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.