Love and Marriage

Our week started with a black cloud. Some very dear friends of ours, a couple who have been married for over 15 years, told us that they are separating. Not only was I was sad to hear this but I was also completely caught off guard. This couple had always seemed to have such a good relationship. I guess you never know what goes on inside a marriage and anyone who has ever been in a committed relationship knows that it is a work in progress and sometimes takes a lot of effort to keep it running smoothly.

I started looking at the other marriages around me. Both of my sisters have been with their husbands for over thirty years. My brother’s marriage was over after eight. My parents were together for 43 years. My in-laws divorced when my husband was 16. These couples are different in many ways but I am sure they all struggled with the same kinds of things. Why did some make it out the other side while others didn’t?imageMy Husband and I were lucky enough to celebrate our 21st anniversary this May. We don’t have a perfect relationship but who does? We get on each other’s nerves now and then but are not interested in trading each other in for another model! We still enjoy each other’s compay, are still very much in love and excited for the next 20 (or 50) years so I’d call that a successful marriage. I can’t answer what makes other people’s relationships stand the test of time but I do know that my husband and I have certain rules we make a point of following. Some were with us when we started our marriage while others have evolved over the years.  Here are some of the most important…

  1. Be kind. This seems like a given but I am always surprised by how mean couples can be to each other sometimes. Kindness cost nothing and this rule should be followed in all aspects of life, not just romantic relationships.
  2. Never complain about or make fun of you spouse to others or while in the company of others. Not only does this make those around you uncomfortable but it shows a lack of respect for your partner and your union. If you have a problem with your spouse, you should be telling them, not others and it should be done in private.
  3. Appreciate the best things about you partner and brag about them. Along the same vein, if they do something special, tell others whenever you get the chance. Nothing warms my heart more than hearing my Hubby tell someone “Nanc does a great job with…” or “My wife is really good at..” I make a point to brag about him too.
  4. Respect the things that are important to you spouse even if they are not important to you. I have a friend who is always making fun of her husband’s love of classic cars. She rolls her eyes and acts like this is the most childish hobby in the world. It annoys me to no end. My own Hubby is a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles football team. I grew up in a non-sports home and knew nothing about football till I met him. It still isn’t one of my priorities in life but I know it’s important to him so I dress up and make snacks and cheer along with him. In turn, every year on Oscar night (a date he calls my Super Bowl) He keeps the evening free and even brings me cheese and crackers and a glass of wine to help me enjoy my experience! I know he couldn’t care less who wins the Oscar but I love that he knows I do!
  5. Realize that there are going to be things that you are never going to agree on and find a middle ground you can both live with. I am an incredibly neat person (obsessively so). Hubby, not so much. We agreed early on that I would not organize or straighten his spaces. This includes not dusting or vacuuming. His den, his dresser, his closet and side of the bedroom and the garage are his realm. The middle ground is that if we are having company or a family party, he makes a point of cleaning these areas himself, not because he feels they need dusting but because he know I do!­čśŐ
  6. If something is bugging you tell your partner! They can’t read your mind. Just because you think it is obvious doesn’t mean they do. People are wired differently and each have their own view of things. Stomping around being annoyed is just a waste of time and energy if he or she doesn’t know what you are mad about!
  7. Don’t forget the small stuff. My Hubby brings me my favorite chocolate whenever he stops to buy milk and I slip notes in his lunch box from time to time. Remember to hold hands, kiss goodnight and goodbye, dance, act goofy together, share a joke and above all remember why you got together in the first place!

I am going to end my list there but I bet those of you in the blogosphere have lots of other ideas you could add. I would love to hear them.

Pondering My Future Retirement…

This weekend I spent some time with my one sister and her husband. ┬áDiscussion turned to the fact that my brother-in-law after 28 years with the U.S Post Office had retired that week. My sister, who is a nurse, had cut her own work days so they were chatting about what they planned to do with all┬áthe free time they now had. My other sister and her husband have been retired for over a year as well. ┬áThis got hubby and I thinking about what we would do with our retirement. ┬áNot that it will be happening anytime soon (my sisters are over 10 years older than me), but, except for a few years when my children were little, I’ve worked since I was 16 years old. It’s hard for me to imagine not having a job to go to.

Since both sisters have grandchildren, much of their time will be dedicated to spoiling them. ┬áThey also intend to do some traveling and spend lots of time at the beach. ┬áMy one sis is trying to talk her husband into renting or buying an RV and driving cross country to visit their son in California. ┬áThere is a lot of speculation among the rest of us as to whether or not the marriage could survive such a trip! That’s an awful lot of togetherness for any couple but who knows? I’m sure my husband and I will do the same sort of things when we retire but what else would we do to fill our time?

Obviously, we would still want to spend time being of use to society and the world around us so volunteering would be a given.  I would enjoy working with Habitat for Humanity or the ASPCA.  My one sister volunteers once a week at a thrift shop that her church runs.  She finds the sorting and organizing at the store both therapeutic and fulfilling. My husband would probably lean more toward helping young athletes.

I would like to spend more time drawing and painting and exploring other mediums. Then of course there are books I haven’t gotten a chance to read, and films I’ve been wanting to see. There will be more time to spend with the people I love and more time to make new friends. Hmmm, I’m seeing a pattern here.

Basically, retirement to me is just a shift in balance. It would allow me to spend less time doing the things I have to do and more time doing the things I want to do. For now I want to do as much as my free time allows, then in 10 or 15 years I can just expand! Okay, that’s a plan.image

What do you, or will you do with any leisure time you acquire?