This week and next we will be featuring guest blogger, James Browning, a regular writer for Epic Life Creative. He will be sharing some of his observations on marriage during his recent cross country relocation. To view part 2 click HERE
For some people, marriage is defined as a series of stressful events. Health problems, layoffs, bills, medical issues, car accidents, floods, clogged toilets, difficult bosses, and more bills. Children, from the moment of conception on, are a source of joy, worry, and stress. Even your wedding was probably at least a little stressful. One of the most common events in the marriage of any couple is moving. Moving often means a change in job, losing old friends, trying to meet new people, building a new community, new bills, realizing just how many of your clothes will probably never fit you again, and more. But moving is also a great metaphor for marriage itself. Here are seven things you can learn about marriage from the experience of moving.
#1: You Can Both Be Wrong (And Happy About It)
My wife and I are currently in the process of moving. And when I say currently, I mean I am literally taking a break from filling out an apartment application to write this. We finally decided to move about 6 months after we probably should have. We were happily living in a tiny one- bedroom apartment near the beach in Santa Monica, California when 11 months ago this bundle of joy named Eliza joined us.
While pregnant, we talked about moving and trying to find a bigger apartment but decided to put it off as long as possible in the interest of saving money. But here’s the thing, we weren’t actually saving money by continuing to live in an expensive area. Now here we are with a baby who has since learned to walk, open all the cupboards, find the box of cheerios no matter where we hide them, and do it all at full speed all the time. Do you know how hard it is to sleep train a baby who is in a crib right next to your bed? I do. She will stand up in her crib in the middle of the night and pull on our blankets until we get up. We need to move. We’re desperate for sleep!
The decision to stay had been a mutual one. We both wanted to put off moving as long as possible. We both love living close to the beach. I love the weather, our friends, the restaurants, the Los Angeles lifestyle but it wasn’t the best decision anymore for our family. We had both agreed on what was proving to be a poor decision at this stage in our life.
The first step to reconciliation in any relationship is to be willing to admit that you yourself are wrong. It is easy to admit that your spouse might be wrong, but much harder to say it yourself (and mean it). The good news is that just because you are wrong about something doesn’t mean that everything is ruined or that you are wrong about everything! In our case the solution was easy. We needed to move.
#2: You Have To Trust Your Spouse With Important Things (Even When They Aren’t Always Good At It)
Due to life circumstances my wife and baby could not travel with me to go apartment hunting in a different state. And while I am definitely communicating with Hannah through photos, videos, and more, she is still going to have to trust me on my choice. Will I choose an attractive apartment or condo? Will I choose a good neighborhood? Do we have different wishes? Of course we do, what else would one expect?
For me a good neighborhood means someplace with a lot going on, preferably close to a good bicycle shop, and plenty of good trails. My wife, on the other hand, is more concerned about schools, parks, crime, etc. Is my wife aware of my affinity for cycling and fried chicken restaurants? Yes she is. Is she still going to have to trust my, proven to be at times, unsound judgment? Of course she is.
Thankfully I have exaggerated slightly but the facts are still true. You can’t control your spouse, and you wouldn’t want to anyway. You are the only one in the whole world with your opinions and views (which also explains this election). My wife and I, like most married couples,
We have different ideas of how to decorate, and have slightly different priorities regarding location. But my wife has been able to trust my judgment in this major decision despite the fact that she knows that I might be more than a little focused on those bike trails. This trust has really freed me up to find the best place to call our new home. It also has made me so aware of her needs and wishes. Her faith in my ability to find a wonderful place has both motivated me and been a calming spot in an otherwise stressful event.
#3. Moving And Marriage Is Always More Expensive Than What You Plan
You know what is really expensive…marriage and moving! Two and now three do not necessarily live cheaper than one. And the crazy thing is that we are moving in order to save money! Money is important, and it is something that definitely impacts relationships. But money isn’t the most important thing in your marriage. Your connection is! So do not harm your bond with unrealistic expectations about salaries, housing costs, or how much to spend on things. Things lose their luster hopefully your relationship will not.
We have been carefully saving for moving for over a year, but each new fee or expense, even the anticipated ones, can potentially be a friction point in our marriage. Whether you are moving or experiencing any kind of life change, there is always a temptation to argue about money or the lack of it. We carefully planned as much as we could and yet we are still being blindsided by unexpected expenses. We have chosen to handle those expenses by valuing each other more than money. This means three things to us; we discuss our expenditures, choose midrange priced items, and when we do have to spend money, we do it and let it go.
In marriage, that certainly isn’t a foolproof, hard-and-fast rule that applies to all situations. There are so many times that major unexpected financial issues come up that you had not planned for. Someone may have lost their job and suddenly your emergency savings are depleted. There may be unexpected medical expenses or a car breaks down. Bad things do happen, even to careful people. But those trials are much, much, easier to handle when you and your spouse have decided that no matter what hits the two of you, you are going to be on the same team. Your hands will be joined and the problem will not divide you.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “the great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Are you as a couple moving towards each other, away from each other or against each other? Times of stress always provide those choices.
Check out part 2 HERE