Marriage Mudslides & Miracles

weddingvowsI DO

What do we really mean? Do we mean I will stand by you through thick and thin, good and bad, happy and sad times and everything in between? Do we mean no matter what, you are my choice out of all the others I might have chosen, even those who I haven’t met yet and who I might be tempted by in the future I will still choose you. Do we mean, even on those bad days when I don’t like you at all, when you are really an Azzhat, I will still love you and choose you over everyone else.

Is that what we mean when we say, I DO.

Marriage is rough; no matter how much time we spend trying to make certain we fit together we usually miss something. Sometimes it is the small stuff, you know stuff like he doesn’t replace the toilet paper when he uses the last of it or she squeezes the toothpaste from the middle. Sometimes it is stuff you can work through, stuff like she is a neat freak who thinks the bed must be made immediately upon arising or he is a slob who thinks the floor and the laundry basket are the same thing. Sometimes though it is stuff you thought you understood, you thought you talked about, you thought you understood about each other, maybe you forgot to ask or it just didn’t come up in conversation. Other times, well it is the stuff you talked about, just didn’t probe deeply enough; maybe something changed over the course of years, or maybe it didn’t change but in the rosy glow of ‘love’ you failed to hear what the other person really said.

Things like MONEY, RELIGION, FAMILY, FRIENDS. Yours, mine, ours and not so much.

What if you marry thinking the things you don’t ‘love’ or maybe even don’t like so much about your most beloved will change or worse yet that you will be able to change them. What if you fail to mention before the vows there aspects of your future spouse you wish were not part of their make-up, you like them just not their;

  • Smoking
  • Drinking, to excess
  • Tattoo(s)
  • Tendency toward introversion
  • Tendency toward extroversion
  • Competiveness
  • Hair color
  • Bookwormishness
  • Bad Manners
  • Stinginess
  • Dress, style habits
  • Self-righteousness
  • Selfishness
  • Family
 mudslide

What if any or all of these things were simply things you thought you could either ignore or change? Well if any or all of these were part and parcel of the person you were planning to marry and you thought you could ‘fix’ them after the fact, you were in for a shocking awakening. In fact your marriage would soon look as if it had been hit by a colossal mudslide right through bedroom and on into the main living quarters.

Strange list above, isn’t it? Yet, those are personality traits, habits and choices a person brings with them into a relationship and thus a marriage. You knew it at the start; you lived with whatever is bothering you throughout your romance; why in the world would you think anything was going to change once you said your vows? Do you think your vows are magic? Guess again, the mud is covering every last bit of all the presents, you might not have even gotten the thank you cards out the door yet.

Obviously, there are some of those things that can be negotiated if both partners are willing and the problem is approached with some sensitivity. Let’s look at just a couple of the list.

  • I love you, I want to live with you for a very long time I wish you would stop smoking
  • I love you, when you drink to excess it concerns me and I wish you would spend more time with me doing healthy things.

These are perhaps ways you could approach problems that affect the health and well-being of a loved one. These open the door to conversation, negotiation and compromise over time.

  • If you get another tattoo, I will leave you.105_edited-1
  • If you change your hairstyle from the way I like it (color or cut) I won’t think you are beautiful.

These are obviously not good strategies for compromise or negotiation. This is especially true if the person you married was already tattooed, which is a body integrity and personal choice issue. You do not get to choose for another person after the fact. You should never use threats as a form of negotiation.

  • You don’t fit in with my family and I will not stand up and defend my choice of you.
    • With this one holidays become nothing but stress. Resentment flairs as one or the other of you are not with family or are alone.
  • I won’t spend holidays with your family, they are not mine and I would rather not be engaged.
    • Again, you are forced to choose between your spouse and your family. Resentment build over time as you make excuses for his/her absence from dinners and other gatherings.  

The last one, family tends to be a hot button for many couples. Love them or hate them, when you marry your spouse you marry the family it is a package deal. You must be willing to say to your family, this is the person I love, this is the person I choose and I will brook no evil towards my spouse. If you don’t believe you are able to stand before your family in defense of your spouse you should reconsider your decision to marry. Either you are marrying the wrong person and you will never have peace in your home or you are not ready to marry, not ready to set aside childish things.

