“”Marriage is a great institution- if you like being institutionalized” – that’s the statement I’ve always heard anyway………
The main question in every happy marriage at some point comes down to this… “Smother him in his sleep or put the earphones in and just play happy music until it passes?” STOP- before everyone gets their knickers in a wad- I’m a woman so I used the pronoun “him”, but trust me I am well aware the feeling is mutual and he’s felt the same way about me just as many times in all these years of marriage.
Tonight I am choosing listening to the music (your release may be something besides music, but just go with me here) I am dancing to the music not because it wouldn’t be simple to smother him in his sleep or that I couldn’t hide the body. (I’m a Southern woman with access to a chipper shredder, at least 10 bottles of bleach, and miles of woodlands) I choose the music tonight because even though I don’t really “like him” right this minute I am well aware I would quickly miss him if he were gone.
Some days as I look at his face I think to myself- really “You Again”? (oh hush- you’ve all thought it at least once if your married – it’s not my fault you won’t grow a set and say it out loud) On these days there is a standard monologue that shortly flows through my conscience. It sounds something like this “RELAX- this too shall pass- you know he’s a good man, he usually makes you laugh, he’s been a great dad and you still actually love him after all these years” The first question I always have as these thoughts flow through is “where did SHE come from?” Why does my conscience always have the sweet southern accent and sound EXACTLY like my mother?? That’s a whole different topic for a later date, but let’s just say it’s sooooo not fair……………..
I remember looking at this man sleeping next to me when we were newly married with all the fascination of a new born baby. I remember feeling how lucky and happy and nothing could ever change that feeling. Almost 20 years and three parasites (children for those sweeter parents) later – nope no more fascination at all – just a snoring asshole. Luckily an asshole I would quickly miss! (Insert annoying sweet southern accent monologue here)
As women, the entertainment industry feeds us princess movies and romantic movies designed to show us what relationships “should look like”, but have you ever noticed they all end after “they get together” and never show us the everyday monotony of waking up and going to bed with the same person for 20 or 50 years. Why do you think that is????
I’ll tell you- The first reason is that would be a horribly boring movie. Can you imagine watching a movie on the drudgery of everyday life? The only thing that movie would be good for is replacing counting sheep. The main reason we don’t see that type of movie is the reality of that kind of love isn’t pretty. That kind of love isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. That kind of love takes commitment (mainly a commitment not to kill them), but a commitment just the same.
I’ve been really lucky and watched my parents hit the 50 years of marriage milestone this year. I’ve watched them do the ebbs and flows of marriage with as much grace as anyone could ever expect.(50 years is a long ass time) It wasn’t always pretty. It wasn’t a perfect marriage (there’s no such thing), but it was as good of an example as anyone could ask. I watched them love each other, dislike each other,and always come back to love. They taught me a lot about true love- true love takes commitment, sacrifice, and a complete surrender of yourself on occasion (i.e. don’t smother them in their sleep) Some days you’ll wake up and may not want to see their face, but if it’s the right one give it a few days and it will probably be different.
As I sit here tonight after deciding that I couldn’t do away with him, not because I couldn’t, but because I didn’t really want too because I would miss him- I realized maybe that’s what real long term love is….. It’s the commitment to wait the few days to see, it’s the commitment to try, it’s the commitment to the everyday chaos and monotony, and definitely the commitment to listen to the happy music and not smother them.
I guess that means if I’ve got to be institutionalized – I’ve chosen this institutionalized chaos…………………
When I set out on my adventure of blogging it was just for me. I needed a place to ramble and get some of my stupid idea’s off my chest. After about a million years of marriage the hubby is tired of hearing them all the time and the parasites have reached the ages where I’m now the dumbest woman alive and very little I say is ever worth listening. The most confusing part though is they enjoy reading them?? I had the thought that maybe I should go mute and write everything on my tablet and pass it around, but I am convinced they would just learn to hit delete then too. Maybe there eyes will absorb more than their ears until their brains come back or they at least think mine did. If it is based on my experience- maybe when they’re 25.
