Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine's Blog: The best part of marriage and a message to my single friends

He is such a grump when the camera comes out!
Valentine's Day is coming up fast and with it, the pressure to not be single, be romantic, and get the right gift.    Seriously, the stress involved is just silly.  Single people should celebrate being single.  There are benefits, even if it seems lonely at times.     Relationships, on the other hand,  can't be dictated by a day on the calendar and love isn't something you plan like a dinner menu.   Love really is more like pot luck.  You get what you bring to it and some bonus material that you may or may not have planned on.   When I was single, I had all these romantic ideas about what it must be like to be married on Valentine's Day.   I happened to marry the most romantically challenged man on the face of the earth.  Actually, that is not true, he just thinks differently.  I think flowers are a romantic gift and he thinks showing me blue bird's flying around is a gift.   Truth be told, I have learned to appreciate his little gestures of love even though he can't understand why I insist on buying him stuff.   I even tried to explain that gifts are my love language.   He is too level headed for that.  He isn't cheap, he just has a different idea about what matters.  

Sometimes I think we go into relationships with preconceived notions of what love and marriage mean.  The truth is, it means something different to different people.  For example, I get up and make breakfast for him and my step-daughter about once during the week, sometimes twice.  This morning when I did this, he asked me if I was making him a toast egg-sandwich.  I told him "No, that one is for Liv."  He looked at me and said simply "Thank you for being a good stepmom."  It hit me like a ton of bricks, if I had a child and he was the stepdad, the most important thing to me would be that he loved and took care of my child.  I was honestly touched.  Maybe I give him too much credit but I think it is likely, I don't give him enough.

So without further ado, here are my favorite things about (my) marriage:

*Someone to watch over me:
This is something that can be wonderful but it can also be irritating.   There are times when having my back is the greatest thing about my husband but there are times when he is watching over me and I don't want him looking.   Case in point: Diet Coke.   He is looking out for my best interest and I know it, when he nags me about drinking water and not Diet Coke but I like Diet Coke.   I mean, not as much as coffee but honestly, I feel like it is something I need in my life, even if it isn't good for me.  He nags.  I ignore him nagging.  That is pretty much where we are with Diet Coke.

*Someone to make me laugh:
When I am having a bad day, he tries to cheer me up.  He tells me stupid jokes that make me laugh.  He is the funniest person I know and that makes him wonderful, in my book.   Compatibility on sense of humor may be the biggest part of getting along in a marriage. 

*Someone to share the load with:
We each have our own, special gifts but when we are trying to get things done, and I ask him to help, he jumps right in.  Our only problem is when he needs help and forgets to ask.  

*Someone to play with:
It is like having your best friend living with you at all times.  We play like we are 10 years old.  I mean, actually play.  I can't remember the last time I played with anyone.   Playing keeps you young. Sometimes we are playing around and we actually have to tell the kid that we aren't fighting, we are playing because it looks like we are trying to kill each other. :) 

*Someone to support your crazy ideas:
Sometimes one of us comes up with a crazy idea and we support the goofy.   My ideas tend to run the "I am going to start refinishing furniture and see if I can sell it" crazy train and his tend to run the "Hey, let's bulldoze the backyard and rebuild it to work better for us" kind of crazy.   Either way, we are there bouncing ideas off one another and trying to find a way to make the other person's dream work.  

*Have hug, will travel:
I don't really know what all men are like, but mine doesn't take hints well.  I have learned in the year and a half we have been married and two and a half years we have been together, to just come out and tell him when I need a hug or a back rub or a shoulder to cry on.   See, he is a man and subtle hints don't seem to work well with him.   He is always there to prop me up when I need it and I appreciate that! 

*It's Okay:
We have both had a lot of challenges in the last year, most related to work and changes at our places of business.   When either one of us gets down, the other is there to listen, support, and just basically tell the other 'It's okay.  We will get through this somehow.'   That's actually nice, even when you don't want to hear it. 

