Friday, February 17, 2012

The MommyLand Guide for a Marriage That Doesn’t Suck

The MommyLand Guide for a
Marriage That Doesn’t Suck*
*Unless of course that’s what you’re into.
Last week, I asked you all for advice on how to have a happy marriage (or relationship). In the past, when I’ve asked you for tips, your feedback has been amazing – and extensive. This time was no different. So I decided to summarize your comments into a fancy, schmancy report of what we collectively think about this topic here in Mommyland. Think of me as your consultant. You know what a consultant is, right? Someone who asks for your watch and then tells you what time it is.
That’s exactly what I did, hookers.

Let’s begin, shall we?

You fine ladies left me 375 comments on the post and 110 comments on Facebook. That’s 485 comments total. Thank you. I read them through a couple of times. Honestly? Some of them are PURE GOLD. I was sincerely moved by the things you shared. Some of it made me squink up and squeak out a couple of tears and some of it made me bray out loud like a coffee spewing donkey.

The first time reading through them, I started thinking about categories. The second time, I coded your responses into those categories. Then I had Guru Louise take a pass at it, to make sure that I wasn’t crazy and that we were seeing pretty much the same picture. We’re obviously professional as hell up in here.
There’s a couple of things I need to be clear on from the beginning, that the comments don’t really reflect. They’re intangibles without which, none of this really works. Let’s call them our assumptions.
Assumption #1: In my notes, I called it trust. In Guru Louise’s analysis, she called it loyalty. These two things -trust and loyalty- have to be there and for both people. But they don’t have to be perfect. It can be in any stage from “We are doing awesome right now! Let’s go make out!” to “We are rebuilding after a year of wanting to punch each other in the face all the damn time.” Both are totally valid.
Assumption #2: Both partners have to be trying. As one of you described it, if you’re making the effort and your husband isn't reciprocating, you wind up bitter and resentful. You wind up putting someone first who's putting you second.
Assumption #3: This is advice given primarily by women, for women. But almost all of it could apply to men as well.
Assumption #4: There isn’t one solution that’s going to work for everyone. If there were, and I had just figured it out – I would be reading this post from The Today Show while Dr. Phil, forlorn and defeated, was forced to sell his mustache.

The Results

Here are the main things you identified in order to have a happy marriage.

Figure 1: Very Important Scientific Chart Explaining Key Elements of Marital Happiness

Here’s how we defined these ten topics:
Sexytime is Very, Very Good for You: The importance of having frequent (ahem) relations was mentioned more often than anything else. It was acknowledged a lot that women tend to be less into it than men. But it was also clear that making nookie a priority is super important if both partners are going to be happy. Another theme through the comments: Don’t be stingy with the BJ’s.
Don’t Talk Schmidt and Call it Venting: This includes being nasty to your hubby in public or in front of other people, excessive complaining and nagging, venting about your spouse too much or in a way that will end up biting you both in the ass and, of course, the very important skill that so few of us have mastered: knowing when to zip it.

You Betta Work Because It Ain’t Easy: This includes all the things you should be actively doing to try and make it work. Things that range from making a point of saying ‘I love you’ every day to seeking therapy, if needed. Sometimes doing the work means working on the marriage and sometimes it means working on yourself.

Fight Fair and Don’t be Assholic: Calling each other names, being intentionally nasty or bringing up stuff from the past that you haven’t been able to let go of is not exactly helpful. No matter how mad you are or how much they deserve it, completely losing your schmidt or doing something to degrade or humiliate your partner is never OK.

Communication? Even Yesser: Touch base every, single day – even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Listen to each other. When in doubt, say something. If you can’t say it – text it. Growing apart happens so easily, almost effortlessly. Staying in touch with each other takes effort and sometimes, strategy.

Men Are Not Mind Readers: Have you ever said some variation of: “Well if you don’t know then I shouldn’t have to tell you” or gotten angry because your husband didn’t do something that obviously needed to get done? The point is you must be annoyingly straightforward about what you would like. Live by this rule: If you do not ask, you will not get.

Pick Your Battles, B*tches: We’ve all heard this before and we all know how true it is. Also included in this category? Adjusting expectations. This doesn’t mean that you live with unhappiness or crappy behavior, but rather that unreasonable expectations get replaced with those that have some basis in reality – minimizing disappointment and making it easier for everyone (including you) to live up to them.

