Marriages are anything but well-defined, despite the billions of so-called ‘rules’ we are told we must follow in order to hold up our end of the bargain.
Love, and more specifically, the act of entering into a union with one other person in the name of love, has inspired more advice and self-help columns, articles, books, and websites than just about every topic under the sun with exception of maybe cooking.
Nevertheless, it goes without saying that so many of the words written regarding the safe-keeping of our hearts, and our partner’s hearts, could be chalked up to whimsical theory, to some other human person’s staunch opinions about a topic as fickle as the wind. That’s never stopped anyone though. Lots of writers, pseudo-experts, or just plain opinionated hacks love to hear the sound of their jingling two cents touching down in the can of life.
So it damn sure sure isn’t going to stop someone like me either.
See, from a fairly early age, it’s fairly easy to understand that marriage requires us to observe a certain amount of well-proven truths; basic ideas like “Don’t Cheat/Don’t Be Cruel/Don’t Forget to Flush the Loo” are easy to recognize and adhere to as long as we are making a fairly complete attempt at trying to be a pretty decent significant other.
But what about some of the small stuff though?
What about the grayer areas regarding marriage, where the loose ideas of right versus wrong mingle with each other, but never seem to settle the score; what about our very own well-formulated opinions of what is and what isn’t acceptable?
Let’s dive in.
Checking Their Phone 1 of 12Let's face it, a whole hell of a lot of us have looked at our spouse or partner's phone when they were still sleeping or whatever. Why do we do it? Humans are curious beasts by our very nature. And so when we happen to glance down at the kitchen counter and see our partner's cell phone, there is a damn good chance that we are the sort who is gonna whisper to ourselves,"Just one little peek. It won't hurt anyone!"
But the violation is monstrous here, no? It isn't about the fact that you might actually find or see something of note; it's more the fact that you went trespassing when you knew you really shouldn't. Sure, some couples do this stuff all of the time (I have done it, though NOT with my current wife, of course, love you sweetums!) but point me out even ONE couple who have somehow benefited from it versus the bazillions who have gone to war in its wake.
Sharing Our Sexual Past 2 of 12So many people like to say that they are 100% open with their partners in love and life about EVERYTHING. And, according to them, "everything" includes being tenderly honest (reach out for a soft touch of your hand here) about ALL of the losers — ahem, I mean lovers — that they have ever known.
Do you really think that your partner wants to know all about every threesome you ever ended up in with the people from work (a simple happy-hour drink can go so many places) or the bizarre love triangle you were involved in with your Economics professor and his 73 year-old dad in freshman year of college? Think about it.
Speaking Out About The In-laws 3 of 12If you ever want to field-test how truly crazy that calm/cool/collected sweetheart of yours is deep down inside his or her guts, if you ever want to see the dark side that you've heard that everyone has, but that you've honestly never ever seen in your Blake or McKenzie, then talk some shit about their parents to their face. Trust me, you'll be sleeping in a hotel.
See, no matter how messed up and dysfunctional our own families are, and no matter how much we might talk trash about them ourselves, the instant someone else says something derogatory or negative or even slightly hinting at a bit of condescension or snickering about our flesh and blood, most of us go rogue. There are no exceptions either — you don't even get a pass to do anything more than nod slightly in agreement with your husband or wife when they are talking to you about how plum C-R-A-Z-Y their mom is. When it comes to your in-laws and extended family you will never ever win, trust me.
The Open-door Bathroom Policy 4 of 12Here's the thing: you might feel as if, "Hey, we've been together for six years now and we have gone through some tough times together. We owed the IRS $800 together in 2009 AND we huddled together to keep warm while we waited for the tow truck after the Subaru broke down... so I think it's safe to say that she's totally at ease with me leaving the bathroom door wide open when I'm on the throne." You might think things are that way, but you are very very wrong.
She (or he) might try and act nonchalant about it and put on an unconcerned face as they tiptoe through the room to retrieve their deodorant or a scrunchie, but believe me when I tell you that the damage has been done.
