Anniversaries, Bad Service, Toddler Tantrums and Lessons I’ve Learned
Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. Our children, and my parents, joined Josh and I at Corner Kitchen, one of our favorite restaurants, for brunch.* It was pretty terrible. Imagine if you will a surly waiter, slow and inattentive service, and the world’s most overtired toddler. There was screaming, there was crying, there was not nearly enough coffee, there was a tipped over vase and water everywhere and that was just me. Haha. Kidding. Mostly.
It was just really bad and I left feeling sad and angry and hugely disappointed. I had been looking forward to this brunch, to this day. It’s special day and it was ruined, and that totally sucks.
But then I drove home in my nice, comfortable car; to my nice, comfortable house; and put my beautiful, healthy children in their beds for a nap. Then I sat on my new couch with my laptop and a hard cider while I watched my handsome husband vacuum and then mop our floor before he washed the dog, and started thinking – I’m awfully lucky to be feeling this pissy.
Then I started thinking about how dealing with my disappointment this morning, was a lot like making a marriage work, and I decided to write it down and share it with all of you.
My parents kept our kids last night so that Josh and I could have the evening alone. Josh made me a lovely dinner (steak, roasted potatoes and asparagus), we saw a movie for grown ups (Mad Max Fury Road – See, I can be a good wife), then we went for drinks and cake at West First. It was a lovely night. Then we slept through the night knowing that we would not be awakened at any point by toddlers. Then this morning we sat on the couch together and drank coffee. No one complained that we weren’t watching Dora. No one wiped something gooey on me. It was blissful. Somehow, I thought that brunch was going to be the same. I imagined smiling cherub faces. I imagined quiet conversation. I set myself up for failure.
The same thing goes with marriage. It isn’t going to be perfect. At the beginning of a lot of relationships you imagine a lot of apple picking and matching sweaters. You imagine that he is going to make you so happy. Everything is going to be perfect and sparkly. Then about a month in you start talking about who is going to cook what, and who is going to clean what, and how your money will be spent, and it gets messy. Then you have kids. (Ka-blammo! The earth erupts!)
If you walk into marriage with unrealistic expectations, it is going to be bad. You just can’t. You are both human and people do stupid, thoughtless things. If you can remember that, you’ll be a lot happier.
Rolling with the Punches:
Redding didn’t sleep well at Nana and Papa’s – shocking – he’s two. He never does anything that we want him to do. Josh spent the entire time we waited for our food walking him around the block because he could not be in the restaurant without causing a scene. I can be upset that Redding’s crankiness ruined my brunch, or I can be happy that we ate, and then go home and put him to bed.
Flexibility is hard. I like doing things my way, in my time. With toddlers, and husbands, this doesn’t always work. I like my sheets at the bottom of the bed tucked in, he does not. I like throw pillows, he does not. Josh is incredibly particular while grocery shopping, I am not. From things as big as buying a house, to as little as how dishes are washed, we disagree.
I’ve had to learn that it doesn’t matter how something gets done, as long as it gets done. I could be inflexible, and get stuck on doing it my way, but that ends poorly. I’ve had to bend and stretch and it isn’t always easy, but my marriage is better for it.
It is so much easier after a bad dining experience to just leave the restaurant and never go back. I don’t enjoy the confrontation of telling someone that I’m unhappy with them. But this morning I did and in return I got a lovely phone call from the Corner Kitchen where we discussed openly what the problem was and what could be done to fix it. There was no blaming, there was no defensiveness. I left feeling heard and respected.
This is THE best lesson I’ve ever learned in my marriage. Men and women are different. He and I are different. I cannot expect him to read my mind, or know what I need all the time. I have to tell him. He has to tell me, and we have to come together to solve the problem with patience and respect. As nice as it is to pout for three days and give him the silent treatment, that doesn’t work in real life. Everyone just gets pissy and it ends with disappointment and bad feelings. If you can listen, and be heard, and solve the problem together, it brings you together with a new enthusiasm, stronger than ever.
I didn’t know this morning, as I sat at the table shoveling food in my face so that we could get out of there and away from the horror, that I was celebrating my marriage. Celebrating how we’ve grown and what we’ve learned over the last seven years. I am a better person that I was seven years ago, and I’m excited to see who I will be in seven more.
*We really do love this restaurant – it is 45 minutes from our house and we’ve eaten there 3 times in the last 3 months. The food is amazing and up until today we’ve never had a bad experience. Also, I wrote on the comment card that we’d had a less than stellar time and I received a phone call from the manager within 2 hours of our leaving to apologize and make it up. I have the utmost respect for the staff there and will definitely be back.