Just a couple of weeks away is my ninth wedding anniversary. 9th! My mind is totally blown over that. It’s gotten me thinking in all different ways about how it was then and how it is now, how I thought it would be and how it really turned out. I’ve been thinking about the little girl dream I had of marriage and the reality of the marriage I am in now. It’s a mysterious wonderment as to how we’ve made it this far. Especially with some of the seriously intense trials and tribulations that we’ve endured as a couple, the kind where many others can barely find the strength to rebuild their own life after facing, yet we’ve managed to rebuild ourselves and our marriage. With all of this reflection, I thought I’d share some of the tidbits of advice I’ve realized that have kept the hubs and I going strong in-love. Here’s what I’ve gathered from this reflective journey back through the chapters of my marriage:
1. THERE’S NO SITCOM IN REAL LIFE MARRIAGE. Nothing will ever happen like it does on TV. Not even the so-called reality TV shows. Get all of those preconceived notions of absurd fantasy -written by someone’s own dream-like ideal of what a marriage, family, friendship, and/or any other imaginable relationship should be like- outta your head now. You will never have fights that are filled with insults that are clearly just satirical untruths that will be laughed about for years to come. Words will sting. Feelings will get hurt. Apologies only happen if the parties are willing. Assuming they’re even able to face responsibility for their own actions in the argument. Forget all about those magical moments of romance where fireworks que overhead just as your lip touch with a kiss under the full moon. Romance is not scripted. It’s not perfection, either. True romance is sloppy, clumsy, and full of last-minute details falling apart. You’ll fall for your spouse again and again in the most unusual of circumstances- the way they saved the day after you burnt the roast for the holiday feast without chastising you for your lack of kitchen skills, the way got covered in grime from a burst pipe that happened as they were getting ready to leave for a work meeting and all the while managing to stay happy and crack jokes throughout the entire repair, or the way they sing softly as they rock the colicky baby in the wee hours of dawn despite having slept a wink themselves.
2. LOVE DOESN’T COME FREE AND IT AIN’T CHEAP EITHER.
There’s no love lost when you’re working for it. You have to rekindle the fire to keep it burning through the night. If you don’t make the time to think about your spouse and what makes them feel good about themselves, your going to end up with an unhappy coupling. The world today makes it so easy to get lost in our own self-centeredness and drown out the needs of those around us. There’s got to be a conscious effort to find a balance of consideration to keep things aflame. Lots of compromising. Lots of stepping out of your own comfy shoes and taking a walk in your spouses. Keeping in mind all of the little things that light up their world is hard work, but the unconditional love in return is well worth it. Everyone has their own thing and you can’t expect the little words of affirmation that make your day be the thing that makes them happy. Be aware. You can’t play if you don’t pay. And she’ll most certainly be more likely to play with him if you pay her… literally. No wife would be stupid enough to pass up a bargain for her bedroom services in exchange for a salon date, kid-free shopping experience, kitchen cleaning, or uninterrupted bath time.
3. MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.
You have to set financial goals, reasonable ones that come in baby steps, for a successful marriage. They don’t need to be set in stone, because life changes with the winds of your betrothed’s lower cheeks after a long night of binge drinking. They just have to be informed and agreed upon at all times. A system of checks and balances will develop over the course of a few years, so be forgiving of one another’s overspending incidences and misinterpretations of budget designations. They will happen often at first, as you work out who’s best with what role in maintaining the finances. There’s no right way to do things, and there’s no wrong way either. Fights will ensue at some points along the way, but you just gotta take responsibility and move on. Money will devour the closest of blood relations without hesitation, marriages are merely an appetizer for it’s insatiable appetite for souls.
4. SHIT HAPPENS….GAS, BLOOD, PUKE, AND SNOTS, TOO.
Every human body has the same intake/output system. Every.Single.One. There’s a lot of possibilities for that system to go array and it will happen. Sickness, drunkenness, injuries, and just plain old malfunctions of the inner mechanisms will cause all sorts of incidences that are far from attractive. You’ll see your spouse in ways you never could’ve imagined before in your wildest of dreams. Forget any sort of real privacy, either. It’ll never be the same. You will have full blown discussions about dinner choices, in-law gift options, and WE due bills as you do your business, no shame in the game. And forget considering private parts private anymore. If you’ve got an in-grown hair in your ass crack that needs digging out, need to wax hard to reach places, or apply ointments to rashes you’re too grossed out by to touch yourself, your spouse is the one suckered into the deal. They’ll see all, hear all, and touch all the nastiness that comes along with being human and you will, too. Get used to the idea of it all now. Those internal systems only continue to malfunction as we age, there’s no getting around it. Invest in gas masks and Bio-Hazard suits now.