I’ve learned one of the great things about writing this blog is that I am not alone in my insanity. There are more people out there like me or at least people who enjoy roaming around in my brain and seeing the strange humor for 15 minutes a day. When I started to write my mama and one of my friends (whose brain is usually in more of overdrive than mine) were my main points of inspiration. I would talk to them on the phone for 15 minutes a day. Every time I hung up I had a new blog. My mama finally said one day as I started to laugh- “Crap- You’re gonna use that aren’t you? I should just quit talking now” (crap is the worst word she can muster-good southern church women only say shit if a bomb went off next to them and then it can be questionable)
Now something very cool (or scary depending on how you want to look at it) is starting to happen. People have now started to send me in idea’s to write. I’ve always had great friends, but how cool is that? They read an interesting article that could be considered controversial and BAM- I get a “hey- you might wanna write on this topic. I think you could make it entertaining.” One- I love they think I could make it entertaining and two- yeah I don’t have to think as hard today. It also helps me keep my brain roaming around with a million idea’s for days to come. FYI- thanks for the sleep deprivation when my brain is still writing at 2 am too.
One such article was sent to me by a friend the other day that my brain just requires me to spout my brand of nonsense.
This article was from New York Daily News on March 30th. It is about the grief that Susan Patton, one of the first female Princeton graduates in 1977, received after writing a letter to the editor in The Daily Princetonian. This article outraged many women rights advocates because she basically gave women the advice to find their husband on campus before they graduate. Being me and a little crazy I immediately had to go find this article and read it in it’s entirety. I have a daughter growing up and wanted to see if any of this was good advice.
Now the premise of her letter to the editor does have some merit for those of us who actually live in reality land. Granted most people want to live in Politically Correct land where we all can be anything, have it all, and always have rainbows and sunshine coming out of our asses. She never tells women not to chase their professional dreams nor does she tell them not to pursue their goals. The premise of her letter is this:
1) We bombard young women with professional career advice while ignoring advice of a personal nature and the personal part of your life will be explicitly tied to their overall happiness.
2) As women age the amount of men who are their intellectual equals goes down and a woman can’t be happy with anyone who is not
3) They will never have this large of a Olympic sized pool of eligible bachelors again that are your intellectual equals to chose. Men as they age look for younger women so their pool gets larger and ours turn into kiddie pools.
Before the bounder sized rocks start whizzing by my head- she does have some valid points, but there’s a few flaws in her logic.
1) We do have a tendency today to bombard our daughters and young women with career and life advice that doesn’t include marriage and family. If they choose- marriage and family will be a huge part of their overall happiness and should be addressed. We spent the 70’s and 80’s singing that commercial jingle “I can bring home the bacon, Fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man” I remember my generation grew up thinking that we could actually pull that crap off. When I say crap- I mean crap. We wanted it all and we thought we could pull it off. She went to work, came home and looked like a super model cooking dinner and obviously still had a happy husband- I could do that!! Then the reality set it- the jingle was WRONG!! Once you throw in kids to that equation it should have sounded like this “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, change the diapers, drive to practice, do the homework, give baths, and never ever let you forget you’re a man” That is not a liberated woman- that’s a frazzled, overworked, sleep deprived, mess of a life! Yes teaching our daughters about how to balance their professional and personal lives is important. We should be teaching them they can have it all. We should just change the definition of a liberated woman. A liberated woman is not one who can do it all- A truly liberated woman is one who doesn’t have to do it by themselves.
