Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Little Perspective

Escher's "Relativity"

My husband and I were watching Pirates of The Caribbean 3. The part came up where the ship is going through the ice mountains to get to the end of the world. There's some really awesome music at that part and, as both Brian and I have instrumental music experience, the awesomeness of that particular part was mentioned.

Later that day, I was humming that part of the movie score and Brian asked me what I was humming. I told him and he said I wasn't humming it right. I asked him how he thought it went and he hummed it for me. I was sure he wasn't thinking about the same scene, but he insisted. Therefore, I said he wasn't humming it right.

Eventually, we decided to turn the movie back on to settle it once and for all (musician's problems, I know). We skipped to that part in the movie, listened, and...

...we were both right.

I was humming the string's part and he was humming the brass.

I play the violin and he played the trumpet.

Neither of us were wrong. We just had different past experiences that caused us to hear that particular part of the film differently. Neither perspective was better or worse than the other. It was just different, that's all. We each heard what we were used to hearing, and that's okay.

But until we understood what was going on, it wasn't okay because we didn't know where the other was coming from.

Marriage brings two people together in a lifetime commitment to each other. Yes, it's obvious that said people come from different backgrounds, but that difference doesn't always make itself fully manifest until after you've tied the knot. Soon enough, the "I wasn't raised that way" or "That's not how we did it growing up" statements rear their ugly heads to start a newlywed couple down the path of petty, unnecessary arguments.

Now, I know that many conversations are imperative to have, but I hope they were discussed at length before wedding vows were said. The issues I'm talking about are which way the toilet paper rolls, the perfect bedtime routine for the kids, which room the family eats dinner in, how and when the house should be cleaned, etc.

Some things aren't necessarily super important, but maybe you or your spouse have strong feelings about something. That's okay, too. Brian doesn't like it when people eat food on our living room couches. I don't really care one way or the other, so we do it his way because it's important to him.

Not all things can be figured out so easily, though, especially when (like the music in Pirates 3) both sides have a legitimate, yet different opinion on the matter. Here are four ideas to help you figure out what to do about it:

1. Ask "why" before saying "weird"

When you see your spouse do something that irritates you, don't just tell them it's stupid and they shouldn't be doing it. Try something along the lines of "I've noticed you do      x     . Why do you do that?" A little understanding goes a long way.

2. Ask yourself "Does this really matter?"

In the end, it doesn't matter which way the toilet paper rolls. What matters is that you have toilet paper. While you feel there may be faster or more efficient ways to clean the house, what matters in the end is that the house is clean.

3. Ask yourself: is either "I wasn't raised that way" or "That's not how we did it growing up" your only reason for wanting it your way?

Just because your parents did something "that way" doesn't mean it's the only possible way of doing it nor does it mean that's the way you should do it. You don't live with your parents anymore. You live with someone who was raised in a completely different home than you were. You and your spouse need to decide what Your (as in, you and your spouse's) way is. That may or may not be the way one--or both--of your parents did it, but it needs to be Your way.

4.  Ask yourself "why can't it be done both ways?"

My husband and I have different preferred bedtime routines for our children, so much so that if he's putting them to bed, I'm not in the room and vice versa. But you know what? Our kids fall asleep each night regardless of which parent puts them to bed. I know. Amazing.

I wish marriage could be gifted in a perfectly separated black and white box with no gray areas to work out. The truth of the matter is that marriage is at least 50% gray area, usually much more. Brian and I are still learning about each other and we have a long way to go. After all, we lived 2.5 decades of our lives without each other; it's not possible to cram that combined 50 years of life experience into the 4.5 years we've already been married. Things will always come up that need figuring out. A little perspective and understanding goes a long way.

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