Managing out of your marriage rut… it’s not what you’d think!
Once the glamour and excitement of the dating life subside…
Once the giggles of newlywed bliss settle…
Once the pregnancy glow wane into a house full of kids and an exhausted glare…
Once the twinkle in your eyes turn into daggers over residual arguments, issues, and exhaustion…
You have reached a common marriage rut. Now what?
If you have asked yourself any of these questions, know that you’re not alone:
- “How did we get here?”
- “How do we make it better?”
- “Why am I so mad all the time?”
- “Who am I?”
- “Will I ever get back to pre-baby weight?”
- “How did I get here?”
The truth is that most of us moms reach a certain point where we stop, reflect, review, and question. There is absolutely no doubt that parenting is a true blessing that also impacts every facet of a marriage. From communication, parenting style, to romance and intimacy, every single area is essentially tossed up into the air and revamped for better or worse.
The bottomline is that yes, marriage may hit a stalemate in many ways, but you can both overcome and rise above the rut. Refresh, redefine, and re-explore yourself and your relationship with these 7 shockingly real lessons learned.
1. Ground Rules
You’ve done enough mousing around. You’ve walked on enough eggshells. You’ve hit below the belt with some frustrated comments that seeped their way out when you felt like you’ve just had enough. Your passive aggressive comments are no longer under-the-breath, but now loud enough to be easily heard.
In any relationship at any level, “communication is key.” While this statement may sound tired and necessitate an eye-roll when it comes to your spouse, it is most certainly true. If you are truly dedicated to revamping your marriage, you must first set some ground rules.
No name-calling. No interrupting. No raising your voice. Apologize if you messed up.
Truthfully, these are also the same set of rules that I have set for my kids getting along because proper communication should be a respectful and honest exchange of ideas. With that said, find a calm, quiet, and consistent time to discuss. Before bedtime works in my world, since our other rule is also to never go to bed angry.
2. Clean the Slate
While you may be envisioning some boxing gloves or some fierce fire-breathing when you get started, hold back sista’! Settle down and tone down your thoughts to real feelings, not a reactive response fuelled by anger.
Speak openly and from the heart. Starting with “I feel” statements work best to communicate with direction and sincerity. Let it all out and always end a discussion with small steps that each of you can improve. Remember that there are always two sides to every story, and you will likely have some work to do as well.
Clean the slate as relationship maintenance, and over time, you will be free of all the passive aggressive and residual anger that soils your marriage. Don’t forget to acknowledge effort and demonstrate your appreciation for even the smallest of details. Once you begin the pattern of thankfulness, it will become contagious, and he will respond to this pattern as well… and let’s face it, especially as moms, we ALL appreciate more thankfulness.
3. Back-Off Basics
Whether you attribute mood fluctuations to science, male species, parenting drama, lack of sleep, hormonal fluctuations, or just plain sociology, in order to help your marriage to thrive, you must respect the basic principles of when to back-off. When your spouse is inducing so many eye-rolls, daggers, and under-the-breath slander that you just may lose it, reconsider these common reasons.
Hungry * Tired * Stressed with Work * Hungry * Tired
Oops, did you see “Hungry” and “Tired” listed twice? Yes, it’s there for a reason, as these are most likely the reasons—and sorry to burst your bubble, ladies, but it’s also likely the reason for you too.
Once you have this basic formula for grouchiness set into your brain, you need a plan—identify, walk away, resolve, and return. Instead of jumping into the boxing ring with your spouse, stop, DO NOT respond to his twitch-inducing commentary, identify his possible needs and resolve them, and walk away. When the need is met and he returns with a sweet smile or silly comment to let you know the grouch is gone, you know you’ve won. Believe me, this practice works on me as well. As a matter of fact, my husband actually developed this practice first and used it on me. Works. Every. Time.
4. Wiggle & Jiggle
Whether you are metaphorically chained to your washer/dryer, dishwasher, supermarket, or office, you need a way to release. You need fun in your life. You need silliness. You need sexiness. You need to feel every ounce of yourself that has likely become numb or muted since you forced tiny human(s) out of your loins.
