In Defense of Marriage


Let me just preface this post by saying that this is NOT a post in favor of “traditional marriage” & against gay/lesbian marriage, in case anyone reads the title, assumes so, & thus decides to forego the rest of what I have to say.  I’ve made it quite clear on this blog that I100% support gay/lesbian marriage & have no problem with “alternative” sexualities (homosexuality, transgender, bisexual, etc).

Now that that’s out of the way, I can get to the meat of the subject at hand: marriage.  My husband & I just got back from vacationing in Asheville, NC where we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary.  I guess four years really isn’t that much, but when you consider that we were together for almost a decade prior to marriage, I think you can understand why we feel like we’ve been married for a lot longer than “just” four years.

Our wedding rings with my bouquet . . . Photo credit to Emily Sibitzky of Triskay Photography

Our wedding rings with my bouquet . . . Photo credit to Emily Sibitzky of Triskay Photography

In any case, it’s occurred to me many times in my life, but especially so lately, that modern society has some pretty warped ideas about marriage.  Actually, I think that’s probably always been the case.  After all, if there’s one thing I resent in life, it’s people who go around proclaiming that the world is “going to hell in a handbasket” & everything is so much worse than it used to be.  Not only do I think that’s BS, even if it were true, whining about it isn’t changing a damn thing.

ANYWAY, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not surprised that a number of people of my generation have a lot of qualms about marriage.  Between many of us growing up with parents who ended up divorced (or in some cases with parents who probably would have been better off divorced) & the multitude of negative depictions of marriage showcased in the media, it’s really no wonder that some of us have a very skeptical view on marriage.real act of marriage

I’ve read recently that the statistics aren’t as bad as we’ve been told for years now, but consider that the divorce rate in the US is generally accepted to be hovering somewhere around 50%.  Then consider that the media (everything from TV shows to commercials to movies) often depicts marriage as a milestone that magically causes women to gain 50 lbs, stop having sex, & become psychotically obsessed with having a perfect house while men become disgusting Neanderthals who can’t be bothered to lift a finger around the house or generally be anything more than overgrown teenagers.

No, no, no!!  It doesn't have to be like this.  It SHOULDN'T be like this.

No, no, no!! It doesn’t have to be like this. It SHOULDN’T be like this.

This negative portrayal of marriage in the media is not a new phenomenon.  Going back as far as the 1950s, marriage has often been portrayed in less than stellar fashion, usually for the sake of laughs of course.  Consider the classic I Love Lucy in which Lucy & Ethel, but especially Lucy, are depicted as incapable of balancing a checkbook & generally in need of a man to watch over their every move, meanwhile Ricky & Fred are buffoons who couldn’t iron a pair of pants or cook a pot of rice to save their lives.  Negative jokes about marriage were a regular part of the show’s routine, & I seriously doubt that the average viewer found this unusual or offensive.  It was just standard operating procedure.  And frankly I don’t think a hell of a lot has changed.  For example, a year or so ago I tried to watch a modern TV show (can’t remember the name right now) about which I’d heard a lot of good things.  However, I never made it past the first episode in which a recently engaged couple suddenly morphed into these bizarrely different versions of each other.  I just couldn’t take it.

I know a lot of people probably think “Oh, it’s all in good fun” but I think such depictions of marriage reveal a more sinister problem.  Or at least perpetuate negative stereotypes that, while sometimes reflected in real life, certainly are not inevitable consequences of marriage.ML BS

As a side note, it boggles my mind when I hear people say they’re so shocked that a celebrity couple like Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton are getting divorced.  I’m not surprised at all.  Hell, I’m a lot more shocked when such celebrity couples DON’T get divorced!  Why is it surprising that two people with a lot of money/fame/power who spend a lot of time on the road away from each other would not achieve lifetime marital bliss?  Get real, people.

I just finished reading Corey Taylor’s latest book, as I mentioned in last week’s blog post, & I’ve been inspired by his bluntness to be a bit more blunt myself.  Now remember I’m not some relationship guru or expert, & I’m under no illusions that I’m Jesus or Buddha or some kind of divine messenger or any such nonsense, so you can take everything I say with a lump of salt.  I’m just a 26 year old woman with an opinion & the desire to share it.  So you can like it or lump it as far as I’m concerned.wedding-spoons

With that disclaimer in mind, allow me to put it this way:

If getting engaged means your partner takes this as a license to become obsessed with every detail of the wedding to the point that you don’t even feel like he/she is the same person anymore . . . you’re doing it wrong.

