He wasn’t smiling

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I would have to say that several pictures of him were worth three words. He wasn’t smiling. How did I miss that?

I spent the first half of our marriage playing the victim. Poor Julie. Home alone all the time. One car and stranded. No money to do anything. Blah, blah and more blah.

What if I had paid as much attention to those pictures as I am now?

He looked miserable and I didn’t notice. I was too self absorbed. Wallowing in my big ‘ole puddle of self pity.

Do I think things would have played out differently had I noticed? I have no freaking clue but at least I would have been aware. However, that awareness would have required me to get my head out of my butt.

I don’t remember ever asking Stuart if there was something that I could do to make our marriage better. I did a lot of finger pointing.

I’m not giving him a free pass by any means! He was no fun to live with. Angry all the time. Always stressed out about money. I walked on eggshells around him, all the time. I knew he wasn’t happy but at least I could fake it for a picture. He was so miserable he couldn’t even do that.

I feel like so much time was wasted. Here is a little more Unsolicited Marriage Advice but my target audience is wives only.

Don’t bombard him with “honey-dos” the minute he walks in the door. Looking back I wonder how many times I said, “Hey Stuart, how was your day?” before I started making demands or running off a list of things that needed to be tended to. Shame on me.

Give him a kiss or hug the minute he gets home. I didn’t. I still don’t always and need to make a conscience effort to do so. I do think that gesture goes a long way.

Set aside time just for him. I knew that he wanted this time alone but I was one of those moms who thought she couldn’t leave her kids with anyone else. A – I felt guilty leaving them. B- I thought no one could take care of them like me. Wrong on both accounts. A- You need time away from your kids. It will make you a better mother. I wish I would have realized that before my kids were 24 and 20! B – Plenty of folks are just as qualified as you to take care of your kids. Man, I was prideful. Again, shame on me. Setting aside time for your husband is a no brainer once you don’t do it and realize it could have been  a contributing factor to years of unhappiness.

Tell him that you appreciate him. I know this sounds obvious but apparently not for everyone. I spent more time talking at him than talking to him instead of just letting him know that I appreciated everything he did for his little family.

Don’t do things expecting something in return. I have since learned that tit for tat doesn’t work in a marriage. Keeping score is a recipe for disaster. Just do things because, even when you don’t want to.  It doesn’t matter if you are getting anything in return. The older I get and the more years we rack up, I realize that this gesture goes a long way. Eventually you will see the fruits of your labor.

Don’t hold grudges. I am the queen of grudge holding and still struggle with this today. I realize now that I wasted a lot of time being pissed off at something insignificant. I have to really watch myself. I can remember the benign crap and bring it up when I need ammunition. How pathetic is that? Hey, I’m owing it and working on it.

Don’t expect him to like all of the things that you like. Fortunately, Stuart and I share a passion for fishing. I don’t like his stupid SCI-FI movies and that’s OK. He doesn’t like going to concerts or anywhere where there are a lot of people and that’s OK. That’s why we have girlfriends, ladies. I used to beg him to take me to Galveston to walk on the beach. I would throw a fit when he said no. I want to throw up thinking about that request.

Don’t worry about having the last word. OK, so I am not an avid practitioner of this one. My goodness how much smoother would the seas be if I could just keep my mouth shut? We may never know. I’m a feisty ole gal and it gets me in trouble a lot. Take it from me, start biting your tongue and walk away. Honestly, it will shock them and they won’t quite know how to react.

Lastly, have realistic expectations. I struggled with this one big time. Watch Hallmark Movies but don’t expect your marriage to be like one of the movies. Marriage is freaking ugly folks. It takes work. It takes eating crow. It takes backing down even when you know you’re right. Lord have mercy, the list could go on and on.

I’ve tried to add humor to a time in my marriage that lacked it. On a serious note, pay attention to the details ladies. You don’t want to look back in 25 years saying man, he wasn’t smiling. Your heart will break.


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