Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ten Things I Promise To My Future Husband


As an unmarried 20-something approaching 30, I have a lot of friends who are married, getting married, or have been together long enough to get married soon. And what do said friends talk about often? Their significant others! 

I've had my share of long-term relationships, but my longest was 3 years, so in some ways the bloom didn't even get a chance to leave the rose. But watching my friends navigate the rough seas that come with building a life with a whole other person (and sometimes making newer, smaller people along the way) has taught me A LOT. 

And like a teenager looks at their parents and says, "I'll NEVER do that to my kids!", I observe my friends and think of what I'd love to incorporate into my next relationship and what I hope I never do. Here's my list.

I promise:

1. That it's okay for me to go out with you and you without me - even when we have kids. 
If I'm really tired, or I don't feel like being social, it's okay for you to go out with your friends now and then. Sometimes, I'd love for you to stay in with me, but I'm sure a few hours alone will be a delicious luxury one day. And this should hold true, even when we have munchkins - if you don't want to leave the couch and the baby, but I really need a happy hour, why not? Marriage shouldn't be a tit-for-tat affair.

2. You can have secrets - (and so can I). 
I don't have to know what you think about everything. If it helps you to share it with me, then share it. But sometimes, the things we think are better left in our heads - especially if they're about my family, my weight, my hair. We were individuals before we were a couple and you're allowed some privacy. 

3. As long as you never look at them again, you can keep those boxes with stuff from old girlfriends in the garage/attic/basement. 
I have my own memory boxes; I'm sentimental. When I'm dating someone, I keep everything in a shoe box, so I can lovingly look at our memories now and then. And when I'm no longer dating them, I seal the boxes and put them in the closet. But I don't toss them. Because those things happened! Those relationships made me who I am, the amazing wife that I hope to be. Throwing them away would be like deleting the pictures from past events. Just because I'm never going to look at them again, doesn't mean I should get rid of them. They act as a record of a life lived. 

4. That I will not put myself in situations that make you uncomfortable. 
This is a lesson that I wish more couples would learn. I hear too many people say things like, "Your insecurity is not my problem." You know what, future husband, your insecurity isn't MY problem, but it would be OURS. I would hope you would try to work on that, maybe in therapy. And as your wife, it is my responsibility to not make you wonder. I'm the person who should make you feel safe, secure, and whole. If you could accidentally come across Facebook pictures of me getting a lap dance at a girls' night out, I'm doing something wrong. I never want to have to say, "It's not what you think."

5. To continue to do the things that made me a whole and interesting person before I met you - and that continue to make me happy. 
I have a pretty busy life right now and while I'd happily give some of that up for you, I'd never give up all of it. I like having wine and appetizers with my girls. I like babysitting for my munchkins. I like shopping alone. I like volunteering. I like finding things at garage sales and rehabbing them. I like couponing and seeing full shelves in my mini stockpile. I like eating alone in restaurants with a good book and unlimited Diet Coke. I like going to concerts you might find dorky (Asia, Hanson, NKOTB). I like buying yoga groupons. You could (maybe) join me for that one. But I really like shopping alone. And I really like babysitting. I'm happy to make space for you, future husband, but I'll never change who I am. 

6. To make you feel needed, even when I may feel like I could do it myself. 
I'm an independent woman. I've lived alone for almost three years; I open my own jars, take out my own trash, and kill my own spiders. On a bigger scale, I entertain myself, take care of myself, and support myself.    I plan multi country itineraries and then travel them, alone. For better or worse, I don't *need* a man right now, in the way that a lot of my contemporaries do. However, that's not something you should ever feel. It's important for people to feel needed in a relationship and I am happy to ask you to reach things on tall shelves, to open jars, and maybe even to set up the DVD player, because gosh, I just don't know how those things work. 

7. To not make you feel like you don't do things as well as I could do them myself. 
This is another big one in my book, like #4. If you do something as a surprise or a favor, how crappy is it of me to point out that it's not EXACTLY as I would have done it. If I come home after you've been watching the baby and the only thing I can see is how you didn't put on his diaper the same way I do, then I have a problem. These things build resentment and, worst of all, they chip away at the mutual respect that will be a building block of our relationship. Research has even shown that eye-rolling (a classic sign of contempt and disrespect) can be a "strong predictor for divorce". 

8. To never fight with you in front of our friends or family. 
A tiff here, a spat there: sure. But an important discussion (argument) about a big issue should not be held in front of other people. I'm not saying we pretend like we never disagree, I'm just saying it's not okay to put on a show. 

9. To not become cynical about love, our life together, and our future. 
I never want to use the word divorce. If you can say it, you can do it. "Maybe we should take a break?" "Let's take some space." "I can't handle this - us - right now." Not allowed. Relationships take work, continuous work, and there are no easy outs here. I'm not marrying you with the backup plan that we can always get divorced if I change my mind/something happens/things don't work out.

10. To always let you take out the trash. 


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