Must Have Date Night: You have to take time to be together and hang out. It doesn’t have to be dinner and a babysitter. It can be a game of cards after the kids go to bed. It just has to be a priority.

Take Time for Yourself. Take It and RUN: Time with girlfriends or at Zumba or just being by yourself for a little while – INVALUABLE. Ask for it. Demand it. Make sure you get it. And make sure he gets it, too. Because he needs it just as much as you do.

Use Your Damn Manners: We kill ourselves making sure our kids say please and thank you . That they understand that being rude means that they’re essentially ungrateful and lack respect for other people. Bottom line? Everyone is deserving of courtesy and respect. And when it’s the hardest to give, it’s usually when it’s the most necessary.

Before we move onto everything else
I need to clarify something. While it looks like sex is the most important thing up there on that fancy bar chart, it’s actually not. Everything other than sex is either really about communication or actively doing stuff to make the marriage a priority (go on a date, give your undivided attention, take time for yourself to recharge your batteries, etc.). Really, how it breaks down is more like this:

Figure 2: Aggregated Elements of Marital Happiness Whereby Sexy Time is Slightly Less Important
The picture shifts, no? We’re going to discuss these things a little more, sharing your words of wisdom. Sex is obviously still really important, so let’s start there.

Important Point #1: Sex =Good. No Sex=Bad.

There were a couple of themes within this category, and they were not romantic at all. It sort of follows this train of thought:
  • You want to have sexy time never and your partner wants to have it always.
  • Sweet, sweet lovin’ is not a big priority for you because you’re freaking exhausted by 9pm every night, but you do it anyway because it makes him happy.
  • You know you should be doing it more and that you should want to do it more.
There were a lot of comments about how marriages are happier and stronger when this particular need is being met. Moreover, there were comments about how this one thing is a really important factor in how most men measure their marital happiness.
“Men place an enormous value on sex. To them, it is how they express their love for you, and also how they FEEL loved in return. So if you don't really feel like it, remind yourself that, to him, it is like saying you don't feel like loving him.”
It appears that being out of sync in this department is pretty common. I would add that this is especially true during the child-bearing years. Your body and hormones feel completely different and whackadoodle, your boobs are for the baby, and switching gears from mommy to sexy sexpot is about as easy as having an adult conversation with a toddler. Factor in the fact that some kids seem to have a radar that insures they will never have younger siblings, and just the logistics of getting started seem overwhelming.
“Sometimes sex is like picking up the playroom. You just have to force the first 10 minutes, then you are either happy with your progress or happy that it's done. And yes, you have to do it again later.”
But the truth is, it’s important for all of us – not just the dudes. Being out of sync is OK as long as there’s an effort there to get back on the same page. That may take compromise for both of you. It may mean that you’re having relations twice as much as you want, but half as much as he wants. But working at it is a sign that you haven’t given up. By the way, “out of sync” can also mean that you’re the one initiating and he’s the one saying no. That happens, too.
“If you aren't in the mood ALL THE TIME, examine what the source of that feeling is. It could be a medical problem, or it could be your intuition telling you that there is something seriously wrong.”
And honestly, your partner probably doesn’t care anywhere near as much as you do what your ass looks like after kids – he’s probably just happy he gets to touch it. Here are some additional nuggets of wisdom about sex from the comments for you to think about:
“I introduced my husband to choreplay! Nothing makes me hotter than seeing him vacuum or fold laundry, and it drives me absolutely wild when he empties the dishwasher. And we laugh about it and joke about it and then have really good sex. Yay!”
“I was told once that a full belly and empty balls = happy marriage.”

