Thursday, September 6, 2007

Love and Marriage

In honor of today being our ten year anniversary, (love you, honey) and after reading this great post, which I found on david mcmahon's inspirational blog, I am moved to share some of the things that I have learned about love and marriage and family relationships in the last ten years. (Yes, I'm high-tech. I took a digital photo of a couple of wedding pictures rather than take them to Jared's office to scan them. Lazy is what it is.)
I cringe to remember what a cold new daughter-in-law I was. Jared's parents welcomed me warmly from the beginning, but like many young brides, I spent a while resisting the idea that differences in our families didn't have to be categorized as "right and wrong", "normal and weird." Don't get me wrong--we are not talking about huge, polarizing differences. In many, many ways, the culture in our families of origin were the same. But there are always differences, and I noticed them.
I have come to realize that I was feeling territorial and control-freakish about my husband and our time together and about establishing my own place in his family. I think that women have a tendency towards being territorial and that is why you hear far more cracks about mothers-in-law than you do about fathers-in-law. Again, there were no overt turf wars here, but I think it was very important to me in my immaturity to establish my "claim" over Jared, and then to attempt to claim the title of most accomplished, intelligent, capable, loving, and humorous daughter(-in-law or otherwise). Since my sisters-in-law and Jared's parents had no idea that there was a contest involved, you would think that would have been an easy task; but since I have very accomplished, intelligent, capable, loving, and humorous sisters-in-law, it was lots of hard work to try to measure up. One day I finally realized how ridiculous I was being. Jared's family had always treated me as one of their own, had never asked me to be better than the rest. Besides, I believe that one of the greatest gifts you can give your husband and your children is to love his family and overlook their flaws. I had to learn to relax and just be myself and enjoy the family. I do it for my own family--why not his, too?
Once I really let go of all of my fears, ego, and control (ok, so I guess I haven't let go of all of that, but most of it, perhaps,) I was able to truly love and enjoy each member of Jared's family. I have established rich, wonderful relationships with them and the line between his family and mine has become quite blurry. I feel so blessed to have them in my life.
One of the things that I have learned in marriage and in other family relationships is that you need to stop worrying about being right or who is at fault when there is a problem. If the relationship is important to you, focus on that and just do what you can to make it better. A few years ago, I read The Peacegiver, a book I highly recommend to all. It is written in a story format that is a bit cheesy but the message is powerful and important. We need to offer mercy and grace to our spouse and other loved ones, even when they are in the wrong, and to remember our own need for forgiveness from others and the Savior. Another book that has enhanced my understanding of the marriage relationship as the vehicle to true joy is Covenant Hearts by Bruce Hafen. He first outlines why marriage is so important to us as individuals, to families, to children specifically, and for society at large. He then gives wonderful counsel about striving to be the best spouse you can and of the value of sticking to your spouse when the going gets rough. President Hinckley has also given his secret to happy marriage: "The basis of a good marriage is mutual respect—respect for one another, a concern for the comfort and well-being of one another. That is the key. If a husband would think less of himself and more of his wife, we’d have happier homes." Other great articles about strengthening the marriage relationship can be found here.
All in all, I am so grateful for the man I married. Neither of us is perfect, but we are working together to get there. He works hard at being a good husband to me and it shows. I love him so much and am proud of the man that he is. I'm so glad that I have him by my side through the ups and downs of life, to enjoy the blessings and to overcome and understand the blessings that are disguised as trials. I am grateful for the example that we have of our own parents' relationships and for their support in our marriage. And I am so blessed to have four beautiful children, who bring joy into my life. Families are a treasure. Let's treat them that way!


Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary!!!
I loved this blog what good reminders that we all need... THis week Matt and I have kept remembering why we got married and not to sound cheesy but we both have felt like he have fell in love all over again... What a great feeling. Sometimes we need to stop our busy lives and appreciate what we have...
Congrates on making it 10 Years !


Malia said...

