Saturday, June 30, 2012

Do's and Don'ts of married life

 I have been wanting to write this post for a while. Ever since my anniversary..which I suppose has not really been that long. But it was a long month!


My Wonderful husband and I just celebrated 8 years of being married, and this coming fall it will be 12 years of being together. That feels like a long time to me, even though I know in the grand scheme of things it really is not. But 12 years is getting close to half my life (Seeing as I just turned 30) so I am starting to count things differently. Once you start counting by the decade instead of the single year it changes things.

I have learned a lot in the past 12 years. I will count from the start since we have been working on being togetherness since then. True, some things change when you say "I do" but to be perfectly honest, I felt as if "I do" is just one of many steps in the process. An important step, but not too different then buying groceries together for the first time, or buying your first house together, or leaving the door open when you pee. It is all "being togetherness." It is all learning.

Marriage is tricky, not because it is hard really. But because it is so individual that no book or "expert" will ever really be able to fix it all or have every answer. My answer to a question/problem could be the absolute worst marriage advice I could ever give someone who is different then me and vise-versa. However, I have been wanting to write a "do's and don't" of sorts, as much to help those who are just starting their adult lives, as well as to make those who have been at it a lot longer then me laugh at my immaturity.

Isn't it fun that those two can both happen at exactly the same time?

My husband and I are very different people. We met when we were both 18. We were babies! I know that now of course, and I'm sure that statement bothers to no end any teenager/young adult reading this now. But it is true. We thought we were grown-up. We were not. Is that still true? I am 30 now, am I grown up yet? Or in another 15 years will I sigh and say "I thought I was an adult back then, I was so wrong!" I hope so. I hope when I am 80 I sigh and look back at 72 thinking "If only I knew then what I know now!" I suppose that just means I hope to always be learning.


I have a Pandora radio station I love to listen too - stay with me here. It is related, I promise. It is based on "Wicked" the musical so I get lots of - well, musicals. (I like those, weird I know.) And one of the shows that started coming on is "Little Women" the musical. I had no idea they had made a musical of that, but I suppose if they made one of Spiderman then anything is possible right? Now, I am pretty familiar with the story of Little Women and I have always liked it well enough. But one thing I always kinda hated was that in the end **Spoiler Alert!** Jo just off and marries some random professor that is heaps older then her. I am not against her not marrying Laurie. I am not convinced the two of them could have made it work. But since I have always identified with Jo, I felt she deserved someone with some personality - and I was not sure a stuffy professor could be that person. **end spoiler** Well, when the songs from "Little woman the Musical"  first started coming on, one particular one caught my attention right away and I started laughing. I want to see the show now, because they made it work!

I'll show you in a minute.

 You see, when my husband and I first started dating I used to worry. We really have nothing in common interest-wise aside from our love of being outside and camping maybe? But even that tends to be a once a year at most occurrence. What about day to day? We don't (didn't) like the same music, the same games, the same hobbies. We have some differing political views (he is a registered republican, I am a democrat). He says I am a hippie and laughs at me wanting to make sure things are natural. He could care less whether or not his food is organic or his kids are in cloth diapers. He doesn't like to read for fun, I don't like to build router tables for fun. I love theatre and performing, he...doesn't. He can fix anything, I am the biggest klutz that you have ever met and I am pretty sure that if I tried to fix the car it would randomly explode...just because I was touching it and that would mean that the 1 in 892375492385792385729357239 chance something could catch on fire, would  totally happen.

We like the same kind of movies. Some of the same kind of movies....That is about it as far as shared interests. But I always, and I mean ALWAYS fall asleep while watching movies. So even that is kind of futile as an attempt to share a hobby.

We both like sex. And we are both REALLY good at it. But we have kids, so it is not like we can say "Honey, do you have any plans on Saturday? Because I was thinking, if you were up for it we could spend the whole day in bed." Of course, he has a compulsive need to get things accomplished in a day - and I don't count. So he would be miserable spending all day in bed. Besides, if I were to call him "Honey" he  may never take me seriously again. And sex is not really a hobby - more of a "you need it to live" thing like air and chocolate. 

I have said before that I am not really a very nice person. I have had to work very hard in my life to learn how to be discrete, to be polite. My mother and sister used to say they lived in fear of "what Sarah would say next." I hope they don't still...I would like to believe I have developed at least a little bit of a filter. But I still have to censor A LOT. My husband on the other hand, is a wonderful person. Helping others is always first on his mind - almost to the point where it is a compulsion. If he sees a need, he HAS to help or he cannot rest. Whether it is a homeless guy that he buys a pizza for or a plastic ballerina ornament who is missing her arm that his babies tearfully hand him, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that "Daddy can fix it". 

