Secret: Relationships are all about compromise and women must do most of the compromising!
I went for my weekly manicure a few months ago and had very non-manicure small talk with my manicure lady. I will call her the Nail Lady.
I should start off by telling you that I have been getting my nails done by the same woman every week for the past 10 years. You could definitely say that we know each other pretty well, and she would tell you that she watched me grow up and is kind of a mother figure of sorts for me. She is a wonderful lady in her late fifties, got married as a virgin to her fist love, has three kids, and imigrated here from Kazakhstan (Hi, Borat!) 20 years ago. She is old-fashioned, traditional, simple, and hard-working and has aspired to be the best wife and mother as she possibly could be.
Usually, during our one hour a week, we discuss current events, cooking, her kids, and my job. About a year ago, after I got engaged, she would ask me about my husband (fiance at the time) and tell me old stories about dating her husband. This brought us even closer and our conversations grew deeper. A few months ago I had big news. My wedding was days away and I was very excited. She was very excited, too! Apparently, she had plenty of marriage wisdom to share with me and I have to admit that I was not ready to hear it. I had all kinds of different advice given to me from all kinds of different people as the day approached and after a while I just smiled and tuned out. I had way more important things to worry about such as practicing our first dance, finalizing our music selection, and writing my toast. But when my nail lady started with her advice I couldn't tune out. I was too distured by what she had to say! Her opening line to me was "Remember, marriage is all about compromise" and I thought yeah yeah I know this by now but then she followed with "and you have to be the one who does the compromising!" What? Was she serious? Maybe that's what they taught women back in Kazakhstan but that is NOT how it is today! Not in America! For any marriage to work both people need to compromise equally. Men and women are equals and therefore one should not have to do more than the other. These are all the thoughts that started raging in my head as she proceeded to share more of her glorious wisdom:
"Men are how they are and they never change. If you love your husband, you have to respect him and do what makes him happy. Women have many hearts. Men only have one heart. Women can get hurt and can still be productive, go to work, multi-task, and have love in their other hearts. Men can't. They are fragile. They are all babies when they get hurt or sick. They need to be taken care of. They need lots of love. If sometimes he upsets you just let it go. Pick your battles. A woman can always find a way to forgive. Always greet him with a smile. Always be a pleasure to be around. Always look your best and keep things neat. Neatness keeps them calm. Always make sure there is food on the table...even if it's takeout. Never reject him in bed more than three times in a row. If you always make sure to keep him happy then he will make you happy back. Most importantly, remember, men only need three things: food, sex, and rest."
Woah, lady! That sounds like an awful lot that I need to do to ensure my husband's happiness! What is he going to do for me? How is he supposed to make me happy? I can't be the one who keeps doing and doing! I want to receive! Out of the great respect that I have for my nail lady I didn't voice any of my thoughts. I figured that she didn't know any better/different and who was I to be teaching her. I just smiled and told her how much I appreciated her giving me so much advice. I actually felt bad for her for not knowing any other way. I thought she was somehow limited in her marriage. Like she had no weight and that her husband probably had no respect for her. She claimed to have been happily married for 35 years but I was ready to bet that she must not know what happiness is. Not 'real' happiness.
I have now been married for all of three months and I have to admit that it was only just recently that I've come to appreciate what I learned from her. I've come to realize how much compromise I make on my part. I always think about what she said and her words are now words I try to live by. The truth is she was right about how men are. Men are all the same in very fundamental ways. Of course they have different personalities, interests, hobbies, etc., but that is not what she meant. She was right about them having one heart and being fragile. She was also right about them needing to be cared for. And she was definitely right about them needing food, sex, and rest more than anything else. When it comes down to it, it doesn't take tons of compromise to fulfill all these needs and it's not really hard work. Actually, it's much easier to make a man happy than to make a woman happy.
I think the thought of "doing all the compromising" sounds pretty scary and should not be worded that way. Instead it's better to think of it as respecting your man and taking the time to learn the best way to communicate with him. It is very hard for women to accept a man's way of life because it's so different from the way we live. This is much easier for men. They don't try to correct us nearly as much as we try to correct them. They are much more open minded. In this way, we get respect from them and don't even notice it. We just think of it as being right when there is no right and wrong. We do have to pick our battles because if we battled everything that we didn't agree with then all we would ever do is battle.
Men are very eager to please. They are very eager to make us happy. They would stop at nothing to keep things peaceful with us. The trick is figuring out the best way of getting them to do 'work' for us. My next post will be more about these tricks of the trade.
For now, the best place to start is just like the nail lady said. Always keep a smile on your face, be a pleasure to be around, look your best, and respect the 'food, sex, and rest' policy!