Believe me the resulting muck and mud will stick to everything, it will pile up in the corners and you will not be able to shovel it out fast enough.

When you get through all the nonsense that annoys the holy hell out of you, maybe you still like each other at the end of the day. Perhaps at the end of the first year (a hard one) you don’t want to start a bonfire with your wedding pictures and burn your spouse at the stake in effigy. Maybe you haven’t raised a white flag yet and said this is far too difficult, good for you Miracle One (1).

Did you get this far because you didn’t bother to mention all the stuff that annoyed you? I will just bet you did. You likely fought about nonsense and didn’t bother to mention all the really wicked things rolling around in your head. Let me give you a clue, just a small hint believe me you will thank me for it.

DO NOT BE SILENT FROM FEAR.

Marriage is hard work; the miracle is some of us sometimes make it through decades and still like each other. People stop in here all the time and tell me they have been married for 30, 40 and even more years and their spouse is their best friend and greatest love. I am in awe of them. My father found his soul mate and the love of his life in his sixties, they had twenty great years together.

DSC_0122DO NOT BE SILENT FROM FEAR.

It isn’t right to want to change your spouse. But, if the person is truly who you love, flaws and all then love them with everything you have, flaws and all. If they don’t love you back in the same way and in the way you need, well time to think about what you really do need from life. It isn’t going to be for them to change, it might be though that you need to make a change. We can’t force another person to love us no matter how much we might love them.

I am not going to be silent from fear. I am going to ask for what I need, the rest well it is up for discussion.

Comments

  1. I married my first wife because i was so excited that a woman was willing to spend there life with me. That failed.

    I married my current wife because I could not even my future and she was not there. I literally was unable to do it. I am unable to see her flaws. I do not deserve her. I think that though there are a lot of small irritating things going into this, They are small in comparison to the idea of living without her.

    I knew I wanted to marry her when I realized that I WANTED to put her first and everything else second.

    What you wrote was beautiful. Thank You so much for it

    • I smiled when I read this. I read it twice so I could keep smiling for a while longer. I think you just gave the secret of great marriages away, placing our partners first. We may not always do it in all our actions, but if we do it in all our thoughts and then adjust our actions accordingly, we are bound to be successful 90% of the time.

      Humans are inherently selfish. It takes effort not to be what we are naturally, that is why marriage is such hard work and why we fail at it so often. Asking for what we need is also very difficult, sometimes this in itself feels selfish but as someone said to me recently if we don’t ask how is our partner supposed to know.

  2. This is a really good post, and I agree with most of it. Though, sometimes, I think it may be be better to learn to accept your partner’s shortcomings silently – especially because these qualities were ones you found “cute” in the early stages of relationship.
    Yes, you can bring up these behaviors in a discussion, but the only reason for the discussion is to get the other person change their behavior. If the behavior is merely annoying but not destructive (e.g., leaving the toilet sit up / putting dishes in dishwasher in the “wrong way”), and hard to change, sometimes it’s better to just accept that behavior as a given, rather than keep having regular useless discussions on the topic.
    Though, I have to make a disclaimer that I’m only a few years into my marriage, and maybe I’ll change my mind later on 🙂

    • Small shortcomings, yes. Accept them, absolutely. Some of the other stuff, negotiate common ground and find the middle. The reality of marriage, no matter how how well we know the other person when we say ‘I do’ and start living in close quarters, some things start sorting differently. Figuring out which each person needs and wants so the partnership works for both of them, that is why talking is worth it.

      The little stuff? Yeah, mostly let it go. But don’t let it build up.
      Change them? No, you can’t but something I say all the time, you don’t have to love what I love, but you have to love me enough to want my happiness if that means making the bed how hard is that?

      • Considering the fact that most arguments start with the small stuff, letting it go could be the best thing we can do to keep the marriage going.
        I would avoid, as much as possible, saying to my wife something like “if you love me, please do/don’t do this”, because I think it sounds a little like emotional blackmail. The only time I see myself using that is when it would be my argument of last resort for some serious problem.

