It is amazing to me how quickly the years go by. My wife and I recently realized 8 years of marriage. During those years we have had two children, bought two cars, bought a home and probably racked up 500,000 frequent flyer miles.
I struggled with married life in the beginning. I still make things harder than they need to be. There is an adage that says “there are three ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way and the way I do it.” This resonates with me to a strong degree.
Historically marriage is a sacred covenant. In modern times, marriage is a legal arrangement. My perspective has drifted between these two paths at various times during our marriage. As I do with every other aspect of my life, I have read books and tried to improve the quality of my marriage by leveraging others’ experience.
No personal relationship is devoid of conflict. That relationship could be friendship, sibling, parent/child, coworker, etc. However marriage is not something that most people plan to walk away from. Each conflict in and of itself sets a precedent. One metaphor would be battles during a war. In marriage the only way to win is to have your spouse win. Whether that battle is where the couch should go or when the dishwasher should be run. The opportunities for conflict in marriage is an amazing gamut from finance, child rearing, housekeeping, time management, cooking and a myriad of others.
The more fundamental aspect of a personal relationship is introducing yourself and learning about the other person. In team building exercises this is forced. In marriage this is ad hoc as situations present themselves. The better I know my wife, the more I can look back on our marriage and see opportunities to have handled situations differently. Likewise, the better I know myself, the better I can understand my reaction to situations.
My communication has improved by leaps and bounds by being in a committed relationship. I can answer the question “What’s wrong?” and “Are you mad at me?” honestly. I can hold my tongue when I am being selfish and speak up when I need help. Unfortunately, my listening skills have not grown at the same pace. I am wired to offer advice or a solution rather than just listening.
I would do it all over again. I would choose my wife all over again. I love her as much today as I did when I first proposed to her. We have both changed as people and will continue to change. Our marriage is different today than it was 8 years ago and it will be different 8 years from now.