Oh I know. I don’t write much about Brian. “Who is that?” you say. “Never heard of him.” Well, this Brian fellow is my husband. He’s about 6 feet tall, brown hair and eyes. You might find him driving around the tri-state area or shopping at Costco. He’s the one wearing an AirWolf or Ryan Adams t-shirt perhaps. He may have a smirk on his face. You should meet him sometime if you haven’t. Especially after one or two beers when he’s loosening up. Meet Brian (see at end for more):
It’s easy to focus on the topics and events at hand rather than my partner in life. Let’s be honest, marriage is…something. It’s a decent amount of work in the least.
I believe most of us treat marriage like a bike ride – PEDAL – work work work – get better – mature – be kind – and then COAST. We really like to coast don’t we? You know, just ride along, wind at our back, resting, the momentum of our previous work moving us along. Until – friction (life) slows down our momentum and before you know it the bike can no longer balance…and you either start peddling again or hit the dirt.
I think right now I’m preparing to peddle again.
It doesn’t a take therapist to tell you there are countless ways to keep a marriage running (healthily). Today I’ll just mention one –
Remember your spouse’s strengths. And you need to rehearse these often in your mind, preferably a few decibels louder than the voice rehearsing his or her faults.
I have definitely learned some things from Brian (again – the husband) over the years. Some are serious, some are silly. Many relate to cars, sports, concrete or cigars. Here are just a few I’d like to share today.
1. People are more important than perfection.
I’m a somewhat reformed type A person. I naturally like to do all things and do them well. We used to have frequent dinners and get-togethers when we were first married. I also started my annual cookie exchange our first year of marriage 11 years ago. My planning and preparation for these events drove Brian crazy. He was irritated by the length of my efforts and how I stressed until perfection was achieved. These events bothered Brian because he perceived the event as being more important to me than the people themselves. Sometimes my work would carry over into the event itself – finishing cooking, hosting etc.
I still like to do things well, but Brian helped me scale back my efforts to make more room for the moments themselves, rather than the preparations. I had my eleventh cookie exchange this year and everything “looked nice” but there was only a modest amount of work to get ready. And if I’m tempted to craft handmade favors for everybody one year, I don’t. If I did Brian would tell me I’m ridiculous. (Though it IS okay to handcraft things in moderation.)
2. Talk less, listen more.
Do you know your MBTI personality profile? If not – you should look into it – a great tool for family, work, personal life. On the MBTI plane Brian and I are complete opposites. He’s a feeler, I’m a thinker. He’s a perceiver, I’m a judger. He’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert. We also have conflicting personal values. Right around the time we married we completed a values exercise which involved ranking 25 values or characteristics from most to least important. After seeing our values compared, an incredulous friend in the group asked “How are you guys even together?!” I’m not sure we had any overlap in our top 10. Brian’s first value was leisure and mine was personal development. Are you starting to see the picture? They say sparks fly with opposites meet. If you happen to marry that opposite, sparks will continue to fly for the rest of your life.
Without some knowledge of who we are as individuals, and a little discipline, all these differences can add up to some big hurts. Take for example how Brian and I make a big decision. By the time we come to discuss it, I have already formed a 3 point argument supporting my view, likely in addition to some sort of empirical evidence. Brian comes with a gut feeling and requires some verbal processing before he can make a final decision. This gets us (and maybe especially me) into trouble some times. Brian has experienced much frustration with my often quick and usually rational decision-making style over the years. I get frustrated by his more processed focus approach and want him to provide data or analysis so I can make a logical decision. “State your case and let’s compare!” I think. His frustrations have taught me that I need to talk less and listen more. Part of being a “thinker” is that I usually know what I think and why at any given time. That doesn’t make me right. The more organized argument is not always the best one. (Even though it seems damn convincing to me!)
3. Oil does not need changing every 3000 miles.
Did your dad tell you this when you got your first car? Check your owner’s manual. It will give you an oil change range that could extend to 7500 miles.
4. I’m not always right.
Has your spouse taught you this one yet? If no you may not be listening close enough.
What has your spouse or significant other taught you?
Who is this Brian guy again??