Meet my husband Mike. We’ve been married for 10 years. And we’ve been friends for around 15. 131,400 hours is a lot of time to think about a lot of things and process a lot of feelings in a marriage. Love, anger, patience, frustration, boredom, euphoria, life and the number of ways to kill a person. I’m 88.2% joking, by the way.
I’m not going to lie about it. Marriage isn’t what I pictured it out to be. Giant bouquets of long stemmed tulips. Belgian chocolates in fancy boxes with red ribbons. Regular out of town trips to places like Switzerland or Africa. I mean, what can I say, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to treat her like a sugar baby.
When we were little girls we were told about the grandiosity and the magical things about falling in love. Nobody really ever told us that staying in love is a choice that we have to make every single hour of every single day.
To choose love, over anger. Because he keeps forgetting to clean the bathroom and throw out the trash.
To choose patience , over frustration. Because he always, always chooses to encode in MSWord instead of an Excel file.
To choose to talk (nicely), when you really want to get annulled and want to ship him back to his parents.
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is another thing. Getting married is easy. Staying married is a challenge.
Here are my top 10 relationship essentials to save your sanity, save your spouse, survive your marriage and choosing love above all else.
- Space is sacred – While marriage may all be about choosing to be together, personal space is essential. Space A is literal space: your own corner in the house or your own space for your clothes or your own desk. Space B is figurative space: your me time, your personal downtime, your time away from the spouse. Create your own personal bubble.
- Food is always the answer – Also wine. Wine is the answer. When you feel the need to reconnect, go on a date night. Steak and wine dinner dates. Or McDo Cheeseburger and orange juice drive thru. Share and enjoy a meal together. Or a bottle of wine. Just the two of you. Just like before.
- Do household chores together – Share bathroom chores, split dishwashing duty, love the laundry. It’s all about equitable contribution.
- Support systems are key to sanity and success – Point A: It takes a village to raise children. Point B: Spend time with people who don’t need anything from you and who remind you of who you really are without all your many hats. Support systems are also known as family and friends and friends who you call family.
- Keep your money but share what you have – What’s Mike’s is 80% mine and what’s mine is mine. Haha. No seriously, bring what you can to the table but also save some for yourself. Save for a rainy day, or a fancy massage or that nice pair of shoes. Enjoy the fruits of your own labor. You deserve it.
- Compromise – Marriage is all about the mutual acceptance of whatever, whenever. Agree to disagree. Give and take. Find the middle ground. Strike a balance. Compromise all the way.
- Feed the fantasies – I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to treat her like a sugar baby. Also, be Maria Ozawa (lights off, post partum version) or whatever tickles your fancy, sir, yes, sir.
- Talk then act. Say then show. Promise then prove. Now say it all again.
- Go to sleep – There’s a saying that goes don’t go to sleep angry. I beg to disagree. Sleep is important. The less sleep you have, the more likely you are to make a poor decision. So for the love of your spouse, go to sleep and talk about it the next day.
- EXTRA GRACE REQUIRED – Always extra grace. A little more extra grace. Add a bit more extra grace. Extra patience, extra understanding, extra respect, extra affection, extra trust, extra gratitude, extra romance. Extra grace required always.
It’s the little things that become the big things. When he opens the car door for you. When he lets you sit in the car while he puts the groceries in the trunk. When he orders extra rice even if you say you don’t want extra rice. When he exchanges his grilled porkchop for your baked salmon because you said it tastes it better. When he silently suffers listening to your eclectic playlist of Boyzone, Nine Inch nails and meditation to the sounds of nature. When he sleeps with one pillow so you can sleep with four. When he turns on the car a full 15 minutes before you get in so you won’t complain about the heat. When he fixes your morning coffee because he knows you have a series of meetings. When he offers to put Salonpas on your back because he knows you had a long day. When he sits through the 36th re-run of John Wick because he knows it’s your favourite movie.
We forget the good things that we have going on for us because we think some higher form of happiness can be found somewhere else. When in reality, happiness is in the little things because the little things become the big things.
So here’s to my first husband Mike and the millions of husbands, spouses, partners out there. Cheers to you for staying alive and cheers to us for choosing to stay in love.