Important Point #2: Communication Means Stop Looking at Your Phone

Communication means a lot of things. Of course it refers to talking to each other. But it’s also about taking the time every day to connect with one other. It also included a whole lot of comments that all really boiled down to knowing when to keep your mouth shut. Like such classics as “Don’t talk a bunch of schmidt about your spouse in public” and “If you vent to one person over and over again about what a douchebag your partner is, they will grow to hate him and wonder what the hell you’re doing”.
“Don't talk down to your spouse (or about your spouse) to your friends and family. Funny stories, "he's crazy but I love him", eye-rollers are all well and good, but when you start actually saying things about your spouse that would wound him/her if they were overheard, that's the beginning of the end. You will internalize those words, learn to believe them, and soon you have disgust or contempt for your partner and that's The End.”
And of course, there’s just knowing when not to say something, especially when you’re arguing. That’s hard and it can be counter-intuitive for people like me, who are hard-wired to talk about things until they’re either dead or they want to be. I get so worked up that I just want to my husband to stop saying words so I can say the next thing that I want to say. Which means of course, that I’m not listening. Learning how to disagree with each other and how to fight constructively is really important:
“Most relationship misery comes from un-communicated assumptions and expectations. This only works if both of you do it. If your partner is not so into talking about things, you may need to START by talking about why you need to talk about things. AND you have to actually listen to each other, rather than just waiting til that annoying sound stops to say the next thing in your brain (this can be REALLY hard as you can lose track of what you wanted to say and end up on a tangent). For big discussions a list of points you want to bring up is helpful. Totally not kidding.”
“It's okay to have things about the other that really piss you off. Learning to ignore these things is what defines a long marriage. Trying to change these things is what defines a fight.”
The phrase “don’t keep score” came up several times. We all do it. And we all know that bringing baggage up can turn a petty argument into a big, seething pile of crap. If you need to talk about that particular thing that bothers you so much, go ahead and do it. LATER. Unless it is directly related to the conflict or problem at hand – it needs to stay out of the equation.
“It's okay to go to bed angry, especially if you know from experience that you will wake up thinking it wasn't such a big deal. Sometimes small problems are best put to bed as small problems, rather than unpacking 6 months' worth of dirty laundry and throwing it at each other til 3 am.”
A really important point that came up a lot was that men are not mind readers. You need to tell your husband what’s going on before you can expect him to do anything about it. That applies to little things (Can you please clean up the dinner dishes while I put the kids to bed?) and big things (I am really, really unhappy and I need you to help me before I lose my mind). In a nutshell, tell him about whatever it is and make it his problem, too. Until that happens, it’s not his problem. It’s your problem.
“Don't play games. EVER. If you want or need something, tell him. If you are angry about something, tell him. Don't make him guess. He will either be completely bewildered (and likely get angry with you), or he will ignore you, figuring if it had something to do with him you would say so. Be straight with each other, and you will probably solve most of your problems together quickly and easily.”
"You CANNOT hold your spouse/partner responsible for things you don't verbally ASK them for. No body language, no "you should have just known" or mind reading... if I don't ask for whatever it is I need/want, and I mean literally like, "Honey, will you mop the floors while I'm gone?" or "Honey, can we have sex tonight?" neither of us can get mad about not getting what we want. Made all the difference in the world in our relationship."

Important Point #2: Do the Work. Oh Goody! Another Job.