  3. I will be celebrating my Ruby wedding in 2 yrs time, Marriage is about give and take, forgiveness, Love, tolerance, patience, and understanding, sharing, sadness, joy, tears, Happiness- And even after all these years I learn something new everyday- and no marriage how ever smooth. We all hit the rocks and mudslides.. but some times Miracles Happen .. Sending you my Love Val… and a Big HUG! ~Sue

    • This is the truth, isn’t it? All that hard work you put in, sometimes feels like rolling boulders up very steep hills and other times just feels like dangling your legs off a dock, waves gently brushing at your toes.

      The really hard part, hanging on through the rough patches. Reminding yourself, it is worth it. Reminding the other guy you and he/she are worth it. Setting the expectation that every single day won’t be all sweetness and light, but more days than not just might be.

      Gad, I am fairly certain most of us are not cut out for this but still we hang in there.

      • Val, if you think its worth hanging in there, then Hang on in… I doubt very much any marriage has not gone through their rocky patches …. So sending you a Big Hug my friend.. Hold on and as my last post said ‘Keep Going’
        Love Sue

  4. I suppose the ones most in danger are those who meet for the first time and go out and get married although that’s a generalization. First impressions are usually not to be relied on. So getting to know each other over a long period is usually the best way to go before contemplating marriage. That way when you say “I do” it is with full knowledge of the imperfections in each other and having a prior commitment to work around those imperfections in each other. Even the best of us are imperfect and we need to see all those warts up front before making a committal. We also need to train our head to be in control and not let those hormones get the upper hand if the head is screaming danger!

    • Isn’t that the truth, even with our head in charge though the heart does beat and the hormones do rage. Imperfections arise even when we think we have discovered them all, those small ones and those that loom large. Those we thought we could ignore I think are the worst though, the ones that were cute during our days of romance might not be so cute when we must live with them every day.

      Ah well, we shall see. We either figure it out or we don’t you know.

  5. It’s all my fault.

  6. Good advice here, Val. I’ve been with the same man for almost twenty years, and it wasn’t easy. The biggest thing I had to learn is that I shouldn’t hold him responsible for upholding my unvoiced expectations of him. So often I get my panties in a bunch over something he had no inkling was bothering me. That whole “if you don’t know what’s wrong, it’s your fault” thing I used to do was childish. I still do it sometimes, though;) He had to learn to deal my occasional tizzies too. Sometimes I don’t even know what is bothering me.

    • I think we all have those, unvoiced expectations that is. I learned long ago to never remain silent about what I needed, always remain silent about the silly shit, never let things build to a crescendo and then crash. If something truly bothers me, I say it. If I notice something changing that is outside of our ‘agreements’ I mention it and ask why.

      This may not keep the peace, in fact it usually doesn’t for a day but long term it works for us.

      The problem is, where I am a communicator I sometimes miss the stuff I should see. I fail to ask, “what is on your mind?” With a follow up question when he answers, “Nothing.”

      We have been together for nearly 16 years and married for 14, but you know things change, people change, desire changes, dreams change.

  7. While I have not been married I do think that many people when they first marry look at marriage as being full of bliss and happiness. I see that there will be struggles but that you need to look at why you married in the first place – with a strong foundation the struggles can be ones you fight through together. Much love xx

    • Yes, sometimes this is true. Other times the simple truth is over time one or both partners find they simply built their house on the wrong foundation. It isn’t about love, they may both honestly still have plenty of that. Sometimes it is simply about a lifetime of other dreams, being honest enough to admit this, well it is hard.

  8. you’ve raised very valid points valentine, and I agree completely that one should not be silent about what bothers one in a marriage. And yet that is easier said than done. sometimes one keeps quiet about things if they are not very important just to let the ball roll. If the spouse is good about most of the stuff, then its risky to rock the boat. It requires guts and self confidence and a backup plan to speak up! I also feel that its not that one hasn’t had all the conversations. Even when one has had the conversations, and found ones soulmate. People change. When you marry in your early twenties, you don’t stop growing. Life happens and choices change, personalities adapt and over a decade o more you are no longer the people you were when you took those vows. That’s a sad truth about life. Could be the happy truth too, if you both change to fit better 🙂

    • You bring up the greatest truth of all, people change and not always together. Sometimes what we thought we wanted simply isn’t the same and we can’t make it so. Growing out of our choices is a terrible thing to have to face, especially if this sad truth goes against so many of our social and moral standards. When we are fighting ourselves within and thus hurting ourselves and others in our attempt to break bonds.

