This is a story that I’ve told many people over the years. I use it to help them understand what the first year of marriage is like.
You see, Marriage…is a compromise.
When you’re dating, your everyday life may or may not bother the other person. But when you get married, this all changes. Within that first year you’ll learn more about each other than you could ever imagine. You learn that your significant other “slurps” coffee instead of delicately drinking it (guilty). You may learn that towels get used once and left on the bathroom floor (guilty). You might even learn about the infamous “toothpaste compromise” (NOT GUILTY!).
For years I have fought the “toothpaste compromise” with no success. Within that first year I learned that my wife, Courtney, doesn’t care what happens to the top to the toothpaste. It could grow legs and walk around the room and she wouldn’t care a bit about it. That’s why it was always lost and not on the end of the tube like it was designed. So…there sits a tube with dried toothpaste on the end, making contact with the dirty sink surface.
I had to say something.
Here we are almost ten years later and we have reached a compromise. We decided that you can either argue for ten years or buy the flip-top toothpaste and move on to worrying about the towels on the bathroom floor (still guilty).
Because of this I decided to make a list of some of the things that one might experience in their first year of marriage (if they stick it out long enough). Take the advice or leave it. Either way it goes, you have to learn the art of the compromise.
1: Put the toilet seat up and back down. This is an age old battle of the sexes. Over the years I’ve learned to give in and do my part. The compromise comes when you realize that women care about a dirty toilet (men…not so much). If you raise the lid to do your business and try not to create urine art of the rim, they will clean it without much of a fuss because at least you are doing your part. Compromise!
2: Be their alarm clock. If you have a significant other that’s not a morning person or they run around like a crazy person trying to get ready for work…do them a favor and help them out. When I worked a different shift than Courtney, I learned to wake up, get her up, make her coffee, help her get her clothes together, and then go back to sleep. I learned that the more hectic she got,the less sleep I got. Compromise!
3: Be supportive. No matter what the other person wants to do with their life, be supportive of them. We both experienced this throughout the years. Anyone that knows me…knows that I go through phases with things (or obsessions)…(this may be a phase…don’t worry I’ll breakup with you by email…its okay). Courtney has always been there to support any phase and obsession I dove into at any give moment. She did this knowing that the compromise comes by way of me having to say YES when she wants to do something. Manicure, pedicure, massage, Japanese food, you name it! Compromise!
4: Give them the remote at night. When it’s time for bed and you want to catch one last episode of Netflix before you hit the hay…give them the remote. If not…there will be an extended period of time where you’re searching for a show YOU want to watch but that THEY will also like. This takes hours and in the end it gets resolved by handing the remote over or the other person sighing through the whole movie. The compromise is that you make sure that you get to watch whatever theater movie you want because if they sigh loudly in the theater…people get mad and throw popcorn. Just buy your time until a good movie comes out and force them to see it. Compromise!
5: Stop going out and doing dumb #$&%. If you’re married, you shouldn’t be going out and going dumb stuff anyway. Don’t be out hitting the bars, strip clubs, or back alleys. Even though you still want to think you’re living the single life, YOU’RE NOT! The compromise comes in knowing that now you always have someone to get drunk with. Whether it’s drinking and sleeping in the car or waiting until the kids are asleep and enjoying a relaxation 12 pack…you’re now a married couple and should do these things together. Compromise!
6: Ask them about their day. When they get home from work, ask them about their day. If you don’t…and they don’t offer…be prepared. We all like to vent about our days. WE NEED IT SOME DAYS (Today). So we can either let the other person get it off their chest and then we vent or we have a game of “Who’s Day Was Worse“. This game always ends in arguments and “you don’t understand anyway” comments. Let them vent (you’ll get your turn). Compromise!
7: Buy the “King Size” comforter. Everyone has probably experienced the cover thief in the middle of a cold night. That moment when the cold air rushes up your legs and across your body because the other person jerked the covers away. You look over and see a burrito of a person soundly sleeping while you freeze. The compromise is to buy a comforter one size bigger than the bed. That way they have to jerk extra hard to make their human burrito next time. If you own a king size bed, buy a tarp. Compromise!
8: Drink the coffee they like. You might as well go ahead and start drinking the coffee that they like. This can cause a lot of arguments early in the morning when everyone is on edge because no coffee has been made yet. If you force them to drink your coffee, then the other person will sigh, make disgusting faces, and talk about it being the “worst cup of coffee ever”. I say, “Just buy the damn bag of Dunkin Donut’s original and let’s go”. Compromise!
9: Wake up with the children. If you have small kids, make sure you wake up with them in equal amounts with your significant other. This is a strategy for getting the maximum amount of sleep. If you DON’T wake up, they will keep you up while they nurse or rock the baby to sleep. No one wins here. If you DO wake up and do your part, eventually when the baby cries again, it will be the other persons turn and you can snooze for a while. Compromise!
10: Forget everything I said. When it comes to loving your significant other…marriage is about more than compromise. IT IS THESE MOMENTS. It’s the toothpaste lid rolling around the sink or the clean towels soaking up water on the bathroom floor. These are the moments that help to shape our life and our marriages. Without these moments we wouldn’t have the bickering and arguing that leads to the make-ups and the nights of endless Netflix surfing.
The lid to my flip-top toothpaste still stays open and I have to search to find the tube in the shower now. Eventually I even gave up on the compromise because I know that is who she is. I can’t change that and I don’t want to. I love her no matter how much toothpaste I scrap off the end.
Marriage is more than compromise…it’s about knowing each other…FULLY.