I’m at our cabin on my annual BOLD REV!VAL retreat. Me, myself, and I. Along with a few loons, eagles, critters, cloudy and then sunny breezes, and at least three bears, one stuffed.
Being married 34 years, I have a lot to say on this subject.
Why now? Because I am willing to say the unsayable when it helps someone get ahead – no longer giving a rat’s asterisk about playing it safe. If you’re reading my writing you are choosing to do so. You can click away. If you’re in a conference, you can step away – altho my clients will tell you in Keynoting their conferences I take great care to understand why I was hired to speak and I respect that responsibility and bring what it takes to thoughtfully inspire your new success! And to my knowledge, over many years, no one has ever walked out of my keynote.
What I Know About Leading, Living, Loving & Lasting Marriage:
1. In this, my 34th year being married to David, I know for a fact that the time comes again when you are/can be as passionately crazy in love as when you first met.
2. In order to love your life together, you have to first love yourself, your own life. No one hands this to you. You claim it. Own it. Cherish it as your own vow to yourself. Did I mention you first need to HAVE a life as you?
3. The whole of your marriage is going to be as strong as your two pillars, each representing each of you. Marriages of one pillar, with one counting on the other to be your life, risk either tipping over or losing your grip, sinking in unexpected quicksand.
4. You won’t find happiness in marriage if you can’t find happiness in yourself. Be aware when grass looks greener. Sure, we all make mistakes in our careers, landing work that is not really a right fit, eventually that gets straightened out. Having been fired, I’m pretty sure it’s easier to leave or be fired from not-right-fit work than it is to chase greener grass in marriage and deal with the realities of hurting someone you so deeply loved.
5. There will be days you can’t stand each other. Just as there are days you can’t stand yourself.
6. There will be times you are freaked out in fear of *this is my life*? Is this all there is?! Do an honest gut check: are you blaming someone else for your happiness? Owning your part in it? Hmmm. Thought so. How do I know? I’ve been there too.
7. Keep friends of both sexes. You didn’t come into marriage with your husband/wife as your only friend – why would you stop being friends with others now? I have never enjoyed working with, and being friends with, all women as much as I enjoy working with, and being friends with, both men and women.
8. If you choose to have kids you will no doubt wake up one day and realize your life has become *kids*. Don’t let it be a surprise when all you talk about any more is kids, their lives, their schedules, their needs, their futures, your friends’ kids… This is all part of your rich tapestry of married life you create together when you choose to have kids. At times, your kids will need to be your utmost top priority. And they deserve to be, and need you to be there for them. Our world needs parents to be there for growing kids, and to do so, our workplaces need to honor and help make work work for young and changing families(!) (We can all help by bringing new solutions, another topic for another day.) Trust this stage is not forever. Altho sometimes we all wish these cherished times could be.
9. For Moms, remember being scared in the delivery room and then remembering your own Mom and your girlfriends who somehow made it through labor?? You too made it through. And together you’ll make it thru things that seem much tougher than this.
10. For Dads, remember standing at that recently-assembled crib, now holding your real-life baby, scared to death if you will be able to afford college, much less day care?? You’ll have more financial concerns ahead. Talk it through. You’re not in this alone.
11. For Couples, remember the first time you saw your husband/wife and what that felt like… and then fast forward to never expecting – never ever expecting a day when the bottom might fall out – for whatever b’gillion reasons bottoms fall out given the realities of everyday life (sheeshta, it’s amazing any of us make it thru!) when it just might suddenly hit you that you are no longer in love?
TWO WORDS OF BOLD ADVICE FOR YOU ON THIS ONE… DON’T STOP THERE. TRUST YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS BUILT ON MORE THAN THIS ONE DAY, THIS ONE FEELING, THIS ONE SITUATION, THIS ONE FRUSTRATION, THIS ONE REALITY OF LIFE… TALK IT THROUGH. IF NOT NOW THEN SOON. COMMUNICATE TOGETHER. GO FOR A WALK. BREATHE. AND BY ALL MEANS: …KEEP GOING!
Life changes and life keeps changing. Stages come and stages go. I believe in leading, living and loving Life, including Married Life, in Sequenced Stages.
The Sequenced Stages in Married Life look something like this:
Engagement. / Wedding. / Dating Each Other, Married. / Careers. / Kids. Kids. Kids. / Empty Nest – which I prefer to refer to not as empty or nest – as tho life must be only about kids – rather as: / Dating Each Other Again, Married. / Grandparenting (I have not experienced this stage, and tho I know it is claimed to be magical, I am in no hurry to leave this current stage of Dating Each Other Again, Married as our two recently-married kids enjoy their current exciting stage of Dating Each Other, Married).
THE BOLD! FACTOR®: YOUR EXCLAMATION POINT *!* MARRIED LIFE
Want To Lead, Live, Love YOUR Lasting Married Life?
! Know who YOU are.
! Continue to grow as an INDIVIDUAL as you TOGETHER keep growing as a couple.
! Keep something in your life you are PASSIONATE about. My Mom used to say there needs to be one thing in your life that is only yours. It does not involve your spouse or your work or your family or your friends. What could that be for you, that is only YOURS?