No matter your shape, size, breast cup, cellulite situation, or music preference, you need to let out some steam like a geyser. Believe me, you’ll feel better when you do—and there’s nothing sexier than wearing confidence.
When you’re at home alone, blast some music and dance. I mean really dance! Wiggle and jiggle every single part of your body and let loose. Experiment with your music choice, sing loudly, dance crazy, test out some raunchy dance moves, and shake, shake, shake. Feel alive again. Sing, dance, and reignite that mama that let herself go. You will start to regain confidence, find happiness again, and even feel sexy. We all need a release.
5. Identify Your Identity
Stop squeezing into those jeans that make your crack hang out and muffin top overflow. Stop stressing out about those love-handles that just won’t quit. Stop dressing like you pulled off a window curtain or table cloth and strapped it around your bosom to hide your curves. Who are you now? What is your style?
Reinvent yourself every single day. Experiment with your style. You may not be the same person you were before kids or before marriage, but you are a new and wonderful you… so test it out until you like what you see. Find your happy—and the inside will then match on the outside and everyone will notice. Treat yourself to a better you!
6. Reigniting the Flame
The butterflies are not dead, ladies. The excited giggles are not gone. They’re just waiting to be reignited—and believe me, it’s possible.
Small steps… flirty touches when the kids aren’t looking, a soft kiss here and there, a romantic gaze or whisper, an extra long hug with meaning, and steamy texts throughout the day. Start off small and see how quickly it’s reciprocated.
From slinky pyjamas or your birthday suit, a romantic comedy rental to get you going, or a surprise lunch-break nooner to change things up. Once you get the fire-burning in your relationship, everything will improve too.
Your sense of self and belonging in this world are the greatest assets you can own.
Physical intimacy is important not only for your personal satisfaction, but also affects your sense of confidence, happiness, appreciation, respect for each other, and willingness to please each other during the day with helpfulness, as well as in the evening when the kids are sleeping.
7. Find your Happy
Yes you’re a parent and spouse, but what makes you happy? What drives you? What motivates you? What makes you excited, whether a hobby or profession? Tap into your private peace and make a plan to enjoy it.
“Life experience and lessons learned serve to paint the canvas of your individual masterpiece.
Celebrate your perfect imperfection!
Live, laugh, and love passionately— and you will then find true happiness and success.”
Many times throughout my life, fear has tapped me on the shoulder when I least expected—it has also punched me in the gut and brought me to my knees in a whirl of exhausting and exasperating emotion. Fear is such a heavy, complicated, and often unexpected emotion that comes in many forms, but certainly not limited to the following:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of disappointment
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of threat/harm
- Fear of overall lack of control over a situation or outcome
Personally, I can tell you that at this stage in my life, I prefer to live like a warrior and kick fear to the curb! I have honestly had enough, and I hold nothing back in living, loving, learning, and propelling myself into the life that I choose and work toward living. That’s why I’m happy to share my top 5 strategies for overcoming fear and living like a warrior.
1. Alter Your Mindset
“Your Perception is Your Reality.”
The only thing that separates you from fear is your mindset. While fear is an important, natural emotion, it’s also a stifling dream-crusher that will stop you in your tracks and have you running in the opposite direction.
Your mindset determines your self-worth and confidence, your action and inaction, your next step vs. the status quo, how you approach the world, and the spectacles in which you choose to view your circumstance.
Whether you choose to see the glass as half-full or half-empty, it’s still the same glass with the same amount of water. The manner in which you choose to see it is your personal choice that is typically followed by an emotion.
Were you lucky and proud to have a half cup of water when you were thirsty? Or are you angry and disappointed that you only have a half cup and not a drop more?
If you simply refine your perception, you will then impact your personal experience. Alternately, if you prefer a different reality, then first change your perception.
How do you do this? Just be more positive in your speech, communication, and response to experiences in your daily life. Stop crumbling when things don’t work out as planned. Instead, learn to laugh, release, and rejoice in not having experienced a worse case scenario. In this sense, happiness is a choice. I choose to be happy.
What do you choose?
