If I were asked to share just one piece of marriage advice for newlyweds, this would be it.
My husband and I had a pretty quiet Christmas this year. Our respective daughters were with their other parents (we’re one of those families) so it was just the two of us. Off to the ski slopes of Blue Mountain we went.
No guests to entertain. No turkey to roast. No dishes to do. Just he and I tucked away in a cosy, one-bedroom suite in a pretty, fairy-lit, Disney-esque village enjoying one of the whitest Christmases we’ve had in years. It was picture-perfect lovely. Who knew it would inspire me to offer up the following marriage advice for newlyweds.
I’m not new to marriage. I’ve spent a good 15 years in matrimony (albeit to two different fellas) but I am new to skiing. I went into this ski season with about five hours of experience behind me. Definitely not enough to be fearless but enough to know this…
There’s a big difference between mountains and bunny hills.
Mountains rise abruptly from the surface. They tend to be steep and scary. Look down from the peak of a mountain you’ve never tackled before and you may find yourself having an anxiety attack. Push off without experience and/or protective headgear and you risk injury.
Bunny hills, on the other hand… how could anything with the word bunny in it pose a threat? These little inclines are there for total novices to conquer. Fall over, get up (after someone’s helped you remove at least one of your skis so that you don’t break a limb), brush the powder off your knees and off you go.
On Christmas Day, I progressed from bunny hill to Happy Valley. Happy Valley is considered the beginner’s prequel to the first intermediate slope at Blue Mountain. My husband assured me it was like the bunny hills I’d mastered, only taller, longer and steeper. Na-ah. It was nothing like those bunny hills. To me, it was a mountain.
While I skied about 90% of it with surprising grace, I saw my life flash before me as I sped through the final 10%. Somehow I managed to build up record speed (for me, that is) and forgot how to turn, stop, or hurl myself to the ground.
Miraculously, I came to a standstill. I did not plough into the crowd of people at the bottom of the slope. I didn’t hurt any innocent bystanders. My relief was palpable and fitting for someone who had just navigated her first ‘mountain.’ Had this reaction followed a trip down a bunny hill, however, that would have been a little over-the-top.
And therein lies my marriage advice for newlyweds.
Live life in perspective. Try not to make mountains out of bunny hills — or out of knives left butter-side down on the kitchen counter. Or packets of chips ripped open on the diagonal from top to bottom. Or puddles of post-shower water awaiting socked feet on the bathroom floor.
Granted, pile these bunny hills one on top of the other and you have yourself a mountain, but one or two in the course of a day, is that too much to handle? Speaking from personal experience, you can, over time, learn how to ride these bunny hills, brush the snow off your knees if you fall, and keep on loving.
But what if you’re sick and tired of brushing the snow off?
Fair enough. No one has the right to tell you what you can/should and can’t/shouldn’t tolerate. That’s totally your call. Say you’re in it for the long haul but you’re sick of wiping the butter off the counters, tired of transferring the chips into Ziploc bags, and fed up with having to change your socks when you’ve only been wearing them for 20 minutes?
Express yourself and be prepared for one of two possible outcomes.
Outcome #1: Your partner doesn’t just hear you; he listens and agrees to be mindful going forward.
Outcome #2: Your partner feels judged, gets defensive, and before you know it, the two of you are having a full-blown fight in the middle of that Disney-esque village.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s outcome #2 that prompted me to write this post. And it’s my husband’s reaction to that outcome that inspired me to share this marriage advice for newlyweds. The cause of the dispute isn’t really relevant. Let’s just say he wanted to do one thing; I wanted to do another.
He provided a rationale for his side of the argument. In my mind, the rationale wasn’t very rational, and I decided to tell him as much. He wasn’t in the frame of mind to receive. He told me he was upset with me. I couldn’t handle being the upsetter (because I’m a good person, right?) and a two-hour silence ensued.
I felt as if Christmas had been ruined. Suddenly, the joy we’d shared on and off the slopes meant nothing. Christmas 2017 would forever bring up memories of this horrid Boxing Day silence. And then it occurred to me. I was making a mountain out of a bunny hill.
Time for a shift in perspective.
While I still believed I hadn’t done anything to justify my husband’s upset, he was upset. I could hold out until he saw things my way, or I could acknowledge that he was feeling wounded, for reasons I might not be able to understand, but does that really matter? I mean, at the end of the day, I love him and I want him to feel my love.
So I apologized for upsetting him, he thanked me, and we both exhaled and held hands. And then I apologized for tainting Christmas 2017. It’s his response to that that I love the most. He said, “you didn’t taint Christmas; that was just two hours out of 48. They’re over now.”
I brought down the mountain I had created between us and saw our Christmas getaway for what it was. One Happy Valley and a series of bunny hills — both on and off the slopes.
That’s marriage, my friends. That’s life. And on that note, I wish you and yours a very happy New Year!
Viv for today xo
I positioned this post as marriage advice for newlyweds because it’s something I wish hadn’t taken me quite so long to figure out! Really, though, it’s advice for life in general, isn’t it? With that in mind, here’s another post I wrote that isn’t marriage-related but focuses equally on keeping things in perspective. Enjoy!
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