My siblings and I threw my parents a party on Saturday night. They've been married 25years, and we thought that was worthy of a celebration, so we booked a place, put down deposits, blew up balloons and danced and ate and laughed with them to say "thank you". Their marriage has weathered many a storm, beginning with their escape from Romania and subsequent separation from all that they had held dear. I can't imagine leaving my entire life behind, to begin a new one in a strange land with a husband I'd married 3 months earlier. You can imagine the amount of 'adjusting' that would have had to happen! But it got me thinking.....
I myself have only been married just over 3 years, so please, take all these 'thoughts' with a pinch....nay, a bowl of salt and know that I simply want to share some little lessons I've elarn along the way. (I fully acknowledge that this will make me face-palm and cringe with emabarassment in about 6 months time)
Yes, that's us - deliriously happy :)
I've learnt a few things about the reality of marriage that would have shocked and surprised that 21 year old in the picture. No doubt the 23 year old groom has had his fair share of shocks too!
1. It's only as fun as you make it.
Bear with me, each point might sound ridiculously cliched, but they're only cliches because they're true! I could have the most boring, draining, restrictive and repetitive marriage ever, if I wanted to. And without conscious effort, I have a sneaking suspicion that that's exactly what I will experience. Now, in saying that, it doesn't mean that everyday has to include expensive dinners or over-the-top displays of 'romance', new and improved 'surprises' or getaways, but it does mean making an effort to recast the mundane in a different light. Seeing a bike ride to the local shops as an excuse to race each other, winner takes all ('all' being whatever the winner wants), or blasting the music in the car nice and loud and singing along (getting the lyrics wrong and guitar solo included). If that isn't your idea of fun......then you're boring. No, just joking!! :) But do whatever it takes to make being with your husband/wife the funnest part of your day.
2. Prescribed notions of 'roles' don't always work.
We've all been exposed ad nauseam to the same tired, over-used ideas of men and women's roles in a marriage or family. To be honest, I am sick of it. Sick and tired of the restrictions and limits placed on both men and women, when I've chosen to live in freedom, a freedom given to me by Someone else. (More of that in another post)
Now, I know that roles and functions for men and women can be different, and for good reason, and these work because they point to our inherent "different-ness", but the problem arises when we or society dictate that any slight deviation from these roles is worthy of condemnation and the one failing to live up them is a poor excuse for a husband/wife. This can be manifested in the smallest ways and words; the joke made, the comment on the lack of Tupperware and baking utensils. Can you tell I'm not much of a cook? I wish I was, only to enjoy the fruits of my labors, but alas, I get stressed out in the kitchen and my husband is rather gifted at making food taste great! So, he is the cook and I will happily stick to doing the washing and reading lots of books. These roles work for us. I can only imagine the havoc I could wreak by insisting that I cook and he wash, a task he finds more odious than anything else....it would pointless and cause unnecessary drama!
3. Take forgiveness at face value.
I hate to generalise, but like cliches - they have that kernel of truth that makes them irresistible. I have found, with 2 sisters and numerous girlfriends, that taking forgiveness at face value is a challenge for some women. Not all, but enough to warrant that generalisation :) And yet with my husband, he will gladly offer it, outstretch the olive branch and happily move on once it is accepted. It has taken me almost 3 years to realise that he is not hiding a machine gun under the olive branch and that yes, he really, truly, does forgive me and wants to be done with the whole episode/argument. Astonishing! Such a relief and such a lesson to be learnt, for someone like me. Knowing that it's condition-free and offered with no strings attached doesn't always make it easy to accept, but my thick skull sometimes does remember in the nick of time. Forgiveness spurned is a hard thing to call back, so I say....embrace it!
4. Money problems will always exist - learn the different ways you 'see' money and make peace with it. Oh, and a budget.
5. No-one finds wife-insulting, husband-mocking jokes funny.
It's so tempting as a newlywed, and a middleywed to jump head first into the diving pool of marriage jokes. More specifically, the 'husband is an idiot' and 'wife is a controlling b***h' jokes.
I want to use this platform, out in cyberspace, to categorically and vehemently declare my red-hot hatred for any and all references to wives/husbands as...ball and chain, old lady, old man and anything that describes it as a "jail cell". I am all for a good joke and poking fun at the idiosyncracies of marriage and the funny things that happen in and around them. But it is so lame to keep painting marriage as this joy-killing, soul-destroying force. Really, people, why get married then?! I always think that if I can't talk about my husband in a respectful way, then why should anyone else?
6. Nothing like a partner who will fill up your car with petrol, unasked. Bliss!