2) There is more to a marriage than just intellectual compatibility. I’m not saying it’s not important because I wouldn’t want to particularly live with someone who was dumb as mud, but some might. Many people marry for many reasons and none aren’t valid. There are also many types of intelligence. In the South we separate them into “book smarts” and “common sense” I have a cousin who is absolutely book smart brilliant, but has zero common sense. He can put together a multi-million dollar deal, but forgets where he parks his car and reports it stolen. I can’t put together a multi-million dollar deal, but I can usually find my car. Who is to say which form of intelligence is more valid or useful? As a matter of fact we are usually jealous of which ever we don’t have. If a successful marriage is about complimenting each other shouldn’t the extremely book smart person marry someone who has common sense. Wouldn’t it be wiser for the book smart partner to close his deals while the common sense partner finds the car? If not wiser- definitely easier. Humor is also a huge portion of long term compatibility. Raising your little parasites will be more challenging than anything you will ever do in your life unless you become President of the United States. That seems to be the only career path that ages people faster than raising children. If you can’t both learn to laugh together at the ridiculousness of what has become of your everyday life you will start to go mad. For several years those bouts of laughter you have together will be the more intimate than the quickies you have in the bathroom while the kids are watching cartoons. Pick the partner with traits that work for you and don’t be ashamed if it takes a few.
3) I understand what she’s saying about men wanting younger women, but I don’t think she’s giving near enough men near enough credit. She actually says in the article that men as they age are only looking for women who are pretty and we’ll settle for a little dumber than they are to accomplish the looks. Now I have had more men friends than women friends most of my life and for the record- THAT’S JUST NOT TRUE!! The only women who believe that are women who have very few men friends. Those are the scary women my friends used to date that only had female friends. Their idea’s on how men think are a convoluted mess of too many nights of wine sitting around with women complaining. There are no more superficial men that are only looking for that in a partner than there are superficial women only looking for money. Guess what- those people usually end up together and get what they deserve. Would you really want that man anyway? Let the superficial be superficial together. Most men truly want just a few things in a partner. They want a partner who is confident and secure in themselves. They want a partner they can relate too. After a certain age men don’t even change their clothing style since they were in high school so they certainly don’t want to learn a whole new generation. They want a woman to need their strength even if it is something as simple as to take out the trash. They want to not think too much. The best wedding advice I was ever given was simple and clear and still rings true to 90% of the men I have met in my life. Men are simple creatures and if you want to keep them happy do three simple things . Be a kind mama in the kitchen, a funny sister on the couch and slut in the bedroom and don’t confuse the three. If you can pull those few simple things off and weren’t hit by every branch of the ugly tree on the way down they don’t care if you’re 20 or 60 and will do their best to keep you happy too. If they can’t appreciate and respect those skills- let em go find the gold digger. You just keep on saying NEXT cause I promise eventually one will!
I applaud Susan Patton saying the absolutely non politically correct because I think her heart was in the right place. She wants women to bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan and never forget he’s a man. She wants them to have it all, but she’s a generation behind is why everyone went nuts. I want my daughter to have it ALL! I want her to be liberated in the truest sense of the word. I want her to do what makes her happy! If she wants to have a career then be liberated enough to choose to stay single or to choose a partner who will assist her in life and respect her for her strengths and compliment her weaknesses. I want her to be liberated and confident in herself to know that partner will come along and her believe she’s a hell of a catch when he does and be liberated in her decision to raise a family if she chooses
Isn’t that what all women have been fighting for all these generations? It’s not just equal pay, equal job opportunities, or even equal benefits. True liberation means true equality to make our own decisions and be respected for them all. Now that I’m done bringing home the bacon- I’m gonna do what generations of women before me have done and go pull off my bra through my sleeves, put on comfy cloths, fry up the bacon, and remind my husband he never ever should let me forget I’m a woman. That’s what true equality means to me!!
Before I start this blog on marriage I probably should give it a warning. If you don’t have a sense of humor, get offended easily or in general think your shit doesn’t stink, I would strongly suggest you stop reading now. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna insult all men and women equally. I don’t think you can write anything on marriage without offending someone so – honey I’m apologizing early.
Now I am going to preface this with saying my husband and I both come from a long line of parents, grandparents, great grandparents that stayed married through good times and bad- sometimes even when I’m not sure they should have. I am not by any means going to say there are never valid reasons to get the heck out. There are always valid reasons to get out. Everything I’m going to say takes both parties and no one can do it all alone. I just sometimes think our society has started to believe that people and relationships are disposable. We believe everything is disposable so why not people and why not relationships? Sometimes it just seems easier to quit than to figure it out. What I am going to say is there are usually more reasons to stay than to go if you are willing to see past – It’s all about me!!
