Today is my anniversary. Sixteen years ago the husband and I stood under a flower strewn gazebo in a non-descript hotel in Vegas and exchanged vows. And what a ride it has been. This is not my first rodeo- I was previously married- but that obviously didn’t end well, so here’s some things I have garnered from my life experiences. These are totally my opinions – not researched or scientific by any means. And this is really not advice- it’s my thought and musings on the subject of marriage.
1) All marriage’s are different. Do not judge anyone else’s union. (To be clear, I am not talking about marriages that are marred by any kind of abuse- that is a subject I am not qualified, nor wish, to discuss) Every marriage is made up of two distinct individuals- how they choose to merge the two halves is entirely their business. Do not judge. Do not give unsolicited advice.
2) Remember- you are married to an individual before all else. Yes- there are always outside influences, but make sure you consider what is best for you and your spouse. (My friends Mother has been hinting that she wants to move in with my friend and her husband. She loves her Mother, but knows there is no way her 28 year marriage could survive that)
3) When making decisions, compromise is always a good path to follow. But sometimes, one person has to have their choice, even is their partner doesn’t entirely agree. If no one ever gets exactly what they want, both people are going to be continually dissatisfied. How do you think your life plays out if you feel like you compromised on every decision?
4) Choose your battles. Is it really worth arguing about a duvet cover? Stick to the things that are truly important to you.
5) It’s OK to go to bed angry. Yes- I said it. All fights can’t be fixed with an 11pm deadline. Sometimes you need to think about something. Sometimes you need to cool off.
6) Life is not tit for tat. Things are not always fair. I don’t mean that each half shouldn’t pull their weight in a relationship. Both partners must assume responsibility for all aspects are their lives- but sometimes one person has to take the lead. If you’re tallying up hours worked, how strong is your relationship anyway? Is that how you want to spend your time- “Hey- you only unloaded the dishwasher twice last week. You owe me 1 1/2 unloads.
7) If you’re angry, consider taking a time out. Five minutes in the corner could stop you from saying things you will regret the moment they come out.
8) Being a parent is stressful and hard. Having children will not save a marriage in trouble.
9) Money is nice, and one needs it for basic survival- but just because you have money doesn’t insure happiness or a successful marriage. It will insure a long and complicated divorce though.
10) Don’t compare your spouse to anyone else. Ever.
11) In-laws. I could write a book. They are harder and more stressful than children.
As to my anniversary, the Husband and I will be going out to dinner. Not something fancy- we will be getting cheeseburgers at a place I’ve wanted to try. I think cheeseburgers are the best thing ever invented, and my goal is to try as many as possible over the course of my life. This is romantic to me. This is special. To me and the husband. Others would disagree.
We will not be exchanging gifts. I don’t need jewelry or an expensive trinket to mark the day. I would rather allocate the funds to experiences- things that we can do throughout the year. Instead of a pricey piece of jewelry, I would rather go to the theater, or take a couples cooking class, or do something that creates a memory. Memories are more important to me.
It’s nice to highlight a special day. But you need to create other special days in your married life. Since our last anniversary, I remember our trying Sri Lankan food for the first time, and loving it. I remember concert and plays. Painting class and wine tasting. Backgammon games and dart games. Walks around Manhattan looking for wave sculptures. Staring at sunsets. And all sorts of other things. Because being married means trying to make every day count- giving it your all. Because being married takes work. Because loving someone is easy- but living with them every single day, taking the good and the bad is hard. And anything worthwhile is hard.