Column: Labor of Love: Making marriage work, even when life gets in the way

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Sept. 24, 2009

I got home about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night after a long day of work (it was a big paper), climbed into bed, kissed the cheek of my wife – who had been asleep since at least 10 p.m. – and fell promptly asleep.

Ah, the life of the working stiff.

I mention this because I’m coming upon the first anniversary of my marriage. (I will not forget the date. I will not forget the date. I will not forget the date.) My wife and I both have jobs we enjoy, but which frequently keep us from home until the late evening hours. Thus, we seldom get a chance to see much of each other in the evenings, usually reserving that treat for the weekends.

I work hard at my job. She works hard at her job. It’s important we work equally hard at our marriage, despite our work life.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always the best at this. My wife loves to go into Chicago on a weekend night for dinner. My ideal weekend night is going anywhere within five to 10 minutes of home and getting to bed somewhat early – a party animal I am not. She’s not always thrilled that I’m attached by the hip to my e-mail. I’m not always thrilled with things she does. I have quickly learned that’s marriage.

But I have also learned it’s about the small things as much as the large things. And those are the things you need to work at on a daily basis.

Despite our hectic schedules, we always make time to watch two of our favorites TV shows together – “Top Chef” on Bravo on Wednesday nights and “Project Runway” on Lifetime on Thursday nights. (Please don’t make fun of me – I’m not sure how I got into either show, they just kind of suck you in.)

We’re working on making sure we plan at least one weekend activity to do as a couple, whether it be a movie, miniature golf, a game of Scrabble or, yes, even a trip into Chicago.

And even if we’re exhausted, we listen to each other when one of us have – as Alexander would say – a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

It’s about doing the dishes without being asked. It’s about not eating the other person’s snacks without permission.

It’s about doing what the other person wants to go do, knowing that your other will go do something you want to do next time.

It’s about giving your other a small peck on the cheek and an “I love you” after getting home late.

It’s about working at it – even if it means a few extra hours in the “office.” (Or Chicago, in my case.)

And it’s probably not a bad idea to get home early on the day of your anniversary either. Not that I have to worry about that this year.

It’s on a weekend.

(I will not forget the date. I will not forget the date. I will not forget the date.)

Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. You can write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com or call him at 630-845-5368.

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