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Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"

Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"
click the volcano for the due explanation
"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." — Gordon B. Hinckley
Exaggeration is the spice of life

Book I am Currently Reading: Peter and The Shadow Thief

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Mawige...mawige is what bwings us togevor today...." -The Princess Bride

Yeah...Like I'm going to take THAT advice. 

I got married when I was 21. Brandon was 22. Yeah, I know. We were young. So, of course, everyone thought that 1. We needed to be told how hard marriage is, 2. were we really sure we wanted to do this? It was okay to change my mind- before the wedding. And then they'd go on ahead and give us all KINDS of cliche advice that everyone has heard  since they were 5 years old. 

I was so  sick of it by the time we finally tied the knot. And half the people giving me the advice were divorced at least once, or weren't even married themselves. It was literally like I would walk into a room, and people would begin telling me not to go to bed angry (everyone thinks this is the best advice in the world, when really, it's one of the worst.) or some other seemingly wise advice and I would hear a droning "blah blah blah blah blah" streaming from their lips as I figuratively read "My marriage failed because I took this advice" written across their foreheads. 

Well, everyone was right on one thing. Marriage was hard. And it hasn't gotten any easier. BETTER for certain, but never EASY.  And trust me, we've had all the highs and lows that are expected. We've been married almost 9 years. NINE YEARS! Holy CRAP! 

Now, I know that, while 9 years is 1/3 of my life, so that seems like a really long time to me, we're still pretty "new" to this thing, and there are still challenges to come.  Still, though, I think I've been married long enough to have separated the good and the bad advice. 

Good Marriage Advice:

1. Laugh. Have a sense of humor.
       ~There is SO MUCH in life that ends up being a choice between sobbing uncontrollably or giggling incessantly. Choose the latter. Even if the situation at hand isn't terribly funny, it WILL be later. I have also read that inside jokes bring couples closer. In my time as a wife, I have found this to be true. Having fun little secrets that you laugh and share together but with no one else, adds to all those things that ONLY the two of you share. Something to think on. 

2. Communicate.
       ~Honestly, 100% true, just about every single one of the issues that Brandon and I have come from a lack of communication.  And this isn't just referring to the common courtesy of calling to say you'll be late from work- this is also all about letting the other person know how you're feeling. My husband works 2 jobs and goes to school. I don't see him often. And that means that sometimes, I get pretty lonely, and even feel a little bit abandoned. I have 2 choices. I can sit here feeling sorry for myself, and get madder and madder, and then I start to resent him, and then, without warning, there's a wedge between us. ORRRR, I can give him a call (since the cell phone is our main source of contact these days) and let him know how I'm feeling. He won't know if I don't tell him. From there, we can plan some time, one on one, so that we both feel better. 

3. Put your marriage first. 
        ~ I have had multiple arguments with online friends about this. A lot of women, particularly those with children, feel that their marriage takes the back seat. Of course, the reason is always children. (You know, all those perfect mommies out there who are so passionately in love with their kids that it becomes creepy?) Some women can't wrap their minds around this. Why would one EVER put her husband before her children? He can dress himself, right? He can feed himself.  He can drive and spend money and speak his own mind. Babies are different. And they NEEEEEEED us. Well guess what- in about 18 years or so, that baby who needs you so much is going to grow up, move out, have their own baby, and they're not going to need you anymore. Heck, by the time they're 7, they don't really NEEEEEED you anymore.  At least not in the same way. And you will be left with your spouse, just you and him. And either you'll have to start all over building that marriage on love and trust and, to an extent, necessary dependency, or, it's going to fizzle, and you'll be telling your college kid that you're getting a divorce. The thing is, putting your marriage first doesn't mean that you can't feed your baby. It doesn't mean that you can't meet your child's needs. It doesn't mean you have to choose between your husband and your child. (Believe it or not birth-board-mommies, your son is not your lover, and your daughter is not your girl-friend.) It DOES mean that, for example, even though you feel strongly about co-sleeping, if your husband ends up sleeping on the couch because of it, you make the decision to put your baby in her bed and  let your husband back into HIS bed so that he can feel like he has a place that belongs to the both of you and the both of you only. It means that even though your worry and don't want to be away from your baby, you suck it up and let grandma babysit so you and your husband can have a night free of children and talk about grownup stuff...and DO grown up stuff...if you get my drift. 

4. Have your OWN hobbies. 
        ~Of course, it's always good to do things together. Brandon and I share a lot of opinions. We love a lot of the same books, we love a lot of the same movies, we're both actors, singers, writers, and we, both extroverts, rarely have a quiet moment. We talk about everything and anything. BUT, we also do a lot of things on our own. I blog, and I create. I make all kinds of crafty things. Brandon supports me, but he isn't particularly crafty and doesn't really participate. Brandon is into comic books and video games and biological anthropology. Lots of times, we still talk about these things- but mainly, they remain our own. The point is balance. In addition to putting your marriage first, you also have to have your own identity. You need to be able to look at yourself and see a person of value that is valid even when separate from your partner....or your kids.

5. Marriage isn't always passionate. 
          ~ Sometimes, the romance isn't there. A lot of couples mistake this for falling out of love, and then the marriage fails. REAL love means sticking through that low part. Because it DOES get better again. Otherwise, there wasn't ever real love there. It was only lust. A marriage based on that isn't going to last long anyway. Something that's always helped us: Make-out sessions. No commitment necessary. Draw the line, and act like "it" is off limits. Believe me. It works.

6. Forgive.
           ~We are all going to screw up. Let's be graceful about it. Give forgiveness, and know you'll need forgiveness.

