Back in July 2006, my husband-to-be and I got a lot of advice. Most was to the tune of, “It takes a lot of hard work to maintain a healthy marriage.” We scoffed at the cliché. We were in love, he had cute dimples and I had cute ways of getting him to stop being annoyed with me. Besides, equating marriage with work made it sound like a business transaction – how unromantic could these people be?
A heated argument four years later about a spoon got me thinking about that old cliché.
Joe and I were going at it about why he was always finding a used spoon on the counter when I realized that my formerly cute feminine wiles were no longer living up to their past glory. Silliness and charm had gotten me pretty far, but in my quick mental recap of our last few spats, it became clear that it was our combined powers of negotiation and compromise that had gotten us safely to the other side of our arguments.
Negotiation and compromise, though not as much fun as flashing the dimples, require both parties to put forth a certain amount of effort. From issues as seemingly small as a casual misplacement of a spoon to issues as silly as “should we get the kid a haircut now that people have referred to him as “her?” (I say no, Joe says yes) to issues as serious as whether or not we should buy a house, we have slowly learned about the “business” of marriage.
I’m still not willing to call marriage “work” but I acknowledge now that simply being in love will not get a couple through some of the rough patches. Luckily, though, those rough patches – and the negotiations, compromises, dimple flashing and feminine wile-ing that go along with them – may be what bring the couple closer together in the long run.
For the record, I have agreed to move the offending spoons to the dishwasher immediately after stirring my coffee.