by Danielle Webster
February is the month of love. Couples everywhere go through the struggle of what gifts to find, what food to cook, what to wear to bed….the list goes on and on. My husband and I are going on 3 years of marriage, and each day we do little things that help to keep that fire burning. Lately it's been little notes he's hidden in my school books, on a brownie and on my tablet so I'd be reminded of his encouragement. Somehow, between his full-time job, my part-time job, and raising a three year old child he's found small ways to show me of his love. But his small surprises to brighten my day are due to our limited time together as well, because I also am returning to school, besides running a small housekeeping business. Overall, most of our moments alone are rare and often unromantic. With our relationship, it really is the little things that add up.
The funny thing about being married is the drastic difference in which each partner might show their affection. Brett (My husband) surprises me with little gifts at least once a week, while my own presents to him are far less often and in between. And mind you, everyone has a different concept of what a surprise or gift should be for their significant other as well. For my husband, it might be a new video game or perhaps his favorite beer ready to pop open for him to drink after a long day at work. For me, it's as little as a candy bar or a hot bath being run after a long and busy day. In our relationship, time is much more valued than money, nor items that money can purchase. In other relationships a date night out might be valued more than a homemade dinner or an expensive watch would be a token of appreciation vs a vase of roses and a favorite move to watch. Something we both enjoy is dinner and a movie after our son has gone to bed, though more often than not we end up chatting about our day's events.
Being married goes beyond just spending time with your significant other. It means compromising, not just on restaurants, movies or schedules, but on habits as well. I can't stand him dipping or the popping of his electronic cigarette as he takes a drag. He finds my nervous habit of biting my nails and my irritation of loud chewing absolutely ridiculous. But we work around all that. Couples often overlook food when they move in together too. And this isn't just what to cook for dinner or where to go out for a date night. What you both consume can effect your bodily smells and make your partner want to stay far away. Our solution was for him to consume most of that kind of food at his job. Scrambled eggs with salsa? Packed for an early morning shift so that he can stink himself out at work-not me. One pro to this is I can cook all of our meals, as Brett's idea of a snack is corn out of a can or a cheese sandwich and room temperature tomato soup. Yeah, there are times when I'm glad I'm the cook in our household.
Driving habits are another exciting part of being married. Someone will sit shotgun while the other drives. In ours it's primarily Brett. He firmly believes I'll somehow twist our 4x4 F150 around a tree or take out a school bus if I get behind the wheel. I've learned to tolerate him braking last minute for a stop sign or not seeing a speed bump and charging our truck full speed over it, seemingly in the hopes of making it go air born. Music is one major topic of debate in our vehicle, as I will always blast 105.7 whenever I can, he prefers going through the trouble of hooking up his Pandora radio up to the loudspeaker. The last compromise of the vehicle we can't agree on is keeping it clean. Brett will toss old Vanilla Coke bottles into the backseat. More often than not, I'm the only one who will be taking them back out. I also prefer it that way since I can spray it down with air fresheners.
We bicker frequently but it's always in good spirits and teasing. Most of it is over small things like whose going to push our son in the buggy at the store (which he almost always will do). Brett also insists on opening doors for me, especially when going into restaurants. I'm fairly independent so has been a major adjustment for me. He doesn't allow me to carry heavy bags up the stairs to our apartment because he believes firmly that it's the man's job to do hard tasks and us women to take on lesser physical tasks. I of course always challenge that but it is nice to have a gentleman as a husband in this day and age. One thing that accompanies his morals is his knack to decide to tickle me or kiss me at inopportune times. It doesn't matter if I'm cooking dinner and trying to not get burned by hot grease, or if I'm reading a book for school and trying to study. He'll find a way to catch me off guard. Last week Brett scared me by hiding behind the couch and jumped out at me. I haven't heard the end of it yet.
Another view that is often overlooked in marriage is your conflicting schedules. I prefer to leave early, as does he. But when I'm having the entire family tag along, my brain does get confused, so often enough I'll have to run back upstairs to grab more pull-ups, my wallet or a stray library book. My husband on the other hand will have everything already prepped so he can go out the door. Or leave it to me to grab his phone or whatever else he may have overlooked. I also prefer to look decent when I step out the door while Brett is content to simply pop a t-shirt with some stains on it and ripped jeans. At the very least he always remembers to wear deodorant. Our bedroom often suffers the same fate unless I go through it every so often and rid the small space of water bottles. On that note, the bedroom should be a sacred space for every couple. Unless you're us. Then it's fair game for tickling, pillow fights and other things. We don't really fight over bed space anymore. He prefers laying next to the cold window whereas I'm content with being on the edge.
Every couple is different, obviously. We're younger than most married couples, and I think we get along fairly well despite some differences like what I mentioned. But no matter who you're with, and plan to live with, they'll have quirks that will remain undiscovered until you learn them more intimately. Marriage isn't about just being married and saying those words at an alter. It's a sacred vow, and shouldn't be taken lightly. You'll have your ups and downs in any relationship, but that's just how life goes.
Many people our age take each other for granted, and throw away any relationship that might not be working out in that very moment. Patience is a key to being wed, I've found. And not just that, but also the willingness to accept your significant other's differences and to learn new skills from them as well. If you're not willing to grow together as a couple and work through trials, then don't decide to tie the knot. This Valentine's Day shouldn't be about wanting a fancy dinner or gift, but appreciating the woman or man that you have in your life. Even if you're single, my challenge to you is to brighten someone else's day with a small gift, pay it forward. You might be surprised who notices.