You are married. You are playing the game of Marriage. Most people would tell you that marriage is not a game, it’s life, and if you work hard at it you will succeed. True? Maybe.
Does marriage have rules? Can you win or lose at marriage? Yes. Something with rules that you can win or lose…that’s a game. I think most people get married without realizing it’s a game or knowing what the rules are.
- When you get married you both get an unknown limited number of points.
- You win the game of marriage by reaching a higher unknown number of points. How do you get points?
- ***If you make your spouse feel special to you, cared for, and taken care of at least once during the day and by the end of the day your spouse still feels like you love them, then your spouse gets 1 point. If not, your spouse loses 1 point.
- You cannot give any points to yourself or stop yourself from losing any points.
- If your spouse reaches 0 points, they lose, and if your spouse loses then no matter how many points you have, you lose too.
It may seem obvious, but how do you make your spouse feel special, taken care of, and cared for? The formula for that is different for everybody. This is a very easy game to win and it is a very easy game to lose. You as a human are a creature of habit. Whatever you do today is probably what you are going to do tomorrow. Within a few months after marriage you will either be in the habit of losing points or gaining points. After that it is just a matter of time…
I lost this game. Actually, I was winning. I was winning until without what seemed like any warning, I lost. I lost because my wife lost. I loved her but wasn’t making her feel special to me, cared for, or really taken care of. She was making me feel special and cared for and I was happy. She was special to me, but she didn’t know and eventually became very unhappy.
When I was in high school I was forced to read one of many useful books about marriage. This book was titled “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It made sense but it wasn’t real to me. Gary Chapman says that there are generally five languages of love and every human has a primary and often a secondary love language, a way that you feel most valued, appreciated and loved. The languages are:
- Words of affirmation: unsolicited compliments and kind words
- Quality time: spending real quality one on one time together without distractions
- Receiving gifts: self explanatory, some people just really love to get gifts
- Acts of service, and
- Physical touch: Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, not all about the bedroom (but let’s be fair, not not about the bedroom)
I knew Tracie’s primary love language is acts of service, but that is not my love language. How you feel love from others is how you will naturally try to communicate love to your spouse. If they are not fluent in that language also then the love won’t get through. For Tracie acts of service and quality time in her words make her “feel like the most cherished treasure”. I was excellent at providing quality time but acts of service did not come naturally to me at all. In fact, they annoyed me. Why ask someone to do trivial little tasks that you are perfectly capable of doing? Doesn’t matter. Acts of service make my wife feel special to me and cared for. I knew the language in my head from reading the book but it wasn’t mine so I almost didn’t believe it was real. I starved her of the love language she valued most. So we lost.
Losing at marriage is just that time when your wife snaps…and you suddenly realize that what you thought was quite a nice marriage is, in fact, a bad marriage. The amazing thing about marriage is that every time you lose you can just start again. Some people go their whole lives losing this game over and over again with the same person. That is an unhappy marriage. But if you learn something along the way, try new things and figure out how to give your spouse points, it doesn’t matter how long that takes, you will eventually win an amazing marriage.
There is no such thing as a mediocre marriage. Every single day your marriage is either inching towards bad…or amazing. Every day. No exceptions.
I chose my wife for my life. I married her and promised to figure this thing out. I began a mission to speak the weird and wonderful Acts-of-Service love language which my wife holds so dear. I wasn’t good at it for a long time but I kept learning and trying and now I’m still not great at it but if my wife is sitting on the couch and she asks me for a glass of water from the kitchen I know that she is asking me if I love her and I look deep into her eyes and I say in my sexiest voice, “Of course I will get you a glass of water from the kitchen.” And we lived mostly happily ever after.
Dear married people,
On your wedding day you promised your spouse points. Go get ’em tiger.
Benj, gamer for life