Monday, February 13, 2012

marriage: bliss & sacrifice

My husband and I invited friends for dinner the other night.  They have been married for only a few years and they have one young daughter.  As we visited together, it was hard not to notice how in love the couple still is.  Being with them reminded me of our first decade or so of being married.  I loved those years: when my husband could do no wrong, when life was full of bliss and happiness, no matter what faced us.  It's not that my husband and I love each other less now, but the love we have is different.  I think it is deeper, wiser, more full.  We have sacrificed for each other, forgiven each other, and supported each other over and over again despite weaknesses, mistakes, selfishness, sadness, disagreements, and misunderstandings. 

Recently, a reader posted this comment:
"I recently left my family, friends and state to move across the country to be with my best friend and boyfriend during his residency. I was convinced that if I didn't move to be with him we would never have a shot at a real relationship because his training would take so long - residency! Yikes! So now I am here and I have made a go of it for a year, found a new job, made new friends, tried to grow to like a culture that is foreign to me. My question is, my 30th birthday weekend is coming up and when I mentioned it to him he informed me that an old friend from college's wedding was that weekend and that he wanted to go. He hadn't realized it was the same weekend as my birthday, or even that it was a big birthday - 30! When I expressed how upset and sad I was he told me simply that he works hard and that is how he wants to spend his money and what he plans to do. Of course he invited me to come with him, but he is in the wedding, so I'll be sitting there watching him in the wedding on my 30th birthday weekend. My actual birthday is Monday and he'll be working all day. What upsets me most is that he didn't realize it was my birthday, or a big one and then that his reaction was to get defensive about his plans rather than offer an alternative for celebrating with me. Days later he simply said, "What do you want to do for your birthday?". I felt insane and crazy for being upset and considered just leaving ASAP. We aren't married. He hasn't proposed and instead of saving for a ring he is going to use the money to travel to go to his friend's wedding. We keep getting more and more wedding invitations to our apt and with each one I feel like my dreams float farther and farther away. Is this a red flag or are we both just being stubborn?"

As I've thought about how to respond to these thoughts, I can't help thinking of how important it has been for my husband and I to be married during these years.  I realize that because we are LDS, or Mormon, our beliefs about marriage are becoming more and more rare, but I probably would have walked out on my husband hundreds of times if we had not been married, (or he would have been the one to walk out - I am super difficult to live with.)  Marriage automatically instills a sense of commitment and determination in each spouse.  Sometimes it doesn't take love (at all) to work out a disagreement, only forgiveness and compromise, and, yes, some sacrifice. 

This weekend I purchased something for my husband that he has been wanting for years, something that I place very, very little value in, and would honestly choose to never own.  (Okay, it's a big TV.)  I never wanted to be a mom with kids sitting on a couch in front of a TV, and have always had very strong feelings about it.  But I know my husband well, I feel his stress and anxiety (boards in a few weeks...), I know how he perceives love and appreciation, I knew it was something he wanted - a lot - but was sacrificing and waiting for, I see him working each day - harder than anyone I know - and deserves a reward every once in a while, and I wanted him to know how much I love him and want him to be happy.  Yes, he was surprised.  After he set it up and I saw my kids sitting on the couch, eagerly watching cartoons on it, I left to go grocery shopping while my husband studied upstairs.  I wept as I backed out of the driveway and later walked through the grocery store isles.  I wondered what had happened to my ideals, to me.  Then I remembered how much I love to see my husband happy... and that is what marriage is all about: doing all we can to make each other happy.


Jamie Lamb said...


The fact is, situations like this (the guy not paying enough attention to a birthday) happen ALL THE TIME in marriage. No, it is not a red flag. The red flag was when he failed to propose long ago. If these things are truly important to this intelligent, committed girl, I think she needs to have an open, respectful conversation with her guy. I'm assuming he loves her a lot, and if he realized how important these things were to her, he would bend over backward to make them happen!

If she politely explained her feelings to him and he still behaved the same, then THAT might be a red flag. My guess is that he simply doesn't know how strongly she feels about marriage OR birthdays. :)

Liz said...

Love this response. Thanks, Jamie!!

From A Doctors Wife said...

I love your wisdom! You are so right. I love giving my husband what he wants, and also encouraging him (us) to work hard and anticipate things we might want in the future.

I once heard some great advice: if you know what someone wants, what would make them happy, why would you give them anything different. I have had to remind myself of this many times, and it has a few different levels. I am thinking specifically of your reader. She is obviously doing what she thinks would make him happy, but is he doing the same for her? Is there something that he knows that she wants that would make her happy that he doesn't/can't give. If he knows and refuses to give it - that may be a red flag.