One thing that was mentioned several times in the comments gave me sort of an epiphany. There have been times over the past 15 years when I felt like I was trying so hard. Like I was doing everything and it was beyond overwhelming and frustrating. And I would look up at Cap’n Coupon, feeling resentful and put upon. And I would see that he felt the exact same way.
“My father told me the key to a long and healthy relationship was to worry about the other person and put them first. The caveat was that they have to do the same for you.”
The truth is that marriage is work. And it’s not always 50/50. People commented that it should be 60/60. Or even 100/100. That you always have to do more than your share. It’s kind of the same as parenting. To try and be the parent my kids deserve, it’s a constant struggle to be a better person than I’m inclined to be. In a relationship, if you’re both doing the work, as long as it evens out over time – making that extra effort is what’s required.
“Our marriage works because we mutually desire to make life easier for the other. That’s what it’s about.“
“What my grandfather told my mother and my mother told me: In your marriage, don't expect to go halfway and meet in the middle. Only when you both feel like you've gone the whole way will you meet in the middle.”
There was also a lot consensus about taking action. Making time for yourself and giving that same time to your spouse. Identifying problems and finding a way to make them better. Again, there was an emphasis on doing the work required to make each other (and make yourself) happy.
“If I count on him to be my bestie, my parent, my gossiper, my housekeeper, coworker and my drinking buddy, I'll have to suppress the need to throw things. Girlfriends save my life.”
“My husband is not considerate by nature. As in, at all. Respectful is hard enough for him to manage. So he has programmed things into his iPhone at key times certain reminders. Examples: "Ask how her day was" "Ask if there's anything around the house that needs doing after kids go to bed" (before he hunkers down with his computer for the evening). Not everyone is thoughtful by nature, but everyone can find a way around it. “
It’s a fact of life that every relationship has difficult times. Some are very difficult indeed. But the key to staying married sometimes is not getting divorced. The earlier discussion about realistic expectations is directly applicable here. No marriage is perfect. No relationship will be happy all the time. You will fight, bad things will happen and you must choose how to get through them.
“When things go to hell -- and they will go to hell -- turn TO each other, not ON each other.”
Sometimes it’s healthier for everyone when a marriage ends. If a relationship is truly destructive or dangerous, sticking it out in the hopes it will get better is not the best solution. But for everyone else, consider that if you are both in it for the long haul and willing to do the work, there is a chance that things can be good again. If you give up, there is no chance of that.
"My grandmother told me: "Gramps and I have been married for over 50 years. During those 50 years, there were at least 5 years of time in which I hated his guts. I couldn't stand the sight of him. All I could think about was that I would be better off without him, or with someone else. After a few months (or in one time, years), we would talk it out, and things would get better. Now, looking back, we were happy for probably 90% of our marriage. Not bad odds. And those 5 years don’t seem so bad in comparison to our life together. So be prepared. There will be times in which you hate your husband. Just try to hang on until it gets better."

Conclusion

I really learned a lot from this. As I expected, the collective wisdom here in Mommyland staggering. And I think the biggest takeaway is that a happy marriage is one where both partners never stop trying to make things better.
So here is your mission, if you choose to accept it. The advice that you gave is less a call to action than a call to practice common sense and consideration. Go back and look at that first chart. See if anything strikes a chord with you. If it does, think about how you and your husband can work on those things. And let me know how it goes. I genuinely want to know what you think of this report and if any of it is useful to you.
Good luck, ladies. You all deserve to be happy.
xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

46 comments:

  1. Great data analysis! Awesome proof that there is light on the other side of "The Blur."

    Since I'm still in the fog of babydom, I forgot to add my two cents. I think it's vital for a couple to take stock of how far they've come together. There's something to be said for remembering the first date! (http://www.momintwocultures.com/2012/02/how-i-met-ren-part-3.html)

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  2. Wow. I wish this had been around when my marriage was on the rocks. So much more helpful than the marriage counselor. We're still together through sheer stubbornness, a complete willingness to do whatever it took to save the marriage and a best friend who really should be a marriage counselor but can't be convinced to sell her soul yet. Still not 100% but we're together 6 years now and doing ok.

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  3. This is really mature, in depth, and inspiring. You did a great job, and the commenters sound like they know their shizz. Especially the ones mentioning sex and BJs. My husband readily and wholeheartedly agrees. :)

    It's too late, obviously, for your post, but some things have helped me in my marriage:

    1. At our wedding, we got tons of advice, but one thing stuck with me: someone told me to always remember why I fell in love with him in the first place. She said that when I feel disconnected from him (and she promised that those times would come and she was right), remembering why I am with him in the first place is a great way to pull me back "into it" and reconnect with my feelings for him. She was right.

    2. A wife speaking at an event said to imagine marriage as 2 pieces of tissue paper glued together. There is no way to separate them without ripping, shredding, and destroying those pieces of paper. They will not separate cleanly. It is a powerful metaphor for me, especially when you add children into the mix.

    3. I don't know how to word this without sounding like a bitch, but friends can give great perspective. By this, I mean they often remind me of the positives in my husband by complaining about their husbands. This is beneficial because it reminds me of the good in my husband and how much worse he could be- that things could always be worse. It reminds me that compared to some dudes, my husband is a f-ing rock star. The grass isn't always greener.