Here are a few things I’ve learned
1) If you don’t think they are the best thing since sliced bread and you have any doubts- DON’T GET MARRIED
I know this seems a little harsh, but I promise you if you don’t both believe, down to your bones, that this man or woman is the best thing that God ever put together and placed them on the planet to make you happy before you get married- don’t do it- cuz I promise you it ain’t gonna get any better. That ole saying of “The most difficult years of marriage or those following the wedding” isn’t a lie. The happiest you will ever be is dating- so if you’re not deliriously happy at the site of each other before the wedding- 5 years in the site of them may make you want to commit Hari-Kari. Heck- you still may want to smother them with a pillow at 5 years in, but the memory of the stomach butterflies will keep you from doing the deed. Now there is a difference in normal wedding jitters and doubts. Normal wedding jitters is “I don’t wanna go because of all the people staring at me” or “what if he doesn’t feel the same way about me” Real Doubts are “I really don’t think they are the one” If you or a friend ever says that – get the car and speed away from the church as fast as possible. I mean do the best Julia Roberts run away bride impersonation you can. If you don’t- just be prepared in 5 years to talk yourself or them off the ledge during divorce.
2) Don’t Over Think It
That book “Men are from Mars/ Women are from Venus” is right on!! I consider myself lucky because I had a lot of guy friends when I was in my teens and twenties. When guys are just your friends you learn more sometimes than when you’re dating. Now I wouldn’t say being taught every derogatory term for women was lucky, but it has served me well at times. I always loved working in sales offices with men who would be talking about their weekend and assuming that no female would “get” their conversations. If I joined in their faces were classic and there was a lot- “that’s just not fair”. Male friends talk to you and give you insights into what’s actually going on in their brains during a relationship. You know what ladies- if it’s going good- there’s not a whole lot of thinking about it going on at all. They have quick epiphanies and then go on about their business. The men who do over think things most women would rather run over with their car than listen to anyway. The only times men put some thought into it is when it’s NOT going well. If you really think about it – it’s probably pretty smart and we could learn something here. When a relationship is good- don’t try to over think it and make it bad- just roll with it and be happy. Everyone moves at their own pace in a relationship or marriage. If you push or try to move someone beyond their own pace- it causes over thinking. Over thinking has a way of popping in bad ideas when you were perfectly happy to start. There will be enough stuff to truly argue about -(who is taking to practice tonight, who is changing the diaper, who is doing the 2 am feeding, who is getting the parasite up at 5:30 for extra football) Learn to let the little stuff go! Does it really matter if he forgot your birthday as long as he cooks dinner- probably not?
3) Get Over It
When you live with another human being it’s never pretty all the time. Did you like your siblings or parents every day? What makes you think you’re gonna like your spouse everyday? Trust me – you won’t!! Before you get married it is all sunshine and rainbows and you think it’s gonna stay that way. The reality is it’s more like sunshine and thunderstorms. It can be very similar to summer afternoon thunderstorms in the South. If you’ve ever experienced these it can be beautiful one minute and suddenly the sky is black, the wind is howling, lightening is popping, and it’s time to duck and cover. In marriage- the sunshine is where everything is going great – we’re in love, getting along, and life is good. The thunderstorm usually comes when someone feels slighted, gets their feelings hurt, or feels under appreciated. These usually aren’t on purpose by the other party- sometimes shit just happens. Then the yelling, crying, not speaking, punishing or however you do it starts After these thunderstorms pass there is usually a period where the sun is shining and it’s still raining. My granny always said “The devil’s beating his wife again” This is the most important time in any marriage. You poke your head out and see if it’s safe. How you both decide to handle the devil beating his wife period determines how you move forward. Believe it or not- that’s usually up to you. You can live bitter and choose to believe that the person meant to hurt you or forgive them and get over yourself and live happy.
