Monday, April 20, 2009

On this day...

two years ago, I was at my parent's house watching my mom whirl around in a cleaning frenzy, answering phone calls from friends and family and florist, firming up final details. Around 4:30, I slid on my green slip dress, tugged my blue shrug over my shoulders, and headed to the church for the rehearsal on the eve of our wedding.

I still can't believe it has been two years.

This morning as Mr. B&B and I stepped out on the porch he sighed and said, "Two years ago today I was playing golf with my dad..." Then he slipped his arm around my waist and we kind of stood there for a minute, quiet, taking in the warming spring day, being in the moment.

Then off to work he went. We do, after all, have bills to pay and not everyone accepts love as payment. <3

After two years, I wonder:

Am I living up to his expectations as a person? as a wife?

How have I changed in the past two years? For the good? For the worse?

I think often spouses forget to ask each other these deep down questions, voice these deep down worries. I think maybe our marriages would be better if we did.

One of the things about marriage people forget to tell you?
A good marriage is hard work.

Recently I spoke with two dear friends living on opposite sides of the marriage spectrum. "Friend A" is facing struggles. "Friend B" is working to proactively prevent struggles. I love them both dearly. They are both amazing women. They both have husbands who have never been anything but nice to me. Both had beautiful, joyous weddings. Friend A has been married two and a half years. Friend B, near double that. Both friends are the same age.

I talked to A a couple of weeks ago. I asked her how she and her husband were doing. "We're a mess!", she exclaimed. In her words they are "living separate lives under the same roof" in spite of her ongoing efforts to improve the situation which she recognizes she can not do without his cooperation. Eventually, I point blanked asked her, "Do you think you are getting to a point where you will give up on the marriage?" She surprised me with her answer, "I did not get married to see what it was like or try it out for a little while. I got married because I want to spend my life with him and there are ups and downs and I am not giving up on him or on us." She said it with such conviction and I was stunned and proud of her.

Since it seems their biggest struggle is with communication and spending time with each other, I suggested something Friend B had just told me about.

B and her husband recently went to a marriage retreat. I asked if they were having challenges. B said they are doing just fine, but it never hurts to do things that are geared toward strengthening your marriage. They saw the retreat as an opportunity to really connect with each other while learning from some long married marriage masters. After the retreat, B told me about this wonderful, fairly simple, free-if-you-want-it-to-be exercise for improving their marriage.

Materials needed:
eight different colors of construction paper
2 pairs of scissors
receptacle for construction paper strips (ex. butter tub, sock, hat, candy dish...)

The exercise:
1. Each person picks four pieces of paper. 1 color for spring, 1 for summer, 1 for fall, 1 for winter.
2. Separate from each other, write down activities that you would like to do with your spouse for fun during each season and write on appropriately colored paper. Anything from "a walk around the block holding hands" to "wander around the art museum".
3. Keep the things you have written down secret from your spouse.
4. roll up strips of paper word side in and put in receptacle
5. once a week, pull a strip out of the receptacle and do whatever the strip of paper says is the activity for you to do together that day. If it is her turn this week, it is his turn next week and you keep alternating.

Result: You will spend some amount of time together each week and will probably talk with each other more which makes for a better partnership.

Wow, that was harder to describe than I thought and I am still not sure if I am describing it correctly.

This weekend, Mr. B&B and I decided to pick two different colors of paper.
Me: Pink
Him: Orange
I wrote down ten things I would like to do with him.
He wrote down ten things he would like to do with me.
If we make it 20 weeks, we will fill out more strips and keep going.
I am so excited for the surprise fun that is in store for us!!!!!

It seems the key is communication.

As we, The B&B's, head into our second year of marriage, do you have any advice for us?

P.S. The fun post comes tomorrow with wedding pics galore :-)


  1. I think that is a great exercise and, communication is a huge key to it all. that and lots of forgiveness, good humor and ability to compromise when it's time.

  2. Yay for trying the activity, and making it your own. Your description looks pretty good. In our bowl, there are actually 10 colors in all because each spouse also got a wild card color in addition to each season. Also the colored paper makes it look pretty and seeing it is a wonderful reminder of your intentions so I recommend a clear container.

    Advice? Hmm... I will have to think about that some more, but I do think you should ask Mr B and B the questions you posed at the beginning of this post.

  3. Great activity to get you together.
    Advice? You really asking advice from a woman who has had the best marriage going on 30 years in June? Marriage is the hardest job there is. It takes devoted attention, lots of communication and choosing battles. Fortunately..we have never had to exercise the third. We work together side by side and have never stopped talking. I like the ups and downs..going in flat circles is a bore with no room for growth and that seems to be the key. You'll grow and change..together if you both choose to do so.
    Happy Anniversary!!!

  4. I haven't any advice, but I agree. Ask Mr B & B what you started your post with.

  5. I think this a great activity. Another version is doing things following the alphabet. One person suggests doing something that starts with A, the other suggest doing something that starts with B, and so on... You end up doing more random things and that's really good fun!
    Happy anniversary! The fact that you're asking the questions is a good sign already!

  6. awesome activity. every married couple should try this whether their marriage is facing troubles or not.

  7. Hi Brainy and Beautiful :) What a lovely post. You are right that marriage is hard work and your friend was right. I have a friend who's been married about 25 years now and is more in love than ever. She and her husband act like teenagers and they each say the other is their best friend. There was a period of 2-years time that she and her husband absolutely hated each other about 10 years ago. I thought they wouldn't make it. They did marriage counseling and were committed to make it work. She told me every morning they would wake up and say, "I hate you!" "I hate you too, but we're not getting a divorce and you better be at counseling tonight!" This was their conversation for 2 years...but the committment to family and their love won out. I believe if you plan to stay married forever there will be times when you can't remember why you loved this person in the first place. People change through life, but the core of who you fell in love with at the start is always there. Sometimes you just have to dig it out again. People give up too easily, trading one problem for another. You are asking good questions.
    You have a lovely blog. Thanks for visiting me and following. I will definitely be back!
    Have a Happy Day!

  8. Remembering that it is hard work is a good start. But, I think people are too quick to blame the other instead of asking what I can do to solve the problem. That by not showing your husband respect for example he will then act out in a way you don't approve of and it could just spiral....

  9. Congratulations & what a great exercise! One of my favorite books on love & relationships is The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz (author of The Four Agreements). I look forward to more photos:)


Have a Brainy and Beautiful Day! Love reading all the Brainy and Beautiful Things you say <3