It All Started 49 Years Ago

I grew up in that generation where it was normal for families to get divorced. I could safely say I grew up with a lot of people who lived with single parents. It wasn’t something crazy. Divorce happens for whatever reason. The most important is usually that it’s just better for the kids if the people are apart than together. Sometimes the person who completed you, who made you a better person together, eventually becomes someone that you become better without. Life happens.

Today, my parents have been together for 49 years. That’s insane to me. Growing up, the idea of staying together with someone for that long was nuts. How could you possibly stand one person enough to want to live with them forever? I didn’t get it when I was younger. Even now, as a skeptic when it comes to romance, I’m shocked as I realize my husband and I have been married for nearly 10 years. It doesn’t feel like it. We just get along so well that every day is a treat.

My parents’ relationship taught me some valuable lessons. For one thing, never seeing each other works wonders for a relationship. (Joking, of course. My parents worked different shifts and my dad worked a lot growing up.) That’s why our “Sunday Dinner” was so important. Even though it was lunchtime, it was called “Sunday Dinner” because my dad worked nights and that was like dinner time to him. The whole family would eat together that one day a week. The siblings that moved out would still show up, eventually with their kids, and the house was full of people. That was the time my father cut out to make sure he spent time with us. Our parents would work together to make a massive meal for all of us, and it was something that I’ll remember and pass on to my kids. It’s still a tradition today, with my family going to their house to spend Sunday Dinner with them, even though they are both now retired.

I also learned the importance of being treated well. My father dotes on my mother. Whatever she wanted, she usually got. Whether it was that expensive sweater from Ireland or a new computer, my dad would always make sure that my mother was taken care of. That taught me everything I needed to know about choosing a partner for my life. It taught me how a spouse should treat their wife/husband. There should be love and care and respect. There would be work. That married couples weren’t an ownership; they were a partnership. These are all very important things that I learned growing up watching my parents.

They also taught the value of resolving an argument. I would be lying if I said my parents never argued. They did. But they always resolved their argument. They didn’t belittle each other. They definitely fought for what they thought was right, but they never stooped. It turns out, everyone one of their fights was a good lesson in conflict resolution. There was a fight, and then there was an end. Children need to see that. They need to know that it’s okay to fight to give them realistic expectations in a marriage. Marriage is work, and it takes a lot of work to stay together for nearly 5 decades.

I’m grateful to have my parents still alive and still together. I’m grateful for the lessons that they taught me about marriage, even when they didn’t know they were teaching me. I learned that if you love someone enough to take the plunge, you love them enough to keep working at it in your own way. You can’t always stay together, and you shouldn’t always stay together. I’m not morally opposed to divorce. Families split up for their own reasons and that’s okay. This was meant as a way to applaud my parents for this long marriage and thank them for the lessons they taught me from watching them as I grew up.

The Best Marriages Appreciate the Little Things

I always get that look of pity or a lecture about prioritizing my relationship when I make a comment about how my husband and I only go out maybe once or twice a year for a “date night”. They assume its a backhanded comment about my husband refusing to take me out. They assume our marriage is broken somehow. That relationship can’t be that strong if you don’t go out to some fancy dinner where you blow $100 on food that lasts for 20 minutes in a crowded restaurant that is often either too loud you can barely hear each other or too quiet to want to bother the silence with a conversation. The thing is that this scenario isn’t fun for me. I don’t find it appealing. I’m awkward enough without putting myself in this position of feeling even more awkward.

The thing is that I enjoy being at home in sweatpants, curled up with my forever partner. We’re not “go out for romantic dates” people. We sit at home and eat trash food together while playing a board game with the kids or catching up on Netflix when the kids go to sleep or even playing video games together. That’s our perfect date night. We don’t need to doll up and pretend we are something that we aren’t to be considered normal. The whole point of marriage is to love your partner for who they are, not turn them into who you want them to be.

