Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

Why He’s So Flexible   Leave a comment

After twenty-eight years of being married, I learned something new about my husband–just when you think nothing else big can possibly be known.  But the revelation wasn’t really about him so much as about me.

My husband is very flexible.  He has always been willing to go along with my wild ideas, or my wishes, or my wanting to invite someone else over, or the camping trip I’d like to take.

I thought this was because–well–he’s flexible.  He’s very easy-going, reliable, calm, dependable.

In short, a rock of peace.

I suppose that is probably the main reason, if there is one only, why I pursued him and ended up choosing him as my spouse, when he indicated his willingness to engage in such an intimate connection.  I have benefitted from his character and the kindness that flows from it for years.  I have known that at some level.  But a few weeks ago, I found out that he is not as flexible as I thought.

I’m glad that the proposed weekend to which I wanted to add an activity was his birthday weekend.  We planned to travel to his mother’s to retrieve our youngest two children from their time at Camp Grandma, and the Saturday of that weekend was his birthday.  Of course his mom did not want to miss an opportunity like that!  She set up a simple party with some family members.

The other variable in play was that I was hoping to also see my brother and his family.  They live within reach in the same general area of the state we were traveling to.  I thought it would be possible to do both.  I started to make plans with my side of the family–all before actually talking with my husband about the weekend.  I just assumed, as I have many times before, that my spouse would want the same thing I did, or at the least, be willing to do what was important to me.  I mean, this is our big opportunity to connect with both sides of the fam, why wouldn’t we do that?

And that would normally have been what happened.

However.

Because it was his birthday on the day we were talking about, and because I had been reading a pretty good book on marriage in the weeks before, this self-absorbed person actually had a rational thought.

I’d probably better ask dear-husband what he is willing to do.  Would he like to extend our travels by some additional hours?

So, I asked him what he really wanted to do.

and I told him that I really wanted to know.

and he told me what he really wanted to do.

He did not feel like adding more driving, more events, and more craziness to his life.

So, we did not try to do it all in one weekend.

We enjoyed our time with our kids and his mom.  We got a great several hours long visit with our nephew and his wife and two boys, who came over for the birthday party, more time than we usually get, and I got to know my niece-in-law quite a bit more.  She’s a real gem.  The next day before we left we enjoyed an incredible meal at the Olive Garden with the family and my brother and sister-in-law, provided by my mother-in-law, and that was a good time also.  It was good to see my husband getting the time with his mother that he wanted and needed.

So, why wasn’t he flexible this time?

It’s not that he’s not flexible.

He’s so flexible, he probably has almost never gotten his way in our marriage.  This time, because I stopped to ask, he got what he wanted and needed.

He has been flexible to help me.  He has lived for 28 years with a person who’s so high-strung and particular that she does not handle situations well at all if they don’t go according to her expectations.  He has been patient and calm and long-suffering because he knew that a) as my oldest puts it, I would have a snit if things did not go as I expected and b) he loved me enough to be willing to do what helped me be okay.

Sure, he could have told me 27 years ago that I was the most ridiculously self-absorbed, inflexible crazy person he had ever met.  Maybe he should have.  He could have told me that I was not being fair and that my almost always having to have my way was unacceptable.  He would have been perfectly correct.

But I don’t know that I would have been able to hear it then.

He has spent the years loving me in myriad ways, making me more lovely.  He has loved me so well that I can now freely chose another way to live.

 

 

 

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Letter to my 21-year-old self on the eve of my wedding   1 comment

Dear Self,

Congratulations.  You got a man.

Now for the rest of the story.

Very important: everything you’ve heard or read about not being able to change a man is true.  I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but you can be saved days/weeks/months/years of beating your head against the wall, if you stop trying to change him.

He can change and he will change in some areas of life.  But he’ll change when he is good and ready, or when God changes him, not when you change him.

Prime example: TV viewing.

Give it up.  He is going to watch TV. He is going to watch shows you don’t like, too many hours of TV, stupid commercials, you name it.  But it isn’t going to work to nag him.  It isn’t going to work to put the TV in the closet for the first three months of your marriage.  He will just want to get it back out again.  Don’t fight it.  Because you picked a good one, and when the rubber hits the road, and there is something that is important that needs to be done, he will turn off the TV and do it.  (But he might do it quicker if you don’t bug him about watching TV.)

You can’t imagine the life events, difficult, challenging, sad, exhilarating, which will meld you to your husband over the next twenty-seven years.  And that’s all right.  It’s good, it’s messy and it’s difficult.  Just live one day at a time–you don’t need to figure out in advance how to solve the problems you don’t even have yet.

You won’t believe how much better sex is after you have given birth vaginally, than before.  At first it won’t be the love fest you imagined.  But–good things take time.  It will be worth the wait.

Also, you aren’t going to believe how hard it will be to communicate openly and honestly.  I know, you’ve done the premarital counseling, and the two of you rate yourselves pretty high on honesty.  You think you really know how to problem solve.  You think you can talk about anything.

Wrong.  But you’ll learn.  You’ll learn about instantaneous communication on a gut level which is unique to the two of you.  You’ll also learn that you can be married for decades and think you have made a decision about something together, only to find out he, or you, have no memory of the conversation in which said decisions was made.

Then you’ll learn how to renegotiate.

Oh yes!  Very important!  This is something our American culture does not advertise or appreciate like other cultures do.  It’s a secret, but I will tell you now–

When you marry him, you marry his family.  And he marries yours.  You have no idea how important these wonderful and crazy people will become to you after years of being related!  It’s the craziest, most frustrating and most wonderful aspect of marriage that you will not hear about in advance.  Your mother-in-law is worth her weight in gold.  Your kids will be so blessed by their aunts and uncles.  You will walk through the valleys and the joys with more family than you had before.  Make the best of it–and the most of it.

Also very important.  He really does need to make love more often than you would prefer.  Just love him the way he needs to be loved.  It’s like what you need from him–he doesn’t understand why you need him to listen to you talk, or why you need a back-scratch, but he meets those needs even though he doesn’t understand.  Taking care of each other unconditionally is the foundation of a strong marriage.

He will insist on putting barbecue sauce on the meatloaf and pork chops you make which already have their own sauce.  Just ignore this; commercial barbecue sauce makes him happy.

Oh, also, he will teach you to appreciate big dogs.  Surprise!

You will never love him more than when he agrees to take the whole family camping out west for the second time–when he thought the first time was a “once in a lifetime” trip.

He will become both intimately familiar to you (a great comfort) and yet continue to surprise you on a regular basis (a great joy).

You will find out he is not Prince Charming, although his teeth really do glow in the dark, and he smiles often at you (apparently because he is easily pleased).  He is just a regular human being, and he will let you down some of the time.

Right now, you think that because you both are good-looking and smart and snappy, life will just fall into place as planned.  Wrong.  You may be all those things, but life is no respecter of attributes.  It takes a lot more than good looks to get you through a crisis.  But that’s where your husband will prove his worth, trust me.

To take the pressure off for tomorrow–

First, it really will be all right if you go on your honeymoon without your favorite pair of pink shorts that are still at the cleaners.

Second, don’t waste time worrying tonight and tomorrow morning before the wedding about whether you are making a giant mistake.

You’re not, because it’s a lie that there is one “Mr. Right” out there and you should agonize about whether he’s it.

Twenty seven years down the road together, you will know that he loved you enough to make himself Mr. Right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted November 6, 2015 by swanatbagend in marriage

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