5. MEN NEVER GROW UP OR GROW OUT OF BAD HABITS AND WOMEN NEVER STOP COMPLAINING OR GIVE UP CRYING OVER SPILLED MILK.
It doesn’t seem to matter how old they are, men will smack their girl’s ass and squeeze her boobs at random until the day they croak. Their hands will never come out of their pants and the jokes full of sexual connotation will never stop coming. Men never grow out of leaving toilet seats up and dirty boxers on the floor next to the hamper. Forget about throwing anything away, consider it a blessing actually, if garbage makes it to the counter next to the garbage can. And they’ll never give up ogling over the female species despite being fully satisfied by their beloved wife, it’s like a drug addiction and the more you deny them their golden eggs, the more annoying to you they’ll behave. Yet, on the other hand, women will never get past those sudden bouts of waterworks over sappy and adorable nonsense that will gag you with it’s extreme girly-girl overload. Your wife will make sure you know exactly what you’re doing wrong, what you haven’t even thought about doing yet that’s going to be wrong, and what is still going to turn out all wrong even after twenty other things were first done right. You’ll be reminded of reminders for little thing deemed important by her, don’t question her methods. You’ll be given explicit instructions that you’ll never hear the end about if you tweak the process even just a tiny bit. For a successful marriage, you each have to come to terms with these gender specific idiosyncrasies as the unchangeable quirks they simply are, relishing in that fact.
6. LAUGHTER REALLY IS THE BEST MEDICINE OF ALL.
This part seems like a given, but honestly speaking, it takes just as much work as keeping the love alive. There are times where it’s going to feel like a smile or a hug is going to take too much effort, but it’s an effort you must make. Life is not all sunshine and roses, regardless of how much you prepare for it ahead of time. There will be some really crappy times where you’d rather just hide under a rock for the rest of it instead of face whatever it is. That’s okay. Just laugh a little to yourself about how you ended up living like Patrick Star and then send the joke on to your better half written on the white flag of truce. If you can’t laugh with your spouse after their bodily fluids have been upchucked all over the backseat of your rental car on your first-ever vacation after having kids or catching them blatantly staring at some ostentatiously perfect aberration of the opposite sex, then there’s a high probability that the marriage will fall apart. If you can look back on any of the rough patches or depressing times you’ve endured as a couple and together find the funny in it then make it an inside joke to last a lifetime, then you’re golden as a couple.
7. JUST BECAUSE I LOVE YOU DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE TO LIKE YOU.
At some point along the way, we all go through periods of self-growth, awareness, and change, which can be really disruptive to a relationship who’s quality revolves around it’s maintaining of balance. When the boat gets rocked, it’s very easy to come to dislike the person rocking it. It’s normal. As long as your heart remains in the right place. There’s been plenty of days where life has been so overwhelming that I can’t stand the thought of playing nice with my hubs. But I still love him deep down and he knows it, so he gives me my space and loves me from afar. Just like I really can’t stand him during the World Cup Tournament or College Bowl Week, because his enthusiasm for his favorite teams winning at sports makes me wanna throat punch anyone who even glances my way. My heart still belongs to him and the minute the last game clock signals it’s all over with, I’m right back to finding him tolerable enough to cuddle up against and maybe even initiate a make-up out session. Until he starts his infamous death bomb farting, that is!
8. THE MORE THE MERRIER IS NOT TRUE.
A successful marriage is personal. The more people you bring into the mix, the less likely you’ll look at each other as best friends. Not that you should drop all your friends and push your extended families out of the picture the moment you get married, but you have to have boundaries and limitations. There’s got to be some distance between your relationship and the company you keep. Details shouldn’t be shared among your clique, despite the intense urge to gossip. They’ll never see what you see in your spouse. They’ll never understand the dynamic between you and your spouse. They’ll never support your role as a spouse. Friends are friends because they take your best interests into consideration not the best interests of your marriage, which can cause way more problems than help. You can’t choose each other’s friends, even if you’d like to. Something strange attached you two together in the first place, that same strange something is what also connects friends, so don’t question why your spouse has chosen the friends that they have chosen.
9. STOP TO SMELL THE ROSES BUT NEVER FORGET THERE’S ALWAYS (AT LEAST) TOMORROW.
Life does nothing but speed on by, faster and faster with each year gone, leaving you wondering what the hell happened to yesterday and how it could possibly be today. What seems to feel like the end of the world-worst thing to ever happen to me-life is over and there’s no getting over it-what did I ever do to deserve this at such an inconvenient time is just a very minuscule fraction of the entire lifetime you will spend together. Whatever it is that gets both of your panties in such a tight bunch, will be long forgotten and completely insignificant years down the road. Enjoy, no… rather, cherish, every part of your journey together. The ups and downs, the good times and the bad ones. There may be years and years worth of struggling necessary before accomplish the right balance or find financial goals are finally being met, you can’t just give up and call it quits because nothing lasts forever! There’s always going to be something ahead down the road that brings you two together in a way that boosts the love you’ve worked hard to keep burning just as there will be obstacle courses and speed bumps on the way to get there. It’s so much more enjoyable to stick around for the long haul, there’s too much to discover yet.