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The Happiness Project: Part 6

February 15, 2010

So I’m reading through Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller “The Happiness Project” month by month and incorporating some of her ideas into my life to hopefully increase personal happiness. This month, Gretchen talks about love and boosting happiness through the most significant relationships in your life. I want to take the next week to write about things I’ve learned about love over the last year and a half in my marriage to my best friend, Katie.

Katie and I love the Olympics. We used to have a television when we were first married (okay, summer of 2008), but we only got one channel–NBC. (Pre-digital era, but we also didn’t invest in a set of rabbit ears antenna.) For several weeks in July, 2008, Katie took out her dissertation notes, I took out an MFT book, and we watched two weeks of the Olympics. (And clearly got a lot of work done in the process.) We’re doing the same thing now, only now that we’ve gotten rid of our TV, we go to our friend Bethany’s house. Friday night, we watched the opening ceremonies and commented at the tirelessness of the Indian dancers during the Parade of Nations, prayed silently with the rest of the world in remembrance of the Georgian luger who lost his life, and listened intently to the Canadian poet. Last night, we watched the short program for the pairs figure skating competition. (Figure skating is Katie’s favorite.)

The Olympics are a great metaphor for marriage. A majority of the sports are individual events, such as (my personal favorites) moguls skiing, short-track speed skating, and the luge/skeleton. A successful marriage cannot consist of a spouse completing the goals of the other spouse (codependency); rather, each individual must complete his/her own goals for him/herself. That doesn’t mean that a marriage is two separate people with two separate lives residing under one roof. Teamwork is an integral part of the games, not just in team sports, but in an individual event. A downhill skier has her teammates that she trains with and that cheer her on as she shoots down the mountain. The cross-country skiers, even though they’re skiing for individual medals, compete as a nation, often using techniques to help their national teammates win medals.

I’ve learned that love is about teamwork.

Katie and I share our love through working together on tasks, such as doing dishes (generally she washes and I dry, but that occasionally flips) and cooking together. We hand out individual tasks so we’re not doing the other person’s job but still getting the job done; I cook the meats and grill veggies, Katie takes care of, well, everything that needs assembling.

Katie and I share our love through home maintenance projects. Unfortunately for her, Katie may have married the most mechanically unsound male in Texas. Home projects, such as hanging picture frames and blinds, are always a challenge because of ineptitude with tools; despite my frustration, Katie cheers me on (and vice versa).

Katie and I share our love through training together–discussing the intimate details of our lives and working on messy conflicts and differences in personality and expectations. Even though we may have spats, we stick in the race together.

Our marriage isn’t like pairs ice skating or bobsledding or curling, where each individual has a defined, specific role. I like to view us as two skiers competing for the same nation. We train together, we encourage and support each other, we have our own stories and inside jokes and we know buttons to push. But Katie goes down the mountain on her own and skis her own difficulty of slope, aiming to make herself a better Katie and pushing herself for higher goals and record times. I do the same, working on my own training plan, listening for Katie’s cheering voice and standing at the bottom of the mountain to congratulate her for the work she’s done.

What Winter Olympic sport defines your significant relationship?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 9:10 pm

    I’m afraid you might have lost your title of most mechanically unsound male in Texas now that I live here. 🙂

    I so feel your pain with pictures and such. My father-in-law will come over and ask if I have such-and-such a tool for a project he wants to help me with (i.e. do for me because I am truly incapable), and I’ll say, “Oh, yeah, somewhere I think,” or, more often, “A what kind of tool? What’s that?”

  2. Judy permalink
    February 16, 2010 6:36 pm

    This is a great description of marriage! I always thought it was like a three-legged race, where you have to work together to keep from falling down. 🙂

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