"It's like nothing I've ever felt before!" she said so sweetly that it was easy to forgive her the cliche.
"I know," sad I. "It's great being in love."
"No," our friend said shaking her head. "This is different than what you have. We never fight, ever."
I answered "That's great! We can't wait to be at that wedding."
Six months after their wedding, I got a call from our friend's husband. I could tell something was bothering him. "Are you alright?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "It's just that we fought and it was really bad."
After speaking with her some more, I learned that a "really bad" fight meant that he walked out of the room on her only to return a half-hour later to apologize.
I said him about our fights. I told him how we had both slammed doors, said really horrible things, stomped, and not only left the room but left the home for hours on end, returning to fight again instead of make up. I told him how I, in a fit of anger, had thrown away an entirely good batch of cookies just so my husband couldn't eat them. I had also hidden cookies, turned up the thermostat and left every single light on in the home (including flashlights and closet lights), just to irk my husband. Also, once, I air-conditioned the outside. I still have not apologized for that.
When I finished, we were both laughing and my friend was breathing easier.
When love is just started, it's easy to be insular and believe that you and your partner have everything figured out, that nothing will shake you, you will never fight, and nothing so stupid as socks on the floor could ever make you raise your voice at that adorable face. I do not want to say to be condescending. It's a great time. Each couple has it and it is my sincere wish that it lasts as long as possible.
But it doesn't.
At some point in every marriage, you can find yourself sobbing into your pillow over toothpaste caps and if you don't, you're a Stepford Wife.
When my husband and I got married, no one told us about these terrible moments — when something as simple as sweeping the floor will cause you to question whether you've committed to the right "forever after." A friend once told me that she felt horrible for questioning her choice of spouse until she told her mom, who has been married for 50 years. "Oh honey," her mom said, "I ask that question at least once a week."
In the early days of our marriage, I felt ashamed about coming clean about our arguments. Wasn't I being disloyal? Wouldn't people think ugly things about us? But the truth is, the more I talked to married couples, the more I realized how normal it is to occasionally slam a door, or hide a cookie, or lay in bed and wonder if you just committed to the same old remote control fight for as long as you both shall live.
I am forever indebted to a couple who told my husband and me a story about their epic battle over putting together a bookshelf. During the heat of the fight, the husband walked out of their apartment. The wife then decided the best way to make him sorry was to eat an entire pie his mother had made for him. When he came back, he found his wife, in the middle of the kitchen floor, her face covered in blueberry pie, crying. He grabbed a fork and joined her. They've been married for 20 years.
At the time, I remember feeling shocked. How could they say they had a good marriage when they were both that ridiculous?
That, of course, was before I stooped low and hid the cookies. Now, I cling to that blueberry pie story like a talisman. On my worst days, it reminds me, we can be both dumb and happily married. I'm not condoning acts of childishness or silly fights. It's good to always keep perspective, but the truth is you can't always keep perspective. In those moments, when you've lost all dignity and you are covered in blueberry pie and crying on the floor, just know, it's OK. We've all been there, whether we admit it or not.
Recently, during a fight, I told my husband, "You know what? I'm OK with this fight. I know I have the rest of my life to spend making you learn how to do the laundry."
"That's right," he said, "and I have the rest of my life to train you to turn the lights out in the house." Then, we went to bed, still a little angry, but very much committed to figuring it out as long as we both shall live.
Change your mind, change your marriage. How couples think and what they believe about their spouse affects how they perceive the other. What they expect and how they treat their spouse matters greatly.
The grass is greenest where you water it. Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth – i.e. someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.
You can change your marriage by changing yourself. Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope – almost impossible. Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.
Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Everyday life wears away the “feel good side of marriage.” Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate. But, real love is based on a couple’s vows of commitment: “For better or for worse” – when it feels good and when it doesn’t.
A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over. Crises are like storms: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm you have to keep driving. A crisis can be a new beginning. It’s out of pain that great people and marriages are produced
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