Helen and Ray Johnson Ray Johnson, a 33-year-old engineer and his wife Helen, 30, a stay-at-home mom talk about six-plus years of marriage and the importance of “alone time.” INTERVIEWED BY SARA WILSON
Helen and Ray Johnson
“ Guys like to be told they're big and as a result, can be tricked into doing all kinds of things, like laundry.”
HELEN* Marriage has taught me...
(1) That we will be closer if I'm independent from him. It has a little bit to do with growing up and also building trust in the relationship.
(2) Not to get so upset when he doesn't understand me.
(3) Guys like to be told they're big and as a result, can be tricked into doing all kinds of things, like laundry.
(4) That I understand him better when I make an effort to look at the world from his point of view.
(5) That the first year of marriage is the hardest. After that, it gets better every year.
(6) It is important to make the relationship a priority, even if it means planning just one date night a week. For some reason, even if we fight all week, on date night we never do.
(7) Not to discredit things he's doing that I think are pointless, like watching television.
(8) Once you get married, you just don't have sex as much as you thought you would.
(9) That he can be very understanding.
(10) Marriage is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also the most rewarding thing, so it's worth it.
RAY Marriage has taught me...
(1) Once you're married, it's important to establish independence from your family, including your in-laws.
(2) The meaning of the word "differentiate." It's important to keep your sense of self even if you want to be close to somebody.
(3) To be patient and not react defensively—let her talk and get her thoughts out and then come back at a later time and express what I have to say.
(4) I need to have some alone time. Learning to say that to myself took a long time.
(5) It's important to keep things intimate and new.
(6) That you have to say the first outfit doesn't look good and the next one does.
(7) For every two “guy movies,” you have to see one “girl one.”
(8) It's important to establish a weekly budget for each individual. We both have a certain amount that we can spend toward activities without feeling guilty.
(9) To be honest about the things that get on my nerves, but tell her when I'm not upset—annoying habits have a better chance of getting changed if I bring them up in a nice way.
(10) To give her a lot of compliments, especially if I want my night to go well.
* The names have been changed per the couple's request