Today is my 28th wedding anniversary. We didn’t buy cards or gifts. We won’t be going out to eat. If we did get food out it would be curbside or delivery. It will generally be the same as everyday over the past two months. If we leave the house it will be to walk the dog or maybe get groceries. Not that our non pandemic anniversaries are all that exciting. We might go out to eat, but that’s about it. We have traveled on bigger ones, but only twice and only an overnight trip. I will say that these times will tell you how your relationship stands. We have been in the house together 24/7 for two months now. If you can survive that I think you are good.
I was looking for another post and this one came up. I fixed an appalling number of typos in it. It reminds me of the irritation I have about people who have decided they know what a marriage should be and that everyone’s marriage should fit in that box. It is especially irritating when people who have never been married think they are qualified to tell someone what a marriage should be. Anyway, enjoy a corrected version of my post dissecting a quote about marriage.
I saw the following quote on Facebook this weekend. It was directed at Christian couples on the topic of “becoming one”:
“Separate bank accounts, individual political views, clashing parenting styles, and private friends is not “becoming one.”
I am going to make an effort to coherently give my opinion on each of these areas.
Separate Bank Accounts: I have mixed feelings on this one. I can see how separate bank accounts could be both good and bad for a marriage. It could be good in a case where the only major difference you have is on how you spend your money. In a perfect world, you would just say you could compromise and come closer in your ideas of how to spend your joint money. This is not a perfect world and we are not perfect people. If a separate bank account can help a couple get along better and avoid major money arguments I think it would be a good thing. The bad side is that a separate bank account could lead to suspicion and distrust, especially if it comes later in the marriage. It could lead someone to think there are nefarious reasons why their partner suddenly wants a private bank account. I think the bank account thing has to be a couple by couple decision. One size does not fit all.
Individual political views: This is an odd one. Are you saying that one person has to change their political beliefs in order to make a marriage work? I don’t think “becoming one” means giving up your personal beliefs. Are you saying that you should never marry someone who has different political views than you? I can see this in extreme cases. If you are strongly anti-gun you probably shouldn’t marry a gun-owning NRA member. If you feel so strongly about an issue that disagreement would be a deal-breaker hopefully you know where the other person stands before you marry them. In general, though, individual political views are not a bad thing. Becoming one does not mean you become less of a person. You should still be able to have opinions and views that are different from your partner’s.
Clashing parenting styles: I can mostly agree with this one. You have to be in agreement on how you are going to raise your kids. You can’t have one parent undermining the other when it comes to raising and disciplining your kids. Again, this is something that should have been discussed before marriage. It shouldn’t be a surprise if your partner is for or against spanking. Again, though, there are going to be differences. Even if you agree on the basics of how to parent, you each are going to do it a little bit differently than the other. Even if you become one, you are still not going to be robots. There will be differences. I agree that the overall parenting style should be similar, but it can’t be exact.
Private friends: Again, it depends on what they mean by private friends. If the private friends and people who your partner doesn’t know about and you are spending time with them without their knowledge that is likely a red flag. Why would you keep that from your partner unless you are hiding something? If your partner doesn’t want you to ever meet their work friends, but they are going out with them on a regular basis, there might be reason for concern. If you’ve met these friends and your partner is going out with them alone because you don’t want to go, that is a different story. I think it is healthier to have some couple friends instead of each person having their own individual friends. I have friends I spend time with on a regular basis without my wife, but she has met all of them and knows when I am going out with them. This is normal behavior.
In general, I think it is not a good idea to try to fit each couple into a standard box. Everyone is different and every couple is different and what works for one won’t work for another. Also, unfortunately, there are churches out there that think women are not equal to men and a lot of this is a way to make sure they are kept in their place. Your marriage should be patterned in a way that works for both of you.
I love being on vacation. I love heading out to visit family for the holidays. I’m not fond of a nine-hour drive, but that isn’t the main reason I hate travel day. I hate travel day because of the very different ways my wife and I feel travel day should go.
Me – Pack your suitcase with enough clothes and toiletries for the trip. Make sure you have a book for the car and enough books to last for the entire trip. Make sure you have your phone and your phone charger. Throw the luggage in the car. If Christmas, pack the gifts as well. Start driving.
