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Monday, July 22, 2013

Like the One You're With - Advice for Married Folks and Those Who Want to Be

I like my wife.

And recently, I noticed something about the couples my wife and I tend to become good friends with. The husband and wife really, really like each other. Not in a "you're shmoopy, no, you're shmoopy" mushy-I'm-gonna-puke-because-they're-so-lovey-dovey kind of way. It's more that you can see that each spouse appreciates the other one for who he or she is.

We celebrated 13 years of marriage last month. Of course that isn't the milestone of all milestones, but it's something!

 If you are going to spend unlimited time with someone (unlimited!) you better like them as a human being.

I love asking people who are engaged one question, "What do you like most about your fiance?" If the only response I get is, "I like how he treats me," I feel bad for that couple two years down the road. That response says much more about her than it does him. At best, it shows that she hasn't really thought about what she specifically likes about him. At worst, it may show that she doesn't really like him.

My wife and I have played a game since the earliest days we knew each other. It's simple. We ask the question, "Why do you like me today?" It's a great exercise because it makes you think of something you noticed (and in turn forces you to really notice, later on) what you like about  your partner. If you're dating, and the only response to that question is something like, "I like that you're nice to me," watch out! If you're married, look closer tomorrow so you can have a good answer.

A quick example. My wife is the greatest, the GREATEST storyteller of all time. Why? She has an ability to take a simple, almost mundane story, and spin the greatest of all yarns. She is hilariously expressive, she uses her hands, she makes up words (geeshinolay!), and occasionally she may, ever so slightly, exaggerate for effect; her inflection, her voice, her face - they all are employed in the telling of the story. I can't help but smile when I watch her tell a story. In fact, I'm smiling right now as I think of it.

You need to be friends with your spouse. The best of friends. You need to like each other. Will it always be easy? Heck no. Will there be difficulty? Of course. There are a ton of other things that are important in a marriage: similar values, spiritual compatibility, physical attraction, sense of humor, but friendship really encompasses the whole thing. Be your spouse's friend, and the rest will fall into place.

One last thing. There is nothing, and I mean nothing better than lying in bed after years of marriage, holding hands, interlocked, after an exhausting day of changing diapers, chastening children, charring burgers, and chasing dreams, silently saying, "We are doing this together; the two of us, as a team, as friends, are living life together. Nothing can break us apart."

If you have forgotten what you liked about your spouse so many years ago, pay attention. You'll see it. And you might surprise them when look at them and just say, "I like you."