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Mawwaige - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Mawwaige [Jul. 11th, 2005|10:55 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

Life is filled with strange little concidences that bring ideas to a head and lead to lj entries. This time around, those coincidences have been a couple of online friends and some real life people bemoaning their poor choices in spouses and wondering why they seemed to choose wrong time and again. The spouses in question didn't appear, on the surface, to have that much in common, but discussion pointed to deeper issues that resonated across the pack. So much so that I think some generalizations can be made. And therefore, here for your reading pleasure - and nitpicking - is Z's Guide to Happy Marriage:

1. Date all the emo boys and goth girls you want, but marry a grownup. This was the universal "light dawning" moment for each person to whom I spoke. It's marvelous if he makes you laugh and is always fun to be with, or if she blows your mind with her sexual daring and prowess, but if he can't hold down a job or she spends the rent money on kinky shoes, all the fun will quickly go out of those other activities. The same goes for the puppy you feel compelled to rescue - that guy who is so desperately emo that your heart just goes out to him, the girl who is fragile as glass and needs you. If you really need to rescue a puppy, go to the animal shelter, 'cuz a mixed-breed terrier won't wreck your car, and the fact that it never helps with the housework is a given from day one. Irresponsible behavior that is cute and attractive in a boyfriend or girlfriend evenings and weekends will drive you bananas when it moves into your house and shares your stuff all day every day. If that means that your desired spouse doesn't make the cut, then you are better off making that decision now, instead of after five years of misery and a lot of bickering over who gets the big screen TV (let alone custody of kids). It might seem cruel or cold to set such standards, but it isn't - if someone isn't ready to be a grownup, then they aren't ready to be married, no matter how old they are.

2. If you're going to get married, be a grownup. It would seem like an obvious correllary to #1, but a surprising number of people go into marriage expecting that their spouse is there to rescue them from loneliness and boredom and the day-to-day grind of life. Doesn't work that way. All the grind continues, but now you've added someone else's priorities and expectations and quirks into the mix. You will have to compromise and work out differences, and you won't have the luxury of stamping off for a week of pouting - now that your love lives in the same house, every night the both of you climb into the same bed. The temper tantrums that used to bring flowers and candy will very soon just bring irritation and anger. You aren't a prized bauble that can simply flit away. No one likes a brat.

3. Marriage is hard work. "Happily ever after" is one of the most destructive lies ever foisted upon children, and it's too damned bad Walt Disney is dead because I'd hit him with such a class action lawsuit! Weddings are romantic events filled with smiles and happy tears. Marriages are filled with leaky faucets, car repairs, crying children, in-laws, more bills than money, housework, yardwork, work work - and that's just when things are going smoothly. If someone gets sick, or an elderly family member comes into your care, the stress level climbs up that much higher. When you are considering whether to marry someone or not, don't think about romantic evenings by the fireplace, think about how this person is going to react when the toilet overflows and the car gets a flat. Don't lie to yourself about how your certain that s/he will eventually learn to cope - what you get before the wedding is generally the person on good behavior. It's gonna get worse.

4. Respect your spouse. If you find yourself complaining to your friends about what a jerk your boyfriend is, what a bitch your girlfriend has become, putting on rings is not going to improve the situation. If you don't respect the person you're thinking of marrying, STOP! You are doing neither of you a favor by proceeding with the relationship. Either recover your respect for your beloved or realize that s/he actually doesn't deserve it and move on.

5. Respect yourself. Don't fear being alone; being alone is better than being with someone who treats you like crap. Don't settle. Know that you deserve to be treated well, because if you don't then others will sense that they can take advantage of you. Being truly strong allows you to be kind, generous, forgiving, sensitive, all the things that make for a good relationship, because you aren't continually scared that the other person will either leave or will steal your self-esteem. They can't if you respect yourself.

6. Mind games are tiresome. People set themselves up for failure when they can't express what they want, or inform their spouse that s/he has overstepped a boundary. Cold silence, emotional sabotage, and the cleverly hurled invective are all damaging to relationships. Don't engage in them; don't tolerate them. Grownups talk to each other, take a breather when the discussion gets too heated, and work things through without resorting to manipulation. You aren't always going to get what you want, and neither should your spouse. Fight fair, compromise, and do not spend your time filling your quiver with past transgressions that you can throw into your spouse's face the next time you argue. If you're having the same argument over and over, take the time to work through the issue.

7. Empathy! Before you do something potentially controversial, think about how your spouse would feel about it. Think about how you would feel if your spouse did it to you. A good marriage is a two-way street, with both spouses concerned for the well-being of the other. If the person you are considering marrying is only concerned about how s/he feels, run away. You are just asking for continual frustration and misery.

