My best friend from college (and college roommate) is getting married. I know, weepy eyes and all. Sadly, (for me only) she is still in Boston and I’m just far enough away to make it difficult to pick up and drive there with 2 kids and I’m just far enough away to make the airline prices insane (seriously, what’s up with airfare – looks like car trips need to make a come back). So I couldn’t make it to her bridal shower.
Thankfully she loved her shower. I know she didn’t want any games or anything stereotypical at her shower so I’m pretty sure she skipped out on all that marital advice that you usually get but what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t let her participate in this age-old ritual of married people letting the newbie know all the ways to make her marriage as perfect as the advice giver’s marriage.
And then I thought, let’s face it, no one’s marriage is perfect and I don’t know any more about marriage than my friend probably already knows. But this small little road bump isn’t going to stop me from adding my two cents to the library of useless advice.
I’ve decided to take the top 5 pieces of advice given to me (and still given to me) and give you the reality of that advice according to my marriage.
1. Don’t go to bed angry.
At first glance this advice sounds really good and logical. I mean, who wants to be all wound up when you are trying to go to bed? Right? And you are even able to make this happen a few times. And then life gets in the way. Something comes up at 9:30pm, you have a fight, you have to make lunch for your kids, your husband has some big presentation tomorrow and needs to work on it, your fighting in between doing chores all at the same time trying not to wake up the children and then it’s 11:30 and you need to go to sleep. Guess what – you’re still angry. And you need to go to bed.
So, here is my advice:
· If you fight, just stay up all night.
· Don’t talk after 6:00 pm at night.
· Learn how to wind down quickly so you can sleep angry.
2. Your spouse is with you for life, your kids for 18 years.
I believe the thinking behind this one is to always remember that your spouse is #1 because your children are fleeting. And again, this is a no-brainer. I mean when Chloe and Evan leave the house Brian and I could still have like 30 years together alone (God willing that we both live that long and that Chloe and Evan actually leave our house). So if we only focus on our kids for 18 years that transition will be tough.
But, I’m thinking someone needs to remind us of this in about 5 more years (or more) because right now I take care of 3 people in this house (Brian, Evan, and Chloe in case you weren’t sure) and out of those 3, there is only one who has the full capacity to: bathe himself, wipe himself, cook for himself, pick up after himself, feed himself, put himself to sleep, etc. So, I am probably a little more focused on the 2 who NEED things done for them rather than the 1 who would LIKE it if I did things for him.
3. Remind yourself of the reasons you fell in love with him.
This one I fully support. Because there will be at least one time, in the middle of some stupid fight, when you will look at your husband and wonder how you are going to spend the rest of your life with this man. Seriously, it’s going to happen. The goal is that you override that feeling, recognize it as the heat of the moment, and then you remember why you fell in love with him to begin with.
But, just in case, go ahead and write down those reasons now. Put that piece of paper somewhere you can have access to it when needed, and read it… as often as you need to.
4. Most fights are about more than the obvious topic.
I’m sure this one came from my mom since it sounds very therapist-y. And it basically means that a cigar is hardly ever a cigar. I like to point to the great bowl fight of 2003. That was the year Brian moved in to my condo (I mean, to live in the spare bedroom – right Mom?). He took a mixing bowl and put it in the freezer (I can’t remember why) and I lost it on him telling him that the bowl can’t go in the freezer and he needs to respect my things or not touch them if he doesn’t know what they do… blah blah blah. It became this HUGE fight and was probably our first big one.
Turns out I was just freaking out about someone sharing my space and he was freaking out about living in MY space. This took a few days for us to figure out, but once we did we could address the issues.
Basically, if at any point your brain tells you this fight is ridiculous, then it’s probably about something bigger that isn’t so tangible.
Brian and I tend to yell and scream before we figure out the issues. I’m not advocating this method, but figure out how it will work for you.
5. You never know what is going on in someone else’s marriage.
When we were first married I looked around to see how other people handled things (this is how most human beings handle things). There were some moments where I would even compare Brian and I to others. And then I would talk to someone and they would tell me the truth – that marriage is awesome but it is also really difficult. Living with someone on a daily basis makes it easy to focus on how much it annoys you that he doesn’t put the toilet paper roll on the right way. It also makes it easy to forget all the good things (see #3). It does take work but it should also bring peace. And that it is NEVER as easy as it looks.
But in all honestly, Joanna, I wish you peace and joy in your marriage. I hope that you think of your husband as your best friend and that there is no one else with whom you’d like to share a bottle of wine. Salut!
If you all have anything to share with Joanna or any myths to debunk please feel free to leave a comment!