Marriage seasons, my husband is not my everything, who is the love of your life, the worst Valentine’s Day ever, and how I tricked my husband into marrying me. A special love and Valentine’s Day edition of five things.
I never want to give anyone love or how-to-meet-the-right-person advice, because I truly believe every relationship is unique. What’s so not cool for me and my husband, may be totally cool for another couple. I also know that how Husband and I met, as well as our courtship was wholly unconventional and the chances of someone recreating those events are pretty slim (read: impossible). But below are a few ideas I’ve had about marriage now that I’ve been in a long-ass-term one (16 years and counting), along with a couple courtship anecdotes.
- There are seasons in marriages and most people bail when it’s winter. Marriage is a long game — a lot can happen in forever. The daughter of one of my relatives told me that her parents have had three marriages. The first when they were just starting out; they had first jobs, first kid, first house. The middle marriage when their careers and parenting were in full swing, and this stage actually had them at times living in different states for job reasons and having to meet up at airports. And now the current one, where they are retired (and still happily married!). Right now, Husband and I are pretty busy with career and other goals, so we don’t get to see each other as much, but one of those goals includes me being able to have more available time in five years. And then it will be a new season.
- My husband is not my everything. Again, some people do very well in a marriage where their lives revolve around a spouse and their needs. They do stuff all the time together. But what I’ve come to find out is that many people fill in different parts of my life – and many needs in my life. I used to be jealous of my friends who had husband’s that were runners. Mine is decidedly not. My husband has little to no interest in my running, and it’s a HUGE part of my life. Now I could impose on my husband to be an active part of my running, but why? To make him get up at 4:00 am to show up at a race with me? No, I’d rather put that imposition on my running friends. Ha. I also have other interests that I either have discussions with other people about or attend events alone. I’m totally OK with that, and the same works for my husband.
- The love of your life may not be your spouse. I first heard this idea on a podcast, and it blew my mind. The person who said it is someone I greatly admire, and who has been happily married for 17 years, so this came as a bit of a surprise coming from her. But she said her best girlfriend from college is the love of her life. (Or the co-love of her life.) Now in my case, my husband is the love of my life, but I guess I’m putting it out there for single people – you may already have the love of your life in your life right now. It doesn’t have to be a significant other/spouse. It might be a parent, a best platonic friend, a pet. Love doesn’t have to be romantic love to be great. Anyway, this was an interesting idea to me.
4. The Worst Valentine’s Day Ever.
So maybe an exaggeration. But traumatic enough for me that even now, seventeen years later, I still reflect on that day as the Worst Valentine’s Day Ever.
A few months prior, my then-boyfriend and I had been talking about marriage, and he told me “Look, I can’t get you a ring until Valentine’s Day.” Like any reasonable person, I’m like “Got it. Engaged on Valentine’s Day.” So then Valentine’s Day rolls around, and during a fancy dinner my boyfriend presents me with a ring box. Oh yay! Yay! It’s happening!!! I open it, and see this…
…obviously not the Tiffany’s six-prong diamond ring I was expecting. Just a fun I-love-you ring. He was so pleased with himself as he had gone to a lot of trouble going to a friend’s mother’s antique store to find just the right amber ring for me. But all I saw was Not Engagement Ring.
Well, I figured it was a joke because he’s funny like that. It had to be a joke, right? I smiled, told him I loved it, and played along. Well, the night continues, no engagement ring. Night’s coming to an end, we’re about to fall asleep, surely he’s going to pop the question now, right? Right??? Nope, the MFer kissed me good night, told me he loved me, and went to sleep. Little did he know that shit was about to get real.
I sat there in the dark stewing for about half an hour. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and WHACK! I hit him in the head with my pillow and laid into him. Boy was he shocked. Turns out that he thought his statement meant that V-Day was the EARLIEST he could get me an engagement ring — not that I was getting a ring on V-Day. WTF. Poor guy, he did mean well, but what an unfortunate choice of words! The day ended with no engagement and a big fight. Not the Valentine’s Day I was expecting.
Well, two months later I got The Ring, and despite this communication miscue we’ve made it through 16 years of marriage. But I’ve never forgotten. #neverforget
5. “Getting to ‘I Do’” aka how I tricked my then-boyfriend into marriage. It was so long ago that I forget this part of our courtship. In the late ‘90s/early 2000s, all the dating craze was focused on this controversial advice book “The Rules”. Along the same lines is a lesser famous book “Getting to ‘I Do’”, whose author had a workshop once a month on Monday nights right here in LA. So listen, I have more of a guy-energy about me and am pretty direct, but then I get this boyfriend and because of a false start we had had a few years back, I wanted to make sure I was doing things “right.” Enter the workshop. I employed a few tricks, et voila! As seen in the story above, I got The Ring! Haha. TBH, both The Rules and GTID basically have the same message: develop greater self-respect and don’t throw yourself at guys who aren’t interested or treat you badly. I had already been at that place in my life for several years, but I was curious to see what Dr. Pat Allen had to say. OK, the workshop had some dodgy and manufactured ways to manifest self-worth when dating which I totally wasn’t onboard with, but there were actually a couple principles that I applied in a general way that have carried me through all these years. One, I let my husband lead…sometimes. Not always – he doesn’t want that; he knows who he married. But my husband is head of the household. Turns out as someone who leads all the time in the rest of my life, I like this too. Two, 25%-75% in giving. I let my husband give more to me in gifts. He wants to, and I want him to too, so I let him. Anyway, here’s the link to the workshop – yes, she’s still doing it! Oh, and P.S. two other women I know were at the seminar that same night. Both got married to their then-boyfriends too, so I’m just saying…http://www.drpatallen.com/los-angeles-seminars/