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  4. As a (fairly) newlywed, my husband and I have been married a year and a half and are perfectly suited. This is an amazingly wonderful, helpful post. Some of it already rings true, and some of it makes me feel like I'm just a little more prepared for the rest of our lives together than I was 10 minutes ago. Neither one of us are prone to conflict, so talking about things has been a bit hard. I know I need to do it, I know he is going to need a couple days processing time before anything is really resolved (I don't expect any conversations to be truly resolved the day we have them). It's very reassuring to know that other mommies are in the same spot, and they have successfully managed to have a good, long-lasting marriage. Some of this is advice my mother and grandmother have already given...It's like I have 500 moms and grandmas here! Thank you, Mommyland. I'm bookmarking this post specifically, as I'm sure I'll come back to it time and again.

    You hookers are the bestest hookers in town. I'm so thankful and glad I found this blog. It has enhanced and enlightened my day nearly every day since.

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  5. This is all great advice. As I read I realize my guy and I had learned a lot of it already, ....but...the hard way. How great that it's been collected and laid out this way for smarter people! LOL. These actions DO make a difference, folks. My now-awesome relationship of 15 years is getting better and better, corresponding to us figuring and fighting out more and more of this stuff as we went. You (plural) can do it!

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  6. You are hilarious and writing "funny" is hard!! I love that you are fearless, I am always afraid I am going to offend someone when I try to write funny - but you just go for it - and that's what makes it so real and so funny!! Just shared it on Military1Click facebook page. Would you be interested as a guest blogger on our Military1Click site? We are revealing a whole new "make - over site" on Monday because our site currently looks like my Grandma knitted it together. I would love to have you on sometime. Thanks - Jen
    Would love to chat sometime jennifer@military1click.com

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  7. Love this!!! It's perfect. My grandmother once told me the key to her 65 year marriage was to never hate each other at the same time. LOL that there were lots of times in those years that one of them wanted out, hated the other, and didn't want to stay married. But they stayed married because the other spouse cared enough to still love them through it! :) I thought that was great advice.

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  8. I've followed you guys for about six months now and really enjoyed everything, but never felt an overwhelming need to comment. But today, thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  9. Oh, how I needed this...Things have been tough for the past...forever it seems!!! And you're right: I DO deserve to be happy. As does he and our kiddos. It sucks when I feel like I am doing ALL of the work to make sure everyone else is happy (including trying to help him be a better Dad because Holy Shizzballs he is bad at it-don't judge me. He really is without a clue with the kids). My question is: How do you NOT get your hopes up? How do you shut that little part of you down that really wants him to "Get" Valentine's Day or your birthday when these things mean absolutely nothing to him (they really do-he couldn't care one iota less)-even when you have made it PRE.FEC.TLY. clear what your expectations are? "Honey, if you are planning on getting me a gift, I would really like XYZ" And he comes home with BS. It's frustrating.

    I know I am lucky to have what I DO have in a husband. He loves me (in his own, clueless way). he doesn't hit me or call me names, he works hard and comes home every night-no worries about him staying true. But since I know he will be forever clueless on how to give me the other things that I want and NEED, I take care of myself. If I want certain flowers I get them. If I had a certain gift in mind for my birthday, I get it. If I need an orgasm, I give myself one. So I still get my hopes up around every special event, because I don't know how NOT to, but I also plan to take care of myself when he fails to take care of me. We WILL stay together, because, for right now, this is how I can stay happy. And when Momma's happy, EVERYone's happy! And one of the best ways to ensure that happiness is to get time with my GFs to lament the latest episode of "My Clueless Husband". I didn't marry my best friend (it's actually illegal in my state), but my husband gives me TIME with my best friends and that's just as important. OK, so maybe not so clueless after all.

    Thanks for another excellent post Dear Ladies...so much cheaper than marriage counseling!

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    1. Focus on the positive, lady, focus on the positive. You'll never change him. Guys who are made to feel that they're being bossed around and can't do anything right gradually start acting more and more clueless. You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, my mom always said. This means if you want romance, create romance, and make sure he loves it. ie, tell him how much he pleases you when something goes right.

      Setting yourself up to expect something ... as in, "if he loves me he will do x", always ends in disappointment. He does love you, he shows you in his own way. Look for it and appreciate it (out loud, to him). Find ways to convince yourself he's not clueless, because treating him that way will surely cause a steady decline. He needs and deserves loving respect (assuming he's a good guy) to feel loving toward you.

