all the time.  When I write contracts for clients, we have this period of time where the contract is in a “conditional” stage.  This is the period of time that the Buyer has a chance to do their due diligence, research what their buying, and making sure they’re fully aware of the next step.  Once they’ve decided to remove their conditions, the contract is considered to be “unconditional” ie: firm and binding, no going back – COMMITTED –

Marriage requires a lot of this word.  Loving without conditions is a choice.  It can’t be “I’ll love you when you do this” or “I’ll love you if you act this way”.  Sometimes, unconditional in a marriage means I’m going to love you despite the challenges, because of your weaknesses, in every season, no matter what.

Timely Communication

This one is a big one.  Learning not only HOW to communicate with your spouse but WHEN.  Reading your spouse and understanding their signals and knowing when to “back off” is a really important key in communication.  Does that sound blunt? harsh? Just being REAL here:)

I’m STILL learning this one.  Dion would describe me as a fighter ha!  He would say that I’m in for the long haul when it comes to a negotiation (disagreement, misunderstanding, argument…call it as you want).  I’d like to say that I’m committed…ha!  yeah, committed to making my point known.

Even, if I AM right, I’ve had to learn to communicate in a way that is effective for Dion’s personality.  I’m best to drop my point, walk away, let him process and come back later.  This has taken….well, 20 years to learn, and I’m still working on this one.  Find out what kind of communicator you’re married to and this will be a very important breakthrough in your marriage.  Trust me!

Comparison is a thief

You guys, just don’t do it! I can’t stress this enough! If you get in the habit of comparing your marriage to your best friends marriage, or your spouse to someone else’s, you will find yourself in a spiral that leads to nowhere!

Just remember, we all showcase our best….which in itself isn’t the best but thats another blog post for another day.  Seriously though, what you’re seeing in another marriage is usually the best presentation and not the behind the scenes reality.

So imagine this, here you are, living in the behind the scenes of your marriage but comparing your marriage to the show room presentation of someone else’s.  You’re bound to be disappointed right?

Save yourself the unrealistic disappointments and let comparison end today.

Ask for help

This might be the most important lesson we’ve learned.  Life brings struggles, seasons get hard, sometimes so hard that you feel like you’ve circled the same tree over and over and keep ending up in the same place.

You end up at a wall and your personal opinions or views are just not lining up.  Sometimes these times can seem so hopeless and filled with desperation.  It doesn’t help when you’re trying to hold up that fairy tale picture perfect view for the world because theres a silly stigma that to need help must mean you’re weak, or you’ve failed, or something ridiculous like that.

The best choice we could have ever made was to reach out, tell people we were struggling, get an outside opinion, hear some wisdom, and have someone else speak truth into our situation.

Counselling is my favourite! Sure it digs around under the surface and bring out some of the ugly going on but once you get through the ugly it helps you see the gem thats hidden under the baggage.  I know for our marriage with a very communicative extrovert and a barely communicative introvert, counselling was what saved our marriage.  Thats right.  Our marriage has gotten to places where it felt hopeless…gasp..shocking right?  I’m quite sure were not the only ones:)

Choose Joy

Regardless of what type of marriage season you find yourself in right now, my encouragement to you would be to always try and find Joy.  Sometimes even just a small perspective switch can make all the difference.  Have fun together, laugh together, make the most of the good times because they will carry you through the hard times.  Be silly, keep love alive in all areas (you know what I mean there;))

Above all, enjoy your marriage, love your spouse, and be thankful daily that you GET to do life together:)

I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the Real Marriage.  Whether you’re on cloud 9 loving every detail right now or you’re feeling a bit hopeless, just know that you’re not alone, and there are plenty of other couples working through “all the things” too.  I’m always up for a chat as well!  Message me if you just need some encouragement today:)

I also want to give a shout out to my friend Bernine Marie who took these photos of us to celebrate our 20th year.  These are a keepsake that we will treasure for years to come!  

Until next time,