2. Focus on Your Level of Control
Fear often stems from a lack of control. This feeling can grow and spread like a dark cloud, inward through emotion and then outward in behavior. No, we do not have control over everyone and everything, but we DO have control over ourselves and our choices to prepare, plan, and respond to any situation.
Instead of fixating on your lack of control, refocus your vision on those areas that are within your control. Learn to fully identify and manage all of the choices you can make within a scenario. Take control of your situation by owning your options. First be honest with yourself and come face-to-face with your situational anxieties, then create a mental list of your options and make a plan.
Take your abstract feelings and acknowledge them, understand where they came from, and break it down into tangible and manageable next steps—that is when fear will lose its power over you.
Can you think of a fear that continues making unwanted visits?
3. Just Say NO to “What If”
The “What If” game is a never-ending mental ping-pong of disaster. Stop doing it. The ONLY time that this game is even remotely acceptable is when you are trying to prepare for an event or occasion and are making sure that you have everything you need (i.e., packing a baby bag, planning for a meeting or presentation, or preparing for a trip). Otherwise, STOP doing it!
4. Goal Setting & Getting
When your parents and/or teacher told you that you could do/be anything you truly wanted if you work hard enough—they really weren’t kidding. You really can. The only thing between you and your dream becoming your reality are these 5 strategies, that’s it.
Stop letting time slip past you and “seize the moment!” It’s never too late, even if you start simply and keep a comfortable pace. The first step is to draw a mind map—make a circle in the middle of a paper with your true soul-itching vision, add branches from this center with greater detail about your vision for that goal, and then create simple steps for each branch. Lastly, make a comfortable and manageable to-do list for the day—and actually do it.
Most of us look up at a mountainous goal, and before we even try, fear steps in to overwhelm, worry, and laugh in our face until our dream dissolves. Instead, keep your ultimate goal in mind but keep your eyes focused only on one small step at a time for a minimal investment. Before you know it, you will be at the top. While obstacles and even avalanches may take place, it’s how you choose to navigate through each moment that will propel you.
What would you write in the center of your mind map?
5. Organization is NOT only for Type A’s
You don’t have to be a Type A personality to have solid organizational skills. All you need is true determination and passion to get you there. I personally don’t like stress, so I choose to rise above it by preparing ahead of time. Whether I’m making a to-do list to remove responsibility out of my head and onto paper, or packing snacks, change of clothes, or emergency kit for the kids to bring in the car in case of any unexpected circumstances, I’ve got it covered.
Remember to be honest with yourself about the simplest of situations or details that create stress and fear of the “what if” scenarios coming true, and be prepared. Manage each of the areas that you can control.
- You are worthy. You are important. You are loved.
- You are capable. You are strong.
- Your greatest ambition is waiting for you to make it happen.
- You can do it!
“The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible.” —Alice Through The Looking Glass
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How many can you check off?
* This post was originally published on Thrive Global.
- You’re sitting up and staring at the computer, in a trance-like state with your mouth typically gaping open, until an awkward head jolt later when you realize you just fell asleep sitting up, again.
- When unpacking from your weekly grocery shop, you realize that you keep re-buying the same five items that you were in desperate need of… two weeks ago.
- Even though you walk into a room and sometimes forget your purpose, you then grab an item, get distracted, and then completely forget where you placed it.
- You sound more like an auctioneer than a parent as you stumble over every family member’s and pet’s name in the house before actually matching it with the kid in front of you.
- Your alarm clock is set to repeat every 5-minutes for a 30-minute period before it’s actually time to get out of bed — yet you still manage to snooze through every single one and wake up in a panic with your iPhone laying next to you after turning it off for a foolish “5 more minutes.”
- You robotically spew out random, repetitive phrases at the kids that have nothing to do with the moment.
- After frantically running through the house looking for your “lost” phone, and likely blaming one of the kids for taking it, you look down and realize it was in your hand — the entire time.
- You repeatedly demand that your kid let her sibling out to pee on the lawn — only to realize that you really meant the dog.
- When you finally lay down to rest and read your emails, the iPhone falls out of your hand and smacks you in the face.
- You frequently bump into door frames and furniture — and then apologize to them.