I once heard someone say “If the missus ain’t happy, no one is gonna be happy”. It’s an interesting concept and therein lies a truth. To be happily married and for that happiness to be a genuine one, both of you have to be happy.
I’m coming up on my 13th year of marriage to my wonderful wife and while the road hasn’t always been nice and smooth, often sometimes seeming like an old dirt track, we have grown together throughout this time and become stronger for it.
You meet someone by chance encounter, in my case via a dating site. Complete strangers with a few specific points of interest; enough to want to know more. Somehow we are where we are and 13 years are almost behind us. Part of why I write this is the realisation of lucky I am.
I work with some amazing people, some of those are friends and have been for many years. Some, married longer than I have, others only recently. Each in their own way complains or points out problems or wants to talk about their lives. None of them seem genuinely happy.
Money, either too much, too little or who has control is one of the things that my wife and I used to argue about. I specifically refer to past tense as we do not any more. When we got married I thought it was just what married people did and get a joint bank account and pool all your money together. I would ensure that we paid the mortgage, bills etc and then hope there was enough left over. Can’t afford to lose the house, or not have electricity or water. Sometimes there was very little left, barely enough to buy groceries. Our respective parents, in dire emergency, could help. Living in a constant state of emergency seemed wrong and we both knew it. Mind you it took 8 years to stumble upon this solution. We created separate bank accounts and each of us is the account holder of our own account. I know it seems contrary to being married but it was the first big leap in not have money being the source of ill will. We sat down and worked out what all the bills I was responsible for and what my wife needed to do grocery shopping, day-to-day expenses etc. Then I had my work split my pay and pay it into each account. We became a team in dealing with finances. Rather than it just being only on me to deal with it all, and ultimately that’s what the control aspect is; we divided the duties. We both had control and had to make decisions that contributed best towards our goals.
Remember when you were little and your parents tried to instill the importance of sharing. wow, did that lesson hit home fast. It was a startling transformation for us.
The second aspect to this which became then easy to resolve was NO MORE CREDIT CARDS EVER. First we got one, just for emergencies. Everything was an emergency. then it was maxed out and had yet another bill to pay. Then there was a 2nd card and all that did was make things worse. All this taking place during those first few years until we “woke up” to what was wrong. We chopped up the cards and threw them away. Holy hell that was hard. For about a year it felt constantly like we had no money at all. We bought the no name brands, the cheapest of the cheap to get buy. It was a little frustrating but we were making positive progress, our savings slow began to grow. Now we pay with money we have. If we don’t have the money we don’t buy it.
Its been about five years now. We are on top of our debts, mortgage is up to date and even in front, have money to pay bills and do shopping and even go away on short little breaks now and again. It was an incredible uphill battle and we did it together.
Next thing that does wonders is knowing when to be in the wrong even where you are or think you are right. I think only in the first 2 years arguments would turn into shouting matches. At the time, no children present so it was only us hurting each other. Very quickly I learned the indicators when I knew she was upset and angry and wanted to vent, at me. In hindsight, her reasons were actually right and just. Not saying anything made things worse. Trust in this, ignoring a problem does NOT make it go away. One day I caught a few minutes of a show called Doctor Phil. And it just happened to be about this very thing. It took on board what he said and tried it out. The next time she was angry and I came home I didn’t ignore it. I said that I was wrong to do what ever, I should have done blah, apologized and gave her and kiss and a hug. It completely defused the situation and she was empathetic to me. I explained my side of the story calmly. She agreed that I had no choice to take the action I did, yet I made the first step and apologized anyway.
We haven’t argued in over five years about anything, and that’s not an exaggeration. When the playing field is level, the rules are equal and you both have vested concerns then you just don’t argue. Full blown shouting matches haven’t occurred in 10 years. There just isn’t a need for it.
The last thing I started working on recently was trying to not solve my wife’s problems. It dawned on me that she’s not telling me this stuff for me just to tell her how to do it the right way or whatever, she wants some sympathy and empathy for her whatever it is. A few recent incidents involved her getting speeding tickets. I asked her to show me on Google maps her route and where the camera was. I could see her thinking and before I could say anything she was, I’ll just turn off here and go this way instead. The second occurrence was to a different place. Mind you, all these are pet rescues and she is often trying to get to them before closing time otherwise the cat or cats will be put down first thing in the morning. So there is a legitimate reason for a little urgency on her part. Once the ticket came I saw her open it and go straight to Google maps and plot and new route for next time. She asked if it was ok and it was. It would have been so easy for me to say “Dont speed”. That would only aggravate. Sympathize, empathize.
These are just a few little things that I have learned over the past 13 years of being married.