When it comes to past relationships, I failed.
I didn’t develop my own personality and identity until I was in my early thirties. Before that, I literally did whatever it took to keep peace in my home. I catered to my ex’s needs; leaving my own needs abandoned.
I don’t usually give marriage advice because I failed at being married in the past.
I give advice on things I am educated or experienced in. For example, I wrote a book about changing your daily habits called Break Bad Habits. I began my journey of learning how to change a negative mindset and overcome bad habits when I was in my early twenties. I read every motivational, inspirational, and self-help book I could get my hands on.
What I didn’t realize was my bad habit of choosing the wrong type of guy. I married for the wrong reasons, married too young, and stayed married because I had kids. I remained married as long as I could, but eventually, I had to end it.
I forgive him now, which is what you must do to be able to move on with your life, but my ex was intentionally a jerk.
I know firsthand what it feels like to realize you’ve married a jerk.
The man I am married to now treats me better. He thanks me for dinner, instead of tossing it in the trash. He opens my car door, holds my hand, and treats me like I matter to him.
He makes sure I’m comfortable in my environment. He helps to remove the stress of daily life by sometimes running my errands, doing the dishes, or helping out with the laundry.
I have seen both sides of married life; one where the marriage is a happy one, and one where it wasn’t so happy.
Even though my current husband treats me well, we still have our moments of conflict.
Last night, I was telling him I’m glad we didn’t have any children together when we first met. Our children are grown now. We are done with raising kids.
He said to me, “But can you imagine what a power force the child would have been if we added my brains to your talents?”
I woke up this morning thinking, “Was he saying I have no brains?” It’s a good thing I am not easily offended. 🤪
Men stick their foot in their mouth. They say and do things without thinking.
Most of our arguments have been power struggles between who is right or wrong. I will not back down when I know I am 100% right. Two people who both think they’re right will butt heads.
It is during those moments I have to remind myself of who he is. He is a good husband. He loves and respects me.
Is he perfect? No way. Far from it.
But despite his flaws, his good qualities outweigh his bad ones. I remind myself of these things when he fails to be the man I want him to be.
I remind myself that I’m not always the woman he wants, either. None of us are perfect.
Most of us have bad qualities which are just side affects of our own negative mentalities.
There may come a day when you see your spouse as a jerk. That just simply means they have flaws; as we all do.
Don’t allow their flaws to stick in your mind unless the flaws are abusive or dominating. Domination or abuse is a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.
Over time, we may choose to only focus on the negative aspects of another person; but if we do, it will hurt our relationships.
Men seem to have this internal need to be in charge, to be right, and to be heard.
Especially men above 40 and older. They have a war mentality. They grew up with their fathers telling them to suck it up and tough it out. My husband’s dad made him run about 8 miles a day to keep him tough. He started teaching him to build his own car at the age of about 13. It was a different era back then. Parents didn’t coddle their kids.
Unlike my husband, I grew up in an abusive situation. I now kick hard against that ever happening to me again. I shun dominating behavior and will not stand for it. Add that to my husband’s need to be a man and be in charge and you have a powerful force of heard heads!
Do you see how varying mindsets can clash with one another?
No matter what age group you are in, a guys behavior may at some point, make you think you married a jerk. He probably is to some degree, as we all are at times.
But, if you focus on that and dwell on it, you will fail to continue to notice the positive things about him.
In the end, all I noticed about my ex were negative things. His unloving behavior caused me to stop paying attention to his positive traits. He seemed to only notice my negative traits as well.
When a persons flaws become your main focus, it causes marriage issues.
While I am not an expert on marriage, I can tell what you what will cause a marriage to fail. And concentrating on a person’s flaws will do just that.
Focusing on the problem will not fix the problem.
Focusing on loving my spouse is the only thing that has worked so far in my current marriage.
LOVE is the answer. Love works. Love never fails. Don’t expect your spouse to do all of the work.
Love yourself– first.
This is where I failed in my past relationships. I didn’t love myself enough to stick up for myself, to continue to pursue my own dreams or have a life of my own away from my relationships.
I was only ‘mom’ or ‘wife.’ I was sister, daughter, or friend. My own hobbies, career, and interests were set aside and taken over by the roles I played in other people’s lives. Big mistake.
It took years before I developed into Valerie- the artist, writer, designer, and girl who can do anything I set my mind to. I am now boldly spoken, strong-willed, and extremely giving.
My point is, I didn’t have self-respect because I had not developed my own individuality yet. Who I was, was wrapped up in the roles I had to play for others. Not loving and respecting yourself allows boundaries to be crossed.
Don’t put yourself in a position where someone else is in charge of you. That isn’t how a relationship is supposed to work.
If you are an adult, don’t allow another person to parent you. Love yourself enough to continue to pursue your dreams, go to school, and make plans for the future based on what you want, not what someone else wants for you.
If you are not married yet and you see subtle signs of abusive behavior, domination, control issues, or a lack of respect- GET OUT NOW.
There is no reason to settle for such a person. There are too many fish in the sea for you to settle.
If you are already married and you’re seeing signs of negative patterns, you need to nip it in the bud. Love yourself enough to not allow the disrespect to continue.
You can lovingly tell your spouse how you feel and make them aware that their behavior is negative.
As you learn to love yourself, keep in mind that just as you are not perfect, your spouse is also not going to be perfect. Love your spouse, even when you don’t have as many reasons to love them.
Remember, other people don’t have to like your spouse, accept your spouse, or even want to be around your spouse; but a man who disrespects you will only get worse. Sometimes our family or friends can see something we don’t want to see because it would mean the end of our relationship. Maybe, it needs to end.
If your family or friends are warning you about someone, they probably see red flags that you are refusing to see.
Our need to not be alone can outweigh things we should be paying attention to. Don’t ignore your family and friends if they warn you about someone. Take it to heart.
You do not have to make excuses or look for ways to cover your partner’s tracks. You don’t have to control them or look for things they’re doing wrong. But you also do not have to put up with abuse.
Let your partner be free to make their own choices. Give them reasons to choose to love you, and forgive them when they mess up at that, but don’t ignore warning signs.
Your obligation in any relationship is to continue to love and forgive the other person. That is your role. Love is what you owe them.
In my past life, I was the victim because I was taught that forgiveness meant looking the other way. That is not what forgiveness is about.
Forgiveness is about not holding a mistake against a person. Loving yourself is about not allowing that mistake that you’ve forgiven to turn into a bad habit. Once you see a bad habit forming, you need to stop allowing it to happen again.
The recent story of Gabby Patito has urged social media to cry out with warnings against domestic violence. Having been there to some degree, I can tell you that a dominating spouse only gets worse.
If you have a problem, you need to reach out for help and let others know there’s a problem. There are places you can go for help such as The Abuse Hotline. Text “start” to 88788.
To sum it up:
Don’t settle for disrespect; but if they love you, and they’re trying to make things work, give them credit for it. If their behavior scares you, GET OUT NOW. Don’t hang around with a person who has anger issues.
Ultimately, love and forgiveness are meant for healthy relationships.
Unhealthy relationships need to be broken.
Or, if you’re married they need to at the least be repaired. If one person in a relationship refuses to change, it’s at that point you need to choose peace and not let it ruin you. I don’t condone divorce, but ultimately God is a God of peace. Choose peace.