Now that I’ve been married for five full years I am qualified to lecture everyone else on the topic. Let me start with a quote that really sums up what it’s all about.
No, let me start with a story about the quote. It is a quote from a movie that I have never seen. What I have seen is the episode of VH1’s I Love the 70’s devoted to 1970. What is it that makes us enjoy looking back nostalgically, even to things we don’t personally remember? (Related: every time I walk into a college bar they seem to be playing music from when I was in high school or college.)
The one thing that stuck out to me from original episode way back in 2003 was this quote from the movie Love Story:
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
No, wait, that’s not the appropriate five-years-of-marriage quote at all. The I Love the 70’s people are right: that’s an inane sentiment. This is the appropriate quote:
“An armed society is a polite society.”
After all, who is better equipped and more perfectly placed to wound you than your spouse?
Like Tim McGraw, and despite my parents’ best efforts, courtesy never really sank in ’til that girl got a hold of me. Not because it is something my wife pushes. But because Heinlein was right. It pays to be polite to people who can hurt you. Building a life together is a fraught task.
We live together. We have to coordinate finances, chores, childcare. All of which easily lead to conflict. Politeness provides grease for all those friction points. So please, thank you, you’re welcome, and I’m sorry are the most common words spoken in our house. And if you are wise you will keep them readily at hand as well.