Well, I guess I can just stop typing. I already gave away the secret. But I guess I could tell you why I believe this is true. Remember, I’m a blogger; I’m not a journalist bound to report facts. I report opinion. And my opinion is this…
The secret to a healthy marriage is the ability to play with each other (take that however you want), to laugh with each other, to stay immature sometimes, and to find the humor in the horrible.
This is my hubby and me this evening, and this is the post I put on our Facebook page. This is us, folks. Take it or leave it. And this is why we are okay even though a big part of our lives involves walking through Hell on Earth. Today, we bit the bullet and bought a dual reclining loveseat from our local Furniture Mart here in our favorite hometown of Cozad, Nebraska. Why? Because we didn’t like being far apart from each other (you know…like 10 feet) in our separate recliners every evening.
The bottom line is we don’t like to be apart. We like to mess with each other and share funny stories. We like to find jokes on the Internet and immediately share to invoke gut-hurting laughter. It’s a goal. And it’s a good one…one we fully believe keeps our relationship healthy. We are business owners and often (like always) work late into the evening on ordering, inventory updates, advertising, etc. It’s a heck of a lot easier to work well together if we are right next to each other. So this will be fun, right? Right.
So while I’m not telling you the secret is to buy a dual recliner, I am telling you it really has brought a lot to my attention about what makes our marriage healthy (in our view). So I’m gonna make you a list. Why? Because I’ve learned in my blogging world that humans like lists. Lists get attention and I may be able to help some realize you just may be taking your relationship and life in general way too seriously. So fine, I’ll make you a list.
Now remember, Jeremy’s and my relationship has been anything but easy. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, but we have found the humor in the horrible. Jeremy was diagnosed with severe depression in 2009 and has survived multiple suicide attempts, medication failures, inpatient mental health hospital stays, and a near-death car accident. We’ve been through a lot together and we’ve learned not to take each other for granted, so that is the main reason we still like each other; we know what life looks like without each other. I was a single parent for many years; Jeremy was here, but he also wasn’t. Physically he was here, but mentally he was gone. Her View From Home made a wonderful video of us telling our story, just so you know where we are coming from.
Our website is www.jeremyandbailey.com and you can go there to learn more about our whole story and even purchase our book in eBook on Amazon or in paperback directly from us. “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” was officially published in 2015 and is our whole reality. We share because we have a lot to thank God for, especially for keeping Jeremy here on this Earth with us after so many times of depression telling him otherwise. We are survivors. Together we refuse to let depression win.
So now you know what we have fought, and continue to fight, as mental illness doesn’t just disappear. We either learn to laugh and deal with life, or we cry, curl up in a ball, and live in a world of lies. We’ve done the second, and it doesn’t work. Somewhere during the trip down that road, somebody cracks. If you don’t grow together, you don’t grow at all. So in marriage you learn to embrace the good, deal with the bad, and find hope in everything…all together as one. United. Marriage take three.
So here is our list for a healthy marriage for you. This is what we have figured out. This is why we are okay, more than okay. This is why we are happy. This is why we are still together even though mental illness wants only to make us miserable.
- Fight for each other.
We all have challenges that come in so many forms. Mental illness is ours. Yours may be financial, parenting, blended family troubles, etc. It. Doesn’t. Matter. Deal with it…together. Counseling is good. Counseling has saved us over and over.But you have to learn you are both dealing with issues because of challenges. You both deserve to be heard, to be respected, and to heal. Just do it together and don’t allow your challenges to tear to you apart. Be honest. Be open.
- Talk. Tell the truth…the whole truth. Jeremy lived because he wrote me a suicide note. It was going to be the end of him, but something happened he didn’t expect. He healed while he shared. For the first time, he was completely honest with me. I could have freaked out learning the truth of Jeremy’s suicidal thoughts, but I didn’t. Why? That was God and only God. He gave me strength to know Jeremy needed my full support. Talk everything over together. You are put on this Earth together for a reason. Who do you trust more in the world? I hope it’s him (or her). Your “person” is your spouse. Your God is your God.
- Put God first and spouse second…children third. Yep. By far the hardest one, but also the most important. Think of the best gift you could possibly give your children. Got it? I pray it’s the chance to truly understand faith and love by seeing the example every day. Enough said.
You knew I was going to get to it. Because, yes, I believe this is key to keeping our marriage healthy and vibrant. We have not stopped dating each other. We crack jokes. We find time to play, even if it is a trip to Menards. Do you know how much fun you can have with items in Menards? Sure, some may look at you like you are crazy. But I’d much rather be looked at as crazy than completely unaware of my husband’s needs and desires. We love to play. We love to share jokes and laugh.
Just yesterday, I brought home a sign for Jeremy for our sign wall that says, “Embrace the crazy.” We laughed so hard because Jeremy literally got out of our favorite mental health hospital, Richard Young in Kearney, Nebraska, a couple weeks ago. We know how the world wants to see us sometimes. A medication failure caused Jeremy to believe he was God, I was God, water was the reason we were together as a couple (you know, because I like to do dishes and he likes to do laundry and they have water in common) and unicorns and rainbows were everywhere. Jeremy lost his collective mind for a while until our favorite professionals straightened out his medications again. We can either laugh about it or be bitter. We choose laughter.
Then I came home yesterday and Jeremy had bought me this sign.
Lol. That’s funny right there. It’s a sign that’s funny, and it also shows his respect for me as an equal partner in this house.
And tonight, our son (a third grader) had a little girl clearly flirting with him, so I text my husband to tell him. And this is what our conversation turned into…
Give and take, right? Lol. Jeremy was too shy to ask me out when we were in high school, so I did it. And he still hasn’t lived it down almost 16 years later. But in all fairness, he did ask me to marry him. 😉 And that leads me to my next point…
- Share words of affection. Knowing your spouse still loves you, appreciates you, and even still thinks you’re hot never gets old. In that text, I told Jeremy I would say yes again. Knowing everything we were going to deal with, every challenge we would be handed, I still wouldn’t change a thing. Jeremy needs, and deserves, to know that. And I deserve to know Jeremy doesn’t think I’m only here to cook him food and clean his dishes. He sees me as an equal and makes it clear, especially since he does all the laundry! And again…that goes to the next point.
- Share responsibililities. I do the dishes and cleaning for the most part. He does the laundry for the most part. We both talk about how we will discipline, or more so how we will try (key word) to go toward proactive positive reinforcement before having to discipline. We do it all together. Kids will try (this may be a shocker) to separate you so they get their way. Be proactive. Talk and share responsibilities. Show your kids, and the world, that you have respect for one another and that you are in this together. Life will be a lot easier.
- Pray together. This changed our world. It changed our relationship. It changed everything. I know it can feel uncomfortable at first. But just trust me (well, technically trust Him). In bed at night, hold hands and pray. We learned fears, anxieties, desires, and so much more. We learned to pray for each other, for our marriage, our kids, and our families. We learned to be here for Him first, for us second, for our kids third, and for our mission, work, and families after.