7. My husband's best advice for the guys- Help out without expecting her to put out. In fact, don't even expect a thank you. 
            ~Remember that, just because you may be the primary bread winner, or you might be tired from working, or you might be that really "normal" guy who just wants to get in his wife's pants, realize that, especially if she has kids at home, her day has been as rough as yours, if not rougher. Do the dishes, cook a meal, get the kids ready for bed- without asking, and without expecting her to sleep with you because of it. In my experience, it makes my chances better...but it doesn't guarantee anything. And that's okay. Women are different than we are. It's okay, admirable, and gentlemanly to pick up the slack.

Bad Marriage Advice

1. If you have to argue, do it naked.
       ~What?! I've never tried this, but I never would. I suppose the theory is that it makes you vulnerable, and therefore more likely to be open to the other person's ideas and solutions. I think it sounds humiliating. Not that I'm advocating total control or anything, obviously, in an argument, the end goal shouldn't be ONE WINNER, but a mutual solution. But humiliation is hardly the way to go either. Arguing about something that, obviously, you feel strongly about, comes with it's own set of exposure. Opening up enough to talk about it, to argue about it, to get it out on the table can be difficult enough to do. Don't make it harder by adding unnecessary stress. 

2.Don't  criticize each other. 
       ~Once, in a church lesson, someone told this story about a couple who loved each other so much that when they got married, they made a decision to never EVER criticize each other. However, the man had this way of peeling a grapefruit like an orange and eating it like an orange that just drove the wife crazy. But the years went on and she didn't say anything, until one day, she just got fed up. She said that, if she could address ONE thing that bothered her about him, he could say just ONE about her. The man agreed. So, the wife went off about his grapefruit habit, and complained and complained, and then, when it was the man's turn, he shook his head and said he loved her so he wasn't going to criticize anything.   To me, that is utter bull crap.  We are human. We are going to do things, in a marriage, that drive each other bonkers. It is unrealistic to think that we can actually NOT EVER criticize each other, and holding it all in because you want to be the perfect spouse doesn't actually MAKE you a perfect spouse. It just makes you resentful inside. The point is, criticism should be constructive. If you hate the way your husband peels his grapefruit and eats it like an orange, instead of saying "That is so stupid! EW! I HATE the way you do that!" it's much better to say "You know, that kind of drives me crazy. Could you maybe not do it in front of me? Maybe eat it while you're at work? Thanks!" - stuff that bugs us needs to be addressed. But it doesn't have to be mean.

3. Don't go to bed mad.
         ~Oh my gosh, I think this is actually my LEAST favorite of all advice. It's so utterly stupid, it makes me want to spit nails. I'm sorry, but some stuff isn't solvable in one night. More than once, I have stomped to bed on my own, given my husband the cold shoulder, and gone to sleep without talking to him. You see, after a good night sleep, in the morning, I have a fresh view on things. My opinion may not change, in fact, it rarely does. BUT, from there, I can rationally discuss the situation. Even if I have to go to bed mad the  next night. See, it doesn't do ANYONE any good at all if you're both exhausted from staying up all night because you're mad, and then going to work the next day, still seething, still tired. It just makes ME more likely to say things I don't mean, and to be even more angry later. What IS important is to not go to bed mad and then wake up and ignore the situation. Make sure you reopen the topic when you feel you are in control of yourself and your temper.

4. Never withhold sex because you're upset about something. 
         ~Again, I have to say WHAT!? This is so stupid. It isn't LIKE that. I mean, if I'm really upset about something, and my husband wants to get all up in my business, well, it's not going to happen. All that will do is make me resent him. Sex brings people closer together when things are good between them, when they feel safe, loved, and confident in their relationship. It makes things WORSE when things aren't good, when they don't feel safe, when they are closed off, and when things aren't good. I know. I've been there done that.

5. Just don't do it.
           ~Believe me, I am not a romantic. I mean, I like romance just like any weepy girl out there...but I am sometimes too realistic for my own good. NOT marrying someone you love- I mean REALLY do love- is a bad idea. That's only partially my religious Mormon-girl persona talking. But I truly believe that. Make the commitment to each other. That certificate saying you belong to each other really DOES mean something. Don't let your parents' bad choices and mistakes dictate what YOU do or how YOUR marriage turns out. Break the vicious cycle and be a good example to YOUR kids.

What is the BEST and/or WORST marriage advice YOU ever received?

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*Jess* said...

great advice! and I agree that the bad advice is just that... bad! Happy Anniversary!

The syders said...

Great advice! I've been married 22yrs, we were teenagers when we wed and are now grandparents. You are right it does take a lot of work to keep a marriage together but so worth it if you make a success of it! Lovely Blog, I look forward to following future post.

Jennifer Crosland said...

This is a GREAT article!

And I had to laugh, because we had the opening quote from The Princess Bride, read at our ceremony.

We are big fans of the movie and our friends & family got a great chuckle, which made both of smile.

We thought if we started our life together together laughing, so we can continue laughing with each other everyday!

Robin Harris said...

I think you have some great advice...
This year will be our 10th year. Thanks for the reminder of things that are important :)

marinda123 said...

I was married at 18 and my hubby 19 not because we "had to" but because we wanted to get married. I was told all the same things, especially about teenage marriages not lasting. Well,when my husband passed 3 years ago, we had been married 29 years and had 3 grown children and 2 grandsons. Sure marriage is hard work but anything worth keeping is hard work. I loved my husband the day I married him and I love him still.

hclowe said...

I am engaged right now. Although I am not getting married for 2 more years, I feel like I am already. this advice helps a lot! i am only 18 but still get discouraging comments about marriage!

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