This post feels very vulnerable and scary to post. I'm by no means giving advice because I don't think I have much to give, I'm just trying to be real and Instagram can make everything look so wonderful and perfect and I want to share real truth and beauty at the same time. I'm posting this very late at night in hopes that I can hold my promises from earlier today that I would post this but hoping that not many people will end up reading it.
Five years ago on May 5th, I met my husband Miles while visiting a friend in Nashville. One year ago today, we got engaged. A lot has happened in between. We were married October 29th of 2016 and found out we were pregnant two weeks after returning from our honeymoon in South Africa. We are grateful, very excited, a bit scared, and feel very lucky to be welcoming a little boy into the world on or around August 5th. However, life is a bumpy roller coaster as everyone knows. Thanks to my hubs, I have learned to love the bumps, bumps can sometimes be fun. I was on a very smooth ride most of my life. I hated any bumps and certainly hated flipping upside down! I did jump off that ride around 27 and life has been wild and crazy ever since and I wouldn't change a thing. My husband is constantly challenging me and getting me to do things that make me step out of my comfort zone almost every week!
Pictures make things look so "perfect" and we are far from that. I find that daily, I'm comparing myself to every beautiful couple I see on social media and that is so unhealthy.
Miles and I have been learning how to understand each others messy selves for five years and I know that will be the case for the rest of our lives. Some days seem so easy, others are a lot more challenging. My grandfather told us before he passed away at 90 years of age, the trick to a happy marriage is patience and tolerance. We laughed but he is right in a lot of ways. He did leave out the part about connection, having fun together, passion, and good conversation but he was married happily for 70 years so I will give him that!
Let me start by saying that I was a horrible communicator my entire life and I still wouldn't consider myself a good one but I'm working on it. I'm really good at a lot of other stuff but I hated confrontation and didn't know how to have a proper argument with anyone especially a boyfriend. A fight in my mind meant we would probably break up so I avoided confrontation at all costs. My husband on the other hand is wonderful at confrontation. In fact, I think he loves it. For those of you reading this that don't already know, my husband owns a wellness retreat center in Tennessee called Onsite. I linked the website in case you want to understand more about it and I'm really proud of what my husband does and how many people him and Onsite help all over the world. I like to say going to Onsite is like doing 9 months of therapy in a week. It's amazing and I can vouch for that because I have been there and done a program called The Living Center Program. I worked with horses doing Equine therapy, experiential therapy, and dug really deep into issues I never knew I had, and learned I have an ego, I'm stubborn, and I'm hard headed. Onsite has both short term and long term programs as well as wonderful couple-ship programs. We have yet to do the couples program but are going to at some point because we both believe in doing work on ourselves individually and as a couple. I share all of this with you not to promote Onsite, although I love it and would promote it all day long, I share this with you because a lot of people who meet us think we are "masters in relationships" when they hear what Miles does for a living. That couldn't be further from the truth. We are totally relationship challenged a lot of the time to be honest. What we do have working for us? We are aware of it and aware of our weaknesses and very willing to look at our own stuff and work on it. I struggle at everything in life but try so hard to do my best! Miles would tell you himself he struggles with a lot of things that he is really good at helping others with but he and I both strive to get better and better at relationships, not just with each other but with our family and friendships.
In the beginning of our relationship Miles had a lot of conversations with me and shared his needs all the time but I was unable to do that. I didn't know how to. It never felt "safe" in the past for me to express my needs in my other relationships. It wasn't until I started dating Miles and he created a safe environment for me to feel like I could ask for things that I needed, that I found my voice and boy did I find my voice. He made me understand I could have an argument, I could disagree with someone, or even have a big full-blown meltdown and I wouldn't be getting on a plane and moving back to Los Angeles if it went South. I'm not saying Miles is a guru by any means, he's just been practicing this for a lot longer than me and he's really good at this area in his life!
Miles made arguing so safe that I probably do it more than I should now. Sometimes I do it just to feel like I'm "strong" or "confident" or to try and prove a point. Lucky he knows how to handle me and ring me in and back to reality. Sometimes his calmness in the midst of an argument while I'm at a 10 and he's at a 2 makes me want to throw knifes and I'm not a violent person! The fact that he works in the help industry only makes me more frustrated sometimes during an argument because my ego gets so big and I know I'm headed down a rabbit hole that he already sees I'm about to jump in!! Again my ego getting in the way. He has a much better way of "arguing" than I do and over the years he has been helping and teaching me how to do this in a peaceful and healthy way. A way that I really believe has grown us closer.
Over the five years Miles and I have been together we have had our share of struggles and at one point almost didn't make it but we made a choice a year ago and I'm so glad we did. We decided we were going to work through the hurdles instead of letting them take us down. We continue to struggle but with each struggle it feels like we get a whole lot closer.
I have no advice to give EXCEPT I strongly suggest learning your partners Love Language. If you haven't heard of this you have GOT to get the book "The Five Love Languages." Miles and I speak completely different love languages. Usually you will not be the same as your partner and therefor you will neglect their love language because if you don't seek it then you don't speak!
Something we started doing recently is checking in with each other every day. Usually at the end of the day because we both have busy schedules and are not together all day long. Even if it's just 5 minutes to say "what do you need from me right now that I may not be bringing to the relationship?" We aren't good at this one yet but we are working on it.
When one of us has a bit of a blow up which is usually me because I get so upset so easily especially being pregnant, we circle back around and apologize, take ownership for our behavior, and look at where it came from and why we got there in the first place. If we can figure that out, then we are able to try and deal with how to avoid the same issue coming back up in the future.
Acts of kindness are really a big deal for us. Miles and I both like to be told we are doing a good job or be acknowledged for something we did that was sweet for the other person so we both try really hard to enforce the appreciation and not let it go unnoticed. This is hard when life is busy and there are a million distractions but taking a moment to really notice each other and be present for a moment with each other is so important and can be like a little sprinkle of fairy dust on our relationship.
Sometimes something as simple as him putting a dish in the dishwasher or me stopping him in the morning to tell him how good he looks before he walks out the door, can make the entire day a much brighter one. Or a long hug before we go our separate ways will literally fuel me for the entire day and keep a smile on my face.
Last but not least the way we argue. We do it in a kind and loving way now days. I use to throw out mean hurtful things just because I was feeling hurt or unheard. Bringing up anything from the past was a big stupid thing I use to do. I mean LEAVE IT IN THE PAST VANESSA SERIOUSLY!! I must admit I'm still working hard at this one. Mean words are really hard to forget and almost impossible to take back so I'm very careful what I say and if it's something I wouldn't want said to me, then I don't say it. The way Miles has shown me to argue works for me. He usually starts with a strength of mine or brings up a weakness in himself. It really sets the tone to a safe and even level. Then he addresses the issue and he's able to do it in a soft voice and a kind manor. When he does that, I hear him and we get through the argument with bells on! I'm much more likely to receive constructive criticism and think about it instead of getting defensive and shutting down. I do shut down a lot but I always come back around and I'm able to look at the argument from another pair of glasses. We are both a constant work in progress, but hey, everything is a work in progress and a beautiful work it is and I think we are darn good for each other and help each other grow!
Thanks for reading this vulnerable piece of my life!