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    2. Also, remember this “Don't talk down to your spouse (or about your spouse) to your friends and family. Funny stories, "he's crazy but I love him", eye-rollers are all well and good, but when you start actually saying things about your spouse that would wound him/her if they were overheard, that's the beginning of the end. You will internalize those words, learn to believe them, and soon you have disgust or contempt for your partner and that's The End.”
      I am horrible at this, I've been working on it, and that's when I realized how much of a habit it has been....I'm getting there. Instead of saying somthing negative, I try instead to say something positive. Often, I'm remebering somthing possitive on friend or another has pointed out about him. But it's good to focus on it!

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    3. It sounds like you're married to my ex-husband's clone. Seriously, I would have written exactly the same things in the years before we split up (after 11 years married, 2 kids), including all the apologetic stuff. My ex started out seeming charmingly clueless, but in the end I realized he didn't respect me, and that's why he dismissed my concerns in all kinds of ways, big and small. My mistake was that I didn't respect myself enough to require that I be treated with respect. My 2 cents is not to let this fester. You have to talk to him about it. This isn't going to get better just by white-knuckling through it. You're going to get angrier and angrier and start having fantasies about punching him repeatedly in the face (if you're not already), and that's pretty close to the point of no return. Which is not to say your marriage is doomed or that your husband is an asshat, but you are in a danger zone. There has to be a balance, and a recognition that if something is important to you (like your birthday, or getting help around the house, or having a consistent parenting strategy), it's important, and deliberately choosing to ignore it is disrespectful and mean. Passive aggression is still aggression. Yes, you may need to adjust some of your expectations or pick your battles or communicate better, but if you have footprints on your back, that's no way to live. I ended up walking out of my marriage 3 years ago, and while I don't regret the decision, because I think that ultimately the relationship wasn't salvageable, I wish I'd made my best effort when there was still a window of possibility instead of denying that we were about to crash & burn. Because divorce really does suck ass (though so does living in a bad marriage). That's what I wish someone had told me, so there you have it. I really hope things get better for you.

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  10. That quote at the end from the grandmother? I love that. I needed that, and this post. This is brilliant, and it couldn't have come at a better time. THANK you!

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  11. This post is thoughtful, balanced, and quite wise. Great job! Just like parenting, marriage takes all I have to give. Somedays that is easy and natural and some days it's a miracle of effort and God's grace. Hang on and fight for your marriages, girls! It's worth it.

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  12. It felt like I was reading a report from work, but informative and entertaining! Soooooo professionally done. Good job.

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  13. After reading the comments from the first post, I became aware that after being pregnant for 9 months, then feeling disgusting about my body and trying to lose weight, my incredibly patient and understanding hubby had his needs on the back burner for a while (like a year). Not that we weren't romantic during that time but I had participated less than enthusiastically the majority of those times. So two nights ago, after the kids were asleep and we were watching the news and going through our normal nightly routine, I turned off the tv and initiated a romantic adult playtime in the living room for the first time in a long time. I thought my hubs was going to float away. I didn't realize how much that sponteneity meant to him and how special that made him feel. I also remembered how much I love him for his patience while my hormones were out of whack and that he really doesn't care what my body looks like, he just wants to love me and know that I want to be intimate with him. Now, I am making an effort to be more spontaneous and playful. I highly doubt the laundry will protest if it's not put away by bedtime.
    Thanks for the reminder (my husband is highly appreciative also)

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  14. Very well done, ladies! All of it is so true. My husband and I have talked about most of these points throughout our six-year relationship, but it's great to have them all laid out in one place. I also love the comment about iPhone reminders -- my husband uses his alarm for everything, why not that?! Fabulous job.

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  15. As usual, you ladies rock! My husband and I have been married for 10 years. And while we overwhelmingly love each other, we've both admitted in the last year that we haven't been very happy lately. We've been working on it and thought of some of the things you listed, but others we haven't thought of, and I think they will really help. Thank you! For always addressing the whole arena of motherhood.

    One thing we started doing, we text each other everyday one thing we like/love about the other person. It helps me focus on what I like about him everyday, often for most of the day because I want to send him a "good one" and it's a great lift to my day to get one from him. Especially when it's something I don't think he's noticed about me.

    Also, I love the metaphor of marriage being like tissue paper.

