3 Changes that Changed My Marriage- Tiffany Smiley

Let’s be honest, life is one big transition with a million little transitions all throughout it, when you throw in marriage, kids, work and all the other million things, it’s a mixed bag of chaos. After spending years of merely surviving and supporting everyone else, I had the mother of all breakdowns, I became incredibly snappy and on the verge of insanity, and my marriage was one of the main sufferers from my state. It got so bad that Scotty and I came to the point where we knew in order to survive, we had to start mutually feeding into each other, supporting each of our needs, unique gifts, dreams and goals.

This journey has not looked perfect, but we have learned a couple things. The first lesson was to be flexible, don’t force Plan A or demand Plan A and then get upset when Plan A doesn’t work out. When life is busy, finding time for each other is a huge challenge. I wish it was as easy as setting up a Plan A and going with it, and honestly I thought that was how it was going to work (haha no way!).

I had to learn that perfection is not the answer and all it does is steal your joy. I don’t want anything stealing my joy, so very quickly I learned that you must set out a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, knowing that hardly ever does your first plan work out. Usually it’s a combo of Plan B and C, but you know what? In the end we have always accomplished what we needed and that is all that matters.

Early on in the quest to intentionally invest in our marriage when my three boys were younger, Scotty and I decided that I would get every Saturday morning off until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. It was amazing and it was the first time in a long time I felt I had time to plan, make appointments (fun appointments like nails, hair and lunch dates), time to wander and explore and be creative and dream. A funny thing happened, it also allowed me to appreciate and be grateful for my husband, BONUS.

This led us to setting each other up for success, we keep a Rolodex of babysitters (that I have approved), Scotty has all their numbers, just as I do. So if he wants a date with me he can set it up. We were in the rut where he would say he wanted to take me out, but that was as far as it went, I did all the planning, all the coordinating etc, all the while being extremely passive aggressive. Well let me tell you, just sitting down to communicate simple requests with each other has been a game changer.

Scotty now knows all our favorite places, he has them on speed dial and babysitters too, we are both set up for success. He plans date nights and I love it! Simple communication is a tactic that makes a world of difference.

As it does, life keeps changing and the boys are getting older, Scotty’s job changed recently and now we have soccer games on Saturday mornings. So without even realizing it, my alone time was gone and date nights got fewer and fewer, we found ourselves back in the rut, back in the place where I was overextending myself and never got a second to be alone or time for each other. This time, however, since we’d been there before we knew what to do, so we came up with a new plan, a plan that looked a whole lot different and serves us in a whole new way.  

Our journey now looks way different than it it did when we first started, but that’s the thing, it is always going to be changing, and look different than the season before. It is not easy and it takes an incredible amount of effort and fortitude to keep pushing on and changing, but it is so worth it.

I cannot tell how much Scotty and I have grown in the last few years together in our marriage and as individuals. Not that we have it mastered (at all!), and there are still times and seasons where we find ourselves back in rut, but we don’t stay there very long because we know the steps to take to get out. I still wish I could wave a “bipity bobity boo” stick and make everything magically work out, but that is all part of the journey, no one gets the perfect master Plan A in every time.  

Scotty and I have found that focusing on these 3 key things were essential to us moving forward in effective ways.

  1. Communication- Communicate what you both need and desire, what your goals aspirations, ideas and expectations are. Try to be forthcoming and share what you are feeling. This is a skill we continually work at and it’s not perfect and we definitely have our sloppy days, but it is incredibly important.

  2. Have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. We have learned to say bye-bye to perfection, knowing that life is always changing. Have a plan in place that leaves room for shifting and adapting based on the unknowns that will always come your way. We try to see the unknowns as opportunities instead of roadblocks. Our final plan is usually a combo of Plan B and C, and it usually works out far better than we imaged.

  3. Stay positive. I’m not talking fake happy smiles, but we have a choice everyday to look at obstacles, hardships and unexpected events in a positive light or a negative light. We have learned to lean towards the positive, to look at what is possible vs what is not. This can change your whole outlook, if you can invest that much effort in being negative why not invest that much in being positive and see what happens.

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