The past three weeks or so have been weeks for me to personally reflect and inwardly scrutinize my every day way of thinking. I have been increasingly busy at work, coupled with many additional responsibilities at home as I am refurbishing my house. This has made this time relatively difficult for me. I feel like I am constantly busy and that I can not find time for myself. I add more pressure by trying to manage my time to the extent that I can fit in my own personal endeavors, such as posting this blog. If I had to be completely honest, I would have to say, the only reason I have maintained my sanity is because I have such a great relationship with my wife. This is what I want to talk about today. This is not a “How To” manual, but merely a quick ramble (perhaps even a patronizing one) about the things that make a good marriage great.
I could go through all of the seven deadly sins, but I think this is the one that most significantly effects marriages and relationships. A couple will fight about one thing or another, but before too long, the issue is unimportant. It becomes obvious during the argument/disagreement/fight that winning is more important. I will also add, I am divorced. That is quite important, as it lends my experience to comparison. My ex wife has never, in her experience, been wrong. She once told me that Michael Jordan played for the Celtics. She still believes this is the case, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary (which I provided her). This is simply because she can not admit she is wrong. Whenever my current (and hopefully final) wife and I disagree about something, we both understand that, regardless of who is predominantly wrong about any given situation, if the disagreement ends up in a fight, we are both partially to blame. As soon as we notice a disagreement turning into an unproductive argument that merely goes around and around and around in circles, one or the other of us says, “we need to take a break here.” At that point, we go to our proverbial corners and think through what has just happened. Typically, we both end apologizing for the role we played in the argument. At that point we can come up with a compromise that we are both either equally satisfied, or equally dissatisfied with. A great friend once told me that compromise means each party ends up slightly disappointed. This has never been more true when it comes to marital disagreements. As such, the living room ended up being green.
I am not a big fan of dating. I never really dated my wife. We started out as pals; then, good friends; after that, great friends; moving on, intimate friends; and finally, married friends. I honestly think that this is the secret to our success. We were friends first. We liked each other first. There are many marriages out there where the spouses love each other, but they do not like each other. I would much rather go to the bar with my guy friends and bring my wife, than go there without her. She is like one of the guys to me. Admittedly, being a couple makes things a bit different and, being married, adds significant variables like a mortgage, bills, priorities and goals. We do not always see eye to eye, but we are able to put our lives ahead of our pride and come up with plans for whatever contingency lays before us. This is mainly because we know we are on the same team. Like I said, we were friends first. We still are. No matter what happens, we treat each other like friends; therefore, because we do not wish to hurt each other’s feelings, we are able to place the other’s feelings ahead of our own to the degree necessary to meet on common ground. There is no spiteful resolution or settling for something we are adamantly against because neither one of us wishes to be the victor. We really try to find a middle ground. There is a middle ground in every situation, most are just too lazy or proud to try and find it. Finally, on this topic, we do not try and change each other to fit into the mold we want. Women, particularly, are manipulative, and try to mold their spouse into what they want them to be. Many of the time, they are so arrogant, they feel they can do this so confidently, that they will jump into a marriage, with the misguided impression that they are going to change their man, to their specifications. How? Sex, of course.
I’m sorry, but married sex is a whole other blog topic….coming soon.
I do not place a lot of emphasis on money because, if you have read my other blogs, you know how much I hate the topic. However, most people feel differently about it. Men and women’s opinions on money are completely different. For the most part, men think of money as stability and want to ensure that (outside of having some flash items like a nice car, TV, or house) financial stability is a constant. Women, on the other hand, from my experience, hold the same reverence towards financial responsibility, but place a different level of emphasis on a different type of flash item. The bottom line that I am trying to convey here is that men and women need to understand that there is a much different emphasis placed by their partner. What is important to him, isn’t necessarily important to her. Taking that into consideration and, after balancing the budget, a married couple may very easily eliminate that frequent argument of, “we don’t need that,” or, “you have twelve of those already,” by simply coming to understand that materialism comes on many different levels and that we are all servants of it. Don’t deny it, there is something out there than is your guilty pleasure. Whether it is shoes, purses, hunting equipment, automotive supplies, or whatever, everyone has one or more things that they could break their bank on. Compromise + Understanding = middle ground > happy budgeting.
This is a must! No lies. I have lied to my wife once. It was wrong, and I knew it was wrong. I was so blatantly aware of how wrong it was, I came right home (no more than 10 minutes later) and told her the truth. I was horrified that I had told a lie. Most people don’t feel bad about a lie until they are busted. There is no room in a marriage for lies. Of course there is the occasional birthday, or anniversary lie to cover up a surprise, but outside of that, honesty is a must. Once trust is broken, it is so hard to mend. To be quite honest, I don’t want that burden. BONUS!!! Unless you have proof that they are cheating on you, do not treat them like they have cheated on you. It is not likely that the social gathering they are at is completely void of the opposite sex! With trust comes TRUST! If you treat them like they are unfaithful every time they come home from something you didn’t feel like going to, they might as well just go ahead and do it, so they deserve the hell you are giving them. Trust, until it is broken. Second chances…that’s more complicated. I’m not a fan.
UPDATE!!! – ADVERSITY
The boyfriend of a co-worker of mine has found temporary work on the other side of the country. My co-worker confided in me for comfort and potentially some perspective as I am a bit older and she had assumed that I may have been in a similar situation in the past. I had. I found myself giving her my take, and admittedly, some advice. Here is how the conversation went:
Me: Do you love him?
Me: Does he love you?
Me: Is it love, or is it “I like you a lot and I would be upset if we had to break it off over something like this?”
Her: No, we truly love each other.
Me: So, what’s the problem?
I told her that the work is temporary. He was going to be back in a few months for a visit and then he would finish up the job a few months later. It’s not the end of the world. Basically, all this was going to do was solidify them more. The point of all of this is that they were considering just taking the easy way out and breaking up, which was bringing her to tears. I told her, “in order to be good together, you really need to be good apart, right?” This sort of thing happens all of the time. When a couple faces adversity, it is so easy to get snappy at each other. It is easy to place blame and hold a grudge. What purpose does that serve? Does it help get through the adversity, or does it make it even harder for the person being blamed or mistreated to deal with the situation collaboratively? A solid couple (married or dating) need not worry about things getting in the way. They just need to get past it as a team. The easy route is seldom the answer to any turmoil, be it financial, medical, occupational, etc. There are things out there beyond control, and sometimes you just have to remember that as a couple, you are a team (particularly when love and/or marriage is involved), and you must deal with the trials and tribulations of life together. To give any merit to the mere thought of considering quitting on yourselves is the worst example of underestimation and short changing I have ever heard. It’s like taking your mutual love and throwing it away, just because that was easier than working through the issue. If you don’t look at it as if there is any possible end in sight, then there isn’t.
I’m sure there are many more sub-topics I could touch, but for now, I’ll leave it with this. The last thing I will say here, and probably the most important is, your spouse is your family. When you are smart mouthing your significant other ask yourself, “would I talk to my mother/father that way?” Respect. Don’t be mean. Check your motivation. Check your pride. You aren’t there to change them. They aren’t there to change you. If you want to change them, you shouldn’t be with them, or you should accept them for who they are. If you feel they are trying to change you, you should question it! Open communication, compromise, honesty, and honest to goodness friendship is the key to a successful marriage/partnership. It’s not about always being on the same page, it’s about honestly getting to the conclusion that you both want. That conclusion is going to evolve almost constantly, but with hard work and faithfulness to friendship, you can get there with complete integrity.