Five Things I've Learned in Five Years of Marriage
Today is our five-year wedding anniversary. I'm certainly not an expert on marriage or relationships, but these are a few things I'm learning as I go.
1. He Can't Read Your Mind
Just like your mother, boss, or best friend, your spouse is not a mind reader. You know when something just makes sense to you? And you expect it to be just as obvious to your significant other? So not the case. My husband loves Tim Horton's coffee. Like loves it. Like might have a bit of a problem. The other day, we were getting ready to leave for a wedding/camping trip. We were staying at his parents', and I was busy getting the baby fed, bathed, dressed, and packed up before we rushed out the door. Jon announced suddenly, "I'm going to do a Timmy's run and get gas. What does everyone want?" Um... I want you to stay here and help me feed, bathe, and dress this baby. Obviously. Doesn't that just make sense?
2. If You Want Something, Ask
I've decided that I either have to ask for what I want or be okay with not getting it. Because my husband is not a mind reader, I need to verbalize what I want. I have been guilty of asking for what I wanted after the fact. Then I can be angry and a martyr. "Well, I really wanted you to help me with the baby, but..." It's just not productive.
Maybe your significant other is good at picking up hints, but that is not my experience. And hints are annoying. The problem with asking for what you want, is that it can take the fun and spontaneity out of things like gifts. It also seems sort of high maintenance to ask for something like a bouquet of flowers. But for the day to day, when you really want your husband to help you get that baby fed, bathed, and dressed more than you want caffeine, when you want that shirt hung, instead of thrown in the dryer, ASK. More often than not, Jon is happy to oblige if I just ask. And if you have an eye on those earrings for your birthday, I think you have two options: put your pride aside and ask, or follow the old mom adage, "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit."
3. Be Kind
Have you ever heard someone answer the phone and their tone immediately changed when they discovered it was their spouse? Or listened to someone recount a story and be harshly corrected by their partner? "It wasn't 2015! We weren't home for Christmas that year - it was 2016!" It makes me really uncomfortable when couples bicker or are rude to each other. I try not to do this in public. In private? I don't think I try quite as hard. Try to be kind. Even if no one else is listening.
4. Make Time
I've been reading a lot lately about the adverse effects of screen time on children. Our daughter is seven months old, and we're trying really hard for no screens before the age of two. I recently read a great article about the effects of our screen time on our kids (link below). I'm trying to be more aware of that too. Trying to be really present when I'm with her. It's not easy, and sometimes I need a break. Scrolling social media and watching Netflix are reserved for nap times and evenings these days. We don't have a TV in our bedroom, but we may as well have with the amount we are on our phones before bed. Making time can be tough. I'm not even talking "date night." I'm talking, put down your phone for five minutes, look at your partner, in the eyes, and talk. For five minutes. And I'll try to take my own advice on this one.
5. "It's No One's Fault"
I am so good at the blame game. Especially when I'm stressed or tired (or heaven forbid, both), I am very quick to lash out and place blame. While we were camping this week, we packed all of our stuff in the vehicle and drove the 40 minutes from Banff to Lake Louise. We had the stroller, the baby carrier, a backpack with rain gear, water, and snacks. What we did not have? The diaper bag. No diapers, no wipes, no change of clothes, no baby hat, no baby jacket, no baby bug spray... Of course, we didn't realize this until we had parked in the shuttle parking lot and unloaded all of our other stuff. Who was supposed to pack the diaper bag? For some reason, it didn't matter. We didn't have it. Jon apologized. I apologized. I heard myself say, "It's no one's fault" and "It was bound to happen." It all worked out sans diaper bag. But I really think the day could have been ruined if I had gotten into a tizzy and blamed Jon. Maybe I should thank the hiker parked right beside us. I think he was listening.