Now, I suppose you are wondering what happened that turned mine and Wakizashi’s marriage around. How did we get from averge and volatile to fabulous and wonderful?
Well, I’m not really sure… It took time, and it really all started with a personalrenovation. I was trying to be the best me I could be. I was so sick and tired of being unhappy, and unsatisfied with life. I was desperate to finally figure out what Real Life was about (because the average everyday thing we call life just wasn’t very satisfying, if you know what I mean.). I swear, I hadn’t set out to change my marriage, although, that ended up being the result.
God pointed out to me that if I wanted things to change around me, then I needed to start changing who and how I was in this world. He gave me an assignment. It was a terrible, hard, sacrificial assignment: I had to do housework.
You see, almost all of our fights began or ended on housework. I suck at housework. It’s just not my strength. It’s not that I can’t do the work, it’s just that… it’s hard to describe… my brain wasn’t trained to it. Anyway, Wakizashi was very aware of every little thing (I swear, he used to yell at me if the chair wasn’t pushed in… that’s how bad things had gotten between us) and it was starting to kill our relationship.
So, God pointed out that I knew which things most annoyed Wakizashi and I needed to be attending to those things (do the minimum work with the biggest results). But, I had a proviso – I couldn’t ask for any recognition. If Wakizashi noticed that was ok, but if he ignored what I had done I wasn’t supposed to say anything.
I can’t tell you how difficult this was! It was my very first lesson on the idea that we were a unit and not just two individuals striving to get ahead in the same space. (If life is a mountain climb, most of us as couples are trying to climb the mountain independently and are normally trying to climb up on our partners or push them lower so we seem higher. It’s sad but true. The real goal though is to climb together, one pulling the other along as we each need the help.)
I also started noticing something by doing this. Wakizashi seemed to get angry no matter what I did. I started to realize that we were often just arguing out of habit. (I’m not blaming him here, we were both guilty of this at one point, but because I was paying attention to myself, at this point, I was less likely to be the culprit.) It was almost like he’d push simply to get me angry and get a fight on, which would give him permission to get angry.
Seeing as I was so practiced at holding myself in (what with the not being able to say anything to draw attention to my hard work), I started not responding to his attempts. I’d hum or sing to myself. I’d calmly leave the room (not rudely, but simply as if he wasn’t speaking to me and I was going on with my task), or I’d respond as if he were speaking reasonably. And when I didn’t manage to keep control and we did fight, I was suddenly very aware of how often I said things just to be mean or hurtful. I started apologizing immediately for anything I said that I knew I had said simply to hurt him.
Now, I’m not sure when this happened, or how far into my own personal growth this was, but suddenly Wakizashi started to change. (He’s since told me that he realized I had been making an effort to be a better person and that motivated him to do likewise. Also, like me, he didn’t start making changes with the marriage in mind, but instead worked on the habits that were hurting him personally the most.) One day when we were arguing I told him that he was always yelling at me for little things without even acknowledging the things I had done.
He very calmly pointed out that he hadn’t done that in a few months. And… I realized he was right (and so apologized for accusing him of that and for not noticing too), he actually hadn’t lost his temper in a long time. And that… that was the magic turning point for our marriage.
It was like we were roped together and climbing up the mountain together. We were each doing our personal climb: working to be better and better individuals, but each time one of us reached a level we would help the other to catch up to us. He started working on his temper, so I started working on mine.
Then I started to work on another thing, he’d notice my effort and he’d work on another. Suddenly, we were able to talk about the things and we discovered that most of our disagreements came from simply having no clue what the other person was thinking. Now we could actually say (without freaking out) what was bothering us, or how we felt about something. (Wow, we really had to work on defensiveness then.)
Let me pause here for a moment to tell you that if you have a couple of friends who are going to marry, the best electric knife sharpener can be a perfect wedding gift without spending too much money.
The better and better our marriage became the better our individual lives became. The happier we became with ourselves the more our marriage improved. Now we live as a team. I’m very much aware which of my weaknesses Wakizashi compensates for, and he knows which of my strengths he needs to make use of. We are partners in every sense of the word. It took a lot of work, and still takes a huge amount of willingness to sacrifice ourselves, but you know, it always pays off in the end.