“Happy Birt-day, Daddy!” Luke chirped all day long on Matt’s birthday back in June. (This post has been sitting in the drafts for two months now because I am fabulously talented at procrastinating — I should write a “how to” post on it!) We were celebrating the big two-nine for Matt, which is a big deal when you think about it, as it’s the final page in the twenties chapter of life. The day was mellow in birthday standards with a simple lunch and a cookies and cream pie masquerading as a cake, since the store was all out of ice cream cakes and our baking supplies were all packed away for our impending move.
As I watched Matt hug onto Wes as he blew out his candles, and stick his finger in the pie-posing-as-cake for a taste of the icing with Luke, my heart tripled in size and was overcome with an incredible amount of love and admiration for him. How could it be that on this sixth birthday we celebrated of his together as a couple, I found myself more head over heels than I did on the first? I mean, marriage is challenging and aggravating, and surely the law of diminishing returns applies to it, right?
I am definitely one of those people who bores easily, and when I was younger I was afraid I would never be able to get or stay married because of my ever-changing interests. My relationships never lasted more than a few months at best, or they were casual and noncommittal in nature, so nothing serious ever evolved. I loved the idea of love, and was a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic. Frequent nights full of tears and gallons of empty ice cream containers were spent watching The Notebook, An Affair To Remember, and The Holiday, because someday that would be me. It had to be! I was true love’s biggest fan, but why couldn’t I figure out how to be the leading lady in my own love story? Iris Simpkins was TOTALLY me (except I had Cameron Diaz’s haircut), to the point where I would pathetically bawl along with her and had her opening monologue memorized. (And this is funny now looking back on it, but the guy kissing at the beginning has always reminded me of Matt. Conscious coupling for the win!) What was the missing link in all of my miserably failed relationships?
Answer: self-respect and a nice guy.
I think the saying, “nice guys always finish last” applies to clueless, immature people in search of unrealistic, passion-only romances. It’s like that awful Eminem and Rihanna song (you know the one) is the anthem for their terrible relationships, and having an insane amount of drama is the catalyst for the ultimate expression of the emotion they think is love. But guess what? Those stories mostly end the same, with the result being a burnt down house and loneliness. And there is most likely a huge hole where a heart once was, and when they are standing there in the middle of the huge pile of crap they’ve created, with nobody by their side, THAT is when they realize nice guys actually are the stuff real life fairy tales are made of. At least that’s where I found myself, and it took me more than once for it to click. Don’t worry, nobody actually burned my house down, although I felt like my heart was burnt to a crisp every dang time because I am dramatic and a liiiitttle neurotic. Or maybe a lot, but whatever. I found someone to love my crazy.
Yep, staring across at me in ghetto fabulous Air Force Ones and track pants six and a half years ago was Rod, the guy I could not stand, and who I absolutely NEVER thought would be my husband. In his never-give-up attitude, he pursued, courted and married me. Or, since my maiden name is Fish, (hold the jokes, I have heard them all, folks) I suppose hook, line, and sinker would be more appropriate.
Honestly, I love our marriage. It’s not perfect, because that certainly does not exist, but it is awesome for who we are as two individuals trying to navigate how to do this whole life business. With two other humans! That we MADE! Increíble! Anyway, here are the things I attribute to keeping Rodriguez, Inc. awesome, happy and fulfilled:
1. We don’t sweat the small stuff, and we laugh. A LOT. This simple act of ending an argument with the dumbest jokes in an effort to cut the tension works 99% of the time. Really though, how can you be mad at someone who is making a complete fool of themselves with tape wrapped around their face and doing terrible celebrity impersonations?
2. There is always an open line of communication. We talk about anything and everything. Even the scary things you don’t want to talk about with anyone. Somehow or another, that uncomfortable stuff, which is most likely the junk that needs to be discussed, always surfaces and the open conversation clears the air and draws us closer.
3. We trust one another. Honestly, truly trust each other. We don’t get jealous or possessive over anything. I can’t even begin to tell you how lovely it is to be able to trust someone to that level. Every other relationship I was in before Matt was hell on wheels because there wasn’t that trust. It’s not worth the energy constantly worrying about what shady things may wait around the corner and sniffing around for drama. Instead, putting that same energy into focusing on the good and building one another up is what keeps things happy.
4. We give each other space. Matt and I are introverts through and through, so we need alone time to recharge. I feel like we are both very aware of this, and try to be conscientious of each other when one of us simply needs to hole up somewhere and just chill the freak out.
5. We also try to spend quality one-on-one time. I will admit, we have a sucky track record for getting out on dates sans kids, but we make an effort to enjoy one another’s company after the boys are down for bed every night. One of the things I love most about Matt is his intellect and sense of humor. I have the problem of assuming that everyone around me knows the answers to my ridiculous life questions, and always find myself asking things that come out of nowhere, like, beyond left field. Actually, it’s more like the empty parking lot that takes 20 minutes to walk to from left field (hence, A Random Thing Or Two-sday posts). We can and do talk about the most random topics for hours, and Matt happens to make a fantastically exceptional human encyclopedia.
6. We wholeheartedly support one another’s dreams and goals. There are enough naysayers in the world and there is certainly more than enough opposition, so we give our all to be the best cheerleaders for each other. Matt is my biggest rallying supporter and I am without a doubt his number one fan. No dream is too lofty and every goal is taken very seriously. I absolutely believe anything is possible when there is a solid support system to back it up, and Matt and I work our best to do just that.
7. You know that sex stuff? The more your do it, the more you like it, and the better it gets. I know, I know, it can feel like one more chore to check off the daily list, and sounds less than appealing when you’ve been taking care of babies all day and are covered in spit and funky smells, but it is worth it. Always. I know we need all the natural stress relievers we can get, and this one is free and fun 😉 Also, the intimacy it creates is essential to keep a relationship thriving.
8. We actively try to serve one another. Matt wins the husband of the year award for doing the dishes when they are piling out of the sink (which is every day, who am I kidding?) AND making dinner. Yes, ladies, I did land on a gold mine with this one! Thank you, thank you! This wasn’t always the case, but you can buy my book, How to Make Your Husband Do Stuff For You, for $19.99 and I will even throw in a box of chocolates at no charge when you call and order now! Seriously, I think a little conditioning never hurt anyone. If Pavlov could do it with dogs, it can definitely be done with men. I feel like this is turning into an evil plot to take over the world (AKA my husband), but let me remind you of one last key point in relation to that…
9. We have a sense of humor. Oh yeah, and laugh. A LOT.