Being married is fun. Traveling through life with someone who shares your interests and laughs at your jokes is what you remind yourself of when you have to wash the dishes and clean up Charlie's feces. (By the way, Charlie is our dog. Just in case any of you thought we had a young child or a very old, senile person living with us.) The common theme you hear from people at work or the characters on TV is that being married is all about keeping your partner happy. "A happy wife is a happy life" is often what they say. And while that quote does prove true times infinity, it becomes annoying when that old coworker of yours says it with a sly grin on her face like she invented the term or something (I'm not bitter). The point is, I had a lot of expectations of what marriage would be like. I based these assumptions primarily off of what I heard from old married couples and 7th Heaven reruns. And after six months, there are two in particular that have stuck out.
Happy Wife = Life
Remember when I said "A happy wife is a happy life" is an annoying, cliche phrase that people use as a joke to young married couples? Well, I've learned they don't mean it as a joke, but as a warning. Like some "beware the Ides of March" level foreshadowing. I think it can sometimes be interpreted as "Give me what I want, or I will be mad at you", but I believe it truly means: Make her happy and live.
It's not like Maggie is going to turn into some dragon-like creature and destroy me if I don't do the dishes when she asks. But at the same time, do I really want to find out? Don't get me wrong, much of what I do is truly out of love, and the fact is, she does so much for me that I often want to do something in return. However, there is a small percentage of me that is motivated to do these tasks by the fear of what might happen if I disregard my wife's request one too many times. It's like when your parents counted to three. You just couldn't imagine what terrible torture they would concoct by the time they said "three", so you always waited until "two and a half" then proceeded to cooperate instantly. (Although, I'm sure parents would admit they probably didn't have a specific game plan regarding what they would do if you did nothing after they counted to three.) Like I said, if I chose to ignore my wife's request for me to do something, I'm sure I'd survive. She'd probably just repeat herself one or two more times. But do I really want to see what happens if she's forced to repeat herself a third time?
So, next time you hear "A Happy Wife is a Happy Life" from that elderly woman who thinks she's Betty White, feel free to chuckle along with her (even if it's forced) because she is most definitely right.
What Does She Want?
"Just give me some space." The trickiest words man has ever heard. What does that even mean? Do you want me to literally back away from you for a moment, or leave you and the situation alone altogether? Through all my years of dating/engagement/marriage (I sometimes talk like I'm an experienced old man, just humor me.), I have never been able to answer this question.
Remember this scene from The Notebook? Typically, women (and some men, but I don't associate myself with them) "ooh" and "aah" over this movie and its passion. I can believe the rest of the romantic tale as absolute fact (even the ridiculous Ferris Wheel scene), but this is where it becomes a romantic fantasy. No one in the world fights with that kind of pace and has any articulate words to say. I have tried to fight like this, but by the end, it's just grunts and stuff. What's more important is that I've found that these situations requite the utmost delicacy. If I just kept hammering away at my wife with comebacks during a fight, then she would probably just get mad at me for not listening. When it comes to figuring out what the right thing to say or do in a given situation, I am still completely clueless. I think I just assumed when I got married that I would immediately know the secret of understanding my wife all the time. Truth is, solving the issue of what women want is like finding the last numeral for pi, or what really happened on Lost. All being married has taught me is the importance of listening. If my wife says she needs space, I probably should give it to her. If she says nothing, then that probably means I'm safe to pursue.
To those who aren't married, this may sound ridiculous. I'm aware of that. To those wondering what it's like to be married, don't take anything I say too seriously. I've been married for all of, like, 6 months, and I'm sure the lessons I learned may be subject to change. But, being married is fun. People say it's hard work (and it is), and others complain of how difficult it is (and it is, sometimes). And whether you're single or married, we all have an idea of what relationships should be, based on what we've seen or heard. Some of these may be truer than others. But based on what I've learned there's only two absolutes: You'll never have all the answers, so when all else fails, just try to listen as best as you can. And, while I hate to admit it:
A Happy Wife is a Happy Life.
And I gotta say, I'm pretty happy.