12. MOVE AWAY FROM HER FAMILY. AND YOURS.
When we were first married, we would see my family all the time and her family almost as often. We spent almost every Sunday at my family’s house, and a lot of weeknights and weekends at hers. We spent nearly every holiday with our families. And every special occasion, too. And while family is usually great, it really kept us from developing our own working family dynamic, our own traditions, and our own strengthened way of living and doing things. It drug us into unnecessary drama. And most of all, it kept us from learning to lean on each other during our rough patches instead of on our parents or siblings.
IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER: I would move far away from both families for a year or two. I wouldn’t come back until we’d been through at least a few big marital challenges on our own without the involvement of any family at all. That way, when we did come back, we’d be strong on our own and our families would be great supplements to our marriage instead of major players.
BONUS! When you make your own traditions, you can finally add things in that your parents weren’t cool with. “And after we open our Christmas pajamas… everyone has to eat a pound of chocolate. And then they have to stand on their heads while screaming. And then they have to jump on their beds.” Stuff like that.
13. DON’T BE A TALK-HOG.
I often had a way of making everything about me. I’d come home from work and want to talk about me. I’d go to bed with her and want to talk about me. I’d want to talk about my successes, my ideas, my struggles, and my worries. Usually I’d realize I was being a talk-hog and I’d ask her about what was going on with her, but only listen with half an ear, hardly reply, and be anxious to move the conversation back to me as soon as possible.
IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER: I’d shut the heck up. And, because of my little problem, I’d try not to talk about me at all until I knew about her day, her successes, her ideas, her struggles, and her worries.
BONUS! When you listen, you hear nifty things that remind you how awesome and messed up and funny and perfect for you she really is.
14. DON’T DEMAND THAT SHE TELL YOU WHAT SHE’S THINKING.
I always knew when something was wrong. I always knew when something was bugging her. I always knew when she disapproved of something I said or did. And, I always knew when she was keeping her mouth shut about it. Being the great communicator that I was, I would badger her, and pester her, and harass her until she finally told me what she was thinking. And sure enough, it was usually what I thought it was, and the next world war would break out.
IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER: ’d shrug my shoulders and send serious thank you vibes to her for keeping her opinion or her disapproval to herself, even though I’d know they weren’t positive. I’d recognize the noble reasons she was doing it, and I’d respect those reasons. I’d learn not to take it all personally and I’d learn not to desperately need approval for everything I did or said.
BONUS! When war is averted, nobody ends up clobbered and wounded and hungry for blood. Which is always nice.
15. DON’T BUY INTO YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ GENDER ROLES.
I had no trouble letting my wife go join all the other wives on Sundays and fix dinner for all of us men. I also had no trouble letting them all do clean-up without our help. I enjoyed playing pool, or ping pong, or chattin’ it up with the fellas while the women toiled. It’s just what happens more often than not in my family, and I often brought it home with me during the week. After all. I had a job, so she did everything else. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? Well, apparently not because it always led to all sorts of justified resentment.
IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER: I’d realize that working a desk job is usually a heck of a lot easier than working at home all day. I’d jump into the chores that she had left when I got home so that we could both enjoy some quality free time later on. I’d insist on doing the dishes more often. I’d demand that she relax sometimes while I got the kids ready for bed. And, I’d never let myself think that her work was easier or less important than mine.
BONUS! Appreciated wives show their appreciation for it in much more private settings, like the bedroom. And by appreciation, I mean they’ll surprise you with that incredible nerdy electric tie rack that spins.
Oh, and probably sex, too. I hadn’t even thought of that.
That’s a lot of dirty marriage laundry to air out in front of the world. I’ll probably never get a date now.
Love you all. Thanks in advance for sharing all these botched-it-big-time secrets of mine with others (you know, if you found value in them).
Dan Pearce, from my Single Dad Laughing blog
If you missed the first half of this list, you can read “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage” here.
PS. Would love your comments on today’s posts (I do read every one of them). What do you agree/disagree with? What advice would you have added? What would your bonuses for that advice be? And, what is your opinion as to why so many people connected with and shared this list?
PPS. I know I joke about sex a lot in these posts. Get over it. Sex is one of the most important and often most dysfunctional parts of marriage. Working toward having lots of healthy sex ain’t a bad thing.