I shudder when I hear people say things like “marriage is just a piece of paper. It doesn’t mean anything.” And I used to believe that also, until I tried being married. Maybe a marriage license is a piece of paper, but an actual marriage can be a wonderful thing.
The picture above is of my niece at her wedding. The one we drove 3,000 miles to attend in Key West, Florida, back in December ’12. I hope they look at their pictures with love and hope on those days of baggy sweatpants and unbrushed hair. On those cold dark mornings after being up all night with a teething fitful baby.
A wedding is a great way to kick off a marriage, especially for the bride and groom. They are standing up together in front of family and friends to pledge their commitment to each other in front of witnesses. I think this is a good memory to have when the hard times come, as they always do. Sickness, disagreements, financial difficulties, crazy in-laws and the whole cornucopia of the marital roller coaster ride.
As long as I’m pontificating on marriage I may as well weigh in on the same sex marriage debate. My opinion is that 2 people who love each other should be allowed to make a legal pledge of love and commitment to each other regardless of gender. Being the opposite gender is no guarantee of a happy marriage and being the same gender is not a recipe for disaster. So sayeth I and that’s the enough for now.
For older married couples a wedding is a wonderful time machine to look back on those honeymoon days with one’s spouse and all the ways you have grown and changed. You get to set back and have the wise chuckle of experience knowing that this happy couple is only on their first baby steps of a journey through heaven and hell together.
“Somewhere, deep within her, surfaces a tiny clockwork submarine. There are times when you can only take the next step. And then another.” ― William Gibson, Pattern Recognition
“They” all tell us that we are not alone, that we always have someone to rely on, whoever “they” are. They tell us we have friends, families, spouses, lovers, to help us along the path. But there are times when this support network converges at the center and it is zero, null – void. Then, at that moment, we realize the cold hard fact that we were born naked and alone and when our time comes we will meet the end in exactly the same way.
I think the hardest task any of us have to face in our lifetime is to learn to trust ourselves. Trust our instincts; trust that inner compass that tells us we are headed in the right direction. Things get a lot dicier when we have a mental disorder and are told that sometimes we can’t trust ourselves. What the heck am I supposed to do with that mental tidbit?
What a mind job! Trust yourself, no wait, don’t trust yourself. Listen to you friends, but you have to make the final decision. If it feels right to you, it might actually be wrong and vice versa. I feel like I’ve been dropped into a maze and told to find my way out only to find that, if I listen hard enough, I can hear the master puppeteer laughing because he knows there is no way out.
I’m writer, a story-teller, at heart so I tend to modify or embellish details to further the story. But even when I’m attempting to relate a “true” story things may get a bit skewed, because I don’t have a perfect, photographic memory. Not many do.
Mr. Husband evidently thinks he is one of those chosen few. He has a habit of sitting there during a group conversation, with his eyes closed, (I kid you not) and only joins in the conversation when he can interrupt me mid-sentence to correct or contradict what I am trying to say.
We went out to lunch yesterday with his mother and then dinner with a friend. On both occasions, several times, he butted into a sentence to correct me on minor details that really had nothing to do with the gist of the conversation. This is only called for in a situation where you claim the heroine was wearing a green dress when the topic is of conversion is “that psychopath who is running around killing women who are wearing a red dress.” Otherwise it’s just plain rude. Excuse me Bubba, but we’re having a pleasant gab fest here. You are welcome to join us, however, we do not recall hiring you on as a fact checker. Many times his correction isn’t correct either. That’s makes it doubly annoying.
Well, last night at dinner I finally snapped and said something along the lines of “what the hell is your problem? Seriously, must you correct or contradict every damned thing I say???” Oh boy, that didn’t go over well at all. He got really really pissed.
I stood up and departed the restaurant to walk around for a few minutes to calm down. I didn’t want to make or participate in a scene in front of his friend in a restaurant. Then I went back and said “I think this is going to be an extremely awkward dinner, I’m going to go across the parking lot over to the Hobby Lobby and wander around for a bit.” Hubman wasn’t OK with that so instead, dinner aborted, we went home. Our friend, a very wise man, immediately took his leave and went in search of dinner elsewhere.
So Hubman stormed around the house like a constipated thundercloud. I finally went in his office to ask him what had happened, from his point of view. I was shaking in my shoes because I really did want to know. He informed me that I have been acting like a bitch for the last week. Okey, Dokey. Well, can you give me an example? No, he couldn’t or wouldn’t. I asked him how exactly I was supposed to modify my behavior if I do not know what I am doing that is so “bitchy.”
So now I’m in a confused limbo. I thought I was doing rather well this past week. I was feeling happy and productive. I was writing again, getting dressed before noon, put on makeup and even left the house unsupervised. Imagine that. Turns out I’m a bitch? I don’t know how to wrap my head around this. My head is pretty flexible, but this I can’t process. This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been accused of bitchiness by someone who I gave even the smallest bit of a hoot about what they thought.
