(This is post is part of a series. I share our experiences from my perspective from just over a year of being married. I am no expert and only share some experiences and thoughts that can help start enriching conversations, at least)
Chores are not fun but must be done! Before Ingrid and I got married, our premarital counselor asked who was going to do what chores. We could not give a straight answer on most things. I do not have the patience to calculate every cent when it comes to bank charges but Ingrid does.
Part of our lounge is my office… It is difficult for me to concentrate in clutter, so my work ritual starts with a ‘de-cluttering’ exercise, which often includes use of a vacuum cleaner. I do not particularly enjoy the whole tidying up exercise but it helps me do better the things that I need to do and enjoy doing. Thoughts / lessons:
For the never married (and hopeful):
For the never married (and hopeful), you are not likely to figure out all the chores until you actually get married and you start doing everyday life together. There are other dynamics that you may not be aware of until you actually have to do what you commit to before you are married. While it is advisable and helpful to discuss who is going to be responsible for what, keep in mind and be open to possibility of adjustments.
There are chores we both do not like but the times we have done them together made them more bearable. Doing chores you do not like with someone you love makes it easier to get the chores out of the way. Partnership is important in helping you get past chores you do not like.
In the book Five Love Languages,Gary Chapman highlights acts of service as one of the practical expressions of love. This can be a big deal especially if this is someone’s strongest love language. Doing chores you do not like can be a practical expression of your love. (For more you might want to read ‘How people stop caring about what matters’). This may be cliché for some, but for chores I hate doing but have to do, I write them off as an expression and labor of love.
Marriage teaches and reminds me of the importance of partnerships and teamwork… In smaller teams, it is easy to identify the slackers. Thus, accountability is important in team contexts, especially as teams grow larger.
Change does not magically happen; it must be caused. Nothing changes unless you actually do something about it. You can never wish chores away. Do not think too hard about what must be done and just do it!
(I’ll start with a disclaimer: I am no marriage expert. My intention is to share our experiences from my perspective so far. I was a little hesitant on posting this one, hope it helps someone or starts conversations and thoughts that do)
This is the second post in the series 372 days in marriage. In the last post I covered some things the never married (and perhaps hopeful) should consider when it comes to marriage. (You can read the post here). Moving on… from encountering the never married we have also encountered some married couples. It is only normal for people to seek commonalities when they first meet or are still somewhat unfamiliar with each other. Beyond asking names we proceed to ask what they do for a living, where they live, where they are from and, you guessed it, marriage and children.
Somehow when people have gone through experiences others have not, they go into “sage mode” and proceed to share their, uh, ‘wisdom’. I am just sharing my experiences, observations and lessons with the hope it will help someone, start or augment conversations… In short enrich others or at least make for pleasant reading :-).
Besides the never married people Ingrid & I have encountered, we have met married couples married for varied lengths of time with a myriad of experiences. We have married people who no longer share the optimism, commitment and fervor they once had for their marriage and spouses. (Something I find extremely sad.)
On discovering we have not been married as long as they have the couples go into “sage mode”. They proceed with attempts to dampen the passion and fervor they see in our marriage and in the marriages of others like us. Matter-of-fact statements such as, “wait till you’re married as long as we have” characterize these couples as admission to some kind of giving up on each other and their marriage.
They are not happy with where their marriage but are not willing to do something about it except wallow in that state. It is not my intention to condemn them. In fact, it breaks my heart they are where they are. I haven’t had the courage to ask them exactly how they ended up where they are but after listening to them for a while I made some assumptions and conclusions.
When they started out, they had a picture of marriage which is way better than their present reality. I have not met any couple that got married with the worst wishes for each other and their marriage. I am sure the (now) ‘sad couples’ also had greater expectations and desires for their married lives.
I reiterate, I am no marriage expert, but for the couples facing whatever they are, please do not give up on each other and or your marriage. Do something.
