All In: What Marriage Means

I reached out to a few of my blogging friends to write some posts while Lindsey and I are away on our honeymoon. Today’s post comes from Dawn from Red Pen Mama, who wants us to be all in when it comes to this marriage. Thank you Dawn for the great post!

Before Dan and I officially got engaged, he asked for my parents’ blessing to marry. It’s a pretty funny story in itself, but I’m not telling that story here.

About 10 seconds after expressing their happiness — and more or less giving their blessing; to quote my Dad, “Well, what does Dawn say?” — my father gave us an invaluable piece of marriage advice.

“Marriage isn’t 50-50,” he said. “It’s 100-100.”

Of course, 30 seconds after that, he asked me, a long-time vegetarian even at that point, if I was going to be cooking meat for my soon-to-be husband. (Yes, I was planning to.)

Certain things in marriage can be divided 50-50. You and your spouse can divide the housework 50-50. You can cook 50 percent of the time, and your partner can cook the other 50 percent of the time. On the odd day, go out to dinner. You can even, to a certain extent, divide childcare 50-50, although that’s a little more difficult while the mother breastfeeds.

But marriage itself isn’t a 50-50 proposition. It requires 100 percent from both participants. Which is not to say you have to subsume yourself in marriage. No one needs to lose him/herself in your partnership. You can still have separate emails and hobbies and friends.

Giving 100 percent to your marriage means that you are your partner’s strongest advocate, biggest cheerleader, and staunchest supporter. Whenever something good happens, Dan is the first person I want to tell! Conversely, whenever something bad happens, he is the first person I call. Because I know he will rejoice with me when the news is good or hold me when I cry if the news is bad.

Whatever happens, I have Dan’s back, and he has mine. That’s 100 percent.

A couple of requirements are needed to be in a marriage 100 percent. One is communication — I’m sure you’ve heard it before. You can’t be there for each other through good times and bad if you don’t talk to each other. No one’s reading minds. Open your mouths and use your words — and use kind words.

The other most important thing in a marriage is humor. More than anything else, being able to laugh with my husband is vital. Yes, sometimes we do laugh at each other, not in a mean way, though. Contempt and meanness are anathema to marriage — to any good relationship, really. But I know there are times I’m an idiot, and I have to be able to see that and laugh about it, and invite my husband to laugh with me. Same goes for him.

I don’t know what else to tell you. I’ve been doing this marriage thing about 15 years now. I could probably reel off a lot more assvice. But it comes down to the fact that I’m not alone in this thing that Dan and I have made. Sure, we irritate the shit out of each other, and the children drive us bonkers, and and and. Your partner’s annoying habits are, as Dan Savage calls them, the price of admission. Profanity ahead…

And children — ooph. I could write books about what children do to a marriage, for better and worse (mostly better).

Talk about it, laugh about it. Be all there.

Be all in.

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