If getting married means you no longer have sex on a regular basis . . .  you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re legitimately surprised that your fiancé proposed to you . . . you’re doing it wrong, & you probably shouldn’t be getting married because if you’ve never even discussed marriage before, you obviously have crappy communication skills.alimony

If getting married means you think you’re entitled to that person’s money for the rest of your life, even if you get divorced . . . you’re doing it wrong.  Allow me to go on a short rant here: alimony makes absolutely zero sense to me.  The whole idea of having access to another person’s money/time/body/life is dependent on the fact that you’re married to that person.  So if you get divorced & are thus no longer married, what makes you think you’re entitled to his/her money anymore?  Argh.  Feminism takes a step backwards every time a woman accepts an alimony check.  To be fair, if a recent divorcee is a stay-at-home mom (or dad), I can see how she might need a year or two to get back on her feet & into the workforce & able to support herself.  But there’s got to be a limit on these things.  Otherwise, how can we claim to be equal partners in marriage?  We can’t have it both ways, ladies. 

I understand that people change as they grow & mature, but if marriage means you don’t even recognize your spouse anymore . . . you’re doing it wrong.long-lasting-marriage

If marriage means you think you have a free license to gain a ton of weight or generally no longer care about your appearance at all . . . you’re doing it wrong!  Here’s another rant: nobody wants to be the a$$hole who says it, but just because you love someone that doesn’t mean you’re going to be sexually attracted to them if they morph into some completely different creature than the person with whom you fell in love & married.  You can call me whatever horrible names you like, but I think it’s just part of having self-respect, not to mention respect for your partner, that you continue to keep up your physical appearance no matter how long you’ve been together.  Trust me, I’m not saying we all need to traipse around the house in lingerie 24/7 or that every man has to have a 6-pack or he’s failing in life . . . I’m just saying let’s have some common sense & stay attractive, not to mention healthy, for our mates as best we can.  End rant.

One of my inspirations in life

One of my inspirations in life

In conclusion, I understand that not every marriage is going to work out.  But I do think a lot of divorces are precipitated by the fact that many couples have less than stellar communication skills, not to mention the fact that many couples rush into marriage for a variety of reasons.  And to be perfectly honest I don’t think getting divorced should be viewed as some kind of grand failure in life.  It happens.  It’s just a part of life like everything else.

Also, let me be clear in saying that I understand there are some couples who are fully committed to each other but have no desire to actually get legally married.  And I have no problem with that.

T-shirts like this, & the message they send, make me so angry!  It doesn't have to be this way!!

T-shirts like this, & the message they send, make me so angry! It doesn’t have to be this way!!

What really bothers me is seeing marriage portrayed as some kind of trap or the “end of the party.”  I can’t remember who has said this to me, but more than once in my life I’ve had people ask me how I could possibly get married so young (22, which isn’t even that young in my family/culture) & didn’t I feel like I was missing out on a lot of fun.  Aside from the fact that I find such questions incredibly rude, it saddens me that so many people think of marriage as an inevitable damper on life. 

Perhaps the best way to sum it up is this: yes, life is hard & even the best relationships aren’t always a cake-walk, but if your marriage doesn’t add to the quality of your life, if it doesn’t make you a better, happier, more fulfilled person . . . you guessed it, you’re doing it wrong!

Real Life Romance Is Better Than Fairy Tales


This past weekend I watched a British film called I Give It a Year which centered on a subject I’ve been pondering a lot lately: why some marriages/relationships last while others don’t.  A common theme I’ve come across in this regard is that real life ruins romance, that the nitty-gritty grind of daily life leaves even the most passionate relationships tasting stale after a couple of years.  The movie dealt with this very topic (quite good by the way, if you appreciate British humor).

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I’m no relationship genius . . . I don’t suppose anyone is really, but least of all someone under thirty.  But I have been with my husband for over a decade (married three years at the end of this month) & I can honestly say that our relationship has only gotten better over the years.

