You’ve heard the expression that somebody is “marriage material”. What does that even mean? Are you marriage material?
I always told my kids in their early years of navigating friendships to be the kind of friend they would want to have. I’ve tried to take my own advice and I’ve also told myself (over and over) to be the kind of person I would want to be married to. I hope I am!
What I mean is I’d also want to be married to someone who is kind, funny, patient, and hard-working, so I ought to be those things for my guy. You understand what I’m saying.
The idea is that you try to be the best version of yourself you can be so you don’t make each other completely and utterly sorry about being together.
We hear all the time that anything worth having is worth working hard for and I believe it. It doesn’t mean I always like hard work, but when I stick with something that sometimes feels like it’s kicking my tail, I’m usually glad I did. When you’re proud of your health or fitness level, it’s because you’ve spent time working on your nutrition, cardio, muscle strength, flexibility, your sport—whatever. If you have a solid friendship, it’s because you’ve put in the time required to get to know somebody, have fun with them, and find a balance between the give-and-take required in a good friendship. If you have a disciplined dog it’s because you took the time to train Fido and teach him to be a good dog.
It’s the same with anything—your school work, your profession, your hobbies and talents. If you take the time to make something good, it very likely will be.
This month, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. What?! I keep marveling at that number because I always thought people who were married for 25 years were old, but we’re not! Well, we’re old to some people, but not to ourselves. 25 years is a long time to be with somebody and sometimes it has been the hardest work!
I thought about what it means to be the kind of person I’d want to be married to and I could come up with a list of ‘Be Your Best Self’ things easily enough but then I was really struck by something Melody Ross said in an article she wrote a while back. She has a powerful story but I was particularly struck by this:
. . . I had fallen into the myth that marriage is a 50/50 proposition, if you give 50%, then I’ll give 50%, and then we’ll always be happy. Well, what happens if one partner or another cannot, for whatever reason, give 50%? What happens if your partner is TAKING 50%, leaving a deficit? That’s when you have to decide whether or not you are willing to give 150% to keep your marriage at 100%.
I, like most of us, had never considered this. What if I wasn’t willing or able to give my 50%? Would my husband be willing and able to give 150% and vice versa?
How strong is that commitment to the two of us being together? How much do we luv love luv each other and how important is our marriage? I had to think about how often in 25 years there was definitely not a 50/50 balance. Sometimes it was more like 60/40 and there were times when it was even more out of balance than that.
For real. And those were the times when we could have very easily thrown in the towel.
I was brought back to Melody’s 50% thought and realized that one or the other of us put in the time and pulled more than our share to get things back in balance.
Because it mattered.
Our relationship was worth having and worth working hard for. It always helped that at the heart of it all, we really cared about each other and liked each other.
This is what I’m going to adopt as my criteria for being the kind of person I would want to be married to. If, when the chips are down, am I going to dig down to what fundamentally matters and give more than the other person is until we’re back in balance? I would want that from my husband and I think that’s what he would want from me. To be fair, I will ask him. We’re not perfect and would be lying fools to pretend we are, but other than anything I could put into a ‘Be Your Best Self’ list, I think that’s what it comes down to for me—loving the way you want to be loved and putting in the time and the hard work to make it good. What does it mean for you to be the kind of person you would want to be friends with or be married to? I would love to know.