When I met my husband at the rather tender age of 23 I was young, naive and just plain stupid. I actually believed smoking helped me stay thin (FALSE) and maybe I even thought it made me appear mature and chic (FALSE) . Perhaps my attitudes towards smoking were more the result of watching too many film noir movies in bed and thinking a lit cigarette dangling from my lips would magically morph me into Lauren Bacall). On our third date my boyfriend (who now just happens to be my husband) took my hand (the one holding the cigarette) stared me square in the jaw as a tear rolled down his cheek here and said, “Melissa I love you and I really don’t want you to smoke.”
Now let me back up a bit and give you some background. I’d been out with several guys prior who told me smoking was a filthy, dirty habit and each gave me an ultimatum that either I quit smoking or our relationship would cease to be. I chose the latter. In my mind I always believed that I shouldn’t be expected to give up anything for someone else and that in asking me to change my behavior, it was as if they were admitting that I was flawed and needed to change to suit them. Hey, I was woman hear me roar, nobody was going to put me in a corner or tell me what to do. I wasn’t going to change for a man or anyone for that matter.
So here I am on this third date with yet another boyfriend who seems to be giving me attitude about my smoking habit. And yet, as soon as this man asked me to give up cigarettes, it just felt so right and not at all like an ultimatum but more like an extension and profession of his love for me. His request was all in his delivery and perhaps grounded in the fact that I knew this man was not just another Mr. Right Now. Fast forward 15 years later and I have not smoked a cigarette since that day when my now husband shed a lone tear as he asked me to give it up. Of course, I later learned his primal reaction to my smoking was directly a result of his growing up with a mother who smoked his entire childhood– a habit that ultimately took her life.
I think when you meet someone whose very essence seems to draw you in on a primal level, their requests don’t seem as much a sacrifice on your part as they do from someone for whom you don’t feel this extremely close kinship. I always balked and walked after other men asked me to stop smoking in order to salvage our relationship, but when my husband asked I just quit cold turkey. I wanted this man in my life. I wanted a future with this man and ultimately what he wanted for me, was an equally long and healthy life too. How could I say no to that?
Of course, giving up smoking to pacify my man got me thinking- what are some of the things one needs to give up in order to be happy in a marriage. After 14 years of marriage here are the 3 things I think you have to give up in order to be happier in your marriage… and no they don’t include golf, or sex with others…those are givens!
#1 Your privacy. In order to truly share the fabric of your life with another you have to open yourself up in every sense of the word.
#2 Anger. You cannot live with anger when you’re married- it will eat your relationship up whole. Anger will not solve your problems rather it will simply keep you mired in them, stuck and unable to move and will draw you further away from your spouse.
#3 The big piece of chicken. We all want that big piece of chicken, which is really code word for the best of everything. But when you’re married every once in awhile even if you’re DYING for that proverbial big piece of chicken- sometimes you need to give it up and let your spouse get it. And if you play your cards right, your turn will come!