It was five years ago today that I, with tender heart pounding against my rib cage, crumpled on the floor before Megan and asked her to marry me. She said “Yes,” and the rest is wonderful, wonderful history. So, in honor of this day, obviously I will help you* with your (impending) marriage. You’re welcome.
This isn’t going to be a list of things like communicate, live honestly, and love sacrificially. Those are the basics to a functioning marriage, let alone a happy marriage. No, this will be a list of little secrets I’ve learned along the way — things nobody tells you.
Separate Your Coverings
Sounds fancy and spiritual, right? No. I mean literally get two sets of top sheets and blankets, because there is nothing worse than cotton tug-of-warring into the wee hours of the morning the night before your root canal, or some other equally important event. Even if you come to a common ground and are both satisfied with your respective amounts of wrapping, there will still be a gaping cavern of cold, comfort-sucking air between you. We spent about five months secretly hating each other before we thought, “Let’s separate. It’s better for the kids.”
Abide by the Philosophy of Both
I’ve touched on this philosophy in my previous anthropological writings, but the basic idea is: why make choices you don’t have to make? Do both. Marriage is tough stuff. Before you know it you need to decide on a monogram, a china pattern, and whether you’re going to ever let your in-laws take your future-children unsupervised. To quote one of the best moms ever, Ruth DeWitt Bukater from Titanic, these choices are never easy. (Say “easy” really cool in your head, like she does in the movie.) Exactly, Ruth! So why make them? If Megan wants frozen yogurt but all I could really go for is a raw vegetable platter, then I go to Menchie’s with her, and she helps me harvest our plentiful garden so I can indulge a little. It’s sacrificial love in action, without any real sacrifice.
Different, the Same
It was about 24 hours into our honeymoon when we realized that we would, in fact, not be spending the rest of our marriage literally or figuratively attached to each other. I know, I know — we’re one flesh. But she’s an arm and I’m a leg, or a tooth or something. We do different things! The secret is to find things you each enjoy but can do in the same room together. For example, oftentimes while I’m writing or working on photos, Megan is making jewelry, baking delicious cupcakes, or whittling wooden stakes in preparation for the vampire revolution. That way, if she gets a splinter, or I need some advice, we’re both there and available. When we’re not wasting away hours watching Downton Abbey, our living room is a little factory of creative and/or preparatory productivity. It’s a beautiful thing.
I hope these have helped. If not, remember the good old sayings like, “The man is the head but the woman is the neck,” or, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen,” or, “Who thought of these stupid sayings in the first place and how can I learn from their mistakes?”
* I am not a licensed marriage counselor, but I probably should be.