Us vs. Them: The Secret to a Big Family and Happy Marriage Making your marriage work can be as simple has finding the right frame of mind to approach the ongoing challenges. BY CATHY HOLMAN
A mother and wife explains how framing your approach to the world can empower your marriage.
“ The Us is always you and your partner but the Them changes moment by moment.”
My husband and I just celebrated our 13-year wedding anniversary. We met when I was 19 and were married three years later. We have five children and still thoroughly enjoy each other’s company (most days), so I feel fairly confident that I have some good advice to offer.
However, as I sat here analyzing the last 13 years and trying to figure out how we’ve made it this far, it really came down to one thing. Once you’re married it’s time for an Us vs. Them mentality. The Us is always you and your partner but the Them changes moment by moment.
The key is to always think of you and your partner as an Us. Does this mean you always put them first? Nope, not at all!
Let me give some examples.
Inevitably all couples hear the question, "When are you going to have children?" or "Are you having more children?"
If you think only about what’s good for Us and ignore what you hear from Them I promise you will make the best choice for your marriage.
When (or if) you have children you will be flooded with well-meaning words of wisdom. Only take to heart what works for Us, and ignore what worked for Them. You’ll be able to navigate the ups and downs of parenthood in the way that works best for your family.
The first time your child is hanging on your leg begging you to stay home from date night, simply breathe and know that going out alone is what is best for Us and that Them will be just fine.
A family function is coming up and it’s been months since you took the time to see Them. You’re exhausted at the thought of packing, driving for hours and all the other work that comes with a road trip. However, your spouse is really looking forward to the event and you know it means a lot to them. Time to think about Us. While it seems like saying yes to this trip is a yes to Them it’s really a yes to Us. You are sending the message “What is important to you, is important to me.”
The kids are whining and fussing and fighting over everything and both of you are at the end of your ropes. It’s time for an Us vs. Them meeting. Separate from the noise and form a plan of attack and stick with it…cheering each other on when you see positive results. Soon you’ll see that when you work together, the rest of the family will eventually follow along.
You’re tired and exhausted and your partner needs some attention. Pause and think about Us… and this is where you need to be honest.
Will you be resentful and bitter for days if you give more to Them than you currently have to give? Will your Us be more damaged in the long run by putting Them first? Sometime the answer to that is YES.
Or, will things be better if you take some time to drop everything and focus on Us. Will a few minutes of your time allow you to reconnect and move forward with a stronger and happier marriage?
Sometimes it’s better for Us for me to go away by myself. A few hours away from my husband, the kids, and never ending to-do lists is necessary for a healthy marriage. Putting Them aside and doing something that feeds my soul results in a renewed ability to devote energy to Us.
The same goes for my husband; and while it’s not always easy to send him off with a smile, I remember he’s not doing it for him, he’s doing it for Us.
When you begin asking yourself “Is this good for Us or Them?” you learn to say "no" to things that can damage your marriage. Have a conversation with your husband or wife and try an Us vs. Them mentality for a month. I have a feeling it will help you to find the balance that you and your partner need to make it through the ups and downs!
Cathy Holman is a 30-something mother of five. Originally born in Milwaukee, this city girl went country all for the love of a Cowboy. Read more about her Wyoming life and find supportive, honest and humorous posts about living a life of grit and grace at her blog PrairieWifeInHeels.com.