Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo… margaritas!

That’s probably what most people think of in relation to the 5th of May. For me, however, I think of a white gown, spring allergies and 90 degree weather with no A/C!

Cinco de Mayo is my and hubby’s wedding anniversary and this year we celebrated eleven years. Yes, eleven years.  That seems like a very long time, long enough where I no longer just think about growing old with hubby, I am growing old with him.  Sure, time flies when you’re having fun, but marriage, unfortunately, isn’t all fun and games.  Having a happy, fulfilling relationship takes a lot of work. I repeat, a lot of work.

As an almost only child (aka. someone who is selfish and used to getting my way) and non-communicator (verbally that is!), I’ve had to learn some tough lessons about a marriage relationship. Here are 3 of those lessons that have helped me tremendously in becoming a better (though not perfect!) and happier life partner.

1. Be positive. There was a time right after the honeymoon period ended when I started working on my math skills. More specifically, I got really good at keeping score.  I would have conversations like this in my head:

50 points for me for doing the dishes
100 points for me for cooking
50 points for me for doing laundry
– 30 points for hubby for not taking out the garbage
– 20 points for hubby’s “lost socks”

I may have gotten really good at addition and subtraction, but keeping track of all the things hubby wasn’t doing right (in my perspective) turned me into an unhappy, critical person.  I lost sight (and track) of all the things he was doing well, like surprising me with a milk tea at work or taking the time to listen to me vent about my job.

So I did the “Men in Black” trick – I tried to erase my (negative) thoughts and memories about hubby and focus on the good ones.  I didn’t have a fancy neuralyzer to help me do this, but just relied on good old fashioned technology, namely an attitude adjustment.  It’s amazing how having a positive outlook of hubby helps me to be a happier spouse, too.  🙂

2. Never assume.  You know how there are some people who speak their minds all the time so you know exactly what they are thinking about?  Well, unfortunately I’m not one of those people.  I’m all for the idea that silence speaks louder than words.  🙂  So, in the early years of our marriage, I admit I subjected hubby to many experiments to see whether or not he was a mind reader.

It took me a while to realize that I should never assume hubby would know when I was upset about something or, even more importantly, why I was upset.  How could he know I’d been waiting two days for him to take the garbage out if I didn’t let him know?  Sure, I could hope he would see the garbage piling up and the flies buzzing around it (I’m kidding!), but it would be a lot easier to just bring it up.  Expecting hubby to know exactly what I am thinking about without telling him is like having a body full of hives and not wanting to do anything about the intense itching – it’s unrealistic and frustrating!

As I began to open up and speak up (and stop relying on my Jedi mind tricks), communication became a lot easier and simpler for both hubby and me.  Once again, learning this lesson made me a happier person to live with.

3. Row together.  On our honeymoon in Kauai, we spent a morning learning about kayaking and marriage from a tour guide.  He told us that tandem kayaking is a great way of seeing how well couples, especially newlyweds, work together.  He couldn’t have been more right!

Image courtesy of wiangya/

I learned on that day, and the 4,015 days that followed(!), that rowing together takes lots of humility and patience – humility to listen and take directions from each other and patience to keep rowing until you get the right rhythm.  Marriage is like kayaking; it’s all about cooperation, doing what’s best for the team and making sure you have your partner’s back.

The hardest lesson I’ve had to swallow is that all is not fair in love and war.  There are times when one person needs to do more than 50% (or whatever they think is their share in the relationship).  If one person can’t row for a while, the other teammate will need to do more to keep the kayak going.  It won’t be fun or easy, but this is definitely the “for better and for worse” part of love.

Hubby and I took turns “rowing more” so we could both finish our degrees.  He took on all the financial burdens of our family when I quit working full-time to go to school.  Later on, I took on much of the responsibilities at home (with a toddler and newborn) when he took night classes.  There were some crazy days (and I’m so glad I had family around to help), but we did our best to support each other.  We really made it a joint effort of earning those diplomas!  Now, if only I could claim his degree on my resume.  😛

In reality, I guess eleven years isn’t that long of a time period.  It’s barely like a teenager in terms of people years (it’s a completely different story though in dog years!).  I’m sure there is still much to learn about marriage.  So, I’ll just keep on rowing with hubby and see what the next eleven years (and more) may bring.

Here’s Colbie Caillat’s song for the one I said, “I Do” to on Cinco de Mayo… 🙂

What lessons have you learned about marriage (either your own or someone else’s)?

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