Happy Anniversary! Wow 10 years thats great! Congratulations! We love checking your blog and look forward to reading more and more!
PS... we thouroughly enjoyed the post about Ian and the potty! kids are so funny... it may not have been so funny to you at the time but a great story to look back on! I don't know if you know of our blog (its not as funny without kids) but you can check it out Again I hope you guys have a great Anniversary!

Michal said...

thanks for being my most loyal commenter! what a good friend you are.

Michal said...

yeah! i didn't know you checked my blog but i'm so glad to know you do. i wish we lived closer or got more chances to hang out. i'll definitely check out your blog.

Deborah Gamble said...

Hey, I didn't know you read David's blog!

The in-law post was a good one - one I needed to read.

But getting to what I really wanted to comment about was The Peacegiver. One of the best boooks ever written! Thanks for reminding me.

P.S. Beatimous pics!

david mcmahon said...

G'day Michal,

Thank you for those wonderful validations, not just of my blog and my attitude, but of families and their inestimable worth.

Bless you on your tenth anniversary and I hope the love your family has and shares, continues to grow.

You've presented such a valuable viewpoint here, that I will do all I can to ensure it gets read by a wider audience.

Good luck, God bless and do keep in touch.

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Signed off before saying I'm adding you to my blogroll.

Hope that is all right with you ....

Michal said...

i found david's blog through yours. so thanks for the new friend!
i can't tell you how often i hear of someone with a relationship problem of some kind and i think of "The Peacegiver." it makes its point so well, don't you think?

Michal said...

thanks for the honor of being added to your blog roll. i hope i'm up for the challenge of the new traffic it will bring!

Kimberly said...

What a beautiful tribute to your sweetheart! So happy to have found your blog. I'm going to settle in here when I have more time and give it a good read.

Happy Anniversary!

Michal said...

thanks for visiting. i loved your blog as well. let's be friends!

Anna said...

Happy Anniversary! Really good post.

I found you on David's blog.

mrsnesbitt said...

Hi, I too found you c/o David's blog! Yes marriage is indeed a wonderful thing. Congratulations on 10 years together. One of the things I really love about being married is my name...yes indeed it is mrs nesbitt...immortalized by Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 1 when he says "More tea Mrs Nesbitt?" I absolutely howled out loud in the film to hear my name! Next year we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary! Marriage in this day and age is often the source of jokes and jibes, usually by people who have not been so fortunate to have a good experience, so those of us like you and I should celebrate.

Much love,

Michal said...

mrs. nesbitt,
i immediately recognized the reference to toy story, being the mother of three boys! thanks for checking out my blog and for echoing my sentiments about marriage. i wholeheartedly agree that marriage is too often the butt of jokes or considered a temporary state,to be enjoyed until it gets hard. and yet it should be our greatest source of joy and friendship in life. congratulations on making it nearly 20 years and counting--good marriages don't happen by accident.

Michal said...

welcome. please come back and visit anytime!

Morgan said...

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! (Sorry we are a few days late!)

Morgan & Co

Anonymous said...

10! what a couple of rookies.
35 years Saturday. If we do another 35 we will be 91 years old. I promised to take her to the moon if we live that long. I'm not too worried about that promise. We will have plenty of time? when we are on the other side to visit universe.
Love, Papa

Michal said...

in another 35 years, a honeymoon to the moon might not be that unusual! may you live long and prosper!:)

Christine McClellan said...

Happy Anniversary! And thanks, Michal! I've been thinking a lot today about the RS lesson I'm teaching this Sunday on marriage. And catching up on your blog was a great help. You are so cool. I can't believe you make time to write so much and so well. What an inspiration.

Michal said...

so good to hear your voice (even if i'm not really hearing it.) long time no talk.
i only make time because i'm obsessed. i am trying to find balance and failing at the moment. but on the upside, i love that this blog allows me to express myself and to write something--it's been so long since i've written much.
come back soon. by the way, you are my hero.

Harry's Mom said...

Congrats on the anniversary! I may be a bitter old spinster now but I can still swoon at a good love story every now and again. I'm so happy you found a wonderful man - and he's especially lucky to have YOU. Love always!