I’ve been married for almost 24 years and it has not always been easy. Marriage is a long and twisty road, full of hills and valleys. Sometimes you’re coasting with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, other times you’re pedaling up a hill that just won’t end.
One of the biggest lessons I hope my husband and I have passed along to our four daughters is that keeping a marriage strong requires compromise. Fortunately (for me), I married someone who is pretty good at this so things have frequently worked out in my favor. Being outnumbered 5-1 in our house was not particularly advantageous for my husband as the girls and I often banded together to get our way. Honestly, he never really had a fighting chance.
Here’s a list of things Rob and I have had to duke it out about over about over the years. Some things were biggies while others were quite petty, all seemed to be kind of a big deal at the time!
- Can I have ten more minutes? Whoa…this one was almost a deal breaker for my husband. Rob is chronically early and I tend to be a blade runner or just plain late. He is in the Army and I guess that’s the way they do things there. Anyway, I learned to ask for a hard departure time and made sure I was ready or things got really cranky.
- Isn’t this puppy adorable? Luckily for us, we both like animals. Our problem is in trying to agree on how many pets we would have. I said more! More! MORE! He disagreed. Over the years, I have won this battle because my husband deploys a lot and spends weeks away on training exercises. It was not unusual for him to come home to find a new dog or cat living under our roof. Our current tally is four dogs and two cats.
- Can you point that thing at someone else? Rob owned a shotgun when we got married. I wasn’t thrilled about
having a firearm in the house, but didn’t make a stink over it. However, once we had kids I wanted it OUT of the house. Sure, some people may think this is alarmist, but I just didn’t feel comfortable having a gun in the house because: Kids + Guns = Accident Waiting To Happen. And anyway, Rob’s in the army…he plays with guns for a living, why did he need one at home? Bye, bye shotgun.
- Do you wanna build a snowman? I hate being cold in my own house. Rob is always burning up and this makes him really ornery. I have finally given in on this due to his extreme grouchiness when feeling hot and bothered. My closet is now filled with warm and fuzzy bathrobes and I have an electric blanket on my side of the bed as well as throw blankets all over the house.
- Will you be home for dinner? I was shocked out of my mind when I got married and discovered that my husband did not keep normal working hours. He’s an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, so I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. Spending weeks at a time in the field, traveling to other countries, and even deploying were all part of his job description. I’m not going to lie, I was bitter at first and angry and disappointed. Once I accepted the reality of my new life as an Army wife, I embraced it. Being an independent and resourceful person, I actually came to quite enjoy the time I had to myself and with the kids. I don’t get these breaks from my husband very often anymore and sometimes I miss them…shhh.
- Where are we going to baptize the kids? I was raised protestant and Rob was brought up in the Catholic Church. We were married in a non-denominational military chapel four days before Rob deployed for the Gulf War. Our different religious backgrounds didn’t bother us at all, but once we had kids we knew we had some decisions to make. Our parents were starting to ask questions…Where are you going to baptize the baby? What about First Holy Communion? Ultimately, we ended up going the Catholic route since Rob’s faith meant more to him.
Who left the seat up? Well that’s an easy question to answer in our house since there’s only one male living here. I’m not sure how I lost on this one; especially since there are five of us girls living in my house, but my husband will not put that seat down! Falling into the commode in the middle of the night never loses its shock value.
- Did you really vote for Romney? We are opposites, one democrat and one republican. Most of the time we just don’t talk about it. I have been accused, however, of pulling all four girls to my side of the political spectrum. Guilty as charged. When you’re right you’re right, what can I say?
- HOW COULD YOU? Rob grew up in a house that wasn’t particularly loud, but voices were raised when someone need to get their point across. And of course in the Army, people yell and shout to get things done. Well, I don’t do yelling. Ever. It hurts my feelings and upsets me. After seeing how well bellowing at me went the first few times, Rob learned to use his “indoor voice” during our disagreements. Most of the time.
- Who gets the new car? Me.
Don’t you love my new camera? This has been a toughie and one that we still struggle with. I like to buy stuff and Rob likes to watch his pennies pile up. Many, many, many dedicated attempts have been made to a) create a workable budget and b) stick to the budget, but as of now, this is filed under: Work In Progress. Bottom line…having four daughters is expensive and I like to buy stuff. I know I’ll be sorry about my choices when we retire.
- Whose turn is it to unload the dishwasher? Rob and I both grew up in households where the female members were responsible for chores related to cooking, cleaning, and childcare. I was determined that this would not be the case in my marriage. Perhaps I was a little strident at times in pursing my liberation from the traditional feminine role, but I did what I needed to do. Dishes, dusting, and diapers have been shared between the two of us over the past 24 years.
- Has anyone seen my high school letter jacket? My husband is a hoarder. Ok, that is a little strong, but he likes to save everything in case he ever needs it or wants to look at it. Two of my favorite things to do in life are decluttering and throwing things away. Basically, I have gotten around his need to be surrounded by everything he has ever owned by tossing things when he is deployed (he never notices) and dedicating most of the basement to him so he can cram it up any way he likes.
Did you just flip him off? Rob and I have very different driving styles that can make long road trips VERY unpleasant. I like to drive fast and he is an aggressive driver. He’s afraid I’m going to get a speeding ticket that will bust the budget. I’m afraid someone’s going to pull out a gun and shoot us because he’s tailgating, flashing his headlights, and honking his horn at them. We have both learned to chill out when we are driving so that we can arrive to our destination still speaking to one another. I use the cruise control; he uses self-control…and deep breathing exercises.
- Are you mad at me? I used to always think my husband was mad at me or just really antisocial because he didn’t talk very much. He would come home from work and do things by himself. We are both introverts and enjoy time to our selves, but his need for alone time was much greater than mine. Talking through this helped, but the real breakthrough came when we started reading about Myers-Briggs personality types together. Once we studied each other’s personality type, we understood one another other so much better and were able to appreciate and respect our differences. If you’re curious, I’m an INFJ and Rob is an INTJ.
- Are you caught up on Pretty Little Liars? Oh boy, Rob has had to do a lot of compromising (giving in) here. He loves war movies and old movies. I can’t stand either. If it was made more than 15 years ago, I really don’t want to see it. This is very narrow-minded I know, and as I write this, I’m feeling a little shallow. Living with five females, Rob has had to pretty much suck it down and watch whatever we have on. Currently we are all (including our very own 5x combat-experienced warfighter) immersed in the dramatic world of the Pretty Little Liars. During football season, we do watch the games with him and that makes him happy. Go Giants!
What compromises, bargains or deals do you work out to make sure your relationship stays on track?