After the success of my post about 4 Ways I Make My Marriage Amazing, I thought it would be a great topic to talk about a little further. Instead of just hearing from me, I thought it would be wonderful to hear from others how they make their marriage great. Today, Alexis from Alexis Donkin will be telling us how she went From Near Separation to Marital Bliss.
In 2013, my husband and I began one of the most difficult times in our married life. It began when he lost his job and I was 7 months pregnant. From that moment, our life changed dramatically. We lost our health insurance, couldn’t pay our bills, and in a few months, found ourselves living with my parents.
In a short time, we found ourselves on the verge of divorce. We fought every day. I cried daily, finding myself questioning everything. I no longer knew what I wanted or who I was and if we could make our marriage work.
From Near Separation to Marital Bliss
You’d never know this happened looking at us today. These days we kiss each other goodbye. We tell each other thank you and apologize when we make a mistake. By telling each other what’s going on in our daily lives and really listen, we support one another Lastly, have regular couple time.
So what happened? What did we do that took us from the brink of divorce to being a healthy committed married couple?
First, we decided
We wanted to figure out what to do to make our marriage work. We decided we would work on it and then in a few months, we’d sit down and see how things were going.
It’s easy to think that deciding to do something wouldn’t have an impact – it seems like such a little thing! However, choosing is the first step to any lasting change. We recognized that our choice would impact the kinds of actions we took. There were so many wonderful things about our relationship and we wanted those things.
Why did we choose to get married in the first place? What drew us together? There were good reasons for us to get married and we valued those things. To reconnect, we committed to figuring out who we were, what we wanted, and where we would go next. We were open to whatever would happen, and gave ourselves the possibility of success by choosing to work through our challenges.
Second, we committed to heartfelt conversation
This meant we consciously spent time talking to one another and working through things. We talked through everything – our dreams, plans, and strategies. We talked about what we wanted in our relationship on a daily basis. Different tools, like personality assessments, to enhance our ability to communicate. This was a major breakthrough for us.
Our conversation improved drastically when we were successfully typed with Myers-Briggs (there are plenty free MBTI tests online!). Using our types, we tailored our conversation to honor our preferences and the way in which we process information. It dramatically changed our communication and virtually removed all fighting (because we understand one another better, we no longer struggle to feel heard).
Third, I worked on myself
This sounds counter-intuitive, but honestly, this was (and continues to be) one of the biggest contributors to our marriage’s health. I systematically addressed all aspects of myself – emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical, you can read more about that HERE.
The result was nothing short of SPECTACULAR! My health improved. My mood improved. I slept better and enjoyed everything I did on a regular basis. I felt good about me, which meant I was making better choices. In making better choices, my marriage was positively impacted. My husband and I have more fun together – including having weekly dates (a practice I highly recommend!).
The Most Important Thing
While the first two pieces of improving our marriage were essential, I was surprised at the importance of working on myself. I didn’t realize how important self-work is to having functional and healthy relationships. At first, it was a little scary, because I knew that by working on myself, I might grow apart from my husband. That said, I also knew I needed to work on myself for myself.
Being unhealthy in a relationship wasn’t how I wanted to spend my life. When I talked about this with my spouse, he was a little anxious, but he supported me. He knew it was necessary and that if I didn’t take care of myself, it would become a source of regret and resentment (two things that are extremely damaging to relationships). Because he was supportive, it made the process easier and helped to ensure that we continued to grow together. Because he listened and communicated with love, our marriage strengthened.
Ironically, that low point in 2013 resulted in making our marriage stronger than it has ever been. My husband and I grew together, and we’re more supportive than before. While the experience tested our marriage and was a difficult transition, it forced us to examine parts of ourselves as well as our relationship. The result was better communication, support, love, joy, and gratitude on a daily basis. For this reason, I’m grateful for the experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity it gave us, and our ability to see it as an opportunity and use it. Truly, it made our marriage great.
Alexis Donkin is an intentional author, blogger, speaker, coach, and teacher. She is the creator of The Compassion Letter weekly newsletter, and the online course, The Heart Unboxed: How to Love the Unloveable, as well as host of the Intentional Writer Interview Series. Her purpose is to increase empathy and compassion by focusing, creating, and sharing positive ideas through story.
Alexis lives in Southern California with her family. She is a classically trained artist, with a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies and an MA in Global and International Studies. Between writing, speaking, and chasing her kid, she paints, sings, and dances. Sometimes Alexis does it all at once. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website Alexis Donkin