Every couple is different, but I think that the one thing that people need to remember is that it isn’t how much your spouse spent on your ring or how massive the diamond is. Rings break, they get too small/too big; it’s about making sure the marriage doesn’t break. I barely wear my wedding jewelry. I’m not a huge jewelry person, though I do have a weakness for bracelets. What does matter is how my husband just knows when I’ve had a long day or how he knows that I’m exhausted and brings me a coffee made exactly how I like it. How if I’m sick, he steps up and makes my life as easy as he can. Those are the things that are going to last. Jewelry will tarnish, but the person I chose as a partner should be as reliable as ever.

Marriage isn’t about the shinies or the parties. It’s about being in the trenches for even the most difficult times. It’s not about how many times you go out on dates. It’s about standing by each other’s side as your children undergo surgeries or dealing with their “quirks” as a team. It’s about having their back, even when you think they are wrong. It’s about fighting even harder when you know they’re right. They aren’t your spouse; they’re your partner. It doesn’t matter if you argue 1000 times as long as you resolve it and move on. No relationship will be perfect to the outside world; it only matters what’s perfect to you and makes you happy. Because if you aren’t happy, then what’s the point?

The Art of Making Up Your Mind

I can’t seem to shake the theme of conflicting beliefs that people have. People stand around preaching tolerance, but only with people who agree with them. People make bold statements of absolution, unwavering to any reason or arguments that may help them consider that they might be wrong. It’s this same unwavering absolution that has created the mockery of government that exists in America today.
So let’s talk about marriage then. Marriage is a union between two people who are in love and want to spend forever (or until they can’t stand each other anymore) together. They would like to tell you that this is a religious union, blessed by God and so on. They’re lying to you. Marriage is really a legally binding contract between two people who either love each other enough to be married for a certain amount of time or until each party gets what they want out of the deal until which case they either die married or go to lawyers to undo the union. I usually express disdain for marriage, as part of it brings out the inner feminist in me but mostly because for such a right we have, they make sure to tell people who they can marry all the time. I accept this fact. I even admit frequently that I would’ve stayed forever engaged to my husband if it weren’t for the fact he had great insurance and we were paying double the insurance for each of us individually. But again, this shows the legally binding contract between two people.
Which brings me to the point. States are considering a law requiring couples to take classes about marriage before allowing them to get marriage licenses. Before, people were required to take blood tests to get married. There are people against this, on the argument that marriage is a right we all have and the government has no right in this realm. These same people also argue against gay marriage on the grounds of religious and moral beliefs. If the government has no say, how come you need them for a marriage license and to dissolve the marriage?
I’m okay with this. Too many people go into marriage and expect it to magically work without any effort. They assume a partnership is a partnership and everything will be okay. Marriage takes work, some more than others. I also think making people get a parenting license before procreation is a great idea because of how many terrible parents out there, so maybe I’m skewed. The reality is there is a high divorce rate and that needs to be addressed somehow. I’m not opposed to divorce. I’m not going to say that divorce ruins children’s lives or that children that grow up in single family homes are screwed for life, because I don’t believe that. The arguing of parents are more harmful than a divorce, in my opinion. One major reason reason for divorce, after money, is conflicting beliefs that couples don’t think matter until after the fact or children are in the picture. Maybe classes before marriage isn’t a bad idea.

And Now, We’re back.

I left you all with a cliffhanger last week. I’m happy to report that so far, even though it was a roller-coaster week, everything seems to have been successful. Although we had one trip to the doctors and another call, things went well considering. The nights were the most difficult, as he’s a stomach sleeper which is probably very painful considering the placement of the surgery. Also the medicines may have upset his stomach. All this would be verified if the poor baby could say more than “hi” and “baba”. Tomorrow, the catheter and stitches will hopefully be out and healed and everything can go back to normal. It was a rough week, but we  had great support and helpers, so we lived.

Now, back to business.