8. Remember to have fun together. Marriage is hard work, but it is also a comfort in a big, cruel world. Don't lose the things that drew you together to the push and pull of everyday life. If your initial attraction was based on the fact that you both love movies, don't stop going to the movies. Some interests have to change - if your single friends are all still single and that scene just isn't you anymore, look for ways you can make more mutual friends together. Don't let your interests get so separated that you share little except a bed and a checking account. (And if your potential spouse and you have nothing in common but a group of friends, don't get married - friends move away or get busy and you will find yourself staring across the dinner table at a person to whom you have nothing to say. Nobody needs to be married that badly.)

Any other suggestions?
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: hugh_mannity
2005-07-11 03:06 pm (UTC)
1. Date all the emo boys and goth girls you want, but marry a grownup.

Ouch! That hurt. Cos I just did that one wrong. At least I didn't marry her.

I've got nothing to add to this fine list.

I just wish someone had stapled it to the inside of my eyelids before I started dating.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:08 pm (UTC)
If you didn't marry her, then you're okay. Maybe a little heartsore, but okay.

Hope it helps in the future.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2005-07-11 03:10 pm (UTC)
Well said, Z.

I'd have to add the tired old cliche' that you shouldn't go into a marriage with the intent of changing the person. You know the types of relationships: "Well, he's a really nice guy except for x, but I know that once we're married, I'll get him to stop doing x." Doesn't work that way, people. What happens when he doesn't stop doing x, despite your best efforts? Settle those issues before you walk down the aisle if you can. And if you can't, and they are traits you simply can't live with, then don't get married.

And I know it sounds obvious, but a marriage is a partnership. Check the selfishness at the door before you walk down whatever aisle you choose to walk down. I guess this would be filed under the "Empathy" paragraph above. Decisions that affect both of you should be made by both of you. Respect each other's opinions and when offering yours, make sure it is rational. Giving a simple "no" without providing the rationale behind it is counter-productive and will only make matters work. And when the other person gives that rational no, be understanding. Don't pout and try to make the person feel badly for stating their opinion.

One last major thing: discuss children before you get married. A few years into the marriage is not the time to drop the "I don't want to have kids ever bomb" on your partner who may have been telling everyone how she wants 2.5 kids and dog.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2005-07-11 03:13 pm (UTC)
Ugh. That kids thing is so frickin' obvious that I forget people actually do that. I guess you have to mention it, but man.
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[User Picture]From: jfargo
2005-07-11 03:11 pm (UTC)
All very good points that I mostly agree with. Reading the points themselves, without looking at the explanation, there are a few that I kind of shrugged at, but after reading everything I must say I agree.

I have many friends right now talking about marriage, and I think one or two would benefit from this. Mind if I link to it in a post of my own?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:12 pm (UTC)
Not at all! Hope it helps.
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[User Picture]From: sfllaw
2005-07-11 03:12 pm (UTC)
it's too damned bad those Grimm Brothers are dead because I'd hit them with such a class action lawsuit!

They're probably spinning in their graves right now. The endings for their fairy tales usually had the protagonists dead, or worse!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:13 pm (UTC)
True. I shall edit!
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[User Picture]From: lindalee_
2005-07-11 03:21 pm (UTC)
thanks for taking the time to write this... i've actually got tears in my eyes because i've once again re-affirmed that i married the right man.

not the perfect man...
but the RIGHT one.
for ME... for US.


(forgive me... kinda gushing right now)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:26 pm (UTC)
Gushing is good. I'm glad you found this kind of happiness!
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[User Picture]From: siljannaferret
2005-07-11 03:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this piece am going to copy it and send it to my boy friend.
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From: crystalsage
2005-07-11 03:22 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful stuff, dear. Thank you.
I hope you don't mind, I've added you to my Friends List...theferrett constantly points his readers to you posts, and after this one I couldn't resist. ;)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:28 pm (UTC)
Not at all. Welcome!
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[User Picture]From: zarq
2005-07-11 03:29 pm (UTC)
Wow. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for posting this!

So many of my previous girlfriends had trouble with... well, petty much all of these that I collectively think of them as the "There but for the Grace of G-d Society." ;-)

If I may be so bold, I'd also add....

Privacy Keep family secrets private.

Make time for yourselves individually

Teamwork / Sharing Responsibility You're both not alone anymore.

Remember: This Too Shall Pass

An addition to #3: Never enter into a marriage thinking you can change your future spouse. It's a recipe for total disaster.