4) We come before the children
I think this is one huge mistake many couple’s make after the children (or parasites) come along. We are taught as women that our children always come first. I have always gotten horrid looks and accusation because I dared to ask – why? Usually when I ask this question in a group the looks of shock crack me up. You would think I had just said I’m an atheist in the middle of prayer meeting. The last time I checked – I was here first and if I don’t at least semi take care of myself how in the world can I take care of them. If I need to sit on the deck and put in earphones for 30 minutes in order not to kill them- shouldn’t I be allowed? Second here was my marriage- aren’t we doing them a disservice if we don’t take care of our marriage so they will grow up seeing normal relationships interactions? Society keeps harping on me about being their roll model- shouldn’t a healthy relationship be part of that? Now- the relationship we show them isn’t always sunshine and roses- sometimes it’s cussing and shoe throwing. Aren’t those both parts of any relationship? What is wrong with saying to children- that have taken 80% of all of my time- “sorry- this is mommy and daddy time” and locking the door?? They ought to understand that when mommies and daddies stop wanted to spend “adult time” together and locking the door- that’s when they should worry. Happy mommy and daddies – lock the door!! They get their time and quite frankly we deserve ours.
5) Punishment is for Parenting
Punishment can only be dispensed in a relationship where one has power and the other is weaker. You can punish your children because basically you hold most of the cards. I have no problems explaining who is in control in that relationship daily to the parasites. In that relationship- mama is queen and daddy is king!! Marriage aught to be a relationship of equals. Now I’m not saying that the distributions of labor, money etc is always equal- cuz it’s not. Mama’s will typically do most of the baby stuff- not because we want to or they don’t want too- we are just wired that way. Every marriage has their own distributions of labor and as long as both parties can deal- none are wrong. I don’t care and no one else should care how you divide it up- as long as you’re happy. What I mean by equal is RESPECT. Aretha had it right when she sang R.E.S.P.E.C.T. In a marriage you each need to respect what each other does and brings to the relationship. Each of you have your strengths and weaknesses and if you did it right you balance each other well. Just because one works and one takes care of the house and kids doesn’t mean one is more important than the other. Truth is- the world would fall apart without either. Watch a parent who is married while one goes out of town for a week- It’s hysterical as they suddenly try to do everything. I have friends that I respect tremendously that are single parents and do it everyday. I would rather overlook a bunch and suck up my pride some days than EVER be left alone with the children!! I’m like grandpa in that commercial “please don’t leave us with the babies” You could say- I respect him just for being here. I have known many a couple that live in a permanent state of punishing each other. She cuts him off so he misbehaves. He misbehaves so she cuts him off and the spiral continues. Spirals have an evil way of turning into black holes of abyss where there is no escape. I may just may be lazy and selfish though because I have never seen a reason to punish myself for his bad behavior.
6) You don’t have to be my everything
I never want anyone to tell me I’m they’re whole world nor do I ever want anyone to be mine. One that’s waaay too much pressure and two I can barely be my own world- much less yours. I’ll be glad to walk with you through life, but for gods sake don’t make me responsible. Why do some people think that there is only one person that’s the end all and be all of your life? We both had lives before we met which were full and fun- we should each enhance those lives – not take them over. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. If your partner isn’t the best listener about certain issue’s- get a friend who is. Hell- get one for everyone of your partners weaknesses- you might survive.
