And a Whiteboard Revived Our Love
We’ve all heard the bad news that, statistically, your marriage will fall apart. Even worse, it will likely end in a rather painful and expensive way that makes life unreasonably more complicated. Hurray for marriage…
If you’re single, you maybe want love someday.
If you have love, you maybe are terrified of that next step that people always villify.
At least, that’s where I was as my fiancé got ready to “have her big day,” and I got ready to “end my life and murder my freedom,” as our friends would tell us (double standards, anyone?)
We are both avid Star Wars fans so, when people told us how marriage is hard, warned us of the way ahead, and cited the all too popular divorce statistics, we said with hands held tightly, “Never tell me the odds!”
We decided that, no, marriage doesn’t have to be a dull trudge towards old age and complacency one argument at a time.
We decided marriage would be fun.
We decided it didn’t have to be complicated.
Where others failed, we would communicate.
Where others argued, we would compromise.
Where others got lazy, we would have date night.
Man, we were dumb.
Ok, so marriage is hard, no matter how positive your outlook is when you start. However, we learned a creative trick that has made life infinitely more enjoyable for the two of us in our relationship.
A marker board.
A big, ugly, white marker board smack dab in the middle of our house. The college dorm-feeling, utilitarian, polar opposite of the fancy art and photos in all our friend’s houses.
It’s an eyesore, but we love it.
It’s also the first thing our friends want to look at when they visit. Why? They want to see what’s written and partake in the fun.
The Simple, Ugly, Solution
We don’t use the marker board to keep a grocery list or a calendar or any of that boring, mundane stuff. No, this ugly white plastic board is the gateway to fun conversations, whimsical arguments and, ultimately, a deeper understanding of each other.
Here’s how it works. About once a week, one of us writes down a question on the board. Throughout the next few days, when we see the board, we each jot down our thoughts, opinions, and answers using our own colored markers.
The questions range from things like “Pirates vs. Ninjas: Who would win?” To deeper, more thoughtful topics such as, “Is it good when TV sitcoms and video games have a political agenda?” We’ve been doing this for years and there has always been a new question every week.
Sometimes it’s from a conversation she has at work. Other times it’s a thought I had while reading a book.
Never do we write stuff like, “Who’s going to do the dishes this week?” Or, “Why can’t you clean up after yourself?” No, the marker board is more sacred and important than that. Besides, I know I won’t like any of her answers to those questions, anyways.
Why It Works
So, Why am I saying this thing might save your marriage? Because it forces you to learn more about your partner. The day you stop exploring the mind and personality of your loved one is the day your relationship dies. The human mind is infinitely deep. What’s more, it’s always subtly changing each day. Your partner’s mind today is different from the one you knew yesterday. This means you’ll never fully know them, but that’s a good thing. An infinite mind that’s constantly chaining means there’s always more to explore.
Sure, you could try to achieve the same results through that old ritual we all commit to when we get home for the day:
“Hey, I’m home. How was your day?”
Because that never gets old, right?
Boost Your Creativity and Spark a Conversation
The marker board forces thoughts and creativity out of you. It brings up ideas and questions that you would never think to ask otherwise. It forces you and your partner to grow together. Some days, I can predict her answers. Most of the time, though, I’m blown away at her thoughts and logic. When that happens, it gives us something new and fresh to talk about. I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve spent at a restaurant talking about why she thinks Sauron would beat Darth Vader in a war or why I find music to be a much more appealing art form than painting. Boring, mundane dinner conversations are extinct in our relationship because we are too busy picking each other’s brains on random topics.
The best part, the mind is one of the most sexually attractive parts of the body. I owe that marker board for starting many a romantic night. As much as I love wine and lingerie, markers and talking are cheaper.
Nowadays, we even share the questions with our friends, getting their thoughts and adding it to the board. If anyone comes over for dinner or drinks, the marker board is the first thing they turn to. They all want to share their thoughts and join in on the conversations. It never fails to ignite creative, engaging conversations that leave everyone feeling like they know each other just a little bit better.
So, what are you waiting for? Give the marker board a try. It doesn’t have to be ugly and white, but we prefer it to be. That way, the question is impossible to miss. Its ugliness punches you in the face the second you walk into the room and you just think, “Oh, she wrote her response to the question!”
Marriage doesn’t have to be a drag. Keep learning new things about your partner. Never stop exploring. Put silly questions on the wall.