This is a post about having a loving marriage.
If this is something you’re not committed to, or interested in, you should stop reading now.
Like—really. Otherwise, the smoke of cynicism will descend upon you, and you’ll have wasted your time reading something that is of no value to you. And I would much rather the reader found this useful, valuable, and applicable to their own life.
I’ve had many versions of the following conversation with my friends. It goes something like this:
“On paper, I’m absolutely not her type. I’m an intellectual university-attending geek, tattooed, pierced, guitar-playing, bearded, (used to be) baggy-trouser-wearing, chain-hanging-from-my-belt, skater-boy-heavy-metal-fan.
She loves the Spice Girls, goes to see Justin Timberlake, dresses well, enjoys the mainstream, and goes straight into a job, working hard without going to university.
I imagined she’d like a well-dressed, scent-wearing, high-earning, BMW-driving, slicked-back-hair type dude. And yet, after all the bumps in the road, we’re together.”
(Friend laughs and I continue.)
“I always thought I’d end up with a really cool, alternative-dressing tattooed woman who studied at university, read loads of the same books as me, and we would have profound philosophical and political conversations.”
The problem with thinking like that is: the more subtle and deeper values get missed. I said I wanted to be with someone who is comfortable with people. Like, I could go to the bar and get a round of drinks, and she’s comfortable chatting.
I’m now married to someone who values family and reminds me of it. But more than that, she’s open to all the stuff I love—she always has been. Over the years, she’s grown to appreciate heavy metal and “Star Wars.” She’s quoted “Star Wars” to me and can identify a Nine Inch Nails track when I’m playing it. (We’ve grown together.)
People say that we’re lucky to have found each other.
We both say that it’s not luck—we chose each other. And we keep doing so (even when it gets difficult). Especially when it gets difficult.
Love isn’t something that you can sit around waiting for. It doesn’t just happen in marriage; you have to do something—it takes work.
I got married in 2007. I love being married, and I describe it like this: All the good things are even better—all the bad things are even worse.
Imagine climbing a mountain, getting to the top, and then discovering there are even more mountains.
Here are two examples:
One night a while ago, we finished season whatever of (insert a TV show here). She’d been uncomfortable with period pain during the last episode. We were now upstairs, and she had gotten into bed but was a little restless. I was writing in my diary, sitting in bed, thinking about what I needed to get done tomorrow. Our bedroom is a loft conversion—two flights of stairs down to the kitchen.
Love in action: getting out of bed, going down two flights of stairs (hearing her say she’d like a glass of water too as you leave the bedroom), searching around for the hot water bottle, finding the hot water bottle, filling it up, finding a glass, filling it up, coming back up two flights of stairs, giving her the hot water bottle and water and then getting into bed.
Love is getting out of bed when you really don’t want to.
2. In the kitchen
A few years ago, I started a new habit: not going to sleep before washing dishes in the sink. I realized last weekend that it’s gone beyond normal for me not to do the washing. I’m actually uncomfortable if there’s stuff in the sink at the end of the day. It’s as if the dirty bowl from eating dinner while watching a Netflix series is mocking me, saying, “Oi! I’m still here! Ha, Ha!” It’s gotten easier each day I’ve done it.
Deep down, I also know it’s not just about a clean kitchen; it’s an expression of something.
Love is an empty, clean sink.
Of course, she does brilliant things for me too. My clothes are magically washed, and she cooks a load of food each weekend. I can take homemade food to work for lunch, and she takes the time to listen to me rant about teaching when I get home.
Love is a great-tasting, homemade lunch.
I like the description of love in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières:
“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness; it is not excitement; it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love,’ which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew toward each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches, we found that we were one tree and not two.”
My point is: do something that your partner would appreciate.
Express your love by taking action.
(It’s not like expressions of love can ever run out.)