When Laura asked me to write for her again, I was so flattered. I got my foster license this past fall and haven’t even written for myself in over 6 months.
Isn’t funny the things you’ll drop everything for when a friend asks, but that you won’t do for yourself?
Marriage. It’s a funny concept. When you’re young (for lots of people before their brain is fully developed), society says pick someone to love and commit to loving them every day for the rest of your life. Marriage is supposed to be this sacred part of life where there’s a safety net that says no matter what happens, you’ve got someone to count on.
I don’t see it that way, though. Not only was I raised as a child of divorce, my parents got divorced before I was one and both remarried by the time I was three. In my life, I’ve only ever known 4 parents. And while growing up, I saw divorce at school and on television. Marriage is sacred? No, it’s fallible. It’s as imperfect as anything else in this world.
Some people say, “I don’t believe in divorce” if somehow it were like the tooth fairy. Instead, divorce is like the theory of gravity; it’s real whether you believe in it or not. Unfortunately, the divorce rate is so high because of two reasons: people marry the wrong person or they bail too quickly. Quite often both, in fact. Actually, another issue is that people aren’t focused on their relationship, only what they can get from it. Marriage isn’t give and take. Marriage is give. I give my wife the world and she gives me the same.
My wife and I are one of those couples everyone says will go the distance. We’ve been together 12 years, more than 8 of which have been as husband and wife. We don’t fight. We don’t yell. We don’t cuss. (Well, ok, I do cuss. A lot. But not at her.) And oh, don’t get me wrong, she frustrates the hell out of me sometimes. Likewise, I do the same to her. The way we see things and tackle problems is completely different, so we don’t always agree. But there is no nastiness; no name-calling; no intentional hurting.
You see, the secret to marriage is about how you act. You can’t control anything about your spouse, but you can control how you react. If you always treat your spouse with respect and in a way you would want to be treated, things go really well. Maybe someone reading this right now is in a crappy marriage because they married the wrong person. That doesn’t mean the marriage is doomed. What dooms the marriage is when people fight dirty. Fighting destroys marriages. Disagreement doesn’t. A civil discussion between spouses that doesn’t escalate isn’t fighting, it’s communicating. And if there’s one thing you must do in a marriage after respect each other, it’s communicate.
Can you read minds? Neither can I. Until you can read minds, assume your spouse can’t either. So you’re going to need to talk. If you can touch each other’s naughty bits, you can talk to one another. You know what sucks to talk about? Finances. You know what’s easy to talk about? The weather. If you need to talk to your spouse about finances but can’t, start small and work your way up.
There are deal-breakers in my marriage. I will not stand for certain things and divorce is the nuclear option. But the launch code hasn’t been issued and I foresee no need for it. We’re going to go the distance.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish with another person when you work together selflessly. For me, marriage isn’t difficult. It isn’t work. I get to hang out with my best friend all the time. Plus she occasionally lets me touch a boob… If I’m good… On the day of Harvest Moon… In the year of the Winter Olympic trials… If they’re being hosted in a country with a parliament. But bottom line is this:
If you want a good marriage, be a good spouse.