Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Do, Don't I?

This afternoon when hubby got home from being out of town, we exchanged high-fives in the driveway, and I headed out to my second job. Hubby proceeded to chauffeur the girls to cheer, cut the grass, put away boxes in the den, vacuum and get ready to go back out of town tomorrow.

When I got home from Job #2, I sat down to make a gift for a couple getting married. Anytime I work on such projects, I can't help but reminisce a little bit. It may have been 15 years ago that I walked down the aisle. But in some ways it feels a life time ago, and in some ways it feels like it was just last week (which would require quite a bit of explaining considering we have three children).

As I contemplated what life would be like for this newly married couple, I started thinking about the things I wish I would have known going in to marriage that no one told me. Granted, many of the things are things you just have to learn. Certainly no one could have ever predicted that we would ever have three cars, or that his obsession/compulsion over the yard would make me crazy, or that the "stack" gene that I inherited fair & square would send him over the edge whenever he walked into my closet.

But if I had to put together a brochure on marriage, there are some things that would definitely have to go in. That way, neither of us could say, (as I steal a line from "City Slickers") "This was NOT in the brochure," because it would be.

First of all, I would say this: Marriage can be hard. Now, I know almost all couples fight. But NOTHING compares to that first married fight. And, if you aren't really careful, each subsequent fight can go back and reference that first fight, and all the others you had along the way.

Okay, so you have the fighting thing worked out. That's great! But, you need to know that all bets are null and void once you've said, "I do." In fact, in a lot of ways, it's like starting all over again.

Consider the fact that you probably haven't lived together before. Now, all of their little idiosyncrasies that you got to leave behind when you kissed goodnight are blaring and glaring and up in your face 24/7. Someone once told me that all the things that you consider to be factors as to why you fell in love with this person, will be exactly what drives you crazy once you're married. I couldn't imagine not thinking hubby was hysterical, that his energy was fabulous, that he was the smartest person I knew. Then we got married. Suddenly, hubby really wasn't funny at all. His energy was completely grating first thing in the morning. And, I found out he wasn't really smart. He was faking it!* (*Note: hubby is brilliant, but he apparently can not read directions. Go figure.)

Sales people will tell you that the first sale is always the easiest. It's the retention of your client, making that second, third, fourth, etc., sale that is hard. You have to re-sell yourself every time.

Marriage is the same way. It's easy to walk down the aisle. It's hard to stay married.

I would also include that you have to treat your spouse like a friend. If you wouldn't blow your friend off for dinner to go out with another friend- don't do that to your spouse. If you would want your friend to use some modicum of manners around you, use manners in front of your spouse. Nothing kills the love life like a huge belch and/or gas attack, with hubby looking all satisfied and smug, like he's just won the Super Bowl single handedly. And would it really kill you to use "please" and "thank you"?

Don't use affection as a bargaining tool. You have taken a vow to remain true to your spouse. It was a promise not taken lightly. You would be furious if your spouse went elsewhere just because they wanted to. If you withhold affection from your spouse, you are doing the same thing- just a different side of the same coin.

Granted, there are times that you are just too steamed to feel like looking at your spouse, much less showing an ounce of affection. But, there's a difference between manipulating your spouse purposefully by giving or taking away affection, and not wanting to touch your spouse because you are in the middle of a heated argument.

To go hand in hand with that, arguments should be handled with care. If you spend your time keeping score, being more concerned about winning and being right, bringing up every fight you've ever had, and getting friends and family to chime in on your arguments, you will never resolve your argument. And if you find yourself not wanting to resolve your arguments, that should be a red flag.

Arguments should be about coming to an agreement, compromising, wanting to work together as a team. After all, you are a team. You will never find that to be more true than when you are raising children together. Kids can sense when you aren't working together and will (just naturally) look for ways to divide you to get their way. Hubby and I frequently "side bar" so that we can talk away from the kids and then come back together as a "united front."

Trust me when I say there is TONS more. It would take a novel nothing short of "War & Peace" to scratch the surface. But, brochures are meant to be main points. And I would say that this includes some of the biggies.

Do I ever wonder how in the world I ended up "here"? Oh yeah. I'm sure hubby does, too.

But would I ever want to be on this journey alone? Not a chance. I want my best friend- the one who knows it all about me & loves me anyway- to be by my side.

So, for the couple getting ready to take the plunge- dive deep, remember to use each other as life preservers, and enjoy the swim. Remember, the water's fine. It's the swimmers that have to use safety precautions.


Mawme Dearest said...

I couldn't agree more with what you have laid out here in your post! Getting married isn't hard, it's the staying married part that's difficult.
I also agree that the first married fight we had is still fresh in my mind. It was a lesson learned and we agreed to never or at least try to never fight about what we did that day (in-laws).
So kudos to your post and your blog!
Btw, Now I realize I need an action figure for myself;)

ThePrincessMommy said...

I DO want the brochure but it should also include things like "how to find something when it is right in front of you," "do you want to" is NOT foreplay, and "do not ask what is said in the locker room."