What lessons did you learn about marriage that will benefit you should you remarry? Good question and one I think a therapist might ask so it’s kind of like free therapy to attempt an answer.
A little back story since I’m not an expert on marriage. I married my university sweetheart just two years out of school. We were 23-24, quite naive and literally eloped in the Bahamas on a whim. I felt very soon something was wrong but we continued the nuptial bliss and had a large, beautifully elegant wedding with a lot of people I didn’t know. Skip ahead to four years later, in a half rehabilitated historic home in a down, but not out Pacific Northwest town and to the end of a marriage. The marriage involved cheating, financial chaos, the infamous gun night, a quickie do-it-yourself divorce (appropriate for it’s reckless beginnings) then eventual freedom and happiness.
My current ex, father of my son but not husband liked to call himself “partner”. This is a very fashionable European term for co-habitating couples of any mix of genders. Many couples use this term even if they are married, lots of couples never get married and raise children together. In France, there is even a legal classification of PACS “civil solidarity pact” which means you have civil responsibilities but are not married by church or state. Anyway, I’m off topic. Back to looking for a life partner.
Assuming that indeed one day I’ll remarry, what lessons have I learned? These are in no particular order:
1. Choose wisely for me – not society, family, the kid:
I have been blinded by what looks good on paper, or under the circumstances or because I don’t want to be alone and that’s the wrong way to do it. It has to be because I’m happier with him than without him. Hidalgo has a father already and he doesn’t need replacing. We’re doing pretty well on our own and if someone enters our space, it shouldn’t be haphazard.
2. Marriage needs to have a feeling of balance and equality:
If you’re not carrying your own weight than the other person is carrying a burdened. Balance isn’t just about chores, money and time but also effort, emotion, and presence. Raising children is not easy, that’s why biologically it takes two of us. We are two separate people agreeing to live life together and raise children together. Doing the best I can and feeling that my partner is doing the same.
3. Partners should share financial and personal aspirations:
I am not terribly motivated by money and don’t have delusions of grandeur but I think men are expected by society to be bread winners and when they are not, it gets psycho-logical. Not that they’re aren’t incredible exceptions to the rule. I know some great stay at home dads but it’s because they also have some sort of passion or home business and they plan to return to work when the kids are school age. We need to want the same end goals and be partners towards those goals. Talk about money before getting married. It comes up eventually and it’s important.
4. Marriage is mutual respect for opinions and feelings:
It’s one thing to have different opinions and discuss them in a mutually respectful way. It’s quite another to not agree and either stonewall, sulk, avoid, dismiss or exit. Communication is a two way street and while I know I’m not perfect and can get upset, angry, even crazy hostile on rare occasion…I am human. I have emotions and so do you. Let’s respect each other, learn and grow together.
5. A marriage doesn’t have to be perfect:
It has to be a symphony in progress where each partner contributes to the music. Expecting the other person to just get you and visa verse is silly to me. We are growing, changing, learning and experiencing all the time…at least I hope so. Knowing that we’re all works in progress and the person standing next to you is on the same journey towards bettering themselves and each others life. There is no such thing as perfect but my marriage should be amazing and indestructible (are my expectations too high?).
I can’t think of anymore at the moment. How can I know anything about relationships since the one I was in last didn’t turn out so hot.
Anyone else have good lessons learned about marriage?