About The Wife Hat

I missed the Valentine’s Day window by a precious mile. Really, though, is it ever the wrong time to talk about love?

Don’t worry. If I didn’t have time to write about love on February 14th, you can be assured I didn’t have time to write a starry-eyed sonnet either. So stick with me here, and we’ll have some real talk instead.

The Real Talk

There are a lot of trends I don’t buy into. For instance, the need to cuddle has a lot more to do with primary love language than gender. And then there’s that ever-pervasive and mystifying dichotomy of love and respect. Everyone who knows me knows I value respect every bit as much as love. It’s not a case of men getting one and women getting the other. Marriage is complex. That’s why it takes work. There isn’t a universal formula for getting it right, though don’t tell the publishing industry I said that or they might never give me a second look. It seems like a fair penalty for damaging their sales potential.

Sugar and Spice

So if you were hoping for the sugar and the spice- all the spice!- I’m sorry to inform you I will not be bringing the hotter flavors to this post. Spice is important in every marriage, for darn sure, but you know... You have your secrets and I have mine. I promise mine are not better. However, if you want a little more spice in your life, I will gladly defer to and refer you to my friend Nicole. She has the right balance of exciting and tasteful, and is genuinely passionate about passion in marriage. It’s a beautiful thing. Cross my heart.

The Secret to Compatibility

I like my husband. It’s a fact. Not just love but also like. This, too, takes work. Why? Because we are two people with varying interests. Some of our interests are vastly different. My husband does not do poetry. I might be a little resentful, in the most good-natured way possible. But we do have common interests, and those are the ones we cultivate. That’s the key. We’re both the hobbity sort who like being home all day playing video games, with plenty of tea and comfort food at our disposal. We would both rather go out for burger and fries than clink wine glasses together by candlelight and eat things we can’t pronounce. We will [still!] gross you out with our popcorn kisses and arm squeezes and constant “I love you”s. We go through a lot of emoticons in a week. Singing fake opera to the kids is the best. thing. ever. It’s a regular dinner theater sometimes.

Some of our interests were already shared, but discovering new ones together is a worthy pursuit. Finding things that we both like to explore or create does wonders for our compatibility. This takes time and attention, like all things that need to grow.

Sometimes Romance is What You Don’t Do

Let’s talk about a big killer of the romantic buzz. The gift-giving. Does the word gift make you shudder? I don’t know. Maybe you are excellent at the shopping and always yield good results. Maybe that’s how marriage works for you. That is terrific.

As for me, it is a stressor and a guilt inducer. My husband is pretty content, and I am pretty averse to needless stuff in the house. I also have very little energy or time to shop in this season of our lives. So for the last few holidays, and I hope this continues as a trend, we have given each other the gift of no expectations. He doesn’t have to buy me anything and I don’t have to buy him anything. There is no worry and flurry over flowers, greeting cards, or cake. (Ok. I might worry a little about cake.) We celebrate each other and our togetherness. We still give each other gifts at times, but there is no pressure of obligation, and that makes a huge difference.

Communication is of Highest Priority

If there’s one thing I learned in the last decade, it’s that communication has to be top priority at all times. If I have a need or a desire, I have to ask for it. If I have a problem, it needs addressing before it has time to boil over. I did not learn this from the books. The books told me I had to anticipate needs and make my husband as comfortable as possible in conventional ways. They told me that men love sex more than women. (Oh, there’s a dash of pepper for ya!) They told me that God’s best was for me to be demure and service-oriented to the point of doing all the work he didn’t volunteer for. Clearly, I read the wrong books. They made my first two years of marriage a lot harder than they had to be. Maybe we should put the books down and just talk to each other more. Or maybe we should read the books together and discuss them.

Never assume anything before talking it out. Now there’s a formula I can work with.

In Conclusion

The truth about true love is that happily ever after doesn’t come easily. We have to want it and we have to work at it. We have to look at conflict as opportunity, not war. Love means having each others’ backs. When there is a problem, we have to separate it from the person.  The problem isn’t us, it’s between us, and it is best solved when working, speaking, thinking together. 10 years have come and gone, and this hat is still in fashion. I’d wear it anyway, even if it weren’t, though.

Here’s to you Josh, my partner in everything except crime, because at least one of us has to watch the kids. May there be many more decades of creativity, discovery, and communication, my love.

Jamie Bagley