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  16. I wish that I could have read this in the first year of my marriage -- my husband thought that year was fine, but it was hell for me. Lots of adjustment. In hindsight, a good portion of that was me adjusting to someone with Adult ADD (not on meds and we're both so much happier!) I wholeheartedly agree with everything shared in this summary report. I would add some good advice I got from my mom before my wedding almost 13 years ago, "the same things that annoy me about your dad, are the very ones that made me fall in love with him", which is true for me and DH as well. Remembering that helps keep things in perspective, what with the added stress of little ones running around now.

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  17. There are times when it seems like everything you hear/read, etc. is all focused on the same subject and all pounding home the same message. Marriage has been HARD for the last little while. So thank you for putting together all this great, practical wisdom. And for the timing. We all need reminding sometimes. And some of us need to be beat over the head with reminders :)
    The advice from the grandmother was great perspective. It reminded me of a newspaper comic I still remember from several years ago. The daughter asks her mom if she's ever contemplated divorce. The mom says, "Divorce? No. Murder yes, but divorce no."

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  18. I am super duper pink puffy hearting this post. Like I might print it out and tape it to the fridge, except I am not quite ready to explain to the 8 and 4 year-old exactly what Sexy time is or that in this case BJ does not stand for Barney's friend. I definitely think I might carry around in my wallet, though. Because this stuff is pure gold. You could probably sell it to the churches for their pre-marital counseling classes.
    Keep up the fantastic work! :)
    Ashley
    http://www.thedoseofreality.com/

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  19. Addressing the number one priority on the list, check out "Lube Jobs" by the MacLeod's: http://www.amazon.com/Lube-Jobs-Womans-Guide-Maintenance/dp/1585425613/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329500114&sr=1-1

    It was very helpful in my marriage, and continues to be so.

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  20. love the quote from the grandma at the end. going on 25 years here and i can say, "TRUE DAT."

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  21. Dear Mommyland.
    I have been with my boyfriend going on 6 years this May, and have been trying to break up with him for 5 years. Once the honeymoon stage was over, and we started fighting, I just wanted out. I couldn't accept his flaws and hated, HATED that he showed me mine. We have two girls age 3 and 13 months, i'm most definitely in a boob stain, forgot to wash my hair this week "is this bra clean? ew" blur. When you asked about marital advice, at first I thought ''pfff, these women have no idea what i'm going through, i don't even like this guy". Then I went home with those comments in my head. All the advice and all my current hate for him all balled up in my head. I had a bad day. I went home. and started talking. and talking and talking and talking. and had those words of advice in my head. Then he said something to me and made the past 6 years instantly change. "Why, when the going gets tough, do you just... go?" He said he was stressed about money too, and the kids, but mostly because I kept wanting to leave him. He was sad and hurt. and all these years, i'd thought it was him, i can't stand him, he changed me, we're not compatable... but it turned out to be me. I wasn't accepting him, I wanted a fairy tale, I wanted to just go, because it was tough.
    I'm printing out this post today, to post on my fridge. To remind me (and him), that when the going gets tough, the tough stick it out.
    p.s. I also told him I want to marry him. :)

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  22. Love love love the last quote from the Grandmother saying that she hated her husband for about 5 years of their 50. I have my days like that and then we have days that feel like the beginning of our relationship again (wonderful and loving and super sexy). Its nice to have the reminder that we are two different people trying to raise 3 different people. Loving each other is easy but living together and respecting each other and making sure everyone is happy is hard. But that's what we want so we will work towards that goal.

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  23. That bit from grandma at the end. THAT is what I needed to hear. But, it was all good, thanks for the post :)

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  24. this is very informative and helpful. love the collective wisdom. and that granny? rocks!

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  25. Best post ever! Definitly timely for me. Awesome advice as usual.

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  26. There are some problems that can't be talked through. Alcoholism, drug addiction where the partner refuses to get help, where s/he is making dangerous decisions that could affect the financial, physical or emotional health and stability of their partner and children. Marriages that were created from a lie. Spouses who are insane and refusing treatment. Abusive (emotionally, physically) spouses.

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    Replies
    1. Lisa, you are SO right.
      And willpower and talking and trying sometimes just ... aren't the same as inpatient psychological work, medical help, etc.

