Feature photo by Josh Thompson

Last Sunday, July 11th, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. As we shared a few glasses of champagne and slices of our wedding cake (thanks for keeping it in your freezer, Mom and Dad!) I thought back on how we got to this point. A house, a garden, and a dog later, here we were with a year’s worth of knowledge under our belts and yet still so green when it comes to marriage and life in general. The lessons we have learned together in our marriage so far though aren’t relevant to just couples. Through living with another person and making decisions that affect more than just our own lives, we’ve learned to treat one another better. You don’t have to be married or dating to take what we’ve learned to heart and use it to better your interactions with others.

Your Perspective Is Not The Only One
. . .and your way of doing things isn’t always the right way either. Unless you’re me, in which case I am right about 99% of the time (right, darling husband?). Even still, there’s that 1% of time where I’ll be completely wrong, and it sucks to admit it. We’ve all been there: you’re in the middle of a disagreement when you suddenly realize what you’ve been arguing is completely, flat-out wrong. Do you keep going until you can convince the other person that they’re the one in the wrong, or do you just admit defeat and give it a rest? If you’re like me you’ll argue that Smurfs are green until you’re blue in the face rather than admitting you’ve realized the err of your ways. It’s a challenge, but I’m getting better at admitting when I’m wrong. It’s hard, but it’s better to settle things than let them perpetuate just because your ego can’t take the blow of being wrong. Admit you’re in the wrong and move on instead of letting it linger for hours, days or weeks. So in the spirit of this advice, I will admit, it does make sense to save money by turning off the air conditioner on nights when it’s chilly, even if I wake up hot the next morning. And yeah, it was my hair that clogged the bathtub, okay?

Be Happy to Be Around Your People
We all have days when we just want to come home and curl up into the fetal position without muttering a word to anyone along the way. But even on our worst of days, I don’t think my husband or I have ever been able to resist the heart-melting affection we get as soon as we walk in the door from the little three year beagle we adopted. The second he hears one of our cars pull into the driveway he runs to the front window wagging his tail so fast he can barely stand up then jumps up to greet us with this look in his eyes like “Oh my God! YES! My people are back!” It doesn’t matter if he had a horrible day staring out the window as the other doggies in the neighborhood gallivanted around outside on walks while he was cooped up in the house, he will always greet us with a quick howl and a shake of the tail. When was the last time someone was that excited to see you? I try to think of this when I’m coming home from a particularly bad day. There are days when I come home and all I can muster out is a grunt when my husband asks how my day was. No matter how beaten down I feel from work, he doesn’t deserve to be brushed off. No one does. I’ve been making a effort to leave the rest of the crap that’s bothering me aside, even if only for five minutes, to appreciate the hot meal I’ve come home to, the genuine interest in how my day went, and the wagging tail I see when I walk in the door. Sure, in five minutes I might start bitching about my day, but for at least those first five minutes I want my husband and my dog to know I’m happy to see them too.

Make The Most of What You’ve Got
A month before we got married we bought a house in the suburbs. Even though we looked for apartments in the city, in the end it made the most sense for us to buy out in the ‘burbs. The market was right for investing, our jobs were out this way, and the house we found was close to both sets of parents just in case we got sick of each other’s cooking. Everything was picture perfect, except for the fact that we both pretty much hate the suburbs. We were born and raised out here but we’d both leave for the city in a heartbeat if it were doable. Sadly, it just wasn’t in our budget to commute any further than we already do and we needed to keep the jobs we had to keep paying the bills, so we bought an affordable home. We shouldn’t complain. Our house is cozy, it gives us shelter and we have a nice big backyard to enjoy in the summer, but we hate that backyard. All of the mowing and weeding and hedge trimming and weed whacking makes us want to hibernate in air-conditioning all summer long with the blinds closed. We hate it so much it’s spurned quite a few arguments over whose responsibility it should be to maintain but we have found a positive note to our jungle of a yard. Off to the side, next to the ramshackle shed that might collapse one day soon is the perfect area for a garden. It gets sunlight all day long, and the soil seems to be pretty fertile because within a week of planting tomato plants they had grown as tall as my waist. With the help of my Dad, we’ve grown green beans, banana peppers, jalapeños and, of course, tomatoes. That garden has introduced to neighbors we’ve never spoken to before as they admired it over the fence. It’s provided a shady resting area for the dog when he gets tired of chasing whatever it is he thinks he’s chasing around our yard. We’ve gone out and picked green beans and cooked them for dinner that same night (it doesn’t get much more organic than that). We’ve bonded with each other, my Dad, our neighbors, and our dog working outside in that garden. We’ve saved money by eating the veggies that were grown out of our own hard work on our piece of the earth. That little patch of dirt turned out to be more special than it appears.

The next time you’re out our way, stop by and pick up some tomatoes. We have plenty, and I’m sure our dog would love to see you too. And who knows, maybe for our next anniversary we’ll try our hand at some zucchini.



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