*Bad Times:
Bad things happen to everyone.  There are a lot of things you can control but there are a lot of things you can't control.   Companies get sold, people get sick, people die.   When those bad times happen, it is nice to know you have someone there who will pick you up or remind you of what you still have instead of focusing on what you lost. 

*Learning to spread your wings:
Here is the thing, there is no guarantee when you fall in love, you will love someone with your same hobbies. You love who you love, and no matter how much I laugh when I read a blog from a single person saying "10 things I must have from a man to get married"  that simply isn't reality.  You love someone for who they are not what they have.  So hubs and I have different ideas of "super fun"!  I love going to Texas Rangers games, writing, and painting pretty much anything, furniture, the walls, pictures, you name it, I have painted it.    My husband has never been more than a cursory fan of baseball, never reads my blog, and when I ask him about painting the walls, instead of giving me his color preference he says "Do we have any paint in the garage we don't have to actually buy?"   He, on the other hand, likes hunting and fishing, and running around on a 4 wheeler in the cold, wet, fall.  He Me?  I would rather have a heater, shower, indoor plumbing and no sand between my teeth.  I go with him as much as I can stand, can manage to get away from the house. When he comes to me excited about a new fishing thingy or a new hunting what-cha-call-it, I look like the deer in headlights.   We push each other outside of our comfort zones.   It is good to experience things you have never done and places you never knew existed.  

The biggest struggle of our first year of marriage and the biggest change in our second year of marriage has been compromise.  We have learned to give each other the things we want but not always when we ask the other.  My mixer is the perfect example.  I nagged, bugged, harassed, talked with him about my mixer for several months, weeks leading up to Christmas.   I dropped hints and basically begged him for it.  It was not the right time.  We had agreed we were going to take it easy this past Christmas and not go crazy.   So, I continued to mention it like every other day week after Christmas. Well, as it so happens, I may have put it on Facebook a time or two (dozen) as well.   My friends all knew and three of them were actually shopping when they saw them on sale and sent me different messages.   Turns out, one was marked down about $100 (even thought the price tag said it was marked down $200, I knew better) and when you added the gift cards I had gotten into the mix,  I managed to get the thing for like $40.  I presented the option to him and his response was somewhere between "Yes! Let's go do this! Finally a mixer!" and "Oh thank God you will finally shut up about that damn mixer!".   I don't remember exactly where it was in there because I was too excited.   

Being Single:

Somehow when I was single, I equated that to being broken.   It took me basically meeting my husband and getting married to realize that there was nothing wrong with me before I married him and being married doesn't mean I am better or more worthy.   See, the fact is that while I love and adore my husband, the reality is, had we met 20 years ago, there is a real possibility that he would have hated me, and although he is pretty funny, I might not have liked him.   Timing was important in our relationship.   God knew better!

So, I was never very nice to myself when I was single.  I always wanted to be the girl with the flowers and dinner dates on Valentine's Day.   Do you know what I would love now that I am married?  Time alone.   Seriously, an few hours or better yet, an entire day to myself when I wouldn't feel guilty about reading a book or going shopping and leaving my family to fend for themselves.  When I wouldn't think about grocery shopping or house cleaning.  Time to get my nails done and not remember that the money I spent on them would have been better spent on a new pair of jeans for the kid or repairing the husbands thing-a-ma-jig.   

I really missed my chance to celebrate being single, when I was, so what I wish for all my single friends out there is that they take some time on Feb. 14th to celebrate the person they should love most, themselves.   Be nice to yourself.  Buy your own darn flowers and one of those stupid heart shaped boxes of chocolate.   Sign up to take a class, maybe it is time for that cooking, fitness, painting  or scuba diving class that you have been dying to secretly try.   Soak in the tub with bubbles up to your eyebrows and a glass of wine next to you watching old comedies on Netflix.   Sleep in and enjoy it because honestly, when you get married, you may never sleep in again.   Be kind to yourself because if you don't love you, it is a lot harder for someone else to love you. 

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