Marriage is hard, ya’ll. I’m only two years in and it’s been pretty amazing, but not without its fair share of challenges.
My husband and I had a whirlwind romance. From talking to dating to engaged to married within 6 months. It was one of those things that just worked; there was no agonizing back and forth or anxiety over whether I was doing the right thing. I was – and still am! – completely at ease and comfortable with the decision I made. I’m from California, he’s from Lebanon, and neither of us had ever visited each other’s home countries before meeting. Yet, somehow the fundamentals of our thinking mesh. Most of the time. There are plenty of disagreements and misunderstandings and times when I feel like we’re speaking different languages (and times when we are…). Add a kid into that, and there are times when we might as well be from different planets. Like, when I first realized that he wanted me to peel the tomatoes every time I made a salad, I couldn’t help but calculate the minutes I would spend in the next 50 years, hunched over the kitchen sink skinning tomatoes. I mean, some nights I want to forego the salad all together. But I (usually) don’t.
A very wise woman who I had the pleasure of knowing since I was 6 years old always told me that marriage isn’t about love and passion. Those things are great to have, but the cornerstone of any solid marriage is respect. Without that, you’ve got nothin’. There are many things that go into making a marriage – or any relationship – work, but if you don’t have respect for the other person, then you’re not going to get anything positive out of it. Along with respect, I would say, comes gratitude.
Look, I get that when you’ve had a sick, fussy baby attached to your leg/boob/hip all day and your husband walks through the door, the first thing you want to do – feel entitled to do – is to throw baby and lock yourself in the bathroom for an hour. (That’s not just me, right?) But to respect your spouse and the hellish day they’ve also had means that you sit and suffer through the next two hours until bedtime together, then lock yourself in the bathroom. (Kidding. Kind of.)
I often see posts about women not needing to thank their husbands for watching their own children and taking offense to calling it babysitting when it’s their own flesh and blood. Girl, I feel you, I do. And, without getting into the semantics, let me just say that if your husband thinks that he’s doing you a favor or putting himself out in any way by watching his own children every once in a while, then you’ve got a bigger problem than I can tackle in this blog post.
BUT. I do believe in saying thank you. Not because it’s a grand gesture or a huge favor, but because gratitude is important in a relationship, even if it’s for the things that should come naturally. Everyone loves to feel appreciated. Everyone needs to feel valued. I’m grateful for my husband as a partner. I’m grateful for the support, encouragement, cups of coffee, and affection he gives me, even when I smell like spoiled milk and haven’t washed my hair in days. I’m grateful for the little things he does for me, and the huge things he provides for our family. I know the pressure on men doesn’t always seem equal to that of a woman, but it still exists, and we’ve got to be aware and proactive in making our partners feel understood.
We chose our partners at one time, and all things considered, we’ve got to make the effort to continue choosing them every day. So, say thank you more often, even if you feel like it’s a silly thing to appreciate. You may even be shocked to see that gratitude brings out an even softer, more generous side of your partner.