If you'd like me to elaborate on any of these (or think they're ridiculous) let me know. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:32 pm (UTC)
Oo, the privacy one is really good - you both have to respect each other's needs for it, and for individual activities. Jealousy that demands all your time for me me ME is totally destructive.

And the not trying to change a spouse is one that has been harped on so much that I left it out, but I think that was a mistake.
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From: wildcelticrose
2005-07-11 03:30 pm (UTC)
I just loved this post. I found it linked on a freinds page and am going to link to it if you don't mind...

~L
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:33 pm (UTC)
Don't mind at all - spread the word!
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[User Picture]From: blackwolfbwr
2005-07-11 03:34 pm (UTC)

Good post!

I, too, was linked to your post from theferrett. That totally makes me think of how I used to be when I was younger, all freaked out about being single and thinking that I had to be in a relationship. I'm definitely not that stupid anymore; being single isn't bad at all; it gives you a time to discover yourself and think about what you really want. Now I'm taking my time and I know I'll find the right person in time.

Another thing that could be added is that: be friends first and don't rush into relationships; that's more of a relationship kind of thing. I know so many people (I used to be this way before) that will rush into relationships after knowing the guy/girl for about a week, which I think is stupid. If you are friends first, then you can spot problems easier and stay friends and avoid a messy, painful, relationship.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Good post!

Very true. Ferrett and I have gotten over some rough spots due to liking each other so much. Definitely vital.
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[User Picture]From: crystalrowan
2005-07-11 03:36 pm (UTC)
I could not have said this any better myself.

And several of these hit on the one piece of marriage advice I've given time and time again - be realistic.

Don't expect more of your partner than is realistic. Don't expect your marriage to be a fairy tale. Don't expect that things won't go wrong. Your relationship should be built on the qualities (trust, friendship, respsect, teamwork) that will be needed when things DO go wrong.

Bravo!!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:37 pm (UTC)
Very true. Perfection isn't happening. Keep a sense of humor.
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[User Picture]From: apostate_96
2005-07-11 03:42 pm (UTC)
Fantastic post! I agree with all of those points based off my own experience with being married. Also:

If you're just looking to get laid, don't get married. Sure, society tells us that the only time sex is OK is when a man and woman are married. However, if you're just looking for someone to screw regularly, getting married is absolutely the wrong idea. All the stuff mentioned above comes into play, meaning that at some point your partner will not be interested. Hopefully it won't be personal, but if all you're after is getting laid, this can be a relationship-crusher.

Don't drag other people into your fights/arguments. If you're disagreeing (to whatever intensity), do not call friends or family to try and find someone who'll agree with you so you can screech at your spouse about how they're wrong because you've got support! This is a great way to alienate the Hell out of your spouse, and also to lose those other relationshps that get dragged into the concertina-wire of married drama.

Marriage isn't a zero-sum game. Learn to compromise. If you look at it as either you get what you want or your spouse does but one's gonna win and one's gonna lose, you're up for some serious misery. It's easy when the stuff that you're having to potentially give up isn't all that important. Where it can really hurt is when you both have something important to you on the line. If you're not willing to compromise somehow, someone's going to end up feeling really hurt and maybe more than a bit resentful. If that keeps going for any length of time, your marriage has suddenly turned into a box of old TNT that's sweating nitroglycerine at a frightening rate...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:46 pm (UTC)
All excellent points! Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: vitalessence
2005-07-11 03:43 pm (UTC)
Excellent post and quite timely re: ym life situation.

thanks
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:47 pm (UTC)
Hope it helps.
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[User Picture]From: pleepleus
2005-07-11 03:44 pm (UTC)

followed through from the ferret. :)

all excellent points!

I would add -

if you find yourself apologizing for your partner or startingor ending every sentence about your partner with a qualifier, (if only, he/she could, someday,he/she used to, etc) then you are not with a person you like, you are with a person you *want* to like.

if you spend more of the relationship bickering and fighting than being happy in each others company, then it may be time to re-think the relationship. Good relationships don't involve constant bad emotion.

Trust - if you have trust issues, deal with them. Don't project an ex's bad behavior into a current relationship. Not everyone is a cheater or lier. Trust and respect are earned, but if you are incapable of giving them to another person, then you shouldn't try to be in a relationship.


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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:48 pm (UTC)

Re: followed through from the ferret. :)

Wow. These are also outstanding. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: mikilt
2005-07-11 03:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this.

I suspect that when something goes awry in a relationship, it can be traced back to one of these points. I can see myself reffering back to this list often.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-07-11 03:49 pm (UTC)
Feel free. The grownup thing sort of encompasses it all, but a lot of people aren't sure how to be grownups.
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