Marriage is hard. It's complex. It's confusing. It's a huge commitment that will sometimes leave you eyeing the empty toilet paper roll and wondering, For the love of all things holy. Why. And maybe even, What the heck did I get myself into. If you're married and you're completely, utterly, blissfully happy and you have absolutely no issues or frustrations ever, well then keep on walkin' sister. You've got it made. I might whisper Pssh. Yeah right. as you leave but I still love you.
I'm all about honest - even when it's uncomfortable. And I think ALL women have encountered rough patches in their marriage at one time or another. In fact, I think it's completely common and definitely likely that most of us have felt angry, hurt, frustrated, and confused. (Hell, even lonely.) I think many of us have wondered how we were going to navigate through it, get to the other side, renew our sense of hope, find the love again, be able to speak our feelings clearly, feel heard, feel seen, find the trust, find the friendship. I think a lot of us have felt weary and tired by the emotional roller coaster that can come from the same repeated fights, miscommunications, and misunderstandings.
I think other than motherhood, marriage is probably the most difficult thing we can embark on. It's the investment of your lifetime. That's no small thing. Figuring out how to adult together, raise children (if you do), keep your friendship and your romance, and navigate the evolution of not only each of you but also your relationship. It's seems almost too much. It feels impossible that truly happy marriages could exist. Although for those we see that do seem truly happy or have made it the distance of a lifetime (The small elderly couple on the park bench holding hands. Heart melted.) - well, they make it look stunningly simple. And that can leave those of us still struggling wondering what the heck we're doing wrong. If we know what we're doing wrong and can't seem to fix it through our actions or words, we feel even worse. The guilt. The feeling of failure. The frustration.
If you're willing to invest in your marriage - with effort, time and a little money - you might be able to develop a real happy ending and live out a major motion picture love story right now. Keep in mind, even the big picture love story's have their bittersweet moments, their painful lessons, and sometimes even turmoil. The thing about investing in your marriage is that it's for all of us. Learning more about how to create a connected relationship is good for you whether you're dating, engaged, happily married, or needing to save it all from crumbling. The best time to put the effort in is before things go wrong. But, if you're beyond that, then definitely step up and try some - or all - of these.
Here is my list of your very best marriage resources: 5 Tools to Save your Marriage.
- Power of Two Marriage Counseling It's online. It's affordable. You have a coach to help you, courses to take, and exercises to help you learn. The videos are helpful and entertaining
- Marriage 365 Real-life couple Casey and Meygan Caston are incredibly down-to-earth and they've created a safe place for couples to connect. They write insightful articles, offer helpful exercises, conduct husband- and wife-specific mentor groups, and offer in-person coaching and marriage intensives. That's not all. They have an online course and they created Naked Conversations, which is like Netflix for marriages. (Yes, they're clothed.) Naked Conversations is a membership community with live webinars from the Caston's each month on all sorts of topics that will change you and your marriage. Plus, they give you worksheets and exercises to carry out the lessons you learn. So, this is really like two amazing tools. You're welcome
- Discovering your Love Language is a major game changer for your marriage. You can find free resources, a quiz, and excerpts from the book online, but you can order the physical book if you're like me and you need to highlight and underline the crap out of things.
- It's no secret we are very different creatures, which is why these books might help. I've read Why Mars and Venus Collide, but Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus should also be helpful. Why Mars and Venus Collide is all about how we can improve our relationship by understanding how we cope with stress differently. Stress seems to be the major contributor to so many issues in marriage (and life, in general) so I think it's a useful read. I won't lie, sometimes John Gray really irks me. There's something about the way he writes about women that feels one-sided, BUT he's a man so it would be tough for him to write completely objectively or from a woman's perspective. If you can tame the feminist fire within you and listen to his research, there's a lot of interesting stuff to learn in this book.
- This monthly membership tool for your marriage comes from another amazing real-life couple Jeff and Alyssa Bethke. First of all, they're adorable. Second of all, if you are religious - Christian, specifically - then they'll really resonate with you. However, if you're like me, and you once labeled yourself religious but now you're more spiritual - don't worry - you can still soak in their inspiration and wisdom. Replace God with your own Higher Power (nature, Universe, Spirit, Source, etc.) and take the pieces that feel right and useful for you. Don't ever let differences of any kind keep you from learning all the good stuff out there. Perspective, ya'll. Jeff and Alyssa also post videos to their channel over here on YouTube so you can get those for free and subscribe for updates. What I love about them is that they're sincerely sweet, they're upbeat and excited about life, and they change the constricted idea of what religious thought-leaders are like. I think you'll find the topics they cover really easy to relate to, applicable, and even brave.
I've utilized every single one of these resources in my own marriage. I'm not getting any moula to recommend them to you (although, hey, if someone wants to send me a check, I'll get you my address). I just know I've been there - struggling - wondering how I can feel heard, wondering how I can change, wondering how to make things better. It's tough. So, from the bottom of my heart: I get it. And I really hope some or all of these help you and your marriage. Check back for more on marriage: 10 Things to Save You When Your Marriage is Failing (link coming soon).