I’m a newlywed, having just been married to a incredible man this past January. But few months into it, we were stressed, tense and unhappy. He cringed when I walked through the door and I perused Craigslist for a new apartment. Then I
made a few changes and voilà, it’s a new marriage. A happy marriage.
What did I do? I’ll say first that having a happy relationship is not hard. Yes, that’s right, not hard. The little voice in your head objects…But how can you say that? Or…Oh, she’s a newlywed, we’ll see how she feels after 5+ years! The conventional wisdom is that romantic relationships are WORK, they aren’t meant to be easy, they require compromise and commitment, which doesn’t come easily to the average homo sapien.
Blah, blah, blah. Conventional wisdom is conventional crap.
My Step One: I did what I said I was going to do.
When we adopted our dog, Jessy, I agreed to walk her in the evenings that I was home. Then when those times came, many times I made excuses, “I’m tired”…”My back hurts”…”I don’t feel well”. So he walked the dog and I sat on the couch and felt even worse. It’s pretty exhausting to invent an excuse, state it aloud, fool myself into believing I’m believable, believe it myself, wash, rinse, repeat. It’s quite simple for me to just pick up the leash, get my lazy ass off the
couch, and enjoy a walk with my (very cute) dog.
My Step 2: I am my own example.
My husband has a variety of interests. He LOVES watching wrestling with his friends, performing in shows, seeing friends and family, vegging on the couch, going to the movies. He LOVES going out to Long Island, where he grew up, to do much of this. This bothered me. I felt that we weren’t a connected couple, I
moaned that he was immature and silly. That he wasn’t a husband. (For the record, those are pretty horrible things to say.) And what was I doing? I made my own plans, I pursued my own interests. Once, I refused to go to a steak house with him and his fellow cast members after a performance (tell me, how did that stance help animals?) Our marriage became transformed when I simply
participated in his life. It was much harder to bear my teeth, slam doors when wrestling was on, and bitch incessantly, than it it was to simply join him. Sit and watch a pay-per-view wrestling event, and ask him questions about the story lines. Be an involved, smiling, and supportive wife. When we got married, I promised to honor his individuality. And by keeping that promise and living how I want our marriage to be, I have an involved, smiling, and supportive husband. Someone who feels pain when I’m pained and ecstatic when I’m
overjoyed. Someone who’s happy to see me when I walk through the door. And I can unabashedly say, watching wrestling is not so bad. I enjoy it a little.
My Step 3: I realized I’m not “right” and he’s not “wrong”.
When my husband wants to stay out on Long Island a few nights in a particular week, he’s not wrong. It’s just what he wants to do, which has nothing to do with me. We argued about that for many months, which was hard. It’s much easier for me to be at peace with it and say, “Have fun, honey!” And guess what? He looks forward to seeing me and doesn’t need to get away from me anymore. HMPH!
Not keeping my commitments, being hypocritical, and complaining/nagging erodes my relationship with my husband, no matter how small it is. It also makes me a sucky, unhappy and exhausted person. Am I perfect? No. But now when something comes up and I feel myself reverting to my old ways, I sit myself down and have an inner conversation that goes something like this:
Me: OK, so why does this bother you?
Inner voice: Well, he’s wrong!
Me: He’s not wrong, that’s just the way he feels.
Inner voice: But, but, that’s so wrong!
Me: How about you let it go, that would make you feel better…
Inner voice: Okaaaay…
If necessary, I then apologize to my husband for making him wrong and treating him unjustly. Then I take a deep breath and feel awash with happiness and love for him. Easy-peasy.
Maybe if there are folks out there reading this with a loved one they wish they were closer with, they could make a few similar changes and have a transformed relationship as well as live with themselves better.
After all, it’s not very hard.
P.S. This blog post is husband-approved.