So you can see why I laughed when I first heard this:


Professor Bhaer
(spoken)
Jo. We are not at all alike. We have our differences. May I be blunt?

Jo
(Spoken)
Be blunt. By all means.

Professor Bhaer
I think perhaps it looks like rain

Jo
The sky gets bluer by the hour

Professor Bhaer
The water falls in little drops

Jo
That’s why it’s called a sun shower

Professor Bhaer
Ah, not it stops

Jo
(spoken)
You were about to be blunt?

Professor Bhaer
If I say rain, then you sun.
If I say yes, then you say no.
It seems before we start, we’re done.
We even argue at “hello”
If I say, share with me
This small umbrella

Jo
I say who cares if we get wet?

Professor Bhaer
We are as different as the
Morning and the night

Jo
No, we’re as different as the
Winter and the spring

Professor Bhaer
We always seem to fight

Jo
We disagree on everything

 Ok, we don't disagree on EVERYTHING. We have a lot in common too as far as beliefs and ambitions. Hopes and Dreams. We dream a lot together.

I have written before that I knew I wanted "I do" when I wanted to show him a rainbow. Well, I know he wants "I do" because he wants to show me everything. And I love it! Whether I understand it or not, whether I have any interest in the subject or not. I get so excited with him because he is so excited and it is infectious. I get to see for a moment into his creative-genius - a window of sorts. Whether it be a successful design for an algorithm to measure the airflow over imaginary rockets (I know I will get in trouble for that...) His idea for a new laser cutter ("it will fit in the garage, I swear!"), a new kit for an airplane (model or full size, doesn't matter), his excitement over putting together a hot wire cutter with an old battery he picked up at a yardsale 2 years ago ("See? I told you I would have a use for that someday!") an idea for the house or a piece of exquisite art he has created based on numbers and math I can never hope to understand. He is an artist 100%. He looks at a pile of scrap wood and sees a beautiful bookcase. He sees zero's and ones and can put them together to make something amazing. He sees a sunset and HAS to stop to look, will run back into the house for a camera just so he can show everyone. He sees the potential in the sorrowful story of a man who has been homeless for 3 months and just can't get back on his feet. He hears the joy in his 6 year old's voice as she gets excited about her Popsicle stick house and he pulls out a complex vacuum table (That he built because he wanted too, and "you never know when you will need a vacuum table!") And the two of them sit for hours, with their heads together making the house...well, almost making it. They are alike those two. the creating of the walls was the fun part. The gluing and the designing and the talking about it.  After that they both kinda forgot about it...  He can create amazing artistes of food just by walking into the kitchen and claiming dinner as his. I love it when he does that! The art is in the angles, in the numbers, 2+2=4 and somehow 12 and 14 as well. And it all makes sense in his head. But what I see is beauty. And it amazes me.

Professor Bhaer
And yet…
You make me smile,
You make me laugh,
You make me care.
How can I explain?
Inside my heart
I feel a pain
When you’re not there.
Though we’re not at all alike,
You make me feel alive.
If we had that in common,
That one small thing in common,
Love could be like a small umbrella,
In the rain.

I said this was to be a "Do's and Don'ts" list. I suppose it really hasn't turned out to be that. Not even a "what I have learned" thing. And maybe I am still getting to that...we will see.

Someone several years ago asked me in a moment of frustration how my marriage was going. She said all around her there was marital sorrow, and she was having trouble seeing the point. Why put yourself through that?

It made me think. Why? Why say "I do?" Biblical responsibilities aside - why? At the time, all I could really put into words was: "Because of the colors" Colors are brighter, like when they pull away the screen in the allergy commercials. But I think it goes further that that. I will say that things are sharper - colors included. But sorrow is also sharper, joy is sharper, music takes on tones you never knew were there. Art has angles that you couldn't see before. Pain is harder, laughter is brighter, good is...err...gooder?

I just lost it didn't I. And there I was being all poetic!

But you understand - evil is more evil too. Having kids does all this as well, but it starts when you say "I do." You need one another now. And yes, I believe marriage is the thing that truly changes all that. When life is sharp, it is much harder to do it alone, luckily you don't have to. But together you can laugh down the waterfall without fear - even pausing to admire the beauty of the water droplets, because you have one another. So no matter how steep the drop, you are going to be ok. 


