Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marriage Advice

It is exactly a week before my wedding. 

Tomorrow I leave for Israel with my fiance, dress in hand awaiting the big day to celebrate with friends and family from the U.S. (who I am eternally grateful to for shlepping to Israel) and Israel.

Today was my last day of work until March 26, so I should be focused on the wedding. I should be excited. I should be happy.

So I take my emotional temperature (I hope that doesn’t make me a sociopath,) and I’m definitely happy, perhaps the happiest I’ve ever been.  I won the lottery in husbands to be, and we’re pretty much as perfect as possible for each other.

But a question that everyone is asking me is sort of freaking me out,

“Are you excited?’

So I lie, and say “yes” because I mean I think I am excited. But I just don’t really know what that feels like. I know what anxiety feels like. I know what fun feels like. But I have trouble with “excited.”

It reminds me of that poster that they have in Hebrew (and I’m sure in every other language) “How are you feeling today?” I spend less time learning the words than wondering what the hell the smiley faces are supposed to be expressing.

I may have trouble with excitement, but I have no trouble with love. I feel so lucky and blessed to have found love. I am thankful every day. 

So as I was packing, and trying to figure out how to seem more excited, I was also thinking of how many books to bring (can’t bring myself to go digital). Then I thought, maybe I should not be reading just any old book, but something to prepare myself for my upcoming marriage.

I thought about friends who pray and/or read psalms. But they just don’t (sorry to whomever I’m offending) inspire me, although some of the poetry is beautiful..

So I thought about turning to eastern religions, and reading marriage meditations or quotes by famous authors on love. But that also didn’t appeal to me.

So I still don’t have an answer for how exactly I should prepare for holy matrimony. I am going to a mikvah, a ritual bath, but because it is mandatory in Israel (will be written about later), I’m not sure how inspiring that will be, either (although I’ll keep a semi-open mind).

But then I had a thought to look atthe advice that friends and readers gave me a few months ago when I got engaged in the hopes that I would indeed write an article such as this one (and get some good advice).

A ton of people said, don’t go to bed angry. As an insomniac, I just need to go to bed in general, but ok, I can do that one.

Below are the quotes I really liked, not because I necessarily agree with them (although I actually have no clue if I agree with them), but because they were really heartfelt.  I tried to categorize them and was not able to include everyone’s advice (but I do appreciate it!) Also, if you didn't get the chance to comment last time, please feel free to do so now. 

Marriage comes First

I don't think there is anything you can do to guarantee happiness during marriage, but one important thing is understanding that when you get married your new family of choice should take precedence over your family of origin. Not that you shouldn't care about your birth family, but your priority should always be your new unit.
Age 36 married 4.5 years

Always put each other first. – age 29, married 1.5

Always try to make time for just the two of you. Once you have a family it becomes more difficult but it's important to have some time to yourselves
. Age 30 4.5 years

Oh, and say "I love you" and mean it every day!
Age 57, married 27 years

Love the person for who he/she is and will be

Accept your mate for what they are from the beginning. It's not fair to think you are going to shape them into your "dream mate" after the marriage. Be respectful, supportive, and proud of the person you married, when you are alone together and when you are out with others
.- age 62, married 26 years

Your spouse is just as imperfect as you are. Fill your relationship with smiles and grace more than eye rolling and ridiculous expectations.
– age 35 married 14 years.
·     If I am willing to allow, encourage and provided growth (emotional, intellectual, spiritual) for my partner, I will create both stability and the freedom for sustained relationship.
·         it's not static.
·         it's dynamic.
·         and hard.
Age 40, 18.5 years

Fight Fair

When you have fights, so much of the reason they drag on longer than necessary is ego and pride. let your spouse IN. let them know why you're angry, or why you see it one way and they see it another way. It will make the next disagreement that much easier to resolve if you both know where you're coming from. 
age 34, married 4 years together for 9

I read about a study in which people who had happy marriages never crossed a line into calling their spouses names. You could say, "This was a crappy decision you made" but not "You are crappy." Important distinction. Age 45, married 15 years

It's more important to be fair when you argue than any other time. Be kind, even when you disagree, especially when you disagree. Even if you are right.
Age 39, married 11 years

Stick with it

Commit not to divorce. And I don't mean that in a casual way. I mean in a serious way that comes from the very center of your being, from your faith
….No matter how crummy you are to your partner. No matter how annoying he is to you. You are loved no matter what, and mistakes have time to be corrected. It's a kind of love that supersedes all. -
age 35, married 10 years

Practice patience. 
Marriage is for the long-term: people can change and will given lots of opportunity. Life gets lifey, so bad times will come and, with patience, will go. By being patient, we also become witness to the miracles of who another person really is and, God willing, who our children become
. – age 38 married 7 years

advice is stick with it when things get hard. Too many people believe that when things get really tough its best to call it quits. Sticking with it when things are hardest takes faith and strength... But it's worth it if you really love someone. A happy marriage is worth fighting for –age 30, married 6 years

Committing to love another through the fairy tale, through job losses, through sickness, through own self concept issues..through not easy..but worth it!
 – age 36, married 15 years

When Harry Met Sally Love Stories


Dude of The House said...

Best wishes for a safe trip and start of your new life. I'm honored that my advice was used and hope you will take it to heart when either of your (birth) families tries to pull one of you in a direction you don't wish.

Mazel Tov!

sarita wheatley said...

Love this post. All I can say is that when you wake up the day after your wedding you'll love each other more than ever. It's a bond created by marriage that makes you feel closer than you thought you were. (Yet another reason gay marriage should be legalized, but that's a Scarpeta blog for a different day). Mazel Tov!

Ruth said...

A wonderful post! You have certainly expressed your excitement in your own way. The not knowing how to feel is because you are crossing over to a new identity-becoming married, you add a "better half" to who you have been. A new n wonderful era to your life.
The mikva. As a Jew the Mikva is a part f the legacy of Jewish marriage. You know that I've been hanging with the orthodox crowd, and you can certainly tell when they are free to have relations. Lol.
Mikva is likely to be a singular act for you, just as the marriage ceremony is. Embrace it. Learn about it. Like putting on the wedding dress to walk down the isle it is a part of the transformation.
Love you and Lior!!! Best wishes for Every Happiness

Diapeepees said...

How did I miss that you were getting married? I feel like I've gotten to know you a little here, but had no idea! How little we truly know! I'm totally fascinated with the fact that this will be in Israel....and John will love to know that you found someone with whom to connect...Much love to you on this trip!

Erin J. said...

Sharna, I am so happy for you and yours! I wish you a wonderful wedding and a wonderful life together!

I'll be married next weekend, and I completely understand about being "excited." People ask me that, too. I don't feel excited, because everything just feels perfectly right. Excitement has something to do with nerves and anticipation, I think, but when you're lucky enough to have found someone you truly think you were meant to spend your life with, that just feels incredibly comfortable and incredibly calm. I'm really, really happy for you. :)

Olga S. said...

Congratulations, Sharna! I'm so happy for you! I can't wait to see the pictures!

I don't have marriage advice since I believe that none of us really know what we're doing :), but I did read a book that you should take with you: Elizabeth Gilbert's "Committed." Have you read it?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharna! I love this post. While I know very little about what makes a successful marriage, I think that your questioning, investigation, musing, wondering, and honesty are kind of in line with a long tradition of verbal wordplay in Jewish tradition which uses questioning, verbal energy, and doubt to interpret Jewish texts and create halacha. And people are still studying Rabbinic texts and following halacha--so obviously, something about that approach works.

Reminds me of this poem:

Wishing you so much happiness in the next few days! And, of course, for the days after that :)