Sunday, April 5, 2009

7 things I guess I didn't know about marriage

So I read this article on yahoo. I guess maybe three years of marriage isn't enough time maybe? So here are 7 things that I did not know about marriage:

1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?
Actually, it is. You just didn't realize it the day you and your guy were cramming wedding cake into each other's faces, clinking champagne glasses, and dancing the Electric Slide. Back then you had no idea that "for better and for worse" doesn't kick in only when life hands you a tragedy. Your relationship mettle is, in fact, most tested on a daily basis, when the utter sameness of day-in/day-out togetherness can sometimes make you want to run for the hills. That's when the disappointment sneaks in, and maybe even a palpable sense of loneliness and grief. It's not him. It's just you, letting go of that sugarcoated fantasy of marriage that danced in your eyes the day you and your beloved posed in all those soft-focus wedding photos. You're learning that marriage isn't a destination; it's a journey filled with equal parts excitement and tedium.

I certainly do not think Peter and I went into marriage with our eyes shut to reality. We were only 20 years old but we certainly knew that life together would not always be easy. In fact we both know that God has blessed us more then we deserve. Whenever we go through one of those "in sickness and in health" moments - we get frustrated and we get upset but we always grow so much closer together in the tough times. I know that in the future we will go through much harder times then we have gone through at this point in time, but I know I will never want to go through those things without Peter by my side. I have never second guessed my decision to marry Peter - NEVER!

2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.
Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume "work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat. In your naivete, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.
If only it were that easy.

Do people seriously think this when they are making a lifelong commitment? Again, I would say that marriage does take work and that we are constantly "working" to be a better spouse but I seriously went into marriage thinking it would be way more work and a lot less fun then it is. One thing that we do is we get a daily email - mine is from the generous and Peter's is from the generous that gives us tips on simple ways to "work" on blessing our spouse.

3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).
Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.
You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs to breathe.

I get the logic behind this advice, but come on who can actually fall asleep angry? We've gone to bed with some unresolved issues, but neither one of us can sleep when we are mad. We bicker a lot but we don't usually fight with each other in general. We would rather stay up all night fighting then try to sleep mad. I have also noticed that the longer we have been married (only 2 1/2 years) the less we tend to fight and the more we discuss and just plain let go of the small things. We don't want to fight, we don't want to go to bed mad and we can usually talk things through pretty quickly and get to the root of the problem.

4. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.
I can be a bit of a know-it-all. There, I said it. It's really not my intention to be hurtful or brash with people I love. It's just that a lifetime of experience has taught me that in most areas, at most times, I am right about most things. What shocked me several years into my marriage, though, was the realization that the more "right" I was, the more discontented my husband and I were as a couple. See, oddly enough, throughout his life Genoveso has been under the misguided impression that he's right most of the time (go figure!). So we'd lock horns -- often. That is, until I learned a few things.

Namely, that when it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong -- there is simply your way of looking at things and your husband's. "I used to be very black-and-white earlier in our marriage," says Lindy Vincent, 38, who lives in Minneapolis. "Now I see that I'm not all right and my husband is not all wrong. There's more gray in life than I thought, and that's taught me patience and the value of compromise."

I do agree with this one. Peter and I are both so stubborn that we will rarely see that the other person is right. It does no good for us to argue, so we just agree to disagree and respect the others opinion.

5. A great marriage doesn't mean no conflict; it simply means a couple keeps trying to get it right.
Maybe you think that because of my newfound wisdom, Genoveso and I never fight anymore. Ha! As important as it is to strike a balance, it's also important to have a big, fat fight every now and then. Because when you fight, you don't just raise your voices; you raise real -- sometimes buried -- issues that challenge you to come to a clearer understanding of you, your man, and your relationship. I wouldn't give up our fights for anything in the world, because I know in the end they won't break us; they'll only make us stronger.

This just doesn't work for us. If we are really fighting Peter ends up getting really mad and says hurtful things just to be mean and I shut it all off and don't talk. We have a much easier time getting to the root of the problem through normal conversation then we do while we are fighting.

6. You'll realize that you can only change yourself.
Ever seen the '80s sci-fi cult classic "Making Mr. Right?" When the stylish heroine, played by Ann Magnuson, is hired to teach a robot how to act like a human, she seizes the chance to create a perfect guy. A hotshot commercial whiz, she uses her marketing prowess to shape John Malkovich's android character into her personal version of the ideal man -- sensitive, eager to please, and willing to listen.
There is a bit of that makeover fantasy in all of us -- something that makes us believe we can change the person we love, make him just a little bit closer to perfect. We may use support and empathy or shouts and ultimatums, but with dogged conviction we take on this huge responsibility, convinced we're doing the right thing.
Whatever our motives, the effort is exhausting. Transforming a full-grown man -- stripping him of decades-old habits, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies -- is truly an impossible task. And you will come to realize, sooner than later if you're lucky, that it is far easier to change the way you respond to him.

For me this was a dating mistake, not a marriage mistake. I went into marriage accepting Peter for who he was. There are many ways that he has become a better person and I do love that, but I did not expect him to change and I am certainly not the one responsible for that change in him. We do try to better ourselves, but we accept each other the way we are.

7. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of.
That's the strange beauty of marriage: It's full of hard times and hard lessons that no one can ever prepare you for. But in the end, those are the things that give richness to your life together -- and make your love even deeper and stronger than when it began.

I think Peter and I were evidently more prepared for marriage then we thought. We had great marriage prep. We had an 18 month engagement and I think we encountered a lot of the newlywed difficulties during that phase of our relationship but the wedding was not the first thing on our mind while we were engaged. We read numerous marriage books together to prepare us for what we were going to experience in marriage. I think we went in with our eyes wide open, and having a pretty good idea of what it would take to succeed. We are almost 3 years in to this journey and I have to say that even in the midst of this tough stuff we are dealing with right now - we are happy and marriage has been overall much easier then we anticipated it being. I look forward to many many many more years of this and I trust that when the really tough stuff hits us that we will make it through together.