Before I get into the thick of it, I just wanted to say again that I have been blown away by the support and encouragement that I have gotten from my last few This is Me posts. So many of you have opened up and told me your stories of losses and of waiting. It is such a personal thing, yet there can be so much hope gleaned from connecting with other mommas of heavenly babies. Love you all.
Not to be self-deprecating, but it’s not an easy task to think about things I’m good at. There’s photography…and then I couldn’t think of any other talents I have. I’m terrible at cooking. I’m not great at keeping my cool with my kids. I suck at organizing (anyone want to come fix my life??). But then I went back to the basics. I realized something that I think is pretty awesome, and that I’m completely obsessed with: being married. Specifically, being married to Adam Dreher.
I don’t want to come off as bragging. I also don’t want to just flat out say “Hey guys, I’m soooooo good at marriage.” Obviously it’s work and I’ve only been doing it for 11 years…we have a long way to go. But I do think we do a lot of things right. We make each other happy. And neither of us have ever doubted that we chose the right person. Adam is my person. I am his. It’s as true as the stars in the sky. A simple kind of easy love.
Adam’s senior banquet, 2002
We recently celebrated a milestone that is (in my opinion) kind of a big deal. We started dating when I was 16, and I turned 32 this year. Which means that I have been with this man for half my life. Most of my memories involve Adam in some way, and I love our story of finding each other so young.
There are so many blogs and articles out there that boast “5 Steps to an Awesome Marriage.” Or “7.5 Ways to Keep the Fire Alive in Marriage.” I’ve read many of those, and they usually make really great points! But I wanted to share a few things that I have learned along the way that I haven’t seen on those lists. These are some real, every day, possibly mundane things that we do in our marriage that apparently work. I’ll post some old photos along the way to keep things interesting. Here we go:
1 – Speaking positively about your spouse when they’re not around. My husband is freaking amazing. This isn’t even an opinion, it’s a fact. He also has a pretty large ego because I tell him this often. Ha! As mentioned earlier, I have just the one talent. Adam is good at literally everything he does. He is the most amazing teacher. He’s my right-hand photographer at weddings. His videos are amazing. He can paint, draw, build, create, inspire, and play with our kids like no one else. I am basically a stick-in-the-mud compared to that guy. And I absolutely love other people to know it.
Similarly, I have heard that it is a common thing when guys get together to start “wife-bashing.” They can commiserate about nagging and being stuck with the old ‘ball-and-chain.’ It can be easy to join in, and even sometimes awkward if you don’t. But it is so very important not to. This goes for wives too, even though I singled out men here.
I think that there is a lot of truth in the idea that you can talk yourself into something. And talk yourself out of something. If you speak negatively about your spouse, you will see more negative. If you say positive things about him, you will begin to see even more positive things. No one is perfect, but focus on the good.
2 – Lower your expectations. Whoa. Really? Stick with me here. Adam has never done a load of laundry throughout our whole marriage. Okay, maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe one. (He claims 3.) But you know what? He doesn’t expect me to do it. He doesn’t get upset when he’s out of clean underwear. He knows how busy I am, he knows that sometimes household stuff falls by the wayside because I’m running a business full time and raising two kids. Also full time. If he runs out of clean underwear, he buys new ones (or wears dirty ones??). If he runs out of clean pants, he digs some out of the dirty laundry. And please don’t tell me to make him do the laundry. I don’t mind doing it…and more than that, this is just what works for us. If I forced that issue, or EXPECTED him to do it, it would cause more issues than it would solve, I’m sure. Adam jokes about the fact that our house isn’t often clean and fully realizes that he is mostly the reason WHY it isn’t clean. We are in the trenches at this phase of our life. It isn’t always pretty, so we don’t expect it to be.
Getting ready to leave for college, 2003
3 – Don’t jump to anger. Adam loves to stand in my way and force a hug out of me when I’m in the middle of running around like a crazy person to get our kids ready in the morning. Instead of being annoyed because I’m frazzled trying to help our helpless children, I generally drop what I’m doing for the 10 seconds it takes to hug him, because to be honest, it recharges me even more than it probably does him. Say your husband puts his arm around you and ruins the hair you just spent 45 minutes curling. Don’t jump down his throat…think about his gesture. He was making an effort. An effort to make you feel loved and to show that you’re his gal. If his effort is met with anger, he might not do it again. Wouldn’t you rather have ruined hair than a husband who doesn’t put his arm around you? 🙂
4 – DECIDE that you’re obsessed with him. We’ve all heard it…marriage can’t survive on love alone. Love is work. Love is a daily decision you make. Being obsessed with your spouse is also a daily decision. Sure he has flaws (so do I, many MANY flaws) but I decided a long time ago that this man I’m married to is the ultimate hottie, which leads me to my next point…
5 – Tell them when you find them attractive. I remember one time, before we had kids, I was sitting in the stands of one of Adam’s indoor soccer games. He was on the bench, getting a drink before going back in, and it just struck me how handsome he was. So I told him. Then you get the little blush and the “whatever…” but you know how good that makes a person feel? If your husband randomly told you how beautiful you were, you would be floating on cloud nine for the rest of the day, right? Make your husband feel that way. It goes both ways!