Remember, the now sad couples have not been always this way. They were at some point the happy ones. When I encounter the sad couples I take that as a reminder: I do not want a good marriage but a great one. I am reminded not to slack in my marriage, not to take Ingrid for granted but to be intentional in celebrating cherishing her and our relationship. (I will share some of the marriage resources I use regularly soon).
Marriage is multifaceted but the people in it are the ones who ultimately determine what is magnified in theirs.
As excruciating as it may be to listen to sad stories, do not be quick to run from couples that share their heart-rending experiences. Learn from them. If they are candid and willing find out how they ended up where they are and what they would do differently. Other people’s experiences over years but shared in a few minutes could be a difference between a good and a great marriage. (This is applicable in other areas besides marriage).
Remember: no single marriage is an absolute representation of what marriage is but what it can be (In the next post, one other kind of couples I’ve encountered and from there simply what I’ve learned in 372 days in marriage. Stay tuned!)
So, I’ve had this idea for a while but when I started bettering the drafts I had written a while ago, Ingrid and I had been married 372 days. Hence I’ve decided to call the series “372 Days in Marriage“. I thought to share some of our experiences so far from my perspective. I hope to help those that are considering getting married, give insight from our experiences and challenge the married.
We may not be married as long as some of the people we’ve encountered but I’m sure this may help someone and, as I’ve discovered, help me process some of the lessons I’ve learned. (One of the ways I process things is by writing). I also hope to start and have conversations that will enrich others and our marriage. Let’s dive into the first post of the series!
A lot of things shape our perceptions. People can engage in lengthy and somewhat gruesome arguments on what something may be really like but nothing beats experience. Then again, people may experience the same thing differently. I should state that I’ve found it rather strange, perhaps funny in a sad way, that some of the “marriage experts” I’ve encountered since Ingrid and I got married, have never been married!
If you have never been married I challenge you to slow down on making judgment or drawing conclusion on what marriage is and is not. Instead choose to be a student of marriage. Ask those that are married. Spend time with them with a desire to simply learn, without looking for evidence to validate your perceptions. (This principle applies to not just marriage but life in general).
Put aside what you think you know about marriage and just be a student. Share your perceptions and allow some of the married people to challenge some of your perceptions without you defending them. You limit your learning when your primary premise is to simply defend what you want or think to be true. If you have never been married and hope to be someday I encourage you to learn and allow your learning to change your perceptions.
Going into marriage with unchallenged ideas about what it is and is not can cripple your start and experience in marriage in general. One of the greatest enemies of young or new marriages is perceptions about marriages that each individual in the marriage enters the marriage with!
Another thing I would highly recommend is closely examining the source of our perceptions on marriage. Our first perceptions on a lot of things, including marriage primarily emanate from our family environment as we grow up. I need to be careful how I say this but you can never conclude what marriage in general is based on simply experiencing your parents’.
I recently read a Facebook status from one of my friends, Lauren, and she said people want to have love or relationships like in the movies, but those relationships only last for about an hour and half to two! Don’t be naive to fall for everything that the culture says about marriage. Some of the celebrities you look up to fail in marriage because they assumed marriage would be like how it was in some of the movies they have starred in.
If you have never been married, stop being a “smart Alec” and get yourself some education from the married. One of the things Ingrid and I did before getting married was speak to married people, spend time with them. (I some cases I made conscious efforts to simply “observe them”). Read as many books on marriage as possible. Subscribe to blogs and read them! Arrogance is one of the worst enemies of learning; when you think you know it all you’re probably arrogant in that regard!
Let me close part one of the series for the never married… Marriage is contextual. There are many pictures of marriage you can get depending on where you look. The reasons for the diverse pictures will also be grossly varied. The point: you should not only be looking around at those that are married on what marriage is like. Instead, look at them and see what marriage can be.
This is probably one of the most valuable pieces of advice you will ever get about marriage. Whatever picture you see is one that can be true of marriage. In your observation of married couples and reading books, magazines and blogs realize the possibility. Let what you see help you formulate your expectations and perceptions. The bottom line: people in the marriage are the ones that decide, consciously or otherwise what their marriage will look like!