3 Rules For Making Marriage Work
I used to squeegee our glass shower after every use. I like glass to be streak-free and with a few key strokes I would have a fabulous looking, drip-free surface. I don’t believe this is particularly OCD, but shortly after Billy and I were married, he broached the topic with me.
“Does it bother you that you always wipe down the glass and I don’t?”
“Hmmm. I haven’t given it much thought.”
“I don’t think I’ll EVER wipe down the shower, so I want to know if that’s going to be a big deal for you.”
We spent a few sentences talking about why he doesn’t value a streak-free shower (no one sees it, the cleaners will hit it every other week, it feels like a waste of time, etc.) and why I do (sparkles are fun!). We ultimately decided his “let the drips be” attitude wasn’t going to cause any tension with me and moved on with our morning.
That chat happened almost 16 years ago. Tomorrow is our anniversary.
As it turns out, the squeegee conversation has been foundational in our marriage. Hang with me on this...
Newlyweds everywhere look for magnificent. We expect romance. We think babies, moves, jobs or other “biggies” will cause tension in our marriage. Those things happen, but not routinely.
Our days are much more likely to consist of little differences that fray the nerves. He balls his socks (better for throwing into the laundry basket) and I keep the computer desktop messy (I can see all of my files at once!) These differences can grow into big annoyances if you let them.
How do you deal with them?
Start by relentlessly closing gaps.
The goal isn’t for couples to think alike, but to think together.
Billy noticed a difference in our behavior and he addressed the issue directly. By doing so, he closed a small gap. There was no energy around the topic because it we talked about it early. Sure, this story is “just” about a squeegee, but people fight about small things all of the time.
You'll have your little things too. Pay attention to your differences and decide to sort them out before they become big deals.
Keep Your Promises
Marriage vows include multiple, life-shaping promises, but the one that’s often overlooked (until someone’s ill) is to love “in sickness and in health.” While this is a literal commitment to care for each other regardless of one’s physical condition, it’s a broader promise that eschews the idea of meeting your spouse half way.
The promise is to meet your spouse ALL of the way. When your spouse is sick and only giving 10%, you've vowed to close the gap and meet them 90% in. They've given you the same commitment.
The promise to maintain a marriage is all about closing gaps and loving regardless of differences. It’s about keeping your word to make the other person more important than yourself.
So you know, Billy still doesn’t squeegee the shower, but then again, neither do I.
He was right. It was a complete waste of time.
Happy Anniversary Promise Keeper!