Wedding day, 2006
6 – Don’t take them for granted. This is definitely one I have to check myself on sometimes. I have been with this man for half my life…it sometimes just feels like a given that he will be there. And honestly, it feels like it’s his responsibility to be. But I need to step back for a minute…what would I do if he wasn’t there? How would my life look if I didn’t have his help in the mundane every day things that we do together? My kid threw up over Thanksgiving weekend. My immediate reaction was “get Adam.” He cleaned up the floor so I had the freedom to tend to the kid. He checked to make sure I had it covered before he went back to be with our guests. What would I do without him? I can’t even imagine. And this realization is big. It helps me keep perspective and gain appreciation for everything that he is as a person and a husband.
7 – Look good for them. This may be controversial, but I think it’s super important to look good for your spouse! Now don’t get me wrong…Adam has seen me at my WORST (every morning he wakes up to what only can be described as the antithesis of a beauty queen), but in general I think it is crucial to do your part to keep the attraction in your relationship. Adam seems to be obsessed with me (though I think he has rose-colored glasses on), and I like it that way. I know he likes my hair down, so I generally wear it that way. I know he likes when I wear dresses, so if we go out, I’ll (sometimes) put one on for him. If I feel like my double-chin is making an unwelcome appearance, I’ll adjust my posture. Bahahahaha. That one had me laughing out loud. I’m hilarious.
Random date night, 2011
8 – Have freaking fun. You know what they say about all work and no play… It’s true. Think about how your relationship started in the beginning. There was flirting and laughing and butterflies and fun. Adam thinks it’s hilarious to tackle me and pin me down so the boys can tickle me. He also loves to text me inappropriate jokes or grab my behind in the grocery store. Having fun makes you genuinely love spending time together. I am definitely not the type of wife who gets really excited for alone time when the husband is out of town. I crave our time together and he’s literally my favorite person to hang out with. He makes life fun. I once had a friend tell me that she found goofiness an unattractive quality. I whole-heartedly, 100% disagree. Being ridiculous is my fave.
9 – Learn your spouse’s love language and speak it. Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages? If not, click here for a description. I completely believe in love languages (I even put this into practice for my kids). Everyone feels and shows love differently. And if you’re only showing love the way YOU feel loved, you may not be speaking your spouse’s love language. Adam knows that physical touch is important to me and that it makes me feel loved. So he will grab my hand or put his arm around me or give me a hug just because he knows how it makes me feel. Adam’s love language is a little more difficult to decode, but I have found that building him up and telling him when he does something well can put him in a very good mood. If this is a new concept to you, I encourage you to figure out your own love language, as well as your spouse’s. It can be life-changing!
Fall family photos, 2011
10 – Keep God as the center. Adam and I both have our ups and downs in our walks with Jesus, as all Christ followers do. But at the end of the day, we know where each other stands with our beliefs. We’re able to openly discuss moral and spiritual issues with each other and to admit when we don’t know the answer to something. We know that we cannot have the perfect marriage – that doesn’t exist. But by depending on God and turning to him when we are lost, heartbroken, angry, joyous, or grateful, we are able to keep our eyes on the only One who can really make us whole. Our own strength and resolve will fail, but Jesus is the steady hand who gets us through it all.
As I said, I am no expert. But I love love, and I love being married, and if you ask me what I know about, well that’s it. Hopefully this has been enlightening or even just served as a reminder for you to take time to make your spouse feel loved.
Here’s my challenge to you: sometime in the next month, get a babysitter. Take your spouse out on a date. Show him love in the language that HE feels most loved. Snap a selfie of your gorgeous selves, post it on instagram, and tag me @ginadreherphoto. Let’s fill up our feeds with some beautiful examples of marriages that are thriving. And one last thing…sneak a kiss with your husband in front of your kids. They will love it and he will too.
Fall family photos, 2017