Nathan and I started our married life in a relatively inauspicious manner; getting married in the courthouse, having dinner with our family at TGI Friday’s, and then proceeding to our hotel where Nathan was afflicted with the flu for the next two days.
It was this final bit that made me think “At least we’re getting the sickness part out early.”
How foolish of me.
In the past five years Nathan & I have alternated years being sick on our anniversary. This last year topped anything we’ve ever experienced and I hope that I’m not being foolhardy when I think that we will get a break (and indeed, that we deserve a break) for the next few years.
You see, I spent December 17, 2015 in a hospital waiting room while Nathan had his necrotized, gangrenous gallbladder removed by an exceptionally arrogant surgeon. While I got pretty darn angry at the certified nursing assistant and the surgeon and wanted to yell at them I didn’t. These people had my husband’s life in their hands!
It was the pharmacist, who refused to listen to pregnant lady who had just spent her anniversary in the hospital, who got the brunt of my anger.
I share all of this, not for your sympathy, but to lead into what I have learned about maintaining a marriage over the last five years.
To ensure that what I am sharing is not complete and total B.S., Nathan has also read and provided feedback.
Do what works for you
Understanding that individual couples may do things is probably the most important thing you can do to maintain your marriage. There is no keeping up with the Jones’, because unless you have a super creepy spy cam in their house and some kind of Betazoid mental connection going with them all the time you have no clue what is going on next door.
Nathan & I embraced our idiosyncrasies early on, from the very moment he proposed to me in fact. He and I had gotten our apartment together with the agreement that we would be getting married within a year. While our vision for our lives almost never works out (and I’ll talk about that a little later on) I was pretty determined that I would not be a 35-year-old person with three kids who was “living with her boyfriend.” As far as I was concerned, we just needed to set a date.
That conversation rolled around one October day when Nathan and I were having a lunch date at McDonalds. We often did this because I worked at night and he worked during the day and we wanted to see each other periodically. It was during this lunch that Nathan said “How would you feel about getting married by the end of the year?”
I felt great about it and so we proceeded to get married by the end of the year. There was no rigmarole, no engagements rings, no cake tasting. It was perfect for us.
Have some flexibility
One of my struggles early on (also, I accept that after 5 years of marriage we’re not exactly old timers to this experience) was not really wanting to be flexible in anything.
A perfect example of this was my refusal to do any housekeeping on Sunday. While I am not particularly religious, I was raised in a religious household and I feel strongly that Sunday should be a day of rest. I kind of laugh at that now, as there is almost never any resting with a toddler in your house. Nathan did not, and does not, feel this way. He feels if there are housekeeping tasks he is responsible for he should be able to do them whenever.
I was really angry about this and if Nathan didn’t “do his chores” on Saturday I would angrily do them myself.
It took quite a lot of time for me to realize that if a grown adult says he will do something, he will get to it in his own time. It might not be on Saturday, it might not be this week, or even this month. But dang it, eventually the litter box will get cleaned and in the meantime maybe we just need to consider wood floors throughout the house.
Take time apart
My goal for this year is to write two blog posts a month (check!) and a short story a week (eh. . . ). This has meant more time for myself (which is great!) and has allowed me to remember that writing is something that I enjoy even if my post from two weeks ago would indicate that I am, in fact, a mad woman with no talent at all for writing.
Although time together is delicious, too much of it can make you sick. Just take a lesson from Troy and Abed.
Take time Together
So yes, take time for your hobbies apart from each other. But taking time together is important as well.
Nathan and I had planned to see The Force Awakens on December 18th for our anniversary. If you remember from earlier in the post, he had abdominal surgery on the 17th. The poor man was in pain, despite being in Vicodin, but we went on our date anyway.
And we had fun, dammit!
The movie was incredible, the company was delightful, and despite a fight we had on our way to the movie theater the date was well worth it.