And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
John Donne | “The Good-Morrow”
My sister is getting married tomorrow. The fifth of the Menn siblings to get hitched. We fall like flies, but I am very excited for her and her fiancé.
This is the perfect opportunity for me to reflect on marriage and love in general. After three years of being married, I’d like to think I learned a thing or two and have some insight on the matter. Of course, I am sure you can find the following list in any article relating to marriage advice, but dammit, it benefits me to write it out and actually put voice to the thoughts rattling around and building up inside.
1. Never stop falling in love.
I remember being fourteen or fifteen and hearing someone in his early thirties say that he learns knew things about his wife every day and falls in love with her more every new day. As a young teenager, I could not comprehend what this meant. I always assumed that once you got married, you and your partner just sort of…stayed the same.
Now that I am married, I realize that nothing could be further from the truth. While I won’t say that I am literally more in love with her every single day, I realize that I am more in love with my wife now than when we first married. We’ve now shared more experiences together, taken on life side-by-side, been through so much.
2. Develop routines/traditions
In the craziness of this fast-paced modern life (oh jeez, I sound like an old fogey), it is good to have a something reliable to look forward to. For me and my wife, it’s Pizza Night once a week. With conflicting schedules (I work nights, she works three or four varied days for twelve hours at a time), it is great to just be able to relax and not worry about whether we have groceries or who is making dinner. We just order a pizza, cuddle up on the couch, and get caught up on whatever TV show we are currently into. Just a night of easy routine and predictability. And sometimes Pizza Night is supplanted by Chinese Takeout Night, and we splurge on extra appetizers.
3. Don’t get stuck in a rut
It is so easy to turn a routine into a mindless rut of repetition. Get home, dinner, idle chit-chat, same TV show you’ve seen a million times, bed. The monotonous grind that slowly kills marriages.
Be aware of this! Snap out of the doldrums and go out and do something that you don’t do that often. Get out of the house and try something new.
4. Small things have a huge impact
Early in my marriage, I had a bad habit. I would come home from a day at work, sit down on the couch, take my socks off, and relax. Every day after work I did this. By the end of a work week, there would be a small pile of my socks in our living room. At that point, I would notice them and take them to the hamper.
Unlike me, my wife noticed the socks before they become a small hill. She would notice even a solitary pair of dirty socks. And I’m sure she told me about them, but it never seemed to register because it wasn’t a big deal to me. But it was a big deal to her.
Eventually, it dawned on me that simply by making sure I put my dirty socks in the hamper (you know, where they belong) instead of letting them accumulate in our living room, my wife would be less annoyed and our marriage in turn would be a little bit stronger.
Honestly, the only real key to a successful marriage is communication. Just be open and honest with the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with. Address issues sooner rather than later. Be on the same page. Tell each other you love each other.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.
John Donne | “The Good-Morrow”
Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.