In a marriage, you have to sort out your priorities, as a person, and as a couple. For a successful marriage, it's probably best if you do this before you say "I do". However, when you find yourself in a long-distance marriage, you have to rethink your priorities and see where you really stand. It's easy to say "My priorities are keeping you healthy and alive, making the kids' lives remain normal, and for me to work my tail off" (ask me how I know), but actually enacting those priorities after a year or two years of being apart is much more difficult, even for a couple who has already survived so much.
You have to take stalk of your actions and see if they match your words. I told Hector that he was my priority, but I really think my priorities were making sure to have my daily Starbucks and taking my kids to do all kinds of ridiculously expensive things. While Hector was eating Top Ramen, we were eating out every night. It doesn't seem like my actions matched up with my words, does it? Nope it does not.
Priorities are easy to lose track of. Goals can easily become far away, fairy tale dreams when you get tired, burnt out, depressed, and lonely. Your mind weakens. You can let others dictate your thoughts more easily. These are not excuses for how poorly I treated my husband or my family for all of that time. This is how it really feels when all of a sudden you're hitting rock bottom. You recognize all of the things you did wrong and you see how you ended up there, when you didn't see it when you were on your way there.
So, how do you get back on track? Well, I happen to have a few ideas that have worked for me:
- Create a vision board. I use these for my One Little Word class (as they are one of the assignments) and it is really the same process. I find things that remind me of my goals, then I plaster it in a place where I can see it everyday. Do I want to buy some useless crap? Oh wait, look at how much my spare change can add up to!
My vision board for my One Little Word of 2014: Brave.
- Talk about priorities and things you want to improve with your spouse, weekly at least. This sounds easy enough, but when you are being selfish and screwing up your life, you don't want to hear about it from other people. I hung up on Hector many a times when he was trying to help me. I'm sorry, Babe. I should have listened to you.
- Read books about marriage. I read more than enough travelogues and historical fiction during the time when I was ignoring life to last me a lifetime. Even though I still indulge in my favorite genres, I am taking time to read self-help books, the Bible, and advice articles about marriage. If you're thinking about your marriage when you're reading, you will make it a priority when you're not.