How to stay married even when you are thinking about giving up

What have you done to stay married even when you don’t want to?

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  • Editor's note: This article was originally published on Anita Fowler's blog, Live Like You Are Rich. It has been modified and republished here with permission.

  • There are all sorts of marriages out there. Each is very unique because we are all different and different personalities mixed with other different personalities create all sorts of relationships.

  • The following examples are total generalizations … but this is how I like to imagine certain "types" of marriages.

  • Some marriages may look like this:

  • The Grebe birds dance together, stay together, and are harmoniously in sync with each other the majority of the time. These marriages are the ones I look at in wonder. Couples who make it through life with such harmony do exist. Although romantic from the outset, this type of relationship can prove unfulfilling for some types of personalities.

  • Other marriages resemble a more lamb and lion take (no religious implication here). Typically one partner "wears the pants" and the other partner is more laid back. This isn't necessarily a bad marriage, it works for a lot of couples. I've observed this type of relationship from afar in wonder as well.

  • Then there are marriages with two-strong willed personalities. Two rams or mules who are constantly locking horns, challenging, and pushing their opinions on the other. This type of relationship is very familiar to me.

  • And then there are marriages that vary from these three examples. Some may take on all three examples at different times. Suffice it to say, each marriage is different.

  • So how do you stay married no matter what kind of marriage you are in even when you go through really tough times?

  • One day I was joking to a family member about my husband and I's marriage relationship being much like that of two rams or perhaps two mules. We are so strong-willed we often push against each other. What she said was surprisingly helpful.

  • She said, "Sometimes having two 'mules' is better for both partners. You both have to give and take. You understand and earn each other's respect. If you had married a push-over you would get bored and want someone to push back."

  • She said, "Having someone of a similar strength as you is not a weakness in marriage. Two strong personalities (when working together) get a lot done." And her advice is true. I appreciate the challenge. I appreciate a good fight now and again (as long as it is productive and ends peacefully). And I especially appreciate how much we accomplish when we are both working together.

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  • Despite the normal mule/ram-like behavior that is typical of our relationship (even when things are going really well) we have had some bumpy times. Sometimes things got so tough I was contemplating (for a brief moment) of giving up altogether. On one particular occasion, I turned to a very wise friend.

  • The advice I received was this

  • "Are you giving it your 100 percent?" I honestly couldn't answer yes. She continued, "Before you quit on anything you need to give your 100 percent or you will always look back and wonder and ask yourself, 'What if I had given more would things have changed? Would we have stayed together, would we have been more in love after we came through it, etc.?' You don't want to live with those types of questions and not be able to answer them."

  • After this I agreed to give it my all. I realized I wasn't giving 100 percent to my spouse and for my sake, our son, and his, I had to give it 100 percent.

  • This particular occasion was after months of when I had been taking a lot more than giving. I had been sick with postpartum depression and my husband's emotional marriage bank account was almost completely depleted. When I came out of my postpartum depression, I continued on without really taking the time to fill his account back up. I didn't put him first, make an effort to serve him, and/or show him how much I cared. He was depleted and I wasn't giving my all to him (not by a long shot).

  • After I started giving my 100 percent – by reserving time for him, rereading my favorite books on marriage and implementing the advice, and recommitting to valuing him above other things, things got much much much better. We actually are now more in love than ever before.

  • Now whenever we start going through a bumpy patch I remember this advice and I ask myself, "Am I giving my 100 percent in this relationship?" and often the answer is NO. I recommit myself, change as best as I can where change is needed and things have always gotten much better.

  • I'm not saying that there is never a good reason for divorce. Physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse, or adultery make a live able marriage practically impossible. I encourage those who are going through something similar to reach out to marriage professionals and/or authorities and to get out of the situation if you or your children's safety is in question.

  • That being said, many people give up on a perfectly live able marriage because they feel they would be better off divorced. Or that the odds are stacked against them.

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  • But divorce is not always the greener pasture …

  • I heard this interesting piece of advice from a divorced man. He said, "If I had known that it was marriage in and of itself that was so difficult, I would've just stayed married to my first wife. My second wife and I still have to work very, very hard to stay married. I love my second wife, but I also loved my first. Now I realize that marriage in and of itself requires a lot of time, effort, patience, and endurance. After all of the divorce issues, settlements, sharing kids, etc. I wished I would have just stuck it out with my first wife."

  • I admit, despite having a happy marriage it can sometimes get really tough to stick it out. For most of us, it's pretty common knowledge that marriage has its ups and downs, its good times and its bad, but sometimes you aren't prepared for or realize just how hard it will be until those tough times hit.

  • When they do hit sometimes you just have to put in your 100 percent and then, bow your head, say a prayer, and weather the storm.

  • Just like muscles have to be torn down to grow stronger, relationships have to be tested, tried, and torn to get stronger too. If this wasn't the case would we applaud, honor, and celebrate those who have been married 45, 65, even 70+ years?

  • We applaud and respect these couples because we know that they went through a lot of refining, a lot of tearing and rebuilding of themselves, a lot of change, compromise and ultimately a lot of enduring to make it together that long.

  • But they will tell you that it was all worth it

  • My husband's grandparents were married for 73 years before passing. They had tough, tough times. They lived off the land, had no running water, no electricity, lived through the depression and different wars. They are a minority (Navajo) and had to raise sheep, plant crops, barter, and trade to survive. They lived in the most humble of circumstances. Plus, they had 12 children!

  • Neither was perfect, as is told in a few family stories, but they worked together, grew together, and sometimes just weathered the storms together. They even left this earth just one month apart from each other. They put in a lot of work and effort to stay married. They reached their goal and they were more in love at the end of their lives than at the beginning.

  • GIVE your 100 percent. Don't accept defeat. It has been proven that if you stick with your marriage you will be happy after the tough times. Work at it even if you doubt it and when you come through the storms, you will be more in love with your spouse than before you entered them.

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Anita is a resourceful wife, mother, author, and friend. She writes about a variety of ways to create a rich life (both materially and non-materially) on any income on her blog Live Like You Are Rich. She is also the co-author of "Living a Rich Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom."

Website: http://livelikeyouarerich.com

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