You guys, on my walk home from the gym this morning, I was approached by two men who were shooting a video, presumably for a school project, and asked about my views on dating. After I recovered from the shock, I chuckled to them, told them I’m old, married with kids and haven’t been on the dating scene in many more years than I was going to admit; our conversation continued and they coaxed me into answering three questions.
First: What quality (in the other person) is most important to you when you’re dating? My answer to this was quick – that’s easy – someone who is true to themselves and honest. I wouldn’t be interested in someone who was going to lie about themselves in order to go on a date with me. That wouldn’t end well. I remember when I first started dating my husband, and even to this day, one of my favorite qualities about him is that he’s the real deal. He’s never changed who he is for any job, any person or any situation. He makes no apologies for it and he doesn’t have to. It’s who he is, honest.
Second: What qualities would totally turn you off on a date? So we already said someone who isn’t being true to their being so I had to come up with another quality. For this question I chose arrogant. I have zero tolerance for someone who acts like they’re better than everyone else. We all put our pants on the same way in the morning – we’re all equal. This is a lesson I’m constantly instilling in my children, especially now, in this crazy world we live in. Equality and respect are of the utmost importance. Tearing another human being down for no good reason is unacceptable and I will not stand for it.
Third: You said you were married, what advice do you have for people that are dating on marriage, and how many years have you been married? It’s funny that the guys asked me this question because I was thinking about this just last night. I’ve been married for 14.5 years, and honestly my answer to them was also fairly easy…I told them that marriage is not about the ring, the dress or the party. Marriage is about truly liking the person you’ve chosen. You might not always love them, but you better always like them.
We joked around for a few more minutes before I was thanked profusely and made my way toward home. Of course now that conversation consumed the next 10 minutes in my brain on my walk and it got me to thinking about how hard a marriage truly is. I got married in the Catholic Church, and one of the requirements of the couple being married is to attend a Pre-Cana class. Pre-Cana is basically a class focused on a bunch of different topics that will come up during your marriage: finances, child rearing, communication, connection and spirituality to name a few. By the time we took the class, we had already been together for 4 years, what did we need this for? We begrudgingly got up early on a Saturday to go sit in a church basement to listen to a lecture being conducted by a priest and young couple, what could we possibly learn from this? For the next 8 hours we had group discussions posed around questions asked by the class leaders, couple discussion time and individual workbooks for recording answers and taking notes. By the middle of the class we were in awe of some of the reactions of the other participants to the questions being asked. Clearly there was not enough communication happening between some of the other couples. One girl in front of us was actually crying because she had no idea her fiance’ had the opinion he did on whatever the topic was the were discussing (I don’t remember). After class was over, we walked out of there with confidence and enough material for a lot of hours of conversation! In the end, we both felt it was worthwhile and we were glad we went. My husband even said it should be mandatory that everyone who gets married take a class like this. It wasn’t really religion based, it was life based and it brought up a lot of thought provoking questions.
I don’t think attending a pre-marriage class is the key to marital success. I think it provides a foundation for important topics. I think there are a lot of keys to making a marriage work. Mutual respect, admiration, support, consideration, attraction…there’s a lot of it. On some days you’ll be running on all cylinders and have it all locked up. On others you won’t have any and you’ll question whether or not it was the right decision. Every marriage will have those days, and if yours doesn’t then I’m calling your bluff.
Marriage has to endure a lot of stress. Sometimes it’s about stuff you never dreamed would (or could) happen, and other times it’s stuff you expected to be easy that turns out being hard. It’s about ignoring the little things that make you crazy and focusing on the big picture. There will be tears of fear and tears of joy. There will be a lot of laughter and some sadness. There will be a hand when you least expected it and didn’t ask for it. There will be debates (we never fight in our house, we debate), and there will be apologies. There will be love and there will be hate – especially after the kids show up. There will always be room for improvement, for more affection and for meaningful conversations. Marriage is not 50/50; it’s 100/100. This is what I know to be true from my experience, it’s not always easy, but at the end of the day I am eternally grateful for the person who stands beside me, who supports me and raises children with me.
I was fully expecting to write a way different post today, but as chance would have it, two guys stopped me on the street and asked me for my opinion, and I’m glad they did.
Here’s to a great day with your main squeeze!