When I was younger and engaged to be married to my first husband, I made a lot of mistakes. I was truly living in what I like to term my “Barbie” bubble. The kind of thinking about marriage and life that results from years of watching sitcoms, reading romance novels, and generally buying the idea that Once I Was Married All Would Be Wonderful! I had no real idea what marriage was like, or what a relationship was really supposed to be about.
And I definitely did NOT understand how a man will look to his Mother for advice and comfort. After all, I was his WIFE! He should be coming to me! That was the whole point of getting married, a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home…(hey guys, don’t strain your eyes with those eye rolls! I know exactly how self-absorbed I was back then.)
My first husband grew up with a very strong mother who was very good at making a dollar stretch and knew how to do with very little to feed herself and three kids. Her husband died when her oldest boy was 15, and there is not much she did not try to feed her kids. Including tripe (yuck!) and liver.
We were visiting on a Sunday, as we did just about every Sunday, and she mentioned something about making tripe. My husband perked up and said it had been a long time since he’d had it. I made an impolite sound and told him I would not cook tripe, nor would I eat it. His mother just looked at me, blinked, and patted her son on the shoulder. “I’ll always cook your favorites for you.” (ouch! See, I knew you were going to strain those eyes!)
There were other things he really liked that I just would not make. Homemade Whoopie pies were one. After all, there were plenty of good bakeries locally where he could get them, why should I bother?
I didn’t get the hint.
I wasn’t totally horrible. I did make him pickled kielbasa once at his request, I even got good butcher-made kielbasa to do it with. I also learned to make baked beans, something I never thought I’d bother with. Both these foods caused a similar issue – he loved them and he thought I did a terrific job making them. They also made the house unlivable due to the flatulence. (For anyone else’s reference NEVER do this in the middle of winter when it’s too cold to open the windows to air the place out.)
What I failed to see, that my mother-in-law picked up on, was that these were just little things. Just a couple of things that it would have made him happy for me to do. Sort of like when he would pick up a package of mint Milanos for me, or how he would take the car for the oil changes before I even realized it needed to be done. Or how he drove to three stores to get me a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Mint Oreo Cookie Ice cream when I was pregnant. He was much better at being thoughtful than I was.
There are reasons I referred to him as my first husband. Our relationship did not last for much longer. For me, it really boils down to not being willing to give on some of the little things that would have made him happy. For not listening to what he really wanted, and for insisting on doing things my way, all the time. Or as a friend would call it, I have First Born Syndrome – it’s all about me, all the time.
I don’t think cooking tripe or making whoopie pies would have saved that marriage. There were other things wrong with it, not all of them were my fault. I’m just owning my side of it.
The point I am trying to make is when your loved one says they love something, either learn to love it, learn to like it, or at least learn to live with it. That thing they love that might gross you out – it has some special meaning to them, so figure out how to make it happen.
Love is not just letting your husband kiss you after he eats black licorice – it’s buying the licorice for him.
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