Working on My Marriage

Stephen and I started dating in 1998 and were married a year later. The following year, we became parents for the first time. We were over the moon in love with each other, and there was no doubt in our minds that we would be together forever. And all these years later, we still are, and we’ve still no doubt, but marriage is hard work. Even when there’s great love.

We have had wonderful experiences together but many of the months and years could have been better than they were. So many were tainted by negative thoughts, emotions, and behavior. We’ve shared the joy of having four sweet children together, as well as the pain of four miscarriages. We have had amazing nights together and evenings where we haven’t want to touch each other at all. We’ve had constructive disagreements and angry arguments. And we’ve had open lines of communication as well as times where we’ve been completely closed-off from one another.

Up until five years ago, things were frequently negative and we struggled a lot. For me, it was never that I loved him less, but I sure didn’t act like I did sometimes. It was a matter of:

  • Resentment for all the work I was doing that he never could seem to match up to. It felt like I did it ALL, and it sometimes infuriated me that he didn’t contribute the way that I thought he should. The truth was, we both had/have our roles and he did his part just as I did mine. No one is working more than the other.
  • Lack of respect for him. I wanted to be in charge, plain and simple. Hand over the controls. Well, he didn’t want to be treated like a child (big surprise), so this didn’t work.
  • Loss of sexual interest. Because I had negative thoughts and emotions about him/life, I had little interest in sex. This isn’t good for a marriage.
  • My sadness and lack of contentment. I wanted to be having babies when I wanted them, but we kept losing them! This wasn’t his fault, of course, but I somehow let it become a problem between us. I also wanted to be living in the kind of home that we simply couldn’t afford. I blamed him for this instead of appreciating how blessed we already were.

He is hardworking, loving, and loyal – and I was miserable. It was painful for him to see me this way. To know that he wasn’t making me happy made him back away. He wasn’t respected or appreciated, and on top of that, he felt rejected because I wasn’t giving him much physical attention.

I just didn’t know how to change. I didn’t know HOW to be happy in my marriage. I didn’t know if it was me, or him, or both of us who needed to change. I just knew I wasn’t happy. And because of that, neither was he.

It was only in late 2011 that things started happening for the better. It wasn’t instant but it really didn’t take that long to turn our marriage around. After a few weeks, we began sharing the kind of marriage that felt too good to be true – we were both so happy! And it lasted for a good few years, even!! But then stuff happened as it always does and always will which challenged that happiness again. From difficult housing conditions, to work injuries and secondary infertility, we had some struggles. And those struggles, I’m sorry to say, caused some of the old problems to creep back in.

While we are still enjoying some of the aspects of change that occurred five years ago, there are definitely areas that once again need attention. I’m not miserable but I am negative too often, and I don’t have or show him enough respect. Yeah, most of the areas relate to me, and AS I CHANGE, he does, too because he is very responsive to my behavior (whether good or bad).

But how do I change? Exactly how I did before!

A few months after Samuel was born, I began thinking more about all of this marriage stuff. I was tired of the stress between us. I was starting to think along the lines of even if its not me, maybe I can make changes that will help. Maybe I can read some books and find out what were doing wrong, and fix things. I was still very much in the mindset of it being a marriage problem – not a ME problem.

I went to the library one day and I browsed the non-fiction section. I found the books on marriage and flipped through several of them but nothing really stood out to me. I then saw that there was another, smaller section below those books, and they were focused on women. Wives, to be exact. Not marriage books, but wife books. I picked up one about sex, but I was not interested in improving our sex life at the moment, so back on the shelf it went.

Then I found it. I didn’t know I had found it at the time, but I certainly had found it! The book that would ultimately change everything I knew about marriage and being a wife, and being HAPPY as a married woman. It’s called The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and was written by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The title made me cringe because I didn’t want to care or serve him anything! But once I started reading it, I completely forgot about the title.

In the follow-up to this post , I will share with you how the book helped me, including how I had to “fake it” at the beginning. It took a willing heart, for sure, and the rewards were great.

As we head into the summer, I am once again focusing on my marriage (it seems to take a pretty big hit during pregnancy and definitely again after a new baby arrives) and I’m excited to see the positive changes that are in store for us!

32 thoughts on “Working on My Marriage”

  1. Dear Valerie, this is one of my favorite articles from you ever. I love that you are so honest and open and tell us our true story. People try to do it sometimes, but they hide certain things, don’t tell it like it is and certainly don’t admit they might be the problem. Also, the fact that you talk about sex. People often hush it like they’re scary teenagers and not married women/men. It’s a very serious topic in marriage, one that can make you best friends instead of husband and wife. We can all take example from this post and it will certainly help a lot of women to think about their marriage and even their actions. We can all certainly do be better. Thank you for this. Hugs. <3

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for being so supportive! I don’t think it helps anyone for us to leave out the important details (though I do understand not being comfortable sharing everything). I hope sharing my store helps someone. :)


  2. Kudos to you for exposing some of the intimate details about your marriage; being open and honest about challenges that arise when two very different sexes (we all know men and women are very different) try to get through this thing called life together. It’s such a beautiful institution, but even the best of marriages will have tribulation. The great thing is you’re willing to work at it and not throw in the towel when troubles surface, as they most assuredly will. No marriage is ever perfect. But every great thing requires work, right? I loved your post. And might I suggest a another book that is unmatched in its suggestions on marital success? The Bible. Specifically Ephesians 5:21 all the way through to chapter 6:4. Excellent advice for every married couple.