Sure, real life has changed our relationship over time, but we haven’t lost our passion because the foundation of our relationship (our friendship) has only grown stronger over time.  For example, yes, my husband doesn’t bring me flowers quite as often as he used to . . . But he doesn’t work at a florist anymore either!  And he still buys them for me on special occasions or even randomly when he knows I’ve had a bad day & just need a happy surprise to make me feel special.  (This happened recently when I woke up with a headache & broke the blender & he knew that I was upset by this turn of events.)  More importantly we both still take the time to do the simple little day-to-day things that show each other we really care & are invested in this relationship.

Living together does indeed open up a whole new can of worms so to speak.  For example, yes, my husband leaves empty toilet paper rolls in the bathroom all the time, & yes, there is a part of me that wants to scream “How hard is it to just change the roll?!”  But then I remember that I do little things that annoy him too . . . And he doesn’t scream at me about those things because we both have the presence of mind to realize that life is far too short to get angry over things that are of no real consequence.  So instead of getting angry, we just laugh, roll our eyes, & move on with life.  To us this is just the logical way to handle the everyday frustrations of life.

Some of my husband's gorgeous landscaping.  He's so talented!

Some of my husband’s gorgeous landscaping. He’s so talented!

This is not to say we don’t have arguments . . .  And, yes, they are usually in the car because we are both very strong-willed & proud & think we’re always right about everything  (I’m kidding . . . sort of), especially directions!  And, yes, there are definitely times when stress from work spills over into our relationship.  But when that happens we call each other out on it & we work to fix it quickly.  Furthermore, we’ve always had a “no holds barred” policy in which we can say anything & everything to each other.  Perhaps this means we say “mean things” to each other more often than we “should,” but it also means there is never an opportunity for resentment or bitterness to arise between us.  To put it simply, I don’t expect him to read my mind, nor does he expect that of me.  If something is bothering us, we don’t mince words; we just say it.  As my husband recently stated “If you can’t tell your partner to buzz off every once in a while, what kind of relationship is that?”  I heartily agree.  The important thing is that you get over it quickly & that the underlying anger/frustration isn’t allowed to fester & build into an explosion.

My husband & I definitely talk to each other like this sometimes.  It makes for a lot of laughs!  :)

My husband & I definitely talk to each other like this sometimes. It makes for a lot of laughs! 🙂

Certainly real life can make romance a bit more “work.”  Sometimes my husband & I go days without having any real time together, especially since I work night shift & thus we can literally go days without even seeing each other sometimes . . . But instead of resenting each other for this, we allow the time apart to help us appreciate our time together all the more.  And we make the best of the time we do have.  We prioritize spending quality time together, knowing that nothing in our lives is more important than our relationship with each other.  We take care of each other in various ways, not so much because either of us is incapable of doing things for ourselves but because we realize that life is better together, & thus we take care of each other out of mutual love & affection.  We do not view each other as filling certain “roles,” rather we view each other as intellectual equals in a romantic friendship (otherwise known as marriage), each of us having unique but complementing traits.  Because we have such a comfort zone together, yes, sometimes we do become the worst version of ourselves around each other . . . But we also see the best version of each other a lot of times too.  And the best times are definitely worth all of the worst times.

I guess what I’m trying to say is we never went into our relationship (& thus our marriage, which is really just an extension of the relationship we had prior to marriage) with any fairy tale ideas.  Marriage isn’t a fairy tale because LIFE isn’t a fairy tale.  It never has been; it never will be.  Real life is mundane, stressful, & sometimes even dull.  But it’s also full of beauty, joy, & meaning if we look for it in the right places.  As someone who grew up watching Disney fairy tales over & over & over, amazingly enough I’ve always had the foresight to understand that no relationship is ever perfect.  Everyone fights at times.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: if I can’t fight (I prefer the term argue actually) passionately with someone, I probably can’t do anything else passionately with them either.

cinderella marriage

[As an aside, I also think a lot of people have an unrealistic idea of what romance actually is.  A lot of people seem to confuse attraction, lust, or passing interest with romance when true romance is so much more.  Furthermore, I’ll be so bold as to say that romance isn’t having the proverbial butterflies in your stomach.  Real romantic relationships are built around a solid friendship, & real happiness is found with that person who makes you feel comfortable & “at home” when everyone else makes you feel nervous, afraid, or worse yet bored.  To me this is just logical & makes perfect sense but apparently it’s a bit more complicated because a lot of the world obviously hasn’t figured it out.]