Maybe he is having trouble coping with changes in our relationship. I know I’m standing up for myself more than I was in the past. And maybe he has a lot of stored up pain and anger and it’s coming out like a 12 gauge buck shot blast. I asked him last night to try an experiment – in which he would say something at the moment something happened so we can talk about right then. As opposed to him storing up his own personal arsenal of grievances. I guess I just have to wait and see where this is going.
Well the dreaded end of the Mayan Calendar has come and gone we’re all left with the task of going on about our lives. Yep the world is still turning, the sun is shining, and it’s business as usual.
In preparation for the world’s continuance, I’ve been reading a book the last few days. The title is “Love is Never Enough” by Aaron T. Beck, MD. He is the director of the Center for Cognitive Therapy, University of Pennsylvania. The subtitle is; how couples can overcome misunderstandings, resolve, conflicts, and solve relationship problems through Cognitive Therapy.
The book is giving me a ray of hope. I’m about halfway through the book, and it’s getting kind of spooky. One of the couples he counseled and refers to throughout the book so far, l will call them Ken and Barbie, are so much like the Hubman and me that I’m tempted to write the guy a letter and ask him if he’s been spying on us. Maybe we should get some of the royalties from the book sales.
But it is sooo true. Love is never enough, I have relatives that I love with all my heart, but do everything humanly possible to avoid their presence rather than risk my sanity or personal safety. One of the points Aaron makes in the book is that couples can descend into their own private bubble of neurosis and irrational behavior, while being perfectly capable of navigating through relationships with others outside of the wacko marriage bubble with ease and even finesse.
Aaron has many scenarios in the book where he relates a conversation with a couple in 3 columns; 1) The words they said, 2) What their tone of voice and body language says, and 3) what they are thinking. An example taken from our daily life is:
Wife: “Would you get your clothes out of the dryer please.” (Annoyed expression, said with a whiney tone of voice) thinking ‘your stupid clothes have been in the drying for a week and half. What am I your slave or something? I bet you expect me to get your damned clothes out of the dryer and furthermore after 10 years you still act like you’re the only one who lives in this house. You treat me like a piece of furniture. You…you….bastard!’
Husband: “OK” (said in an angry tone, rolls eyes, huffs off with annoyed expression, lips pressed together, refusing to make eye contact) thinking <Insert thought here>I have no clue because I have no idea what he’s thinking and he’s damned sure not gonna tell me or probably anyone else either. Real men don’t do that. OK, I admit that I think sarcastic thoughts when pondering the labyrinths of Hubman’s mind.
If we analyze only the words spoken here there should be no problem. The real trouble lies in the fact that so much is said with body language and tones of voice that the words are close to meaningless. So round and round we go careening from one verbal fiasco to the next.
I’m still in the defining the problems part of the book. I can’t wait to get to the solutions part. The author swears the second half of the book addresses tips on communicating what we actually think in a way that the spouses can understand and respond without immediately escalating to DefCon 1 and all out nuclear annihilation.
So there is hope. I have to think that anyway. No wait, hold that thought. I don’t have to think that. I want to think it.
Update on Christmas tree: Tree is up, ornaments are still in boxes. They may remain there. Maybe I’ll just put my Dr. Seusse-ish tree topper on it and pretend the rest of the stuff doesn’t exist. I’m very good at pretending. That’s my stock and trade. I am a writer after all.
I hate compromise. It always seems that both parties leave the ring with a black eye and a half-baked version of what they wanted. Seeing as being married seems to take up a great deal of my time I read about it a lot. The Wise Ones say couples should compromise, talk things out, give and take, walk in the other partner’s shoes, let things slide, pick your battles and don’t sweat the small stuff. What I want to know is, in what universe do these marriage experts live in? Cuz it’s not mine!
Maybe the Hubman and I should try talking things out in a paint ball arena, or on a long survival training week-end with no holds barred. Or hey, maybe a Thunder Dome kind of thing…with an audience chanting,”2 men enter – 1 man leaves, 2 men enter – 1 man leaves.” Now we’re talking.
I couldn’t best Hubster in a physical contest. He’s got me beat by about 50 pounds and work outs at the gym. What I can do is confuse the hell out of him so bad his hair stands on end for a week! Ha! Take that, you mere mortal man! I am woman, try to figure me out! Go ahead I dare you! No one ever has. If I can’t figure out what’s going on in my head just how exactly do you think you’re going to do it? That, my friend, is your challenge for the rest of your natural life. And I’ll be right there with you trying to figure out what is going in your head. That is no easy task.
