This is an area to discuss things I've done with my husband over the years to strengthen our relationship as well as observations I've witnessed that might serve to help others.
My husband and I are 37 and have known each other for more than half our lives. We made that realization sometime this past year. There is a certain sense of accomplishment to saying that I have been able to tolerate one other person continually in my life since I was 17. And that they tolerated me right back. I feel like we should have medals or something.
But we don't. We did, however, get frustrated in our lives and take it out on each other. And start ignoring each other. Or throwing ourselves into other activities to avoid arguing with each other. We didn't hate one another. We just didn't know what else to do to get rid of our frustrations and wanted to avoid hurting one another. But it just made us more distant. It didn't help the issues.
So, we decided we needed a change. We didn't like how our life was going. We didn't like how our relationships were formed and how they were supported. Our kid's lives were not happy and we were working our butts off to just pay the bills. So, we decided to make a big move--and now we're hitting around 6 months since we moved. Here's where we're at now.
I hated life for a few months when we first got here. I'm an optimistic person, I try to see the bright side. But I was depressed. We left the home we loved and our families back in the states. We left friends and neighbors we had become close to. But we were doing this for a better take on life--we wanted to live differently and adjusting our jobs and our habits wasn't cutting it. We had to go big. I knew that. But leaky floors, sleeping on sleeping bags for months and rain ALL THE FREAKING TIME wore me down real freaking quick. But, Keith let me vent. And shout. And generally act like a loon. And he understood.
In a weird way, not having the other outlets we had before helped us learn how to enjoy one another again. We don't go out with tons of people, we have just been focusing on enjoying one another when we aren't at work. We have a local coffee shop we go to every week for breakfast. We're considered regulars there now. Like Cheers, but with coffee. We do Sunday night game night--Uno BAD, Minecraft GOOD (we actually sit down as a family and play Minecraft together). I know it sounds crazy that these things mean so much to me right now, but we didn't do it when we were back in the States. We didn't have to. We had other distractions and obligations that kept us from doing it. But we don't now.
However, the best thing that has happened lately: my husband went on a week-long work trip to the Comoros in Africa. It's a volcanic island near Madagascar. We had little to no contact that week because of time changes and, apparently, the country sometimes doesn't get WiFi because the provider just withholds it from time to time. And I didn't freak out that whole week. I had to get the kids to school and spend time with just them and me. And it was actually kind of fun. We started a routine. We made up fake plans for what Dad was doing every day. And we were super psyched when he came back. And when he came back, he went nuts finding us souvenirs to bring back because he wanted to be able to share as much of his trip with us as he could.
OK, weird, right? Sounds nice, why the hell did you share that? Here's why--if that same trip had happened when we were back in the States, I can already imagine how we would have reacted. I would have been pissy the whole time he was gone because I had to do everything with the kids AND work. I would have hung out with the neighbors drinking when I could because that was all that would keep me sane. The kids would have fought with me constantly because that's typically what they did when only one of us was around. And Keith would have come back cranky, tired and biting our heads off at every turn.
I am really happy we made the changes we have. I laugh now more than I remember laughing in a LONG time. I actually almost peed myself laughing the other day (not related to being an aging woman, just from shear joy). I honestly can't remember when I've been this happy for this long in awhile. Even with all the freaking rain.