When people discover passion,
They’ve come upon something rare.
This fervor they have in common,
Will shelter them anywhere.
Though the rest may be rough,
With such passion to share,
I think we have more than enough-
Enough to make a marriage,
If we dare.

Jo
(Spoken)
You are proposing?

I used to worry, that the two of us couldn't just sit still with one another and have a conversation. This was before I learned he had to be moving (it is an adhd thing). If we are driving, we can talk for hours. If we go on a walk, even if we are sitting on a swinging bench.

I used to say - in my pridefully ignorant youth - that I could only marry someone who could beat me in an argument. How very shocked I was to discover that once I found him, I would want him to win? I am not always nice, I am not always easy to be married to I am sure! I speak my mind a lot - But I work very hard not to nag or be impolite to him ever. I don't hint or use guilt to get him to do something. I try very hard to be clear and not beat around the bush with hard subjects. I will never fall into the wife/mother role - he is not a child. I don't joke about having 4 kids, 3 small and one big. I personally find that to be disrespectful to my husband and it sets a standard that I believe limits growth. I don't complain about him to my girlfriends - just my own personal rule. If I have not already talked to him about it, or it belittles him in anyway I will not discuss it. And you can keep me accountable to this. I am not nearly as nice as he is, but he has taught me a lot.


Jo
I won’t be sweet, won’t be demure

Professor Bhaer
This I prefer, this I adore

Jo
I’ll speak my mind, you can be sure

Professor Bhaer
I’ll be enchanted to the core.

Jo
If I say, let me share your
Small umbrella.

Professor Bhaer
I’ll say, who cares if we get wet?

Jo
We’ll be as different as a
Husband and a wife

Professor Bhaer
No, we’ll be as different as a
Woman and a man

Jo
We’ll fight our way through life.

Professor Bhaer
We’ll disagree the best we can.

"Disagree the best we can" I like that. It takes practice to disagree as best you can. So I will throw in some advice here. DO NOT ever let yourself get caught up in the game of "who has it worse."  This is a game I see everywhere. In the housewife that says "He just comes home and just sits and watches TV. doesn't he realize I have been with these kids ALL DAY?!? Doesn't he know I am at my wits end?!?" To the professional that walks in the door and complains that he has been in the office all day and just needs 5 minutes to decompress before entering into the world of family and noise. If you have a list in your head about what you just wish you could say to your spouse, if he/she could only see it your way, doesn't he/she even notice EVERYTHING you are doing?!? And they are just sitting there? Then there needs to be a conversation. Consider it practicing disagreeing. Because you will. But DO NOT play the game. I beg of you. Does this make sense? Moms play the game too: "I had to put little Johny in time-out 12 times today!!" Well, I had to put Sally in time-out 12 times and Billy in time-out 16 times!" It is pointless people, instead - let's listen to one another. I have to work very hard at this, so I will be the first to admit it is something I struggle with. I grew up in a family with 7 people. If you didn't speak fast and loud, you weren't heard. So I interrupt too much. I am working hard to stop, you can let me know if I am talking to much. And perhaps work with me to try hard to stop. Let us listen.

My best advice - ask each other how your day was. And then listen to the answer - and then listen again. Because usually we say "Good," or "Fine" and then if there is silence, we keep going. But only if there is someone to listen - if they have not already gone off to whatever they were doing. The listening is sometimes the hardest part. But there is that break between the generic "fine" and the real answer. Listen, you will hear it.    

I don't worry anymore. Sure we still have very hard days, awkward conversations and frustrating exchanges. I would even say that with my medical issues lately, this is possibly some of the hardest times we have faced, just not feeling well and being overwhelmed. But I think we will be ok. We are still learning "I do"everyday. I hope we always are. I never want to stop becoming better at "I do." There is always room to be better.  

Jo
And yet…

Jo/Professor Bhaer
You make me smile,
You make me laugh,
You make me care.
How can I explain?
Inside my heart
I feel a pain
When you’re not there.
Though we’re not at all alike,
You make me feel alive.

Jo
Yes, we have that in common

Professor Bhaer
That one small thing in common

Jo/Professor Bhaer
Our love is like a small umbrella
In the rain

 Oh, and did I mention I hate umbrella's? He is always asking me where I keep the umbrella, and I say almost every time - "I don't know, I don't ever use one, I would rather get wet!"


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