  9. Marriage isn’t easy … therefore, it certainly isn’t a cure all. It requires work, communication, common ground, space, trust, and a host of other things … 36 years for us in a matter of days. More importantly, you seem better on the day of this post! Still in pain – but better!

    • You see Frank, you all are one of those couples I stand in not so silent awe of. Marriage is hard as hell, as I said to someone the other day this isn’t my first Rodeo. This one though, well this one has more of my heart, more of my personal investment. I am better, which doesn’t mean I know the outcome will be what I wish for it to be, only that I know ultimately it will be what is right and necessary.

  10. Snoring…. you missed snoring on the list!!! Why do they all lie about snoring? MAKE IT STOP!!!!!

  11. Be still my heart. I am devastated for you. I can’t “like” your post because it feels like I’m cheering a broken heart that has already been through more pain than is humanly fair for any one person. I had to read it twice to make sure it was real. I thought it might be a story. I’m so sorry, Val. I’m so very sorry. Hang in there, honey.

    • It isn’t over yet. We still are fighting it out. We are still battling the demons. How it ends, I don’t know yet and oddly I think either ending might be okay. I don’t think this is about love, it is about other things.

  12. Indeed, you will not be silent, and you will be okay. I think there are few who go in mature and cognizant of the implications of marriage. It is far to easy to dissolve and far too easy to simply say, take it or leave it. Whatever the choice, I support you.
    xxx ❤

  13. I’m a big believer that spouses each need their own space and time to do things on their own. Joining two people to live together for ‘eternity’ is asking for a lot, and so giving each other room to breathe is important. I’m going on 25 years of marriage this summer, and I take it as a good sign that when my husband and I get a chance to go out to dinner together, we always have lots to talk about and are eager to do so. Well, until dessert comes. Then I don’t waste too much time talking. Chocolate waits for no woman… 🙂

    • I have always believed in personal space. I even believe in personal vacations, time away. Hell, I have spent at least 80% of my married life ‘away’ because of work. My home has a “music room (his)” and an “office (mine)”, plus a man cave.

      Sometimes though, it is what we forgot to mention that kills the deal. Congrats on 25 years.

  14. All of your points are on the money, Valentine. If only the rose-coloured glasses weren’t blurring our vision so much before the wedding. If only we could see what needs to be discussed before the big step. If only we weren’t so crazy in love to think with our heart instead of our head. If only we weren’t so darn human…

    • Yep, exactly. Love sure puts us in a space of idiocy doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just introduce those two pieces of our anatomy prior to that long walk down the aisle.

  15. It never stops being hard, even when it’s worked for decades… most of my friends ( and me too) are now nurses and caregivers with partners who are old, infirm, have altzheimers, Parkinsons, emphysema…old age changes everything… and the choices are no longer there …I do in sickness and in health….

    • I watched the most spectacular love story of all with my Dad and Heart Mother, they married late in life. They were the best together. They both had health problems and use to joke they would feel blessed if they got 5 years together, they got 20. When she passed due to an accident in the home, he said I am done and passed 11 months later. She had been his caregiver as through colon cancer and as Alzheimers progressed despite the drugs.

      I can only say, I wanted their type of love. I Do, forever through anything.

  16. Good advice, Val. You can’t really change someone else’s behavior — hell it’s hard enough to change my own!

    I’ve been married 26.5 years. My husband is shy and hates visitors (especially ones he doesn’t know). He doesn’t share my taste in music (a sore point). It is agony trying to get him to a family function on my side — even though he really likes my relatives. The list of irritations is long.

    But he is a good man. He’s good to me, smart as hell and always interesting to have around. So I take the bad (and bitch about it, but not to him all that much because it won’t help) and I weigh in the good.

    Life and marriage are about risks and benefits. Pluses and minuses. Shit and shinola.

    I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. But really, I don’t think there are perfect marriages. Not a one.

    • Agreed, on all of it. I have never cared about most of the silly stuff. Laugh about most of it really. The list of irritations is long indeed, I am certain his is equally long.

      I know there are no perfect marriages. I have always known this, I have also always been willing to fight hard for my imperfect marriage, so long as I felt valued and loved.

      I will be okay, whatever the outcome I will be okay.

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