This ordeal made me appreciate my husband more. We bickered, which was uncommon for us, but when you’re in a stressful situation like that with very little sleep, you’re bound to have a few little snippy moments. We’re a strong couple, and at the end of the day we had each others’ back and we knew it. This solidified my belief that we’re a great team, and I believe that lesser couples would be in divorce court after something like that.

During this time, we ended up watching “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”. I’m not a romantic by any means, but this movie really made me think about relationships and marriage. That, and it made me think about the end of the world. Would it hurt being hit by a meteor or would we just instantly be incinerated and that’s that? Anyways, I got off point there. Maybe a basis of marriage shouldn’t be just a love and admiration for someone. I think that you should look at your partner and decide “if I’m faced with an impending apocalypse, is that the person I want to die next to?” Sure, this seems a little bit macabre to think about, but I think it’s an important question to ask yourself. Also, would you kill that person if they got bit by a zombie before or after they turn? Would this person properly help defend you if zombies were trying to eat your face? Important questions when you’re faced with a shiny diamond in  your face methinks.

I’m okay with that idea. I can safely say that my husband would fend off a horde of zombies for me. More importantly, I can say with full confidence that he’s a perfect person to be my partner and to die next to if an asteroid was coming to kill humanity. This is the person who is my partner in life, my partner with the kids, and most importantly my partner in crime. If you can smile at the person after a bad day, and really think to yourself that person is the one I want to face an apocalypse with, then you’re not doing to bad. You shouldn’t settle for less than that, and anything less should be unacceptable.

And Then Comes Marriage

Rumor has it, the Supreme Court will rule on gay marriage today. I wanted to get ahead of this with a reiteration of my prediction in hopes that I’m correct. This will be a 2 parter, if the decision does come in after I post this for a reaction piece. All eyes of people that care will be watching for this ruling, that either way will upset a mass ton of people.

I believe in people who love each other should be able to get married. Back when marriage was just a conversation between myself and my husband, I didn’t understand why we should get married. What makes me so special that I can marry whomever I want, but other people can’t. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “I won’t get married until everyone can get married”, because I think that’s a cop-out people use so they don’t have to get married. I didn’t understand why it’s necessary for me to get married. I’ve been married for nearly 2 years, and I still don’t really understand. Nothing has changed between us in our relationship, except that now we’re legally bound together until we pay a large price to divorce and I had to change my last name. (Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it.) That doesn’t take away from people who idealize a process like marriage as something in their dreams.

417711_10150588848513107_1129203482_nBut on that token, shouldn’t every American be allowed that dream? This picture is hilarious, but it’s true. Last time I spoke about this, I pointed out that just a few decades ago I wouldn’t have been allowed to marry my husband since he isn’t a White male. Now today, it’s essentially the same fight. Legally, what’s the big deal? I accept that people have moral oppositions to this as a result of religious beliefs. But I recall that religion shouldn’t  have a bearing on legal matters. We live in a land of law with religion, not religious law. No one is asking you to get married to a partner of the same gender, we’re simply asking that you leave people’s bedroom alone.

My theory is that the Supreme Court will legalize it, using the grounds of the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in 1967 stating that “anti-miscegenation” laws were unconstitutional. Telling someone they couldn’t marry another person was unconstitutional, and marriage is a right we have as humans. I end with this quote on interracial marriage and slyly point out that the justice never specified “man” or “woman” in the decision, he simply said “person”. Granted he was only speaking about race, but I can hope. From Wikipedia:

Chief Justice Earl Warren‘s opinion for the unanimous court held that:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

It’s Easier to Ask for Forgiveness Than It Is To Get Permission

Every time I see friends of mine with their partners, I always give one bit of advice: It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission. I don’t do it to be serious, but because I find it hilarious. It’s not real advice they should listen to, it’s the rationale you give yourself when you do something you wanted that your partner disapproved of. What kind of relationship is that, when people do whatever they want without any regard to their partner? I sat around considering this idea of relationships when a few of my friends “put a ring on it”, and are embarking on a fantastic part of their life I’m glad I can watch and say I’ve been through successfully.

