We were driving back from the most adorable bakery in Lincoln, Nebraska this past weekend. My sister-in-law, Meg, was holding a bright pink box of peanut butter macarons on her lap (our dessert for the next day) when she leaned forward and told Greg and I that she really admired our marriage. Greg and I looked sheepishly at each other and kind of grinned, feeling rather unworthy of this recognition. I told Meg we were lucky to just really like each other and then tried to change to the subject.
Meg, a lover of meaningful conversation and caring for others, started asking questions about what we’ve learned from being married.
While nearly 6 years of marriage isn’t a very long time, a few people along the way have shared bits of wisdom with us that have woven themselves into the DNA of our relationship. Here’s what we shared with Meg:
1. (From Tommy Moon, the officiant for our wedding and a staff member at our college):
You have the right to change your mind.
Sometimes you make a decision and your first decision isn’t the best one, or life changes and you need to take a left turn, or possibly you don’t feel like Thai food when you did earlier in the day. Allowing each other the flexibility to change your mind without guilt will free the way for a relationship built on honest communication.
You might not know that I was accepted into a Masters of Social Change program at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. I didn’t go, because after visiting the campus, taking my GRE, writing applications, and finally getting accepted, I changed my mind and I’m so thankful I did. More so, Greg was gracious to let the money and time slip away as a good experience and lesson learned, allowing me the freedom to change my mind about my future career at that point.
2. (From Dr. Sally Edman, a Clinical Psychologist at our college, the wife of one of my favorite professors, and part of the best husband-and-wife wedding DJ/emcee duo we could have asked for):
Just because one person in a relationship is “better” at something than the other, it doesn’t make the other partner “bad” at it.
When we first got married, Greg was juggling being a full-time student, working 30 hours a week at a meat market, and moonlighting at Mr. Movies. I would sometimes get frustrated having to pay bills, clean the house, and make dinner on top of working. There were times I thought my “super responsibility” status meant that Greg was irresponsible. In reality, he was trying to keep our heads above water and at that time, his main responsibility needed to be graduating from college.
Fast forward to after Greg graduated and we both settled into full-time jobs, we shared the responsibilities of “adulting” and come to find out, Greg is actually more responsible than I am.
3. (From Deane Watters, a women’s blogger and teacher, and my lovely mom):
Tell your partner what you need and how you feel. Don’t expect them to be a mind reader. Don’t get mad at them for not being one.
Quite simply, don’t be unrealistic and expect your partner to know everything. If you need a hug, say so. If you’re unhappy and your feelings are hurt, let it out. Don’t be bitter or play games trying to get your partner to figure out what’s wrong. This is the worst game ever.
(Photo credit: John Allen Photography)