    Looking forward to your part 2. ( :

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Men and women sure ARE different!! I love that but it definitely presents some challenges as well. ;)
      I LOVE those verses in Ephesians and actually have two of them framed in the master bedroom! Thank you, I hope my story helps someone know that there is hope. :)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As a wife of 30 years (and counting) I can certainly relate to this post. There have been times in my marriage that big questions have come up, like the “should I stay in this marriage” type of questions. I have read many, many books and I am familiar with the one you are reading now. I will not taint you with my thoughts on it, but am curious what your take away will be. My marriage today is good and solid, but it does take two people committed to that goal. I hope your husband is also reading, thinking and working toward this endeavor. I know, from painful experience, that this can not all be your mission. Good luck with the book and do please follow up with us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually don’t like the author very much or her sarcastic, rough personality, but I found the book to be a huge blessing mainly because of the men’s perspectives that she shared It gave me a better understanding of men.
      The problems in my marriage almost all relate back to me and my way of interacting and viewing my husband. He is extremely laid back and seriously cherishes me, it’s lousy that I haven’t appreciated him fully over the years. He’s not perfect but he truly doesn’t need to change in regards to our relationship. 😊 It’s odd to say, but I’m glad it’s just me because it means I can change things! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow sounds like you’ve been through several ups and downs and weathered it together. I’ve been married for a little over 2 years now and we don’t have kids but I have learned some things the hard way. Love is definitely a decision you make everyday in your marriage even when you don’t feel like it. I’ll be in prayer for your relationship with your spouse. Please be in prayer for mine too! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for writing this post. I needed to read it, and I definitely need to read your follow-ups. As I read this, I kept thinking “Oh yeah, me too!” Marriage IS hard work, with ups and downs and happiness and deserts. I’m definitely in the desert right now, searching for a way out. I have started reading Love & Respect, but I got distracted. You have encouraged me to pick it up again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There is indeed hope. I have started reading Love & Respect again (I quit before after the first chapter in favor of an easier book). I also ran across a “comic” yesterday about one of the main issues in marriages that was really interesting. I don’t have the address to link it now, but I put the link in my blog today.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing your story! I have not had a relationship so it’s always very confusing to me when people only talk about the good aspects. Surely there’s some not so good ones too! Wishing you all the best for your goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, Valerie, what a post! Very raw and open…. You have been married quite awhile with ups and downs – I’m certain that’s inevitable. I’m familiar with that author from the radio (I think my parents used to listen to her show??). I would certainly be interested in reading that, although wow, that title is a doozy. Very 1990s. Or 1950s! But as a pro-female non-feminist, I think it’s awesome and refreshing, actually – and honest. I’m so, so looking forward to your follow-up post! (And very sincere best wishes for a successful summer for you. :D)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the title, in my opinion, is a big mistake. I think the book, were it to have been called something else, could have reached more women. It’s ideal for women who find themselves lacking happiness with their husband and in their marriage so wouldn’t a less man-centered title make more sense?!

      “pro-female non-feminist” lol, that’s a blog post right there! 😊
      Thank you so much! You, too! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She’s from a different generation, so I think maybe she didn’t realize how it sounded to others. Maybe it was a bit humorous of a title. I mean, I get where she’s going and it doesn’t offend me, but yes – she could’ve reached more readers!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I have been married for almost 6 years and it really is incredibly hard. I sometimes wonder if living with other humans at all really works for me. I do know that if Mr O was not around I would miss him and I am yet to meet any other person who makes me laugh as much as he does. So we both continue to work on it and hope that neither of us kills the other one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, I know what you mean! I definitely wish I lived alone (or at least in another wing of the house!) during hormonal times. 😉
      That’s awesome that you laugh so much with him!!


  9. So many want to focus on the fairy tale of marriage and love, but few truly venture to expose the hard truths. I’m so glad you are shedding light on the truth, life is hard, and marriage is the same. There are compromises, changing of perspective, and being aware of OUR own thoughts and actions, not always the spouse being “wrong.” Loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This post kept churning in my mind. Hubby and I have been together since 1998 also. When I first read it there were so many thoughts of this might help, that might help but since each marriage is different I kept my thoughts to myself but one thing kept coming back to me over and over and when that happens I know it’s not from me. So, here’s what I suggest and I hope you receive it with all the love in my heart. It is what turned us around. I prayed that God make hubby the husband He wanted me to have and I prayed that God make me the wife He wanted me to be. I actually had my mom pray it with me, together. Then every night after that I thanked God for making me the wife He wanted me to be and hubby the husband He wanted me to have. I changed our marriage 100%. I still, even though we are like 2 little kids now who can’t wait to be in each others presence, say that same thank you every night. God Bless you and I will say this prayer for you and your husband also. :):)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this, Margaret! I absolutely agree. I have actually been pretty good over the last few years about praying that God make the wife He wants me to be. And I know He is faithful!! :D

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I got married when I was 19. I’m 59 (almost 60) now. That’s a lot of years of being a wife. And you’re so right, Valerie. Marriage is hard work. You’re also right that if you want things to change you have to make changes first. I love Margaret’s method of thanking God for making her the wife He wants her to be and her husband the husband He wants him to be. My parents were married for 60 years and I remember my father telling me “Sometimes if you can stand to be in the same room together, it’s enough.” It was his way of telling me that things will get really rough but you can work through it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Most people don’t think about this, but the Bible offers a lot of great advice on how to deal with problems in the marriage. Here’s an article I recently discovered that is full of scriptural guidance that could be helpful.
    I invite you to browse that website often as it provides a lot of advice for couples, families, children and teenagers. I hope this is helpful and encouraging to you.


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