Today is April 30th, 2013. This is my 30th post. And on this day 30 years ago, my wife and I got married! From time to time people will ask us what the key has been to our marriage’s longevity. Our most frequent, and most accurate answer is always communication. To survive in any relationship, and especially in a marriage, there has to be strong, open communication. Assumption is the mother of all screw ups for us, and usually when our assumptions are out of line, things suffer.
To be sure we have had our ups and downs, our good times and bad. Both of us have made mistakes along the way (I far more often than she). Because we ultimately have strong communication, we work through our difficulties and continue to thrive.
I could go on about communication, and some of the other tried and true methods. But, in this post I want to explore a few off-the-wall reasons that just may have contributed to our success.
Six people, one bathroom. That’s right. We have only one bathroom in our house. And I don’t mean one full bath, with a commode somewhere. I mean ONE bathroom. How does this contribute to our success? Well it means that we have learned to schedule our time well. We’ve all had to learn that, because we share the facilities, we have to take each other into account before using them. It is an unwritten rule in our household that if you are going to use the bathroom for more than a couple of minutes, you must announce it to everyone else present. We do make an exception when company is over. We frown on people announcing from the top of the stairs “Hey! I am going to be in her a while. Anyone need to go?” when there are guests.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to daytime usage. Even in terms of showering and getting ready in the morning, a schedule and a process need to be in place. You shower and use the bathroom at your assigned time, and when you are done, you get yourself to your bedroom for the details. To those who have many bathrooms, this all probably seems draconian, and rigid. But, like the spider born in a hurricane, we really never knew the difference.
How does this help us? As I said, it is about caring for the needs of those around us. It also means we must learn to compromise. And compromising to use limited resources brings me to my next key
Six people, one television. Recently this has changed, with the advent of watching TV shows on laptops and tablets, but for the formative years of our children, there was only one TV in the house. As a result, TV watching became a matter of compromise, and finding something suitable to most. A person always had the right and ability to leave the room and do other things, like reading a book, homework, and so on. But, if you wanted to watch TV, you watched with the consensus.
In addition to keeping us communicating, it also meant that we spent a lot of time together on things that many others did apart. We shared the experience of the shows we watched. Sometimes that lead to discussions, or shared laughter, or even a bit of competition (who could figure out the ending of Law & Order first?).
Having a single TV may not sound like much, but it was all we needed to stay connected as a family. Until very recently, when my daughter put one in her bedroom, there was only one TV in our house. And, while we all have devices on which we could watch a DVD, or Netflix, or Hulu, most of the time we watch TV together.
My wife and I have a full size bed. Not a queen, not a king, a full size bed. We have the smallest bed built for two people. For 30 years, we have slept in very close quarters. Recently a family member looked at my wife incredulously at the notion that she and I could sleep in such close quarters (I still think the person was making a fat joke aimed at me, but I digress). Every night we are so close together that we are touching most of the time.
Some might say this is lunacy, that surely we must have wanted to kill each other – especially on hot nights before we had air conditioning (as was the case for our first 22 years of marriage). And, while it is true that there have been some difficult weather nights, by and large it has been an advantage. It is REALLY hard to sleep next to someone, who is so close they are touching you, and still be mad at them. You have heard many times the notion of “don’t go to bed mad”. Well, let me tell you, that takes on a whole new meaning when you don’t have a lot of room in that bed to begin with.
In the interest of full disclosure, we are upgrading our bed to queen size in the next month or so. And honestly, I will miss our full size bed.
So, those are three odd-ball, off-beat things that are true about our marriage. Everyone is different, and so I don’t pretend to offer these as advice. I merely present them as some facts about our life. As they say on those TV commercials, “your results may vary”.