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to have, to hold...
and to listen
by maigen thomas (@Maigen)
pop culture

I got married on Saturday. It was pretty cool.

Actually, I'm understating. It was pretty damn awesome. Whoosh! I'm married! I'm on the lower rung of the new Breeder levels, and ready for part two! Or, at least, to see what the rest of Part One holds.

Our wedding was very small and intimate. It had a lot of meaning for the wee group of family and friends that were asked to join us. For the big day, we spent a lot of time thinking, and in the end, we chose our vows carefully and for their special meaning. Placing a ring on each others hand and looking into each others eyes, we both promised to forever love, cherish and be faithful to one another, to something this and something that, to encourage and inspire, etc.

Want to know what I remember best about my vows?

I promised to listen.

"To speak, and to listen."

I even made a funny while I said it, although there was no video (now I wish there had been). I did a weird little ducked-head curtsey and opened my eyes real wide to show just how serious I was when I said (with strong emphasis) "to LISTEN".

Ninety-five percent of the wedding guests chuckled. Those were the ones who knew me well. The other five percent were guests of friends or Adrian's parents - they didn't know why that was so funny. They've never tried to argue with me, when I refuse to let anyone get a word in edge-wise. They've never tried to explain something while I talked, assuming I already knew the answer.

I talk a lot. It's probably why I like writing. It's like talking, only you can do it naked (whee!) and not be worried that the other person thinks your uncombed hair is gross and why the hell you're up and thinking at one in the morning.

Because I've developed an affinity for using my talking muscles, my listening muscles have started to atrophy. I sincerely think I'm getting hard of hearing. I have trouble filtering out my conversations from ambient noise. I have to concentrate very hard to grasp what people are trying to tell me. Usually, it involves paraphrasing on post-it notes so I don't get it wrong later.

I promised in my wedding vows to listen to my husband. Not that I would always take his advice or because he's always right or because he's in charge of me. I want to cultivate my listening skills because we are equals and when we discuss something that (from now on) affects both of us - I want to hear and understand what he has to say.

We've gotten into bad arguing habits in the last few months of very hard, long hours of work and very little time off (read, NONE). It's easy to get angry and stop listening - easier still when you're tired and cranky and your apartment is only 550 square feet small and the bathroom is only 30, and the bathtub isn't comfortable to lay back in. No one has any room in which to back off and cool off in - you're there, in each others face, elbowing around in the kitchen just for the spite of it.

I need to learn to listen, and practice listening, even when it's not a crucial moment. I also need to learn that listening does NOT mean committing each others snide words to memory so they can be brought up in a fight a week or so later. That's not nice. That's called 'dragging up the past, and the past is done with so LEAVE IT THERE'.

Listening to each other is what makes a relationship work. If you love someone enough, you care about what they have to say and what they think and what they feel. You care when they're hurting and when they're sad and when they're just tired. When you listen more than you speak, you know the difference between a 'hey, I'm really tired' sigh and a 'hey, I'm kind of mad' sigh. If you close your mouth and open your ears, you know when your special someone just needs a hug.

'You were given two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you speak.' I am trying very, very hard to take that bit of advice to heart. It's not a sacrifice to give all of yourself into the most important relationship in your life. It's realizing that the other person is giving you all of themselves as well. You have to share equally. That includes making sure everyone has a turn to talk.


Maigen is simple. is smart. is wholesome. is skeevy. is spicy. is delicate. is better. is purer. is 100% more awesome than yesterday. She';s traveling the world and writing about her experiences with life, love, yoga, food, travel and people. Mostly people. Because they';re funny. hear more of her random thoughts @maigen on twitter.

more about maigen thomas


sailing the stormy seas of internet dating
a guide to navigating your 'ship
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topic: pop culture
published: 6.14.06

taking time
why, in this economy, i would voluntarily take six months unpaid leave
by maigen thomas
topic: pop culture
published: 7.27.09


sandra thompson
8.28.06 @ 8:29a

Congratulations and I'm so happy for you! You're obviously wise beyond your years if you've already learned the critical concept of needing to listen (at least every now and then). There aren't all those jokes about women talking too much for nothing, I reckon, and sometimes you have to DRAG things out of the important men in our lives because talking about feelings and needs and topics other than food or beer is usually so foreign and distasteful to them. Good luck in your new life, and keep up the good work. It is work, doncha know.

jason gilmore
8.28.06 @ 11:04a

Congratulations. I can definetly say that 3 years into my marriage, communication is definitely the key, and listening is a major part of communication. Best of luck to you and your husband, but with a humble attitude towards one another, I'm sure you'll be fine.

ken mohnkern
8.28.06 @ 12:02p

After we have a non-communication misunderstanding KR or I will say, "Well, that's what we get for not promising to talk to each other in our vows."

And congratulations. People say marriage is hard work, but I don't think that's the right phrase. After 16 years of it sometimes I think it's damned near impossible. But by listening and talking and forgiving the best you can each day you perform the impossible, and soon you're older than dirt and still liking to hang out with each other.

robert melos
8.29.06 @ 1:26a

Listening? Good choice.


adam kraemer
8.29.06 @ 12:47p

And I wasn't invited? That's cold.

Kidding. Mazel Tov! Or whatever the Canadian version of that is. Eh!

maigen thomas
8.29.06 @ 11:45p

you totally would have been invited - but it was a non-alcoholic reception. meaning, you wouldn't have shown up anyway...

dan gonzalez
8.31.06 @ 11:42p

Bunk. He's Jewish. He would have had a wet bar set up in the trunk of his Sedan DeVille and been making a mint selling booze to the thirsty catholics who had the misfortune of showing up.

As for husbands, you are a pioneer. No one listens to us despite our biological right to be in complete charge of our wives at all times. Baby steps, but this a very positive sign for Adrian. Don't blow it, man, you'll have her cooking breakfast and making coffee like a good wife in no time.

So stop reading this, Toki, and get off your damn computer for ten seconds, and go see what your husband thinks you should be doing!


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