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How We Work Through An Argument To Get Back To I-Love-You-More-Than-Anything In Our Marriage

    Yes, it’s hard work. We’ve all heard it. But do you really know what that means? What it implies?

    After a recent minor tiff, we had an open conversation about how we each ‘work’ after an argument to fix things between us. I realised then that this was one of the reasons why we are still happy in love and I wanted to share it with you.  You know, put in our two cents for what it’s worth.  

    I’ll start with ‘The Good’, then share ‘The Bad’ and end off with ‘A Method’. It’s all our humble opinion about something that works for us. 

    The Good

    We have a lot going for us as a couple but these three are cornerstones.

    1. We Actually Like Each Other

    I’m flabbergasted at how many people are married to someone they don’t actually like. In a crowd, we’d search each other out and gravitate towards each other – every time. Not because we are husband and wife or because we were dating or know each other, but because we really like each other.

    I’ve known B from the tender age of 14 and he has always been one of my favorite people in life, long before our romance started more than ten years later, mostly because he is cute and funny. He makes me laugh and still does almost every day.

    According to Wilkinson & Finkbeiner’s study, if you met your spouse in high school, college, or grad school, you are 41 percent less likely to get divorced.

    We like each others’ laugh, each others’ sense of humor, our looks, the way we carry ourselves, even how we dance, all of it! To like each other means that we can laugh and have fun but it also makes it easier to face the guaranteed challenges of married-life with that person by your side.

    We love a good two-step, by the way. We can glide across a dancefloor with spins and twirls, a plus we happily discovered the first time he asked me to dance. Unfortunately, we don’t get much time to put on our dancing shoes these days, but it’s a big thing that we adore about each other, which brings me to the next thing we have going for us.

    2. We Have A Lot In Common

    This is something that fires up and drives many of our conversations, besides talking about the kids.

    A few things we have in common is a shared sense of adventure, a love for business and travel, the same beliefs and the same cultural background. Because we are passionate about many of the same things and have common interests, we can relate to each other on a deeper level and we can talk about it for hours.  

    Both detest peas, brusselsprouts, and baked beans.  Both our parents were seperated and divorced while we were young, but we believe that this gives us a shared determination to go all the way, even though the odds are against us. 

    According to Nicholas Wolfinger in “Understanding the Divorce Cycle”, the risk of divorce is 50 percent higher when one spouse comes from a divorced home and 200 percent higher when both partners do.

    3. Passion & Intimacy

    With point 1 and 2 only, we have at the very least a solid friendship. It means that we can grow old together because we’ll always have something to chat about and most importantly, we can throw our grey old heads back in mad laughter until death-do-us-part.

    So we enjoy each others’ company, but our passion for each other on an intimate level is the gamechanger. It grows and it remains firmly in place. No obscene double meanings intended, so I’m gonna leave it there because it’s true. 

    The Bad

    Right, so we have these great things going for us and yet, why do we find ourselves so angry, disappointed or frustrated with each other sometimes?

    Because marriage is hard work!

    Being in the most intimate relationship with someone for the rest of your existence, while each face different challenges at different stages of their natural life, is not easy. It’s not even easy for the closest, most in-love couples who have everything going for them. To think otherwise is unrealistic.

    A study done by American family law attorneys, Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, found that children of divorce are 50 percent more likely to marry another child of divorce.

    How many times have I looked at B and thought to myself, “Who is this guy? I don’t even know him!”. I may even have said or shouted it at him a few times. We’ve had awkward arguments in public infront of friends and family. Sometimes we can snap and growl at each other for days at a time until we can’t remember how it even started!

    At this point, B would like you to know that out of the two of us, he is by far the more relaxed partner.  It’s true, I tend to get emotional and have high-pitched rants from time to time.  I don’t know how he keeps it together, but he almost never raises his voice.  He can keep calm and quiet when someone else is about to explode; a skill I am yet to master. 

    The point is that the person you really really like and passionately love can annoy the living daylights out of you, so choose wisely.

    According to the Office Of National Statistics UK the average marriage lasts 8 to 12 years. American stats show a clear average of 8 years.  This supports the 7-year-itch theory if you consider that it takes about a year to file for divorce and that most people think about divorce for atleast two years. 

    Stressful Times

    After our immigration back to South Africa from the UK in 2012, we had stressful financial decisions to make about our future. We started businesses together that failed and paid huge school fees due to the consequent losses.  On top of that, we took on a major DIY project when we bought our house.   In between all this, our children were young, demanding most of our attention. During that time I reached a point where I thought we needed professional marriage counseling or it would be the end of us.

    In time, we made a few changes in our life, minimised stress, worked it out and reconnected. Big time. That’s when passion baby number 3 happened!

    According to the American Psychological Association, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. 

    A Method

    Tonight, we told each other how we do it. How we get back to the I-love-you-more-than-anything moments and the please-forgive-me’s. It took both of us years of marriage and tough trials to implement these little habits, but they help every time.

    Her Method

    A wise person told me once that to change someone else, you must first change yourself. For a long time I didn’t understand the saying, but I do now. I cannot change my husband. I cannot make him act, or say or do what I want him to. Trying to do that or to force that will push him away from me. Besides, I honestly don’t want to change who he is. Ever. But I do want him to react to stuff differently sometimes.

    When I stop, stand back, rewind and look back at what happened during an argument, especially when I’m convinced that I’m innocent, I often see that point where my action caused his reaction; the reaction I didn’t like. I realise that I didn’t have to say that thing, or in that specific way. Then I try to make a mental note of what hurt him or what caused the unwanted reaction, I sincerely apologise for my part and look forward to making up again.

    Importantly, I try to work on what I could’ve done differently so that it doesn’t happen again. Easier said than done, but that’s where a bit of the hard work comes in.

    His Method

    B’s way of fixing things is to think how he would feel if I did or said that same thing to him. He acts on that conclusion by apologising if he was wrong. Simple as that. Men can be so uncomplicated.

    Don’t Let Issues Pile Up! 

    The thing is, this process of reflection and analysis has to happen everytime we hurt or anger each other.  If we let it slip once, twice, maybe a third time, a small issue snowballs into a mountain. Putting things right as soon as possible is the key to keeping our way clear of long-term sticky obstacles and expensive therapy.

    Short and sweet, these steps help us through our tiffs and trials. Marraige is not as black and white as it sounds here, but it’s just one small insight I wanted to share with you tonight.  So, wether you’re young and single, starting a new relationship, about to get married or maybe you’ve been married a long time already, we hope this helps in a way.

    We’d love to hear your thoughts.

    What works for your relationship? How do you fix things with your partner? Do you have a little go-to mantra to help you reflect on mistakes or do you wing it?

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