! Encourage and Allow each other to TAKE TIME OFF, alone. You can’t work without breaks and vacations, why should married life be any different? Whether minutes or hours or days or weekends or – as mine has now grown to (in this 50-something stage of life) time claimed to get away and reflect, re-energize, learn something, create something, or do absolutely nothing – work or life. Claim it early on, so together you can find a way that this can work, based on realities of this stage of life, for both of you.
! TRUST each other. Expect trust and grant trust. Trust is possibly the underlying KEY SECRET to a happy, lasting marriage. There are others, but this is huge. You’ve earned and granted trust in choosing each other. It’s up to you to keep it.
! Allow your head to go to that at-times unthinkable place. GO AHEAD: Make your grandiose exit plan – at some time or another most of us have! And then stop and look at what you really have in each other. And then self-check whether you are blaming someone else for your own happiness?
Whether exciting, exhilarating, or inexplicably frustrating… this stage too shall pass! And if there is any one message I used all these words to inspire you with, here it is:
Get To The NEXT Stage Together. And Then The NEXT. It’s Definitely NOT Easy. It IS Absolutely Worth It.
As in Self-Leadership, Confidence and Success… as in Business and Life… Leading and Living and Loving Your Lasting Married Life Takes Each of You… individually and together.
Do One BOLD Thing. Own It Like You Own It.
(You & Both Of You, Together.)
Choosing To Stay Happily Married?
It’s Up To YOU!
© 1993-2017 Ann Ulrich THE BOLD! FACTOR® AnnUlrich.com
Photos: 1) An evening glimpse of lake at our cabin… one of the places I love to come for reflection and rejuvenation. Mindful that it doesn’t take any special PLACE to do so, it simply takes an attitude and commitment to create the life we want, right where we’re at… which is up to ME. 2) This is what 34 years of marriage looks like. Some days anyway! And our red eyes? Not blaming the camera. We’re owning ’em as earned in happy tears shared on this special day of our son’s wedding ;) 3) My ever-passionate BOLD red *!* logo. 4) Minneapolis Aquatennial Fireworks exploding over the river in front of our condo.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this post Goddess Ann!
Such wonderful advice for couples…especially loving your self and feeling worthy of your partner’s love is key. And YES… in order to keep the marriage interesting, you need separation… and mystery… or you become roommates.
Given I’m a Chief Passion Curator, I would add one more section about how important it is to stay sexually tuned in and turned on to each other. Delicious sensual pleasure helps a couple deepen the love, deepen the intimacy, and deepen the connection… with their Beloved Self and their Beloved Partner. =D
Celebrating 27 years with my darling man – in spite of losing babies, businesses, all our money and all our hormones – it’s better than ever, on every level – woo hoo!
Much love to you!
Ahhhh…. EVERY girl (and guy!) needs a Chief Passion Curator in their life! I am SO lucky to have YOU Ande. As always, you are brilliant. And of course we expect no less from a Smith Business College graduate!
You know what – your writing has inspired another VERY BIG THING I have left out. That’s OK. This was meant as a conversation starter – I will need to get it right, and complete tho, for my book. Let’s see if anyone else is struck as to what KEY is missing (and for those who know me well, they know it’s a huge part of who David and I are).
Ande, If I choose to add a page in my book on this subject I will be in touch for your permission to add you/your commentary/expertise as it simply wouldn’t be complete without it!
Keep inspiring others to LOVE their marriage and all the PASSION we enjoy and deserve! And THANK YOU AGAIN for being such a passionate friend of The BOLD! Factor,
This is fantastic! As a single woman, I assure you I took no offense and instead, think your heatfelt and wise advice is for any relationship! Thank you. Enjoy your time and keep writing!
All my BOLDEST best,
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
This is beautiful.
Never underestimate the powerful positive impact of letting someone know their words resonate – even when risking/seen as fuel for an unintended fire…
(Tho this is not intended to shut down any flame throwers, I welcome smart, heated discussions as they always bring new learning and awareness, keeping us on our toes, which keeps us young!)
Thanks for ALL of that Jone!
Leave it to you – a powerful force for INcourageLeading(.com) as you also Encourage!
I LOVE this post and am SO thankful that you wrote it! I’m too drained right now even soak in each and every word that I just read. (1.5 days left until school’s out for the summer! Yahoo!) But, I appreciate it and appreciate all this advice written down…so that I can save it and cherish it for YEARS to come! File…. Save….. Thank YOU!! :)
Ahhh be still my heart, Natalie!
Consider yours Filed… and Saved too, darling daughter ;) Your words are inspiring, cherished and if a version of this post ends up in my book, then I just may need to dedicate it to You & Dan, and Ian & Whitney, and newly-married of all ages starting exciting new life adventures together. For Sure it’s not easy… For Sure it’s so worth it ;).
Sleep well tonite as you countdown your 1.5 days left(!) creating unforgettable memories with your first grade students, Natalie. How lucky they are to have experienced their first year of school, loved and guided by FABULOUS YOU.