In life, you look back and you reflect on things that sucked: Getting your wisdom teeth pulled (hasn’t happened for me yet), getting hit in the private parts for the first time; totaling your car, paying your first bill (which is usually your entire paycheck for some reason at age 16), getting your first B/C/D/F in school.
The thing is that you learn from those awful experiences some of the great lessons that will shape your future.
That brings me to marriage (awful segway, I know). Being married and in a great marriage at that has led me to reflect back on some things that sucked and the valuable lessons I learned from them. I wanted to share with you 5 of those awesome sucky lessons.
1) Be careful what you say; your words are boomerangs with razor blades attached.
This one time I complained about L leaving her socks in the middle of the floor like Cambodian land mines. Two weeks later, I get socks thrown in my face that she found under the couch and in the cusihons. My old, crusty, fermented socks that had been composting for 2 weeks. Thrown. In my face! I have yet to complain about her socks being anywhere.
2) Fighting is not what couples do. It’s what unhappy couples do.
I didn’t realize until after me and L were together just how crazy it is to be fighting with someone you like or love or don’t even care about for that matter. Me and L have disagreements all of the time, but we talk about it and it goes so much better. This is much easier to say than it is to do and it takes practice and awareness of each others feelings and the effect of your words.
I wouldn’t have gotten to this point if I hadn’t been in a few explosive relationships in the past. I have seen things get so bad that after 15 minutes of fighting, I could barely remember why I was so upset in the first place. I just became a focus on getting the other person to stop yelling louder than me. The only way to do that is the yell louder and say hurtful things. See point #1 as to why this is never a good idea!
After all is said and done and the fog has cleared from the graveyard, the bones of bad words will haunt the relationship forever. (creepy I know). So I learned after lots of experimentation and apologies and waiting for apologies and demanding apologies that led to more fights about not respecting my need for an apology that was apparently unnecessary, THAT…it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way.
3) Remember how to “play cars”
Remember when you were a kid and the silliest things provided endless fun? My nephew (He’s 5 now as he will proudly exclaim) wants me to do nothing else with him except play cars. At one point, playing cars was simple. It made sense to me and I could probably be happy doing nothing else except play cars too! But now, life is vastly more complicated. But why? I was the type of kid who never got bored!
Even being the only child in my house from aged 7 on, I was never bored. I’d throw the ball to myself, kick the ball to myself, hit the ball to myself. It didn’t matter! Even as a college “kid” (I am starting to feel old) or a post grad, I was never bored. I was being social and doing social things with social people. Then I got married.
Boredom hit me fast and hard. It wasn’t because I couldn’t find things to do. Heck, if anything, my wife found more things for me to do than I could ever tackle! It was because things seemingly got exponentially more complicated. I forgot how to just “play cars”. So recently I took up a new hobby. Golf!
Yes it’s expensive and extremely difficult, but it’s my “playing cars”. It’s something I can just go be by myself and do. If my wife wants to come along it makes it better! If my buddies want to play it makes it better! But alone it’s just as great. It’s the adult form of “playing cars!”
4) Get it off your chest!
L has this thing where she randomly will say “Confession…” before she wants to say something that may be unexpected, embarrassing, slightly condescending, or just plain cute. No matter the reasoning for her moment of candidness, I listen to her and take whatever she says seriously. Sometimes it leads to a truly tearful confession and most of the time it’s just a silly little thing that she doesn’t feel entirely comfortable just coming out and saying.
I have to be honest, I love it when she has these moments of confession because it makes it OK for her to feel vulnerable and she knows that I am not going to judge her for whatever she may say next. I know that L likes to talk in the car or when we are laying in bed at night with the lights completely off so I try to pick those times to ask her about something that she may not feel completely comfortable talking about at 2 pm on a Tuesday while we are both at work.
L knows that I feel more at ease on Fridays after I’ve had my weekend sip of whatever delicious gin concoction I have brewed up. We usually have some of our most poignant discussions on Friday nights while just relaxing and watching a bad movie. A friend told me a few months ago that the method that works best for he and his wife is to text their arguments or discussions. They will go in different rooms and just text each other. At first I thought it was crazy but it makes sense. It takes all of the snide remarks and passive-aggressive comments and body language out of it.
By whatever means you find it necessary to spill your guts to your significant other, do it. It’s worth it in the end to know that you can speak your mind and be heard and it makes it much easier to do the same when your partner is begging to expose their feelings. Communication is key! Any time me and L hold back … it never turns out well!
5) Dream together. Who knows, maybe you’ll actually make them come true!
When I met L, I didn’t think that I would have a house, family, great job, and a happy life in general before age 30. We talked about some things and kinda hinted that we wanted some things, but I don’t think either of us really believed that we could have or deserved the things we talked about. That was until we really started taking what the other said and turning these dreams into a real life.
L expressed that she wanted to eventually be a stay at home mom. I joked and said that I’d never make enough money and that I’d be working forever, then one day we started talking about her having her own business. That little dream/joke turned into her having her own successful Mary Kay business which has surprised me with how well it has taken off in just a year! The best part is that I cautiously supported her every step of the way. It has been an awesome but trying to say the least.
Then we talked about getting a house. We dreamed about it. We made a smart reasonable plan and then things worked out to happen way faster than we had every planned for them to. Needless to say our big dreams came true. If we had never taken the time and faith to dream, who knows where we’d be. Probably nowhere near where we are today!
Sometimes a dream turnes into a maybe which formulates itself into a plan. Suddenly a plan is now an accomplishment which is now a celebration!