I hope I haven’t come across as self-righteous or as if I think I have the perfect marriage.  I’m just trying to make sense of what I see in the world & to share a message of hope that real life doesn’t have to ruin romance.  I know a lot of people say my generation is clueless when it comes to relationships & that we don’t know how to handle marriage, but I want to prove those people wrong.  (And I like to think I’m off to a pretty good start.)

true love chickens

From the things I’ve observed in life thus far, I’ve deduced that a lot of people go into relationships & then marriage with the idea that everything is going to be perfect.  When real life creeps up on them & they realize that reality isn’t matching up with the fairy tale they imagined, suddenly they think they’ve failed.  I don’t know who or what is to blame for this phenomenon . . . I’m sure movies & TV feed into this scenario somehow.  But even as a kid I knew that the things I saw on TV weren’t real.  As adults we need to grow up & realize that real life is the nitty-gritty day-to-day grind & there’s no reason why that should spoil our fun.  I’m not at all suggesting anyone settle for someone with whom they don’t share real passion in all aspects of a mature relationship.  What I am saying is that real passion doesn’t have to be worn down by every-day life.

This is why I’m a huge proponent of living together before marriage because it allows you the opportunity to experience day-to-day life together.  In so doing, you can figure out whether seeing each other at both your best & worst, with all of the bad habits & general grossness that encompass everyday life, ruins the romance or whether it only makes it grow stronger.  (On the other hand I do not encourage rushing into moving in with a new significant other.  I am only talking about serious, long-term, committed relationships.)  It’s been my experience that when you have the basic ingredients for a sound relationship, a solid friendship combined with physical/romantic attraction, the daily grind of life will not ruin the romance at all.  It will only grease the wheels.

irritating love cartoon

**As an afterthought, I should disclose that my husband & I do not have kids yet so I have no idea how that tremendous variable will affect our marriage someday.  I can only hope that if we approach our relationship in the same logical but loving way we have for years now that the romance will continue to blossom despite the challenges that I know children can bring into a relationship.

***Here’s a great article that I believe explains what the ultimate relationship should look like.  Notice I said ULTIMATE, not perfect.  I believe if you have the qualities listed here, the romance & passion will NOT die over time; they will only grow stronger.  http://jamesmsama.com/2014/07/09/10-qualities-of-the-ultimate-relationship/

10 Ways to Know He’s “The One”


First off, I promise this post is not as juvenile & inane as the title implies.  Obviously relationships are not something one can approach with a “check-list” in hand.  At least not exactly.  Anyhow . . .

Tonight my husband & I were lying in bed & I started laughing about something.  I don’t remember what it was, but my husband responded by telling me I have “an unsophisticated, semi-masculine laugh,” “kind of a barroom laugh.”  He proceeded to say that after he hears me laugh he half expects me to follow it up with “Hey, ya want another beer?” or “You wanna go fishing?”  This is not because these are things I actually say (I’ve only been fishing once in my whole life, for the record) but simply because of how my laugh sounds.  He went on to clarify that he actually loves my laugh because high-pitched ultra-feminine laughs annoy him.

A lot of wives probably wouldn’t be too fond of this scenario but my response was to laugh uncontrollably for about 5 minutes straight because I found the whole thing so damn hilarious.  This situation prompted me to think about how much I love our relationship & the brutal honesty we’ve always had with each other.  We’ve been together for over 10 years now (married for almost 3 years), but even when we were just teenagers we were always blatantly honest with each other.  It is one of the greatest building blocks of our relationship & I can’t imagine it any other way.  The fact that we felt so comfortable with each other so quickly & seemed to know almost instantly that we COULD be so honest with each other was, I believe, one of the main reasons we were attracted to each other & how we knew, even at a very young age, that we were onto something special.

he's the one

Quite often in life people have asked me “How do you know if he (or she) is the one?”  Obviously there is no REAL answer to that question as it’s not something that can be objectively or scientifically measured.  But if there is an answer it’s probably something like this: When you’re comfortable enough with someone to be 100% honest with him & can tease each other incessantly & have fun doing even the most mundane things, well, maybe then he (or she) is the one.  Or maybe there is no “one” person but a range of people who could be right for you.  But when you find one of those people, hold on because it’s so worth it.  (You can read more about this idea here:  https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2014/01/24/10-ways-to-simplify-relationships/)

