Marriage is work.This might be the most honest, bloody thing that was ever said. Truly.Nurturing your marriage is important, especially when you have a gaggle of children at your heels 24 hours a day. If you don't make time to address and attend to key components of your relationship, then your marriage is bound to crash and burn.No one wants to crash and burn, right? Here are some relationship goals from a real wife living the real life:
Communication is key
Verbalize your needs, people! Spouses are not mind readers, and if you want your significant other to run the dishwasher in the evening, then tell him. Better yet, write it down and hand it to him. Pin it to his damn shirt if you must. The number one mistake I make in this arena is assuming that my husband has caught enough of my eye rolls and heavy sighs to trigger his own brain to say, "Hmmmm, she needs something." This will never happen. If I want something done, I have to say it out loud, sometimes loudly.
Show compassion for your partner. Acknowledge that they have had a tough day at the office (as you were clearly home watching television and eating bonbons all day). Massage his feet, and every time he tells you that his three-hour lunch meeting was the pits, dig your unpolished fingernails into his feet as deeply as you can. Can you imagine what a three hour lunch would even feel like? I can't. In fact, the last time I had a lunch break that long, I was in the hospital recovering from birth.
You are individuals. You have unique dreams and aspirations. Don't forget to tend to your partner's dreams. For instance, I dream of sleep – a solid eight hours of uninterrupted slumber. Support this dream, dear husband, by not snoring, not groping and pawing at me, and occasionally waking up with the toddlers when they demand water every two hours.
The art of negotiation
Negotiation is everything in marriage. I have become a true artist in this area. Lucky for me, my husband is mostly driven by carnal needs, so I use them to my advantage. I realize that makes me sound a bit like a call girl, but if I want new furniture that we probably can't afford, sexy time is the quickest way to new couches. As the old saying goes, you don't get something for nothing. Your husband wants that boys weekend? Time to review the list of household projects that need to be accomplished before he leaves. Happy painting, honey!
For husbands who go to work all day: You can not possibly bask in the same amount of human feces that seem to light up a stay-at-home mom's everyday. Toddler poop is my life right now. Go ahead and be jealous. But don't worry! There is enough shit to go around. Allow me to offer a few suggestions regarding how working husbands can catch up with SAHMs in this wasteland of crappy responsibilities. Cat litter...it's all you. Go for it. Walking around the yard, scooping dog poop; I relinquish that responsibility to you as well. Scrubbing toilets on the weekends? Go for it. See there? Now we are just about 50/50 in the poop department. Do you feel like we're a stronger couple yet?
Get away to stay together
Spending alone time together is key to maintaining the romance – as well as the friendship – that solidifies the marital foundation. With four small kids at home, we won't be jetting off on a tropical getaway anytime soon. So we make time where we can. Date nights are a great way to reconnect with your partner. Some date nights, I like to shoot up to the local sports bar where my husband can reconnect with basketball, and I can reconnect with a tall glass of draft beer. Because who are we kidding? After all these years of marriage, fancy date nights are expensive and (physically) uncomfortable. The thought of wearing high heels and spanks for an entire meal makes me hate life.
Remember what you love about your partner
Much of the time, we get caught up in what drives us mad about our partners. It's vital to remember why we love each other. Nothing fills my heart with joy and respect more than watching my husband tear his hair out at bedtime trying to get everyone asleep, while I slink away to watch "The Real Housewives of Orange County". Nothing is sexier than watching his brain hurt over trying to sort laundry and figure out whose clothes are whose as I scoot off for a hot midday shower. We love you, dear husbands, when you take the crappy parts of our days and make them your own.There you have it. Get to work, lovebirds!
I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that’s the only resolution I care to make. For both my own health, and as an important example to my kids, this year, I'm resolving to practice a kindness that starts from within.