      Delete
  27. Hi ladies! Thanks for collating all the great advice. Here's my addition - make sure not to compare your spouse to others. I've found that when I compare my husband to others, I focus on all the negatives and all the ways we're different. And then I get frustrated and gripey. Instead of comparing, you should focus on all the things that you really like and value in your spouse. Probably you have some really major commonalities that drew you together in the first place, like your faith, or the way you want to raise your kids, or how important extended family relationships are. And really, what's more important? The smaller stuff can be worked out by compromise, or, as someone mentioned, by a night out with your girlfriends doing what YOU like while he stays happily at home on the couch. :)

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  28. Lisa, I think they adequately acknowledged that some relationships should or ca not be saved. They are talking about the ones where both parties are interested in working on it and are in a "normal" relationship

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  29. Thanks so much for this post - I've been struggling mightily (which my spellchecker just tried to correct to 'nightly' in a prescient way) with #1 since the birth of our 16-month old. Or, actually, since the 4 + years we spent trying to conceive her, the nine months of nausea while pregnant with her, and then, the actual 16 months of her. And it's been a huge relief to read how common that is, and how the best way to deal with is...to do it. I've been seeing a therapist and she basically said the same thing, but somehow it clicked way more from reading it here. And, also, you know, FREE. Crap.

    Anyway. Well done, hookers. I work with premarital couples myself and I may send them to this post.

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  30. Best use of SPSS ever!
    Cheers,
    Cate

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  31. Thanks for creating a way to share collective wisdom: thanks for enabling me to learn from someone else's parent's/grandparent's wisdom (lacking that in my life).
    Cate

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  32. This project is an amazing public service. Bringing the challenges of marriage into the light, showing the commonalities among women, and providing a positive and supportive message - wow. Way to go, hookers.

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  33. I love it! Thank you! Recently I started a document titled 100 reasons why I love you. (Because of time constraints and kids interruptions, I only wrote 75.) Then I printed them, cut into strips and put them into an empty container. Gave it to my husband with the instruction to pull one every day. His face lit up! Not only did it remind me when writing them how much I love him, but it showed him that no matter how hard it is to navigate the Blur sometimes, we are doing this together and he is loved and appreciated. Such a simple, FREE gift that has brought more understanding, happiness and love into our home. Marriage is a hard earned and rewarding gift!!

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  34. This is wonderful. And to all you wives out there that have husbands that are at least trying, please when you see them today, hug them and say thank you. I would give anything for my husband to care, even a little bit.

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  35. I love the advice, and as with all things...sometimes it's important to know all the rules so that you know when they should be broken. In fact, I don't think a good marriage can happen without one or two of those rules being shattered with extreme prejudice at some point or other ("Don't lose your schmidt," anyone?). But unless they're kept to a minimum, they just don't have the same impact when they're well and truly called for. Thank you, ladies! :)

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  36. Sex DOES matter in a marriage, because it is a measure of your level of intimacy...and when it DOESN'T happen, it is more likely a symptom of something deeper wrong in the marriage. And when you realize you are DONE with your sexless marriage, try experienceproject.com "I live in a sexless marriage" group....invaluable, to me at least. Lots of folks going through the same pain, and alot of real life advice on how to deal. No, this is NOT an ad...it's simply a forum, but there is self-esteem GOLD on there

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  37. Awesome advice! Love it! Another WONDERFUL resource that I would recommend to anyone in marriage crisis is this pastor, Chip Ingram. If you are short on time skip to "Is there a Woman in the Home and What's a Woman To Do?" They will make you want to hear it all! http://www.livingontheedge.org/home/broadcasts/listen-online-daily.php

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  38. Every woman that was married 30+ years who I asked for marriage advice told me that at some point in their marriage they wanted to leave (even my mom). All of them said that they were still married because they made the decision not to. None of them regretted that decision.

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  39. I don't have much to add to this... just THANK YOU. This post may have just saved my relationship.

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  40. I love love love how funny you hookers are as you write about possibly the most important topic ever. THANK YOU.

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  41. Awesome adjustment!!! I'm very glad to know your nice experience. To get proper arrangement is a part of happy life. I'm willing to arrange same type’s marriage. Please post more articles like it is. All the best :)
    ex back

    ReplyDelete

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