Saturday, September 22, 2007

So, who asked?

My piece of completely unsolicited advice for the day? We are talking marriage, people.

Not how to keep one going... just how to choose wisely.

Don't we all know the couple that is unhappy because - their spouses are exactly the same as the day they married them?

I tell my kids, when doling out snacks, Popsicles, or (well, anything really): "you get what you get, and you don't pitch a fit". I didn't coin the expression, the daycare did. We got lots of great gems there (including, for the record: "walk away", "that is not your work", and "that is not a safe choice").

In marriage, however, you do get to make a choice... a monumentally important, life-changing, happiness-defining choice. Do it wisely.

By wisely, I mean, don't choose someone because they have great potential. That is, if they changed this, or that, they would be perfect. You are making a Eiffel Tower-sized error if you think that you will be able to pick and choose which traits your spouse should keep. Besides, your spouse is just as perfect as you are.

I know a handful of couples at this very moment where one (or more likely both) spouse is unhappy because their spouse didn't change in the way they had planned. You get what you pay for, nothing more (sad to say).

One couple: the guy lied a bit when he said he would be OK with one child, he really didn't want any... thought he could put her off until it was too late. She lied a little when she said she'd be OK with just one. Yup, they have had major struggles.

Another couple: She said she'd be OK with his continuing most of his "guy" activities (being mostly a widow while he dashes about running, hashing, and hanging out with the guys). He said he'd want to spend a bit more time with her and back off a bit on the guy time. Struggling, as we speak (well, as I pontificate... and almost no one reads my ponderous crap).

I made this mistake the first time around. I thought... he's young... he'll grow up. Nope. Another case of arrested development.

This time around. My husband isn't perfect and neither am I. I knew that I married a frugal man that doesn't like (to give or receive) surprises, speaks as he thinks, and is organized to the edge of OCD. He knew and still married a woman that will never be organized, forgets anniversaries (we got married on New Year's Day, and I've still mucked it up!) and birthdays (his, last year... oops), and misplaces everything. He likes technical literature, I am a bookworm. But, it all works out... because we accepted our respective idiosyncrasies. I love dogs (and have a pain-in-the-ass golden retriever) and he thinks that dogs are outside toys.

I did know that I married: a phenomenal listener, a man with inhuman patience, a caring individual, a man that needs space and time to organize his thoughts (damn, the man takes a long time paying our bills - but, he balances his checkbook to the penny). I didn't even guess then that he would be the most awesome dad ever (knew he'd be good, but didn't know the extent). Even if he'll never really surprise me (I don't love surprises either), won't say things just to be nice, thinks spending money on frills (like curtains) is excessive, and sleeps through anything - I love him to death.

Maybe he will (maybe he won't) get a card from me on New Years' Day this year... but, he knows I love him.

You get exactly what you marry (sometimes more, but you don't get to choose which parts).


Jonathan said...

Your description of your own marriage almost perfectly described mine.

I am the ordered one. The tidy one. The geek. The one who reads the technical books. She is the bookworm. The ideas person. The organiser. The most untidy and forgetful person I have ever known.

Somehow it works though. Brilliantly at times, not so brilliantly at other times - but it works.

Great post.

richgold said...

I really enjoy reading your posts. It's like looking at my life mirrored. It helps me appreciate the life I'm rebuilding all the more.