Newlywed, Newly Wise
8 Things Men Learn in the First Month of Marriage
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I have been married for 30 days. I'm a marriage newbie. But, thanks to my brilliant, kind, reasonable wife—hi honey!—I've already acquired more knowledge about myself and the mechanics of relationships than I ever did as a serial dater in my early 20s. (Not to diminish the skills I developed to avoid getting catfished by middle-aged men on Craigslist). Of course, I'm sure she taught me some of these lessons long before our wedding day, but here's what I've processed in our four weeks of wedded bliss.
1. I thought I was a good listener. I am not a good listener. Yet.
When accused of not paying attention, I have been known to attempt to demonstrate my impeccable listening skills by repeating whatever has just been said, verbatim. However, after recently responding to a specific follow-up question ("So then what are your plans tomorrow?") with a particularly inappropriate answer ("Thursday"), my wife finally decided to hold an intervention. She brought to my attention that robotically reciting a string of words does not, in fact, indicate those words have actually been processed by a brain preoccupied with Grand Theft Auto 5 and pretzels. I have since incorporated eye contact into my "listening" routine.
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2. Not all problems need fixing.
Trying to analyze my wife's troubles and offer her solutions based on logic and reason is not, she tells me, always the most helpful course of action. Apparently this isn't necessarily what she's looking for when she comes home upset over a particularly frustrating day of wiping kid-vomit from her shoes (no, she's not a carnival worker—she's a child behavior therapist). Sometimes she doesn't want to hear a lengthy treatise on "the importance of wet-naps"—she just wants to vent for a few minutes while I hug her and confirm to her that something does, indeed, suck.
3. But if one does, get fro-yo.
For when a hug won't do it, my wife has introduced me to a secret weapon that will make anything better, no matter how bad the mess: a northeast chain called Sixteen Handles that offers the best flavors of frozen yogurt I've ever tried in my life. (No, I don't work for them, BUT I AM TOTALLY WILLING TO.) Whatever your brand of choice may be—Red Mango, TCBY, Yogen Früz, or YogurtExplosionLactoseSplürge—there's nothing a little salted caramel fro-yo can't fix.
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4. You can't win a marriage.
We are both flawed, emotional human beings. Arguments should be less about who's "right" and "wrong," and more about how our actions make the other person feel. For every pet peeve of mine that my wife has been known to trigger, I've surely frustrated her as many times with my own behaviors. (Honey, if you're reading this: I'm sorry for leaving those beard trimmings in the sink—I'll clean them up when I get home.) Such a framing is much more constructive, and healthier for the relationship. Except for when she eats all my kale chips—that's just wrong.