I wrote a post titled “This Is Marriage” shortly after I married my husband. It was about a bad dream turning into a beautiful reality. I had several people mention it as one of their favorites and the topic stayed in my head.
I find every day is not going to be extraordinary. Some days will be bad. Some happy. Some sad and etc. Most will warp into each other, making a week feel like one long day. But among those forgettable one’s, will be days that leave a lasting effect on you and I had one of those recently.
A few days back, a co-worker/friend and I were chatting about marriage and making things work between two people with different needs.
Isn’t that every marriage, when it comes right down to the nitty gritty? Marriage is a beautiful commitment between two people but it doesn’t make them clones of each other. They’re still two individuals, with individual needs and wants of their own.
Perhaps that is the hardest part of combining one’s life with another. Unless you are replicas of one another, chances are you will be different from your significant other, at least in some ways.
And that’s okay.
I’ve found, however, many times one person in the relationship will take a back seat to the other one, who makes louder demands or wants. Regardless though, the differences are still there; they’re just buried or ignored.
Then there are other relationships where both want to maintain a level of individuality within their marriage. This doesn’t mean you think of yourself as one without the other but rather means it’s okay to be different. No one has to prevail.
For example, I need a lot of alone time (yeah I know, I’ve mentioned it before…) When my husband and I first married, this was a tricky one. He liked to be together when we were home and didn’t care much to be alone. I, on the other hand, thrived on it. At first, we argued. It got personal. Feelings were hurt, words were said.
But then, over time, he learned this was part of who his wife was at her core. Friends and family let him in on how much I liked to be alone. He realized I lived alone for seven years and thoroughly enjoyed it and he began to make sense about why I like alone time and learned it had nothing to do with him. That took courage and confidence…
And you know what? Over time, I noticed he started to know when I needed this alone time (after a restaurant shift, for one!) and now, gives it freely, without me even asking.
When my friend and I were chatting, this realization came to me and I nearly lost my breath.
On the flipside, I’ve learned a thing or two also, like how my significant other does not like to be asked indirect questions. Whenever I would ask a question as a statement, it would make his blood boil. And damn, I realize why! That is not how you talk to someone you love.
Another example: my husband likes to keep the blinds closed while I like the sunlight to blare right on in. But who’s right? Neither, really, as each is entitled to their preference. But we learned each other. When I’m not downstairs and he is, there’s no reason those blinds need to be open and when I’m downstairs, I open them with the understanding that if he enters, a few will be closing so we can each have a little of what we like.
Marriage is not about becoming one another. It’s not about taking the backseat to another. Or “sucking it up.”
It’s about communication. It’s about understanding. Being honest with one another about one’s needs.
Perhaps though, most importantly, it’s about the desire to learn each other.
This does not come overnight though. My husband and I had to learn how to learn each other. It took time and patience. But most importantly, as my lovely co-worker explained, it took the desire to do it.
And that is marriage.
The desire to learn about each other and adjust oneself accordingly in an effort to make a better future together.