The Old Ball and Chain

You know how you hear jokes all the time about how unhappy married people are?  You know, they never have sex, they resent each other, they always have to ask permission to do the things they want to do, and usually the answer is no.  It’s all nicely summed up in one phrase: “the ol’ ball and chain”.  Yeah, that was totally my goal when we got married – to weigh my wife down and never let her do anything.  Hi honey!  You’re not allowed to do anything fun!


"I, Bird, vow to take you, Turtle, and make your life very difficult. Also I will always ask you for a puppy, even after you've said no."

If you hadn’t noticed from pretty much every marriage related post I’ve written, we really tried to go into this thing with our eyes wide open.  Here’s what we want in our marriage, here’s what we don’t want. We know it’ll be hard sometimes, but we’ll work through it.  All that good stuff.

Funny, though, how things sneak up on you.  Two months in, we realize: we are not giving enough.

In the course of planning our wedding and preparing to start our marriage, I remember reading somewhere that one key to a successful marriage is always giving more than you expect to receive.  If both people are trying to give more than they’re expecting to get, every gift is a pleasant surprise, something to be grateful for, something to appreciate.

Well, Turtle and I sort of, ahem, forgot that for a bit there.  I think that part of it has been the chaos of the last week: Thanksgiving, petsitting, quitting my job, struggling to make things work every day.  We’re both a little frazzled and this comes out in, “Can you walk the dog? Can you clean up the cat poop?  Why didn’t you give the kitten water? Will you take out the trash?” And even more than asking each other to do chores, there’s a lot of “Can you get me a drink? Can you turn on that light for me? Can you do something I could do just as easily but I’m lazy and comfortable and don’t want to get up?”

the "ahh sometimes marriage takes work" face

Here’s what we should be doing: trying to do it for each other.  If I want a drink, I should get my drink and offer her one, and she should do the same.  Look! We’ll both feel taken care of, we’ll both feel like we are actively taking care of something important (our relationship), and everyone will have drinks!  Fun solution!

And so, I suppose, reality kicks in.  As much as we can prepare for marriage and make all those promises about always loving and caring for each other, sometimes we are going to slip up.  Yes, we knew that already, but we hadn’t gone and done it yet (while married, anyway).  Also, as Turtle pointed out, this is far from the big things we will have to deal with during our marriage: this is smaller than finances, than death, than hard family things; but it is also the small things that make us strong enough to handle those big things.

So here’s to a happy Sunday.  Here’s to starting a new week and turning over a new leaf – or just a leaf that we sort of forgot about and fell behind the couch and we only just found it again.  Here’s to giving more.

What relationship bumps caught you by surprise, how did you find them, and what are you doing about them?



Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, Relationships

6 responses to “The Old Ball and Chain

  1. I so relate. D and I have to re-learn this one every few weeks. 😉

    • Yeah… I guess THIS is what we meant when we talked about doing the work. The work is never really DONE, but that’s sort of what keeps us all together, right?

  2. I’ve been doing that a lot lately — asking the Beagle to do easy things for me that I could easily do. Your post is a bit of a wake up that I shouldn’t take advantage of so much.

    I’ve read about giving more than receiving too. I think it’s good words to aim for.

  3. Kristine

    Actually, in our relationship it has become very important to learn how to ask each other to do things. Both of us are terrible at it. If I needed his help for small things like opening jars or big things like emotional support during times of crisis, I never ever asked. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know I could. It drove him nuts.
    But he is much the same way. In fact, on Saturday, we were in the car and he dropped some change for the toll bridge. As he was driving, I reached down to pick it up but he beat me to it. “One day you’ll let me help you,” I said. “One day.”

    Relationships are always interesting waters.

    • This is such an interesting point! I think it took us both a really long time to be able to ask each other and say yes to each other when we did ask… and now we’ve shifted to the other end of the spectrum. The trick, I guess, is finding the balance between asking and relying and trusting and taking advantage/feeling taken advantage of.

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