Sometimes, I get good ideas for my Marriage Monday posts, but sometimes I get flustered, realize that I am clueless as to what to write about the next day and I turn to A.P. frantically and start asking him weird questions about marriage. This was the case two weeks ago when A.P. suggested I write about how people influence each other in a marriage. It was a good topic, but I knew I wanted to devote a nice, long post to it, so I jotted down a note and set it aside for another day. And today is the day I pony up and talk about how much a marriage can influence you and how that can affect others.
I have three brothers and growing up I always felt close to the youngest of them. He was 9 years older than me and when everyone else was away at college, it was just the two of us. When I was in high school, he met a girl and they dated for a while and eventually got married. A couple of years into their marriage, I noticed he talked to me less and less. It wasn't just me, either. It was everyone in our family. He just kind of...disappeared. A.P. has a slightly similar situation, though he does maintain a relationship with that sibling. I won't get into the complications of either relationship here, but I've always felt like part of this was because of the influence one partner can have over the other. I never blame one person alone, as I am well aware that it takes two to tango, but I do often think that things might be different if people were differently paired.
A.P. brought this topic to my attention not because we have achieved that level of bad influence but because of something else I complain about: eating out. A.P.'s two favorite foods are pizza and barbecue and believe me when I say that I have eaten more pizza in the last five years than probably in my whole life. Now that we're budgeting, it's harder and harder to justify spending so much money on takeout. But this bad behavior has led to many frustrating things about our relationship, the biggest of which has been my insane weight gain over the years that is now, finally, being addressed and taken care of. I don't blame A.P. for my weight gain, but it's hard knowing that I eat differently because his wacky eating preferences (see below) have pulled rank on my own.
The same is true of our sleeping habits, or rather A.P.'s, which have completely changed the way I sleep (and not necessarily for the better). We sleep with a fan every night because A.P. can't sleep otherwise. This drives me CRAZY. I hate it. We've compromised and the fan is now in the closet, blowing away from me, but I'd rather have no fan any day of the week. I also love to sleep with the windows open in the spring/fall, but A.P. can't do that. The street sounds bother him. You would think that damn fan would muffle it or something, but nope. I've given up sleeping with the crisp fall air blowing gently on my neck. I also have given up on reading late because the light bothers him. And I can't watch TV in bed either. The best I can do is watch something on my laptop or iPad with the brightness turned down almost completely. I used to use a book light with my books, but I have yet to buy one for the Kindle that houses all my books. So yes, my sleeping/nighttime behavior definitely has been changed by A.P.
But it's an interesting thing, this influence we seem to have over each other, whether it's something as serious as keeping strong ties to your family or something as silly as eating too much pizza. What prevails in the end? Who rubs off more on who? I'd like to believe, in fact I'm sure we all would, that we influence each other positively. That my good habits change A.P.'s bad and vice versa. But let's face it, that's often not the case at all. And that can totally be positive, for instance I think A.P. kicked my ass into gear in terms of my finances. I know I would have gotten it together eventually, but he definitely helped me get going and made it a lot less confusing. But it can also be negative. A.P. doesn't eat a lot of veggies and fruit, which has affected the way we grocery shop; I now have to buy less because otherwise they go bad. Is there a happy medium to the hold one partner can have over the other's decisions and behavior? A lot of times I think the stronger opinion just wins out.
Have you noticed that your partner has a positive or negative influence over you or vice versa? Share your story in the comments!
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