What Did I Ever Give You?

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Rather, your perfect partner has problems that you feel good about dealing with. But how do you get good at forgiveness? What does that actually mean?

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And finally, pick your battles wisely. One piece of advice that comes to mind: choose your battles. Some things matter, [and are] worth getting upset about. Most do not. Like Chinese water torture: minor in the short term, corrosive over time. Consider: is this a little thing or a big thing? Is it worth the cost of arguing? Eventually, your kids grow up, your obnoxious brother-in-law will join a monastery, and your parents will die. You got it. They add up. Even cleaning up when you accidentally pee on the toilet seat seriously, someone said that — these things all matter and add up over the long run.

This becomes particularly important once kids enter the picture.

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The big message I heard hundreds of times about kids was, put the marriage first. Parents are expected to sacrifice everything for them. But the best way to raise healthy and happy kids is to maintain a healthy and happy marriage. A good marriage makes good kids. So, keep your marriage the top priority. Make time for it. The sooner everyone accepts that, the happier everyone is. We all have things we like to do and hate to do; we all have things we are good at and not so good at.

TALK to your partner about those things when it comes to dividing and conquering all the crap that has to get done in life. Most people have an image in their mind of how a relationship should work. The fact is relationships are imperfect, messy affairs. The common theme of the advice about the logistics of running a relationship was be pragmatic. If the wife is a lawyer and spends 50 hours at the office every week, and the husband is an artist and can work from home most days, it makes more sense for him to handle most of the day-to-day parenting duties.

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My wife loves cleaning no, seriously , but she hates smelly stuff. So, guess who gets dishes and garbage duty? On top of that, many couples suggested laying out rules for the relationship more generally. To what degree will you share finances? How much debt will be taken on or paid off? How much can each person spend without consulting the other? What purchases should be done together, or do you trust each other to shop separately? How do you decide which vacations to go on?

Have meetings about this stuff. I think the most important thing that I have learned in those years is that the love you feel for each other is constantly changing.

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So even if you feel like you could never love your partner any more, that can change, if you give it a chance. I think people give up too soon. You need to be the kind of person that you want your spouse to be.

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When you do that, it makes a world of difference. Out of the hundreds of emails I received, one stuck with me.

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  • A nurse wrote to say that she used to work with a lot of geriatric patients. The key to success is to understand that few of those waves have anything to do with the quality of the relationship — people lose jobs, family members die, couples relocate, switch careers, make a lot of money, lose a lot of money. Your job as a committed partner is to simply ride the waves with the person you love, regardless of where they go.

    Because ultimately, none of these waves last. And you simply end up with each other. I felt as if we were floating along, doing a great job of co-existing and co-parenting, but not sustaining a real connection. It deteriorated to the point that I considered separating from her; however, whenever I gave the matter intense thought, I could not pinpoint a single issue that was a deal breaker.

    I knew her to be an amazing person, mother, and friend. I bit my tongue a lot and held out hope that the malaise would pass as suddenly as it had arrived. Fortunately, it did, and I love her more than ever. So, the final bit of wisdom is to afford your spouse the benefit of the doubt. If you have been happy for such a long period, that is the case for good reason. Be patient and focus on the many aspects of her that still exist that caused you to fall in love in the first place. As always, it was humbling to see the wisdom and life experience out there. There were many, many, many excellent responses, filled with kind, heartfelt advice.

    It was hard to choose the ones that ended up here, and in many cases, I could have put a dozen different quotes that said almost the exact same thing. Exercises like this amaze me because when you ask thousands of people for advice on something, you expect to receive thousands of different answers. It shows you how similar we really are. And how no matter how bad things may get, we are never as alone as we think.

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    I would end this by summarizing the advice in one tidy section. But once again, a reader named Margo did it far better than I ever could:. That means emotionally, physically, financially, or spiritually. Make nothing off-limits to discuss. Never shame or mock each other for the things you do that make you happy. Write down why you fell in love and read it every year on your anniversary or more often.

    Write love letters to each other often. When kids arrive, it will be easy to fall into a frenzy of making them the only focus of your life…do not forget the love that produced them.


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    You must keep that love alive and strong to feed them love. Spouse comes first. Each of you will continue to grow. Bring the other one with you. Be the one that welcomes that growth. Be passionate about cleaning the house, preparing meals, and taking care of your home. This is required of everyone daily—make it fun and happy and do it together.