Category Archives: marriage

Here You Go…

I was talking to my mom the other night, and despite her general odd way of saying things she has been around a while, and has done and seen quite a bit, so for the most part (and I hate to admit this) she is usually right.

My mother has always had this strange fascination with how relationships work, or better stated, don’t work, despite the fact that, to my knowledge, she has never been with anyone except my dad.

As she was once again discussing her favorite subject, she began by reiterating some of the main causes that ruin relationships. I will share a bit of her wisdom on marriage (a lot of which took me years to figure out myself).

If you happen to be with a particularly needy person it is a good idea not to allow them to think you will spend every waking (and sleeping) moment with them. They will be sorely disappointed when you don’t, and a lot of fights could have been averted if you had made it clear from the beginning that that is just not your thing.

Pick your battles. The other person will be flawed, they will do things to annoy you, they won’t have all the traits you desire, and you will just have to accept some of these things as they are, because you have the same faults.

It is always a bad idea to give the other person full access to your bank account. Especially if you make more than them.

Your friends are not their friends, and vice versa. Should you break up, the divide will be clear, at least among good friends. The acquaintances may stagger both sides.

Pets are important. They are not accessories. If they don’t like cats, or are allergic to cats, and you have fifty of them, it will be a problem. (Although if you have fifty cats it is most likely already a problem).

If your significant other controls you, it is because you are allowing it.

Relationships are sometimes like harems. It comes and goes, but as long as you are the favorite, the others aren’t of consequence. My mother used a different example which I don’t remember in its entirety, but I will share a similar one from the Wife of Bath (my own translation): allowing another to light their candle from your lantern will not diminish your own light. Make of this what you will. Even though I have heard this sentiment from her on numerous occasions, I cannot tell you how it makes me feel. I don’t know.

If the other person is abusing you, accepting their apology is most likely an acceptance for the abuse to continue. Because it probably will. And they will keep apologizing for it.

Jewelry does not make things better. It only makes you temporarily forget. Also, keep the jewelry. Don’t be stupid and give it back, or throw it at them. If whatever they have done merits jewelry, then you have earned it. I would like to add that the same goes for men, except from my experience men mostly receive intangible or short lived gifts (i.e. amazing dinner), to which the second part of this rule does not apply. However, if it comes between throwing your dinner at her, or eating it, I would suggest the latter – there is never a reason to waste good food.

It doesn’t matter how much time you spend together, if it is always at home, even home-bodies will get bored. Maybe it is just me, but there is something very special about going out with your significant other. It doesn’t matter how many years you have married, the process is the thing.

You did not marry a psychic (unless, of course, you did, in which case disregard this point). Verbally expressing your wants and needs makes everything more clear, for you and them. They may or may not be able to fix whatever problem you are having. They may or may not be willing to fix whatever problem you are having. But now you know where you stand.

Not all of these apply to everyone, and not everyone will believe all or any of this makes sense. But hopefully at least some of this will help someone.

A Perfect Circle

I was reading one of the books I bought this weekend, a work discussing happiness within relationships. And I realized what my problem is – the thing that is so wrong with me which makes me undesirable. Granted this is work of fiction, the woman describes marriage in terms of finding her other half.

It is not so much that I have never found my other half, but I have never actually sought it out, or had any desire for it. I think that is what drives men away. They are initially attracted to me, get to know me and realize I don’t have some sort of compulsion towards meshing. And then they leave.

I don’t fall in love and develop strange obsessions for their interests. I catalog them, keep in mind their likes and dislikes for future reference, but don’t take them on as my own. I am not referring to things we have in common, because that is kind of a prerequisite for any relationship to even get started, but I mean the little things, the personal interests that diverge. I have always thought of these interests as things to be acknowledge, but not necessarily adopted. Maybe that is my problem, I have never looked for a man as a missing puzzle piece, nor did I want to be his.

I have always been perfectly fine with having a man watch me dance (albeit not well) to Elton John without ever understanding why I am in love with Tiny Dancer. I just am.

Of course I spent the better part of my twenties obsessed with marriage and creating the perfect one, but at no point was I considering it as a way of finding my other self. Aside from things I already had in common with a man, or things to which he would introduce me and I actually took pleasure in, the idea of forming myself to his interests seemed wrong (says the single woman with four cats… a.k.a relationship guru extraordinaire… and perhaps cat whisperer).

Reading this book I am beginning to understand how unnatural I must seem. I see other women devoted to interests they never even knew they had, absolutely fascinated by whatever their men like. Then I see other women who don’t develop these interests genuinely, but they know how to keep a man, so they adamantly testify to loving his interests. I have never been good at that either.

Am I missing a gene? Wasn’t I supposed to be born with this innate desire to form a perfect circle with someone? Maybe I just need to be beaten around the edges.

Lessons on Marriage

Sometimes you learn things after the lesson is over. It took me two divorces to learn about marriage.

If you marry someone who wants to control you, marriage is not going to make it stop. If anything it exacerbates the situation and the other person feels entitled to the control. You are married, and now you belong to them.

My best friend’s dad has been with his girlfriend for twenty years. They don’t live together. They communicate daily and see each other a few times a week. For years I thought there was something wrong. How could such a thing work? Surely there is a problem. Her birthday was a few weeks ago and we all went out to dinner. I don’t see them as much as I used to when we were younger and my friend lived at home with her dad. But seeing them together I realized how much they love each other. Sure they only spend a few days together per week, but when they want they can see each other as often as they please. Their communication is just fine. They share their spaces while also keeping their own, spending time together and then retreating into themselves. They have been happy together for twenty years. I finally understood.

Marriage isn’t about the amount of time you spend with the other person. You can be in the same room with someone and both of you existing in different places.

If someone wants to be with you they will. If they don’t, marriage doesn’t solve or prevent that problem.

There is compromise and then there is losing yourself. I guess this goes with the first thing I said in this post, but it reaches beyond control. This is when you try to placate the other person while slowly erasing yourself. As you give up more and more and witness the joy of your spouse, you believe it is for the best. Until you are briefly reminded of those things you once were. But you can’t have both. Marrying someone who doesn’t like you the way you are is eventually going to break the marriage.

While a big part of marriage is love, a large part of love is like. You can’t really stay in love with someone you don’t like. And you can’t stay married to someone you don’t love.

Letting your spouse talk you into giving up your dreams only leads to resentment, especially if you had those dreams before you met your spouse.

Marrying someone you are not physically attracted to creates a whole different set of problems. Yes, this sounds shallow, but if you have to be dragged into the bedroom every night on the verge of tears, one of you will eventually end up on the couch.

All of these points sound like common sense. Except, surprisingly, they are not. And sadly they are not things you can learn outside of experience.