Friday, October 21, 2011

My Mom's Best Advice About Marriage

Say, 'maybe'.
Never say 'no'.

God, it sounds so ridiculously simple doesn't it?
Yet, I thought it was the stupidest advice ever.

When Dan and I got married a lot was happening in our lives. 
We had met in June and by December we were engaged. 
I know. I see some eyes rolling. 
Sometimes when you know, you know. 
6 months later we were married. 
The 'in between' during those six months was crazy though. 

We were under an enormous amount of pressure from crazy life situations. 
I was in a new management position at work.
I was read my last rights in a hospital because of something that happened to my gallbladder.
 Someone blew a red light and I was in a horrible car accident 
and my car was totaled. 
Our extra car on hand was broken into. 
We were in the process of buying a house. 
My grandmother died and his grandmother died within a month of each other...(before the wedding). 
Oh. And yeahh...we had a little thing called a 'wedding' to plan then too.
Some of you know how much stress that is alone. 

Everything seemed overwhelming. 
When we had moved into our new home a month before our wedding 
we were bickering about everything. We couldn't agree on freakin' tooth paste. 
It was nuts. 
We each had our own ideas on what should be done first on the house
and neither of us wanted to compromise.
Every time either of us opened our mouths the 
other would just say 'no' to whatever the question was. 

'I want to re-do the floors.' 
'No, not right now.' 
'I want to get a new tool. 
'No, not right now.'

The more we said no to each other, the more the other dug their heels in. 

We all want to be heard. 
We all want our ideas to be taken into consideration. 
By saying 'maybe', no one is on the defense. 
There is still time to talk it over, and discuss the pros and cons. 

One day I tried it. 

Dan walked in the room and said 
'I think we should take the tax money and put it towards the loan on the car.' 
That was the money we spoke about going to our 1970's nasty kitchen. 
I was devastated.

My first reaction was 'no' - actually it was more like 'noooo waaaaay'.
On the inside. 
Well, if you really want to get technical there may or may not have had an explicit thrown in the middle.

But instead I bit my tongue (it may have bled) and said 'maybe'.

All of a sudden his demeanor softened and he wasn't ready for combat. 
It was much different talking to someone that wasn't expecting a fight. 
I was able to listen to him and even - sighhhh- agree with him a little. 
He was right in a way. Key word 'in a way'. 

By listening and not getting defensive I was able to see it meant more to him then it did to me. 
So instead of giving in I was able to agree


A few weeks had passed and I had asked him something equally important that was
going to cause WW3 - although I can't even remember what it was. 
I remember bracing myself.  
He didn't say 'no' though, he said 'maybe'. 
I was sitting on our couch with my feet up, 
thinking we were finally on the right track to compromise, and honestly it was so much less exhausting.

The crucial point though was when he turned to walk away, 
I saw a slight smile come to his face...kinda like he got away with something.
And all of a sudden it hit me...

It wasn't a question it was a statement. 
We both broke out in a fit of laughter.

Almost ten years later we still use it...even though we both know that we may be 
using it to pacify the other person. It's not lost on us. We get it. 
It taught us actually to see what the other person was saying. 
Listen, think about it, and discuss it rationally.

Marriage is work - no matter how you look at it. 
There is an ebb and a flow to it. 
There is no right or wrong way to go about it. 
Everyone is different and that's just the point. 
We all have different ways to look at something. 

And perhaps Antoine de Saint Exupery said it best, 
'love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.'

Sometimes it's good to ask for directions.

Thanks Mom!


Nichole said...

I love you guys... I love the way you live life, stamping all the details into the picture! Thats why I stop in a few times a week (congrats on 20k hits) I think I may take some of your mom's advice too! ;)

Anonymous said...

I just love everything about you and who you are!! I am blessed to be your friend!!