Her – Wait until the last minute to pack. Decide we need to vacuum before we go. Possibly schedule a work conference call that morning. Pack clothes and phone as above. Also pack enough food for the car to ensure we don’t suffer the same fate as the Donner Party. Walk through the house and possibly decide more cleaning needs to be done before we can leave. Triple check doors and stove. Now we can hit the road.
Me – Let’s drop the dog at boarding the day before, pack the car that night and hen get up and leave early so we can drive mostly in daylight.
Her – Let’s drop the dog off the day we leave, pack the day we leave, sleep in and leave midday and drive at night.
Me – In the summer it might be fun to drive another route and maybe stop to see some sights on the way.
Her – The goal is to get there as fast as possible. Let’s take the same, shortest route and only stop if absolutely necessary.
Her way always wins. I’m still struggling with not being cranky about it.
I read Date Lab in the Washington Post every week. I even had the Date Lab person come to the library to do a program around Valentine’s Day one year. If you read it, you know that a second date is rare. People meet, they have dinner and drinks and then, for the most part, never see each other again. In some cases it makes sense. They just aren’t a good match and don’t really enjoy the date. Many times, though, both people say they enjoyed the date. They had a good time and had a lot in common. They rate the date a 4 or 5 out of 5, but then never go on another date. Why? Generally, they say there was no “spark”. I guess they are looking for something magical, something more than just enjoying their company. I guess they think that will always come on the first date or it’s not worth pursuing. I think I understand why they are single and using a dating service. The “spark” is not always immediate.
I knew my wife for a while before I ever considered dating her. When we first met, she was still dating her high school boyfriend. She probably barely noticed me. We eventually ended up in the same friend group and spent more time in the vicinity of each other. She broke up with the high school boyfriend, but was then dating another friend of mine. We were around each other a lot, but still did not have the “spark” that everyone is looking for today. Again, I doubt she really knew who I was. Eventually, she was single again and I was interested. I’m still not sure she though much about me outside of my being friends with her friends. Our friends figured out I was interested and started manufacturing ways to get us together. Once they all backed out of a movie night so we would go alone. Eventually, I guess she experienced the “spark” and we were officially a couple. We are still married 25 years later. I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t dismiss the idea of dating because we didn’t “feel a spark” the first time we met.
My advice to the date lab people and dating people in general: if you enjoy spending time with someone, don’t give up after a first date just because you didn’t fall in love immediately. Sometimes sparks take time.
Along with the weekly photo challenges, there is also a daily one word prompt for writing. I have not participated yet, but I thought expectation and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand, so today I will make a stab at it.
What are your expectations for Valentine’s Day? Is it a big deal to you? Is it just another day? Has it changed over time? Do you feel more strongly about it than your partner? Do you resent the expectations? Do you hate the day because you are single?
This should be a big week of celebrations at my house. My wife’s birthday is February 12. Valentine’s Day is the 14th and then my birthday is the 16th. Because we are an odd couple and the gender roles are swapped a lot in my house, I feel like I get off easy on the holiday. I would like to do do one big night out to celebrate all three events at once. My wife would rather just do something easy and cheap. Last year we went to Qdoba because you get a BOGO entree if you kiss each other after ordering. This year there is a Kentucky basketball game at 7 so we will likely stay home, eat leftovers and watch basketball. We do simple cards and a small gift and that’s pretty much it. On our birthdays we go out to eat at the restaurant of the birthday person’s choice, but I generally don’t pick where I would really like to go because my family is picky and I don’t want to go where they won’t be happy. So, the week will not really be anything special. We might eat out more than usual, but that’s about it. It does make life easier this time of year when the expectations are lower.
So, is there a point to the above rambling? Not really. I will say that as someone who is likely going through a midlife crisis and feels like he’s in a rut, some higher expectations in all aspects of life would probably be a good thing. Easy isn’t always a good thing. Easy can make you complacent and boring. Easy can make you take things and people for granted. I shouldn’t wait for someone to have higher expectations for me. I need to have higher expectations for myself.