Giving Up Your Excuses

A year ago today, I married a brilliant, amazing man who keeps pushing my boundaries and helping me become a better person. He says I do the same thing for him. Really, I think that’s one of the basic tenants on what marriage should be — finding someone who helps drive you to self-improvement while at the same time, striving to become a better unit overall.

One of the lessons we have learned is that we, both as individuals and as a couple, need to let go of our excuses in order for growth to happen. According to dictionary.com, an excuse is “an explanation offered as a reason for being excused; a plea offered in extenuation of a fault or for release from an obligation, promise, etc.: His excuse for being late was unacceptable.” I would like to further that definition by saying that to me, an excuse is based in pettiness, fear, laziness or some other kind of self-serving emotion. It differs from a reason in that reasons are based in logic or genuine discomfort, and an excuse is something that ultimately holds you back from doing something you should.

For instance, we kept meaning to get a membership to the Denver Zoo, or the Museum of Nature and Science, for years. Our excuse is that we couldn’t afford it — seventy dollars is a fair chunk of money to us and we never seemed to have the time. The unspoken fear behind the excuse was that we would invest this money and never use it. We finally got a DMNS membership this year. Hubby pointed out that we’d already spent $40 on admission, and since the price of that day’s tickets could be applied towards the membership, it was only a $30 difference. We can afford $30, for a year, and it isn’t like we didn’t have friends with memberships we could go with whenever one of us was free. We also, if we had a membership, would feel less obligated to make the museum an all day activity and felt more comfortable just going to see the new exhibits and skipping the permanent stuff we’d seen a thousand times. We’ve gone twice in the two months since we got it, and I’m planning on a third excursion once the new exhibit on poisons comes out this weekend.

Now, there’s things one doesn’t want to do that are based in genuine discomfort or fear that we can’t logically explain. A lot of this revolves around personal likes and dislikes, and especially crops up with sex and food for Hubs and I. If you ask for a reason, sometimes the reason is “I just don’t LIKE it! I just don’t!” That’s not an excuse, that’s a reason, and the best response to that is just let it be. There is always a way to work around it.

Letting go of our excuses has also helped us grow as individuals this year. I applied and was offered a salaried management job that I literally would have skipped a year ago. Without my husband’s encouragement for growth (and yes, that includes lovingly pointing out where I can improve as a person) and his unwavering support, I would not have been able to make it past the application process. It was my suggestion that we go paleo, and while he’s embraced it with more fervor than I have, we never would have done it if I hadn’t said “Well, what’s really holding us back from this lifestyle change?” He dropped 50 lbs and has never felt healthier — now I’m subtly pushing us to take up yoga together.

We couldn’t have made these changes if we hadn’t been married. It gave us a security net when we said those irrevocable vows and legally bound each other into the other person’s well being. We’re obligated to help realize potential within ourselves, each other, and as a working partnership. I don’t think we would have felt the same if we had just been living together, or even back when we were engaged.

My challenge to readers is this: whether you’re with someone, or on your own for now, look at the things you want to accomplish. Look at your reasons for not doing them. Figure out what the root cause for why you haven’t done it — is it a genuine reason, or is it an excuse?

And there are some things for which there are neither reason or excuse. Hubby, I am so sorry I forgot to get you an anniversary card.

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