Since becoming engaged to the beautiful Hannah, I have found that many people are willing to spout advice. I have been told about 15 books that are must reads and another 10 or so that were helpful for a couple they knew. There have been a few tests to take and a lot of one- liners given like, “Remember she is always right <wink>” or “Make sure you don’t stop dating after you get married”
There might have been less advice, but it definitely feels like that. Most everything I heard I took into consideration but dismissed. It wasn’t needed now, and there will be something out there when we need it. I didn’t need to hear what helped other people through their doubts because we didn’t have any—for more than a few seconds. I didn’t need to take a test because we felt we were compatible and worked well together. Most of the one liners were things I had seen or heard about in or from other couples I knew and respected. I knew that I needed to continue to make her feel special. To randomly buy a flower or 12. To make sure we have a date night where we do not discuss work woes, wedding planning or that thing I said that wasn’t as funny as planned. To learn to know when to shut up and listen and when it is better to just let her “win” the disagreement or debate.
My head, and experience, knew that eventually I would need to listen to these comments and so would occasionally jot something down before I dismissed it. But last weekend we received some advice that has continued to make me think.
“Share everything equally. If you give up and let her do 90% of something she will become neurotic and crazy without your needed 40%. If she has to make all the money decisions, she won’t like it when you challenge her on something or try to change her system. But if you do things together you can change systems together and you will both be happy. The same goes the other way, too. And you have to listen to me because I am an old Indian woman…on a reservation”
While we chuckled at the last line, it hit me hard because she spoke into an issue we were attempting to resolve about combining our systems of money, chores, and decision making. I have known for a while now –like 10 years—that I only lead when there isn’t a leader present. I am fine with that but it annoys people sometimes. Especially those who are similar. This characteristic applies to decisions and systems I don’t have an opinion about.
Sure, we can do dishes before bed every night.
Sure, I will serve you by doing them even now before I move in.
Sure, you decide what’s for dinner…every night this week.
I like to think it is healthy and loving to allow others to have input, or more often do as they desire and let me join in. In fact, it is lazy and just makes people decide what to do for me. Without realizing it I was often giving in and letting the beautiful Hannah carry 90% of a lot of things. I was doing a lot of the physical work, and putting up the money (which occasionally Visa loaned) for us to have a great night or day or week. But it wasn’t going to lead us to a good life together.
I guess that old Indian woman was right. And maybe someone else was or will be too.
I should practice listening more…starting now.
Any advice on a happy healthy marriage from you? Write it below.