So today, Aug 10, is my anniversary, and I'm sitting in a hotel at a swim meet for the 2nd time in seven years. This alone is reason to celebrate my wife, who I haven't seen in 9 days and counting. More importantly it speaks to the tough work of marriage. Today marks seven years and it has gone by in a flash. The Mrs. and I were one of the first in our circle to get married and sadly we have seen marriages crumble that began after ours. So on this day, I felt moved to share some lessons I've learned that have helped me and also pass along some advice for those who one day hope to "join the club".
1. DON'T LET THE SNOWBALL GROW. The biggest blowups that I've lived through have been more about the small issues that were left unresolved than the straw that broke the camel's back. No matter how much you dread having that convo about money or how you messed up, have the talk, and make sure to own your culpability, because if you supress it, it will come up again, most likely in a situation where it has little relevance. Even if you need to take a time out to process before you can chat calmly (like I do), make it known that you will be having a discussion later.
2. NEVER TAKE SPENDING QT FOR GRANTED. In the hustle and bustle of trying to "make it" in our professions, it's easy to lose track of just being able to check in. This gets even more complicated when kids come into the equation because even when you're in the same house, the demands of a child(ren) take up attention that used to be reserved for husband and wife. The Mrs. and I used to have date night WEEKLY, which was a simple dinner and movie. Now we're lucky if date night is QUARTERLY, so it means that we have to be purposeful in planning when we hang. So even though I've seen my wife in TWO out of the last TWENTY-ONE days, I've got a week ALONE with the Mrs. coming up in a Mexican resort that I'm SO looking forward to.
3. CHOOSE YOUR COUNSEL WISELY. Some marital issues don't need to be kicked around the friend network for their input. It only makes things worse. ESPECIALLY, when the friends have little on the resume as far as relationship experience. Your road dog who's still doing Happy Hour and First Friday's religiously and thinks marriage is for chumps is NOT gonna have good insight into how you finesse attention issues with your wife who's juggling motherhood and a career. The same is true for your girlfriend when you're trying to deal with your man who feels less than whole because he all of a sudden makes less $$$ thn you. I've found these things are better bounced off marriage OGs or parents. My parents are divorced, but Id still run my deepest marriage insecurities past them before 98% of my friends. And as a sidenote to this point recognize that because your issues will change the longer you're married, the nature of your relationships with single friends will change. The friendships don't HAVE to end, but they will change.
NOTE TO THE SINGLE FOLK. Though it gets put out there often that marriage is the way to go, I'm here to tell you it's not for everybody. Some people TRULY enjoy the freedom of single life and ability to chase as many partners as they want. Some people don't want to be tied to someone for the rest of time as you pledge when get hitched. When I was trying to pledge Kappa, the old heads would always say "Pledging begins when you cross". That is true for fraternity life and the same sentiment can be applied to marriage. However, it is a beautiful thing to find someone who wants to love you, build with you and support you through anything. These are the rewards of marriage that make the struggles worthwhile. Even on the way to Seattle I was describing the many professional hats the Mrs. wears (economist, filmmaker, writer, mother) and he responded "So you married up!" I comfortably replied "No doubt". I recognized that in 2002 when I stood at the altar, and I'm constantly reminded of it seven years later. So shout out to the Thorntons and others who share my anniversay date. If you're married, work like hell to hold it together. If you're single and looking: Don't settle. If you're single and loving that freedom: Play on...But play fair!