A marriage isn’t all sunshine, roses, chocolates, and sweet nothings. It takes hard work, compromise, and honest discussion. In the interest of taking a more realistic, less Hallmark-worthy approach to Valentine’s Day, I figured it would be refreshing to share how my husband, Dave, and I approach the less- than-glamorous aspects of our marriage. Like many 21st century couples, Dave and I both work full-time jobs. We also happen to work opposite schedules. I keep pretty traditional hours, though I occasionally have to stay at the office for a few extra hours. Dave, on the other hand, works an overnight shift at Ford from Tuesday through Saturday. You don’t have to be a scheduling wizard to realize that doesn’t leave us much time to spend together. But we’re determined to make the most of it. In fact, our differing schedules have created a tradition that is wholly unique to us. Every morning from 6:30 to 7, we take the time to sit down and share a precious 30 minutes. Dave is coming home from work and I’m preparing to head off to it. This half hour may not seem like much but we cherish it. Barring emergencies, we never miss it. In the evenings, the only time we get to spend together is when I pass Dave on the highway, so the mornings are non-negotiable for us. Work schedules aren’t the only things Dave and I have to work around. We have the same values, but not necessarily in the same order. I love to travel, for example, and he’s more focused on at-home concerns. To Dave, paying off the mortgage is more satisfying than booking a trip. He’d forgo a vacation every year to pay off a little more of the house. I lean the other way. When we butt heads on matters like these, we have to figure out a way to find a middle ground. In this case, it was pretty simple. I asked Dave what his top priority for the year is. He said it was paying down a certain amount on our house. I replied, “Dave, I’m totally on board, but if you really want my buy-in, I need you to make room for my top priority as well.” We decided that we would focus on the house this year while simultaneously planning a vacation for 2020. Understanding that FINDING THE MIDDLE GROUND HOW DAVE AND I MAKE OUR MARRIAGE WORK
Dave knows where the cleaning supplies are, and how to use them!
your spouse’s needs won’t always be the same as your own is so important for a healthy marriage.
Of course, there are times when our goals line up perfectly and we don’t have to play a game of give-and-take. We are both always working on our health. Given our schedules, working out together is impossible, but we recently discovered a way to have a joint investment in fitness even while we’re apart. It’s called Run the Year, a program that challenges groups of people to run 2,019 miles in 2019. We’ve even gotten two of my kids involved, making it a fun group initiative. We may all run our miles separately, but we get to watch each other’s progress and combine our individual efforts into a group goal. Pretty cool, right?
Melissa and Dave at Universal Studios this past July
During this time of year, we can pretend that romance works like magic. In my experience, that’s just not how it goes. Don’t get me wrong — I love getting a box of dark chocolate on Feb. 14 as much as the next woman — but what’s better than a man who knows where the cleaning supplies are and isn’t afraid to use them? The most important thing is that Dave and I both understand marriage isn’t always easy. We work on it together, which makes our moments of bliss all the more meaningful.
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