7) Just Tell Them What You Want
There is a little trick my great grandma taught me about human behavior and it’s true for love too. If you pay attention- a person’s actions will show you who they are deep down. Humans have a tendency to project onto others their own thoughts and needs. If you’ve ever dated a very jealous partner, who you have never given a reason, chances are they themselves are a player. The trick to why they are jealous is because part of how they justify their behavior in their own brain is to say everyone does it so you must be too. Now love is very similar. We as humans typically show our love to our partners the way we ourselves want to be loved. The trick is to watch, learn and listen to what your partner is teaching you. Now- Women typically have it easier in this arena. Women- bare with me before your heads explode. Men have a tendency to tie up intimacy, love, appreciation and affection all into one general area- sex. Women can spend 10 minutes (ok 3 for some) and your partner come away feeling loved and appreciated. Punish them with none and you are basically telling them you do not love them. The last time I checked – telling someone you care about you don’t love them or care about their needs is just mean! Now women are a little more complicated and their needs could be many things. They could see love in lots of things from cuddle time, listening time, to you taking the trash out. I believe in just tell em what it is!! Don’t try hints and don’t try implying – just tell your partner what you need and why. If ya did good and married well- they’ll try their little best to make you happy. They may not always succeed, but the effort is over half the battle.
The real thing I’ve learned from watching marriages that have lasted from 5 to 50 years is that both partners usually have the ability to say and believe – It’s not all about me. They see the big picture and go through the up and down roller coaster called marriage understanding- my mama’s favorite saying- this too shall pass. The amazing thing is it usually does.
I’m going to say something very shocking for those of you who know me- I can be a little irreverent. Well OK maybe a lot! I don’t tend to be the disrespectful kind- I just usually see the humor in things that most people hold dear so some take it as callous. I’m actually too old to care most of time and since I’m getting older I don’t think it’s going to get much better. You know the old saying “F em if they can’t take a joke”- well that pretty much sums up my thought processes of the issue.
I see all of these list of 10 things etc etc going around so I figured why not do my own. I’ll never get it all done today in this blog because as life goes on we learn new things everyday!
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1) People that are mushy and tooooo nice usually are full of ……!
I don’t think they mean to be, but for gods sake, please do not try to convince me you are that happy and gushy all the time! I have no doubt most of them “think” the same things I do, but don’t have the stones to say them. That’s OK- I have no problem if you are not comfortable saying them- just don’t judge me or think I’m callous because it “accidentally” slipping out of my mouth! You thought it too and if not well “Bless your heart”!!
2) Be proud and own the things you can’t live down anyway!!
I know this is shocking, but I’ve done some down right stupid things in my life! If you have long term friends and family you will be all too aware that they will NEVER let you live those stupid things down anyway so you might as well embrace em!! I accidentally slammed “my own head” in a car door in my 20’s (yes I was sober). I still hear about it at least once a year!! I have learned to bow and take my applause. Sometimes the stupid things we do make us memorable and memorable is always better than forgettable!!
3) Sometimes I know who NOT to vote for by whose yards their campaign signs are in
Everybody knows someone who falls into the category of “those” people. My definition of “those” people is very simple. They are always the people that have extreme views on everything and no tolerance for anything else. If they put a campaign sign in their yard- you can be darn tooting I will not be voting for that candidate! We investigate our candidates -sometimes I think candidates should be able to investigate the craziness of their supporters before they advertise it! 🙂
4) People who have no or very few friends- usually there’s a valid reason
This life lesson took some time and age to really sink into my brain!! I always had this empathetic need to be their friends. I felt like if only they could see that life was fun and enjoyable they would magically change their attitudes and become decent human beings. Guess what??? It NEVER freaking happens!! Miserable people want to be miserable people! Best advice I can give you is get out of their pig pen and let them wallow alone!! My granny always said “if you fly with the crows you get shot with the crows” well I’m changing it to “if you wallow with the miserable- you’ll need Prozac too”
5) Marriage is a wonderful institution for those of us who really need to be institutionalized!!
I hear all of these people saying “marriage is work” “marriage is a journey” etc etc I don’t think marriage is any of those. Marriage is simply a choice you both make everyday to be downright stubborn. Now I’m not saying you’re even gonna agree on the decision to stay married everyday cause trust me- you won’t. In 16 years of marriage we have had some humdinger arguments and we are probably still married only due to my husbands steadfast hard headedness. We are still here and most days I’m happy he can be a stubborn ass and he just knows I need to be institutionalized!! 🙂
I’m working on “Things I’ve learned during motherhood” so if you think I’m irreverent now- you ain’t seen nothing yet!!! 🙂