The first time I saw my husband is a memory that has seared itself on my brain. I can clearly recall the moment he and two of his co-workers walked into the break room at the company I had just begun a temporary assignment at. Needing to touch base with my sister I’d swung into the break room just for a moment to use the phone. They sat down at a table to talk and I attempted to surreptitiously study this tall, sexy, 40s-something man with very blue eyes that calmly watched me as I tripped over whatever in the world I’d been saying while I frantically wondered who he was and if he was single.
Over 4 years later those blue eyes that made such an impact on me are one of the very first things I see every morning…and they still have the ability to make me trip over my words.
Of course there are those moments when I’m not tripping over my words. There are moments I will not be swayed by any and all of the various aspects of my husband that make me go all gooey inside. There are moments of frustration and irritation and worry and throwing my hands in the air and wanting to stomp my feet and slam my door and – you get the picture.
Does this mean I don’t think my marriage is fantastic or that I love my husband any less? Not on your life. It just means that we’re two ordinary people that are trying to do what anyone in a marriage does: make it work. Here are 5 truths I have learned about making my marriage a success.
1. It is work. Sometimes, it’s hard work. A marriage consists of two people from two different families that have often had two completely different upbringings and are attempting to make a new family, together. Wow – that does sound like hard work. There are a million compromises to be made as this new family is established and not everyone (uh, ahem, me) is diplomatically inclined. Does this mean I get to railroad my husband in the decision-making? Nope. I am not a diplomat but he is shockingly patient. Patient enough to wait for me to realize when I’m being an overbearing ass; he’s also kind enough to assist me down from my high horse when I require it. (It’s a very tall horse occasionally.)
2. You will have “funks”. There will be times, sometimes days or even weeks, where you simply cannot seem to “click”. Every other conversation will end in a tiff because, for no apparent reason, you seem to have utterly lost the ability to communicate. It’s like there’s some ugly feeling hanging about in your home and it’s not in a hurry to leave. Then, suddenly, it’s gone. Like a cloud clears from the sky you’re back to being on the same team and there’s nothing left of it but some nervous laughter and a sense of relief at it’s passing. I have ceased trying to make sense of these aberrations of marital bliss and am coming to accept that marriage is no different than any other relationship that we have in life in that we all experience “funks”.
3. Choosing the right partner is the most important decision you will ever make. A few months after my husband and I started dating I realized that I had been putting off having discussions about things like religion, life philosophies, the possibility of children, etc.because I was afraid that we would discover that we had different ideas on the important issues. It was only after acknowledging that I was falling in love with him that I bit the bullet. I began by asking one or two questions about religion and his views on life, knowing that if we had very different views our relationship simply was not going to work. Obviously, we are now married and have a daughter so I am certain you can guess how those conversations turned out. Speaking of children…
4. Make certain your spouse is the person you wish to co-parent with – especially if the relationship fails. I cannot over-emphasize what a disaster it is when two people are absolutely awful at parenting together. Do you really want the drama (and cost!) of repeated court battles and nasty lawyer exchanges simply because the two of you didn’t spend time discussing every aspect of how you want to parent before you became parents? Certainly you’ll change your minds about minor aspects after the child arrives but if you agree on the basics you are way ahead of the game. Whether a couple ends up together or apart it is in the entire family’s best interests that the parents co-parent together successfully. That can only happen if you agree on important factors like discipline, religion, health issues, life philosophy, etc. and have a mutual respect for one another as parents. Too often I have watched relationships deteriorate because a couple that was perfectly happy together before children were unrealistic about their expectations of parenting together. (Here’s a good time to reflect on Rule # 1….)
5. R-E-S-P-E-C-T It’s more than a catchy Aretha Franklin song. I have learned that this is the single most important ingredient to making a marriage successful. Don’t forget your manners; say “please” and “thank you”. Remember what your mother taught you: treat others (your spouse) the way you wish to be treated. Too often I am snappish and grouchy and just plain temperamental. Strangely, when my husband responds in kind I feel hurt. Um, duh. I am (still) learning that just because someone loves you and is around all the time doesn’t mean that they should be a dumping ground for your funky feelings. In fact, maybe because they love you and they chose to be around you all the time you should treat them better than others.
Over the past 4 years of Coupledom and 2 years of marriage we have added many more memories to our relationship. Some that are mundane and some that are meaningful. We’ve had really great moments and some completely awful missteps. I’ve learned that being part of Team Myrum (yeah – I went there) is the most meaningful and most difficult thing I have ever undertaken. I absolutely would not change a thing.