The real key to success is not letting the other forget the person they really are and allow them to forget who they are. I used to think that my husband changed me, that he calmed me down but allowed me to still be the quirky and neurotic me who still regains a bit of free spirit. I thought about that, and I realized he didn’t change anything about me. The “calm” that I have now has nothing to do with my husband at all; it’s a result of the natural maturity that occurs as we age. Maturity doesn’t mean you because some boring older version of yourself, it just means that you outgrew everything that differentiates an adult and an adolescent. I wonder if that means that getting drunk on wine and not vodka is a part of this maturity.

In this growth, I wonder if that’s what the difference between a “relationship” and a relationship. A “relationship” is where two people come together under the façade of an actual relationship, but really is an ownership or superficial version that most of us go through in high school. A relationship is where two people grow together, where compromise and common ground is the key and you push each other to follow dreams and allow each other to be the person you fell in love with. It’s easy to be with another person, it’s not easy to be a part of another person’s life. As  I near 30, I’m glad I found this person that follows my idea of what a relationship should be. I hate dating, and I’m definitely glad not to have to be a part of the crowd every again. But what better way to go into the “age of actual adulthood”, than with a partner and not an owner or alone.

People will probably disagree with me, that’s perfectly fine. I’m probably narrow-minded to believe that a relationship equals a partnership. I firmly believe that though, and if you’re constantly bending or miserable then that’s really your problem and I don’t feel guilty that I’m not. I should, but I don’t. It’s not easy to walk away; it’s easier to allow yourself to get lost. Some people like the easy way out. I don’t. I don’t like to settle, I don’t like to bend and I certainly don’t like the idea of not being myself. I wish everyone else the happiness I’ve found and I urge everyone to find a partner too. Notice I said partner.

The Easter Bunny Never Forgets

In all my parenting emails and reading parenting magazines, I saw several articles about making the holiday fun and exciting for your kids. I saw a few stress-free party ideas. I never once saw an article about “Survival Guide to In-Laws and Other Awkward Situations”. Luckily, all my In-Laws are nice people. It’s really not their fault I’m an anti-social shut in that doesn’t know how to associate with other people. It’s actually a miracle my husband puts up with me, because sometimes I lack any sense of what’s appropriate and not. So far, I don’t think I’ve offended them so let’s hope I keep up the streak.

For instance, I was more excited that I dared to try on a “pre-pregnancy” shirt to see if it fit so I didn’t have to wear my husband’s shirts like I do around the house. A miracle, it fit! I tried on another, with similar luck. I tried on the jeans, and that wasn’t even close. I say it all the time, but “little victories”. Sad to say, I was actually more excited about this than the holiday. I should be ashamed that I said that, but I’m honestly not. I feel very awesome at this time.

The truth is, your mother and mother in law will never let you forget that you gained weight. They don’t do it purposely, and I doubt it’s really malicious. I think it’s just nature to note things of that nature, and they decide that you deserve to know whether you want the reminder or not. So when one mentions that you’ve lost a lot of weight, you get giddy like a schoolgirl and get excited. In my head, I squealed with delight. I’m not entirely sure whether it was just in my head. I really don’t care though, I just want to fit in my clothes again and feel like a human. Or I’ll settle for “just like a me”.

No matter how long you’ve known your in-laws or have been married into the family, I still feel like there’s a need to make sure they don’t hate you. They don’t need to like you just because you’re part of the family. They can sense insincerity and will definitely prey an any weakness that might make them consider you as unworthy of their child’s affections. So the big tip is to be yourself, but a more tamed and better version of yourself. Bite your tongue more often than you normally would and smile and nod when you need to. If you keep those in mind, you’ll be fine and you’ll have a happy life with your spouse. Mostly because every holiday won’t be a fight because you’ll actually enjoy spending time with them.