Thursday, June 21, 2012

Celebrating Four Functional Years

The other day a coworker of Ben's said she'd like to ask me what it's like to be a woman in a functional marriage, since she'd just been through a rough divorce. My heart went out to her, and immediately I was grateful for Ben. He's a big part of making our marriage "functional."

Then, a few days later, my cousin mentioned to me how it's interesting to see how different things work in different marriages. Some couples plan their week together. Some schedule time to talk. Some share a hobby they both enjoy. She wondered how to know what works for you, when you get so many different suggestions and ideas from other couples. A thought came to me that I shared with her: It's not so much
what works for them or for you, it's the process of figuring it out. Sure, you might figure out "what works," and it might make your marriage easier, but it's never going to be a perfect solution. The important thing is that both of you are committed to figuring it out, and I think it's that process, not the end-solution, that brings you closer together.

I know this has been true in my own marriage. I feel closest to Ben when I see him making an effort to understand my needs, and when I try to understand his. Eventually, we'll come up with a solution, but again, it's the process that brings us together.

So here's my "four year" theory on maintaining a functional marriage, not because it's brilliant or earth-shattering, but because the question deserves an answer: A functional marriage requires both a husband and a wife to make each other's happiness their first priority. It's easy to let yourself come first, but that's just not what marriage is about. 

When you fall in love, your feelings are strong, but they're mostly about you: " I feel so happy," "I feel so good about myself," "I've never felt this way before," "I want to be with him/her all of the time!" It's good to have these feelings in marriage, too, but the longer you're together, the more you think about the other person, "I want to make you happy," "I want to take care of your needs," "I want you to feel loved," or "You don't listen," "You never take out the trash," "You make everything difficult."

I think the more you direct a positive, loving attitude toward each other and try to meet each other's needs - physically, emotionally, financially, etc. - the more functional your marriage will be, and you'll actually be happier and more content than if you put your own needs first. As they always say, it's not easy - especially when kids come along - and it takes an effort on both parts, but if you're both committed to the life-long process of "figuring out what works," your marriage will grow stronger and stronger, even when life gets harder and harder.

Well, I'm sure this perspective will never make it into a magazine or anything, but I hope it will make a difference to someone, somewhere today, especially if that someone is my husband, Ben, on our four year anniversary today! I hope he knows how much I appreciate him. In his own words (from a text I received last night):

"4 years down, 4 ever to go. I am so excited to spend it with you."


  1. Seeing the picture of you two and Ben's text made me all fuzzy inside. Awww man, you two are too cute. :) Happy Anniversary!

  2. I second what Karen said. And Happy Anniversary! I appreciate your perspective and advice. That's something I've been working on, but I do find I am happier when I try to make Chris feel happy and loved. You're so wise!

  3. I love you guys! Happy Anniversary!