Eight years ago we were wedding in Holy Matrimony and it was such a great day. I still remember trotting around my front yard at 10pm telling everyone I just don’t want this party to ever end. ALL MY FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE SAME PLACE! It was over 300 of our nearest and dearest, spanning my horse back riding days to his running days, law school friends, family from all over the country, and more.
Looking at our photos, my first thought is wow I look so young! Followed quickly by I didn’t know so much. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. What I did know was that I was crazy in love with this man, that I wanted to be with him always and forever, and that we would figure it out.
Marriage starts to simplify, in a way, over the years. I no longer have hissy fits (is that even still a term?) over inane details. I actually know what kind of gifts he likes and doesn’t like. I actually understand his facial expressions and different intonations of grunts. I know what to expect from both of us when we go through pregnancy together, and that first year of a new baby.
Marriage also becomes more thick. The disagreements now have years to fall back on for examples of how *she always does X* or *he never does Y.* We’ve learned and accepted each other’s flaws and failings, but the emotional response to those still shifts like the aftershocks of an earthquake. Children upon children are blessings indeed, but evenings are spent getting them to go to sleep and leave little room for talking or tidying or even <<going WAY OUT THERE HERE>> doing house projects.
In eight years, I have learned at least eight things. Maybe some of these resonate for you, too. Last year I wrote about seven years of marriage, the year before six, then five, then four. Nothing like reading old blog posts.
And here are a few out-takes from the wedding or unedited action shots that made me smile!
01) you can be right or you can be married
Oh, I think I’m right. Like, almost always definitive about things in our lives. How to do something with the kids (always wear more layers and start bedtime earlier, for example). How to do something around the house. How to show love.
I’ve learned that I can either be right, or I can be married. I can’t right all the time and expect my marriage to survive. If it’s only my way or the highway, at some point, we will crumble. I try to pick my battles and let the rest go. I also respect that he can be right AND I can be right and come to different conclusions. We can actually both be right and neither of us think the other is.
02) nagging never works
Oh, maybe it gets that one task completed. But at the cost of driving my husband into the ground with my train-wrecking enthusiasm for completion? I look around our house and think about the pots that need to be moved in the backyard, the tape residue that needs to be removed from the stair handle, the blankets that need to be put away. I can gently remind him that I need help with these things, but accusing him of not doing it, when in fact, he’s busy caring for the kids in the evening, is just unkind.
When I hear my voice nagging and my tone snapping, I know I’m being unkind. Unkindness is a surefire way to build up long-term grudges. Don’t nag, Nell.
03) don’t make plans without consulting him
I’m infamous for this one. It’s Thursday evening and I remark casually (faux-casually), Oh, we’re actually going to do such and such on Saturday. Did I forget to tell you? It won’t take that long but I really wanted to see so and so and then the kids . . . . It’s a faux-casual because the reason I didn’t consult him is that I didn’t want him to say no. I wanted to commit us to doing something before he had a say so it would be hard to get out of.
Ouch! That is a horrible control tactic! I know I’m more extroverted and that we sometimes differ on how to pace our socializing. I’d prefer to do it all the time, and he’d prefer to do it at a more normal, steady pace. Preferably when we aren’t all sleep deprived and sick, for example. Now I know that if he isn’t up for it that weekend, we can agree on a time that is better to do.
04) don’t react in anger
Easier said than done. But I know that if I just lash out? It’s usually not about him or what he said or did. It’s usually because I’m hungry or tired. If I find myself in a hot headed place, I do a mental check: when was the last time I ate something of substance? When did I last drink some water?
05) make time to laugh
For us, this usually involves SNL on our hand-me-down-half-cracked-screen iPad late at night. Say the kids are actually all sleeping and it’s 10pm. We can squeeze in a few short sketches or even a short amazon prime or netflix show. I’m not a huge drama fan (too much in my day-to-day between the kids?) but something light and fluffy that I can actually laugh at with him? Sign me up. Parks & Rec. 30 Rock. The Office.
Laugh. Laugh. It’s the best medicine. I also don’t know any jokes so I can’t do it organically. Gotta find something common to laugh about that’s not just my ratty hair.
06) enjoy at least one meal together per week
It doesn’t have to be a fancy foodie date. Ours isn’t. It just means we sit together at least once a week while one of us is eating. Usually I feed the kids around 5 and he isn’t home until 6 or after. I usually eat with the kids, but on Pizza Fridays, I’ll eat while cooking them and save a little appetite for when he gets home. Just sitting across from each other and talking while eating does the heart good.
07) let him love me
Let him love me! Let him see me in my most vulnerable and miserable of places and let him love me even then. Accept love! Don’t be defensive all the time, Nell. Don’t be ready to critique and criticize. Just receive my husband’s kind heart and love him as openly in return.
I really loved reading my old ones. This is a good tradition!