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“Never?'  I said  (my facial expression surely changing to one of bewilderment, shock and awe)

“Nope.  Never.  We’re best friends.”

It was in that moment that I :

a) knew we would never be close friends and

b) was thankful for the friends I currently had in my life.

It’s not that I wasn't happy for her, it’s just that I didn't particularly believe her.  And if I did believe her I wasn't sure I knew how to be around someone who didn't feel things on such an emotional level that it caused her life to always be full of rainbows and unicorns.  My face clearly had not moved from its contortion because she followed her statement with, “do y’all fight a lot”?  ‘What? Who us? Ummm no, well yes, sometimes, we are good though, really’. 

I cannot relate to you…. where is the closest EXIT??? 

I must admit that on the drive home I did think about what she had said and the weight it held, if any.  Was she being truthful with me?  With herself?  Who cared right?  Not me.  Well maybe I did just a little.  Maybe it made me question how often my husband and I did argue, was it a lot? Was it a little? Was it normal?  Should I try harder to be a wife like her?  One that didn't argue with her husband?  One that didn't have an opinion, a view, an identity?  I’m not saying she was any of the above, but if I was someone who didn't have differing opinions of my husband, someone who didn't stand up for those opinions, then that is what I would be - I knew this for certain, I would be numb. Numb.  If someone asked me one word to describe my husband it would be “passionate”, on every level, in every aspect of his life.  I struggle with my patience (or lack there of) - he blames it on my French and Irish roots.  Me?  I don't know if there is really a need to blame anything - it's just our personalities, it's who we are.  We are both passionate, we are both stubborn, we both love hard

Remember the newness of your relationship when it first started?  When you were on your best behavior at all times?  When you still had your own individual life?  Your problems were your own, the responsibility shared with no one.  If something went wrong, you only had yourself to blame.  

Bachelorette party - 25 years old - I thought I knew everything.  In hindsight, I knew nothing, except that I was madly in love with the man I was about to marry - it even said so on my t-shirt.

When you stood at the altar and said, "I do, through good times and in bad" - did you really think about what that meant?  Or were you in a wedding day daze, blissfully happy and no one was going to bring you down by making you think of anything other than how amazing life was going to be.  Nothing bad was ever going to happen, you would always be as happy as you were in that moment.   

October 14, 2000.  Living on blind faith that all our dreams would come true.  

The joys of becoming new parents, the struggle of not becoming new parents.  The struggle of being new parents with no sleep, no freedom, no shower, no time to yourself.  It doesn't make you a bad person to feel this way but you don't dare say the words out loud to anyone or god forbid your precious new baby or your growing toddler.  Where does that frustration go? How is it released? 

Having 4 babies in 9 years is not for the weak.. physically or mentally!  They are my greatest joy but have taken me to places on the emotional spectrum I did not even know existed!  Kids Photo: Brooke Boling

Or maybe it has nothing to do with kids.  A job loss, financial troubles, what happened to the life you envisioned you would have?  Bills adding up, that mortgage payment that's due.  Why don't you live in the kind of house your friends are living in?  Why do the external woes you are facing make you feel like you are drowning and every time you think you've gotten it together here comes another wave?  You don't want to share this with anyone else. Where does that frustration go? How is it released?

Well for most of us it's released on the person we feel most comfortable with.  The person we feel safest with - the one that can see us at our worst behavior and still love us the same when we are finished acting that way.  Weird right?  The people we love the most and feel the safest with are also the ones we feel comfortable being our worst around?  Because we know that they love us unconditionally - right?  Everyone has a breaking point, everyone. 

It's easy to be happy and kind to everyone around you when things are going great - how many people argue while on a tropical vacation without their kids?  When they get a big promotion at work?  When they are able to balance their check books at the end of the month?  When life is going great?  It's easy to speak nicely and be generous to others when life is good.  The real test, the real challenge is how you treat others when life is not so great.  The human body, the human soul, is not bulletproof - understand that your words towards someone who loves you can be just as strong as bullets.  

Be each other's biggest cheerleader - life will give you plenty of people who will try and bring you down.  

My feeling on this subject (and again, its just my opinion) is that it's not so much WHETHER you argue, it's HOW you argue.  It's the WORDS that you use.  Are you trying to resolve the problem or solely worried about being right?  Do the words you use point you in the direction of resolution or are you going for the jugular?  This can change arguing into fighting, fighting dirty.  You know what I mean when I say that, fighting dirty ... do you push their buttons so that they'll feel the same way you are feeling?  Do you point blame in their direction? Make them feel like "YOUR" joint problems lay solely on them?  Do you stray off topic of what the argument is actually about, does it become personal instead of factual?  When you name call and bring up someone else's shortcomings it shows them that you don't respect them as a person, you don't value their self esteem, their self worth.  This is when arguing turns to fighting dirty and it's a one way ticket to disaster, to failure, to the end.  

My husband and I have been married for 16 years, together for 21 - believe me, we have had our fair share of arguments.  We have been through ups and downs that life threw us unexpectedly - that we didn't ask for, weren't necessarily equipped to handle.  He has been there on the worst day of my life and he has been there on the best.  We have seen each other at our worst and at our best and everything in between. He respects me enough not to push the buttons he knows he could.  

One of my favorite photos.  I was 7 months pregnant with our daughter and had just watched my husband win his 5th CCMA of the night.  This hug represented so much more than just winning an award.  It was a, "We did it, together.  No one else knows what it took for us to get here, together".   

Be kind, be compassionate, be understanding of one another.  If you don't have anything nice to say than say nothing, leave the room and take a breath.  There is nothing wrong with differing opinions, it's what makes us unique from one another.  It's about being able to disagree and still work it out, to apologize if it was our error, to not leave scars on the other persons heart, their self esteem.  

I love this quote I recently saw, "Marriage is like a house.  When a light goes out you don't buy a new house.  You replace the bulb" - @fiercemarriage ..... Think of your words as those bulbs.  If every time you replaced a light bulb it immediately went out again you'd eventually stop trying to replace it, stop trying to fix it.  It's not about IF or WHY you argue, it's about how you get to a resolution.  Your words have the power to brighten or dim your spouse - choose them wisely.






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  • What an amazing story. You both are such inspirations for so many people. What a great story. I’m sure when you took that photo at 25, you couldn’t have imagined the great life you’d be blessed with. Love your writing, keep doing it. ?

    LInda on

  • I just found your blog today! Very happy I did, I seriously love your thoughts on this. So true!

    Gerty on

  • Wow! Jen What a great read. So true Keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading .Fantastic blog

    Doreen Duke on

  • On April 1, 2017 we will have been married 50 years. We’ve been asked numerous times what our secret is and I’ve always said things like, love, respect, doing for one another and kind of brushed it off. You have written the best answer I’ve ever read. I don’t perhaps insist on my opinion being heard as much as it sounds like you do (good for you) but it’s that respect and love that keep you from attacking one another.
    Thank you for writing this. I’m sure it will help others.

    LInda Temple on

  • Well done ??

    KAri e on

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