Willy and I recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary. And we have yet to murder each other. Hell, the cops haven’t even been to our house. And trust me, they’ve been to the house down the street once or twice. Our marriage is far from perfect, but it’s perfect for us. There are things we both acknowledge we need to work on, but at the end of the day we love each other deeply and share an intense love similar to a fifth grade crush on crack. I’ve spent some time pondering what it is that makes our marriage successful. I asked Willy to do the same. And here’s what we came up with:
-Don’t keep score. I need to remind myself of this one constantly because it feels like I’m always keeping score and that I’m always ahead. Woman do things more efficiently, so instead of berating your husband for not being as organized, give yourself a pat on the back (because no one else is gonna pat it for you) and move the eff on. This also means not holding a grudge when you have to shit faster than you piss because of the two munchkins running around, while your husband makes it a priority to sit over his own feces and play angry birds while you breastfeed one and scold the other. No grudges, capiche? Let it go Ashley, let it go. Are you picking up on the fact this rule is my greatest challenge?
-Mind your manners. All because you’re married doesn’t mean manners go to the wayside. I think Willy and I both do a good job of being polite and respectful. He always asks my permission before making an appointment to have his tattoo worked on, recognizing that my days are busy too and that leaving me with both of our members could potentially create a problem. Running his plans by me first helps me organize and plan ahead and simultaneously helps things run smoothly.
I always try to remember to thank Willy on the nights he makes dinner, which are all nights other than the ones we eat out. Even though it’s something that over the years has become his duty and responsibility, thanking him for his efforts shows recognition and appreciation. Appreciating each other for things we do on a daily basis is important, for it’s those little things that are most easily overlooked but make a world of difference.
-Encourage hobbies and interests. It keeps a person sane, right? There’s nothing worse than watching a relationship develop where the two individuals seemingly morph into one and lose all individuality. Willy loves going to concerts. If there is a show coming up and it doesn’t interfere with anything else, I encourage him to go with a friend. This is because I’d rather step in a pile of fresh dog shit than have my poor ears subjected to the hootin’ and hollerin’ shit he listens to. If Willy Nelson’s playing, on the other hand, then there will be a problem if I’m not going too. If it’s a quiet weekend, Willy will take our members out so I can work on editing photos or scurry over to some of the local thrift stores or, on a rare occassion, get my nails did (uh huh, I said it. Now move past it). Especially with kids, it’s nice to help one another find time to enjoy things we like doing for ourselves.
-You can’t tell the other how to feel. This is somewhat connected to keeping score. When I get up in the middle of the night to feed Van, I’m tired the next day. It goes without saying, right? There is nothing worse than hearing Willy complain about being tired when I’m the one getting in and out of bed while he snoozes off in never never land. But if he’s saying he’s tired, it’s clearly because he’s tired. I have to watch out for it becoming a competition where only one of us can have the privlige of complaining about being tired and just accept the fact that dispite his nine hours of beauty rest, he may still be tired. So yes, you can’t tell one another how to feel. If you’re tired, you’re tired. Take a nap (me first though) and move on.
-Have a sense of humor. When Hooper was an infant, he’d cry a lot. Way more than Van. It was agonizing as first time parents to feel so helpless and clueless. To make light of the situation, we used to cusp our hand back and forth over Hooper’s mouth, making him sound instead like an Indian chanting. It didn’t solve the problem, but it made it more bearable.
What have you learned from the relationships you’ve been in? What works, what doesn’t work, for you?