So how do we do it? Beats me. But seriously, how lovers manage to cohabitate for their entire lives is a mystery for the ages. People have written songs, poems, books, and plays about relationships; tragedies, comedies, psychotic sojourns through the depths of hades and everything in between. Who left the top of the tooth paste or their left underwear on the coffee maker type of melodrama is dust in the rearview mirror when it comes to living with another human being day in and day out.
Hubman and I have had a few go rounds in the last few weeks. He didn’t want to go to see the movie Twilight, and I wanted to cancel Thanksgiving or at least the hosting part of it. Turns out we both caved. He went to the movie with me and I am going to iron some &#%@$%* place mats for the table, fortified with beer and wearing oven mitts. This is a huge concession on my part, in my opinion anyway. I threw out the old iron about 8 years ago, so I had to go purchase a new iron and a bag of ice yesterday. Yeah, yeah, woe is me.
I wonder if there is such a thing as retroactive compromise. Things like, “sure I punched you in the nose because you groped my girlfriend in the broom closet, but you rolled your girlfriend around, the one who used to be my girlfriend, on the coffee table that my artwork was drying on and ruined it. So now we’re even!”
That was sort of a not made up scenario, by the way. I actually know 2 guys that used to do stuff like that to each other. The scene was modified to protect the guilty. The art work was mine. I was not involved with either guy, but I recognized the glitter and the paint colors on the body of the woman in question in the ladies room later that evening. I put it all together and informed all involved that I was not amused. Why I trusted them to leave the coffee table inviolate for one day is beyond me.
So compromise, how is it done? Arbitrators make big money with that secret. Supposed to be a win-win situation right? Well we didn’t win, we both lost. We fought and got all nasty with each other. I threw a tantrum so he went with me to a movie that made him want to gouge his eyes out. To get even with me he cooked a turkey with stuffing, twice baked potatoes and 2 chocolate cream pies…hmmm.
OK, now I just feel really silly. Maybe I’m not quite as grown up as I thought I was. I suppose owe him an apology, maybe even do something to make up for the outrageous behavior, but that’s just getting drastic.
Take my love, take my land – Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free – You can’t take the sky from me.
Take me out to the black – Tell them I ain’t comin’ back
Burn the land and boil the sea – You can’t take the sky from me
Firefly Series – Joss Whedon
Firefly was a science fiction television series that premiered in the United States and Canada on September 20, 2002. Its naturalistic future setting, modeled after traditional Western movie motifs, presents an atypical science fiction backdrop for the narrative. It was conceived by writer and director Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
Feeling a little nostalgic today. The cancellation of this series ticked me off more than any other prematurely cancelled show ever. The thing I loved the most was the opening song. It spoke to my heart. To me it says that no matter what anyone takes from me I’m still free – if I choose to believe it and I do.
Looking back in my life, every time I felt like I was locked in a cage or thrown to the bottom of a well it was a prison of my own making. Well except for the time that I ended up actually in prison, behind bars for the longest 12 days of my life. That was a clerical mistake by a certain police force that shall remain nameless for now. When they figured out their mistake they booted me out the door without so much as a “Gee, we are terribly sorry to have put you through such a horrifying experience” or even cab fare to get home.
In a way it was a blessing in disguise for the young 18 year old girl that I was at that time. I know what it’s like to be in a real prison and there is nothing on God’s green earth that is worth going back there. But it also taught me that all other cages are self-created.
I think that guilt and fear are the main biggies in the cage business. That old saying “Well you’ve made your made your bed, now you have to sleep in it” is evil, evil, evil. Sez who?? Oh no, I do not have to sleep in that nasty bed if I don’t want to! If I don’t like the metaphorical bed, I can sleep on the couch, or drag the bed out in the back yard, set fire to it and dance around it in the nude, chanting and drinking drinks with little umbrellas in them.
If I’m tired of staying home every day? Well get the hell out of the house. I have to do it myself, no one is going to drag me kicking and screaming out of the door. If I don’t have a car I have the 2 feet that the cosmos so generously provided. No money? Walking around the neighborhood doesn’t cost a cent.
Having a rough patch in a marriage? I can’t change my spouse, but I can change myself, my attitude. When I’m having a bad day with the Hubman I have the option to look past whatever it is that is making me crazy at the moment and try to look into his soul. He does have one even though there are times that I would swear on a stack of bibles that he threw it out with the bulk trash by accident. What did I love about him? Is it still in there somewhere? Unless he is possessed by demons it probably still is.
Gasp; is there something that I’m doing that is causing him to hide it? Are there things that are going on in his life that have nothing to do with me that are making him crazy and nasty tempered? Having a tantrum and screaming at him like banshee from hell is not going to make things better. Those are the days that I have to suck it up and put on my big girl panties and handle it like a grown woman, a sane and compassionate woman.
The ability to take any situation no matter how annoying or horrific and turn it into a good day and even laugh about it? Now that’s freedom!