Yesterday, Miguel and I celebrated 10 years of marriage - which sort of blows my mind. The irony of getting married on Independence Day was not lost on us but Miguel found out he would be performing in the Broadway bound American Idiot in San Francisco on our original wedding date soooo we got our first taste of the many curve balls life would eventually hurl at us. It was 13 years ago that my roommate, Jeff, sent an SOS text message demanding I come home immediately. Which I did, only to find Miguel and Jeff sitting on our couch watching football. No emergency to be found, except for the gaping hole Jeff seemed to perceive in my love life. I had met Miguel a few months earlier when Jeff and Miguel had performed in a children’s show together. Miguel had played a seven year old boy in the show and let’s just say that watching him play a child did not exactly have an aphrodisiac effect. This time, realizing I was being set up, I invited Miguel and Jeff out dancing for my friend’s birthday and unbeknownst to me at the time, but certainly not to many of you, Miguel is quite a good dancer and any memories of him playing a child on stage were quickly replaced. We went on a real date the following week and as they say, the rest is history. There are a few other colorful details but given that both our parents read this blog I’ll keep those to myself if you don’t mind :)
While reminiscing on the last decade a few valuable lessons rose to the top. So, I decided to share them here and not just for my reader’s benefit but also as a reminder to myself for when things aren’t going quite as well… which is inevitable.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Communicate expectations and responsibilities
Make time to be married… (including sex)
One thing Miguel said when I interviewed him on the first episode of CURE’s Seizing Life podcast struck a chord and hasn’t left me. He said, “Something we’ve done well – sometimes better than other times – is understanding where each other’s weaknesses are, accepting them, and saying, “That’s okay because the larger picture is the most important one”” Look, of course it drives me a little bonkers when I tidy the house before bed then wake up to dirty dishes on the counter and Miguel’s socks strewn on the floor from his post-show snack & chill. But the effort and stress it takes to pick this fight is not worth damaging all the good he brings to our relationship. Likewise, when the pile of dirty clothes is spilling out of our hamper, not once has Miguel asked me what I’m doing all day that the laundry isn’t done. We are a team and we cannot push forward if we spend our time knocking each other down over the little stuff, especially the stuff we KNOW our partner isn’t great at.
Over time we have actually been able to avoid many of these issues by communicating clearly defined roles. I’m not talking about a chore chart: you take out the trash, I cook dinner, etc. Household responsibilities we share - except for taking out the trash, thats all him. Anyway, as a result of Adelaide’s complex schedule a division in responsibilities emerged. This was new though, we had always parented Jackson together, but now, when it came to Adelaide, I shouldered a majority of her care and this was initially difficult for me to accept. Eventually I realized though, that life was significantly less stressful when I managed all the details surrounding Adelaide’s care myself. Also, instead of expecting Miguel to intuitively know what needed to be done I started asking for help when I needed it. It was never that he wasn’t an engaged parent, it was simply that Adelaide’s schedule is so complex that unless you are in the routine everyday there is no way you are going to remember what needs to be done and when. Between getting meds 8 times a day plus meals, breathing treatments and therapies, Miss A is a very busy lady. The best thing we may have done for our marriage was print a detailed schedule of Adelaide’s day and put it up on the fridge. This way, on the occasion that Miguel is responsible for Miss A he knows exactly what needs to be done and at what time without needing to consult me.
But what is the point of all this work if you don’t make time to enjoy each other? A few times a year, Adelaide’s epileptologist checks in with Miguel and I to make sure that we are still dating. At first it felt like such an odd question coming from her doctor but the truth is Adelaide will be better taken care of in our home if we maintain a strong, loving marriage. So, I schedule our nurse-sitter a month in advance to make sure that there is at least one date night in the books that is not an event. You know what else we schedule? Sex. Dad, you are welcome to skip to the next paragraph… 20-something year old me would find this appalling. 30-something year old me knows this is necessary to make sure it actually happens AND that it’s REALLY REALLY important for our marriage to have a healthy sex life. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’m tired, or an early morning is weighing heavy on my mind - but, you know what? I’ve never regretted that time together the next day. Maintaining that aspect of our relationship is not only critical for our mental and emotional health but only strengthens our cohesiveness and ability to work together as a team. It’s also happens to be a great time.
I’m no expert on love and marriage but we’ve got a pretty a good thing going. As I think back on the last ten years I cannot even begin to fathom what the next ten will hold. But hopefully we can manage to keep the communication lines open and continue to grow together and also as individuals. Ten down, a lifetime to go.
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