This leads me to my next point.  A common theme I hear today is that relationships grow stale over time.  The passion dies out, real life wears people down, chemistry fizzles, & divorce or break-up begin to seem inevitable.  While this is certainly a realistic picture of how many relationships work, I don’t believe it HAS to be this way.  If you have the raw ingredients right, I think people can be in love & keep up the passion & chemistry for a life-time.  (I’ve seen it done.)

I haven’t lived that life-time yet, so I make no claim to be some kind of relationship guru or genius.  But I will say that after over a decade together my husband & I are still very much in love.  Yes, our relationship may be a bit more predictable now, but a lot of that is just due to growing up & getting older.  But the passion isn’t gone.  The chemistry is still there.  We can still tease each other about our respective “faults:” my big forehead, his gigantic skull; my unsophisticated laugh, his countrified way of saying certain words (ok that last one applies to me too but for different words).  And we can still make each other laugh over & over again.

marriage annoy

Trust me, we do fight.  But I firmly believe that it’s healthy to fight, as long as you know how & when to make up.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: getting married doesn’t mean you turn in your humanityIf you love someone, & especially if you live with them, you will fight occasionally.  That is just human nature & it’s no big deal.  Consider that you have probably fought with any previous roommates you’ve had, be they siblings or college friends, because any two (or more) people who live together long enough will eventually get on each other’s nerves at times.  Some fights will be about really stupid mundane things like why one of you left a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink.  And some will be over more legitimate issues.  It’s just life.  I’ve always felt that if I couldn’t argue passionately with someone I couldn’t be passionate with them in any other ways either.

I don’t know why I’m writing this tonight.  Honestly my mind has been filled with all kinds of ideas lately & relationships have not been among those ideas at all.  But this is what came to mind tonight & for some reason I felt compelled to write it.  I feel so incredibly blessed to have met my life partner at such a young age & to have somehow managed to stay with him all these years, through high school & college & now into young adulthood.  I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging because I’m not.  I just want to give people hope that love really can last a long time.  And despite a lot of portrayals in the media to the contrary, relationships really can stay interesting over time.

I have no idea how kids might affect our relationship & to be honest that is one reason I’m inclined to hold off on parenthood for quite a while longer.  I know everyone tells me “you’ll never be truly ready to be a mom” & I know they’re right.  Anyway, I’m straying from the point.  I’m not even sure exactly what my point is here but maybe it goes something like this:  Every person is different so naturally every relationship is different.  Thus there is no ONE prescription for success in relationships or marriage & no 100% sure-fire way to know when you’ve met “the one.”

But here are a few good pointers:

  1. When he calls you beautiful AND sexy
  2. When he kisses you on the lips AND the forehead
  3. When he thinks you’re as gorgeous when you first wake up as when you’re all dressed up & ready to go out on a date  (Or better yet when going out on a date means just staying home together)
  4. When you can discuss anything & everything together & never feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.  And when you can be together & say absolutely nothing at all & be comfortable with that too.
  5. When even the most mundane things like grocery shopping become fun just because you’re doing them together
  6. When he can tell you your outfit is atrocious & you can laugh, thank him for his input, & continue to wear it proudly (This scenario applies in reverse too (me to him), for the record.)
  7. When you realize that you will never be 100% CERTAIN that he’s “the one” & that you’ll never REALLY KNOW if you’ll live the perennial “happily ever after,” but you’re willing to take the chance anyway
  8. When he supports your dreams & goals in life & pushes you to be the best you can be at everything you do
  9. When he values your brain as much as your body & your body as much as your brain
  10. When he calls your laugh unsophisticated & semi-masculine & you find this truly hilarious because you know he is probably right & you’re so glad he loves you for this silly trait   🙂

That’s all, folks.  I realize this isn’t my most profound or articulate post ever.  Nonetheless I hope the sincerity behind my words has translated to you tonight & perhaps made you laugh somewhere along the way as well.

*P.S. I think you could replace he with she in the above list & they would still apply.