Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On marriage

Picture of me and Andy in forty years via
Do you all fight with your significant others? Andy and I have had two real, actual fights that I can think of. The first was right before the wedding, about how much I had spent on his wedding present - he told me it was too much, and I got it anyway, and he got mad, and it hurt my feelings because I felt he was important enough for any amount of money and so on. The second was last summer, and involved me having way more than my fair share of champagne at a wedding, and then not picking up on his attempts to change the subject when I was talking to Andy's less-than-empathetic father about a touchy family issue.

Mostly, we talk things out. We're both middle children who tend to be the peacekeepers in our own families, so we start potentially dangerous conversations with sentences like, "This isn't really a big deal, but could you..." or "I'm not trying to start an argument, but...". We also both play a game I call "Assumption of Positive Intent," wherein we try to pretend that the irritating or problematic thing is NOT deliberately crafted to drive us crazy. For example, the other day Andy left little whiskers all over the bathroom sink after he shaved, which I think is gross. But I reminded myself that if he had stopped to clean it up, it would have been fruitless because that's the bathroom we're in the middle of spackling and painting so it's a giant mess now anyway, and we would have been late. So I let it go.

I've been thinking about marriage a lot lately because one of my best friends is in the beginning stages of divorce. A lot of the problems she and her husband have had over the years come down to communication, which was never really a strength of theirs. It makes me wonder if Andy and I tend to communicate in the same ways, or if we've adapted to each other over the last eight years. I've also been wondering if hearing about my marriage is hard for her - it's not like I'm bragging to her, but she knows how happy we are together and stuff.

What are your marriage secrets? Anyone want to chime in on how to support a divorcing bff?

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