Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Today (October 7th) is my wife and my second wedding anniversary. Just a short 731 days ago ('08 is a leap year), we tied the knot on a beautiful evening in front of just over 200 friends and relatives. In the time since then, I have learned an enormous amount about marriage in general and how to make things work smoothly. So, today at lunch, I scrawled down a list of things I've learned that I'd like to pass on. Some are obvious, some not so much.
- Marriage is REALLY hard work sometimes. You thought they were exaggerating at the time, but when your pastor, your parents, your friends, and everyone else told you so, you should have believed them.
- When you're single, you are as happy as you are; when you're married, you're only as happy as the least happy person in the marriage. If you're not the one that's the least happy, do everything you can to make the other one happier. It brings up the overall happiness in the marriage.
- Even if you lived with your spouse before the wedding, it's different after you're married. I can't really explain why or how, but it is. In this case, different is good.
- Church and bible studies are great for your relationship. Ditto for praying together. Seriously.
- Sometimes your spouse asks for you to be a leader, without really asking. Learn to recognize this and when you do, lead. Even if you don't know exactly what to do, lead. Sometimes it's not about leading the right way, it's just about being the leader.
- TiVo and DVR save relationships, I'm convinced. Being able to temporarily pause that show on the history of beer or the Eagles game while you take out the trash or answer "Can you help me for a second?" will dramatically reduce the potential for arguments. $15 a month has never been better spent.
- Full-disclosure financial organization, planning, and communication are of critical importance. Be open, honest and completely communicative with your spouse about EVERYTHING financial. Monthly "budget meetings" can bring a huge amount of peace-of-mind to the relationship.
- It's exceptionally rare that you can be both right AND happy at the end of an argument. You can be right OR you can be happy, but not both. It may take a while, but eventually you'll realize that it's way better to be happy than right.
- If you're like me, you'll get more accomplished around the house when your spouse isn't around. Once you both come to this realization, you shouldn't feel bad for asking her to leave you alone for a couple of hours, and she shouldn't be offended for you asking.
- When your spouse presents you with a problem, she doesn't always expect you to fix it. Sometimes, she just needs to talk about it. There's no shame in asking "do you need a listening ear or a solution?" before she starts in. But be careful, even if she wants a solution, make sure you don't give it to her until she's done completely stating the problem.
- It's perfectly fine to continue to do your laundry separately. She'll enjoy not having to turn every single one of your socks right-side-out and you'll enjoy not having to separate your laundry any more distinctly than "white" and "not white".
- Eating at the dining room table together once in a while, with the TV off, is good for you both. Ditto for sitting in the same side of a restaurant booth and sharing a dessert.
- When you first get home from work, it's important that you both get a good 15 minutes of wind-down time. Being bombarded or bombarding her with "You should..." or "We need to..." or "Can you...?" statements right when you get home just gets people frustrated. Give each other fifteen minutes to settle in first. Amazingly, everything will still get done and you'll both be happier.
- If you leave the house and there's a chance you won't be home before your spouse gets in, leave a note. Yes, it seems trivial to you, but it's not to them. It only takes a second. Just do it.
- Sometimes when your spouse says "Can you help me with this?" she really means "Will you just do this for me?". That one took me a long time and a lot of frustration to figure out. I now know that when my wife asks for my help in rolling up the garden hose or take something to the attic, she really just wants for me to just do it. And that's okay. Sometimes it's faster and easier to just do it yourself than with her, ahem, help.
- Right before bedtime can be really stressful for her. I'm not exactly sure why, but apparently it is. Being helpful gets you in bed and asleep faster than just getting in bed and trying to fall asleep while your spouse stomps around.
- The hormones from pregnancy make your wife go completely bat-s**t crazy (at least the first 22 weeks...that's all the farther we currently are.) You will never cease to be astounded by the completely irrational and non-sensical things that come out of her mouth and that she does. Even she will readily admit that some pregnancy-related books that explained these things (that'll be a future post) have been the only thing that has stopped me from committing her to an asylum.
So there's the lessons I've learned. In just a couple short years, I've learned a lot. Just imagine how much I've got to go!!!