Remote Controlness 5 of 12The other day I heard a report on the radio that said that in a recent study, more married people fought over the remote control than ANYTHING ELSE, even money. Now, I am still slightly uncertain if that could honestly be the truth (if it really is, we are way more f'-d up than I even thought), but regardless of its place in the pantheon of What Sparks Big Marriage Blowouts, we should never underestimate all of the meaning that is attached to that little black box. Our remote controls, at this stage of the technological game, are our little lame conduits to a different, better world (Yes: Honey Boo-Boo is a better world). So, when we hog the damn thing, then we are in essence denying the love of our life the coveted options of CHOICE and DECISION and SUCCESS or FAILURE on their own terms, right there on our very own couch.
Separate Bedrooms 6 of 12Here is one that's tricky. See, there is a long, storied tradition of married people sleeping together in the same room every night until one of them croaks. It's born of a beautiful and sweet notion, really, the idea of always being there to peck him or her on the cheek at the end of a long hard day. And let's face it, sex is way more fun when you can just roll off of the side of the other person's body and be asleep by the time you hit the mattress, right?
But still, as a guy who has been enjoying the upside of separate bedrooms for a while now, I sometimes wonder if more people FORCE themselves to sleep in the same bed as their mate despite different sleep schedules and the snoring that sounds like a killer whale being sawed in half simply because they think that's what they're "supposed to do." Take heed if your sleep time routine isn't the romanticized one you thought it would be — and don't be surprised if your husband or wife is already thinking along these very same lines.
Looking At Their Computer 7 of 12Much like their mobile phones, our spouse's personal computers and laptops can become pretty tempting at times. Yeah yeah, I know, you HAVE NEVER and WOULD NEVER peek in on your sweetheart's Mac. Oh, goodie for you. But the truth is: a whole lot of people have done it and do do it, and it is what we might refer to as one of the slipperiest slopes out there in Matrimony Land. Sure, it's fairly easy to just pop in and check out what your hubby or wife has been up to on-line (especially if they aren't big on erasing their own history), but believe me when I tell you that nothing, and I mean NOTHING but trouble ever ensues from violating this branch of trust between you two. So stay out.
Following the Exes 8 of 12What benefit do any of us reep from keeping track of our ex-boyfriends or girlfriends? Can anyone out there give me even one reason to do it? Then why are there still so many people who simply cannot find the strength or see the benefits in totally letting go to old flames? I'm talking everything from being friends with them on Facebook to sending them occasional short sweet messages of well-wishing that reek of freakin' unbalanced, unchecked minor insanity dressed up like a strong confident person who has completely moved on: "Hey there!!!! Just saw your wedding pictures online! Your new wife is really hot! Nice Job, dude!" And please don't tell me that even just looking at their photos is just harmless, basic human curiosity either. Because I will look you square in the eye and tell you, "No. No, its not." It's weird and it's unhealthy and quite frankly, when you break it all down, it's not at all fair to the person standing next to in the kitchen every night, helping with the dishes. Unless, of course, he or she is doing it too, in which case, you two losers deserve each other.
Maintaining The Vices 9 of 12If you smoke cigarettes and your spouse doesn't, don't think that he or she is okay with it. Sure, you can huff your cancerous breath to the four winds all you want: "That's who I was when they met me so they knew what they were getting into!", but you'll be raising your mercury on the Douche-A-Meter every time you tell yourself that. Look, maybe you were a big pothead back then, when you first hooked up with this person you ended up marrying, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that you ultimately recognized that people change in one of two ways, for the better, or for the worse. And, even though we often want to believe that it's mostly out of our hands, the reality is it is up to us to choose our path. You know that deep down. I know you do. So, why then do we continue to chase our little powerful vices in an endless series of circles when we know that the person who we supposedly love more than anyone quietly (or loudly, as the case may be) wishes we would reel in our dirty old ways and show them that we want to be around with them as long as possible. Yes, our vices are some of our very oldest friends, but what the hell does that say about us in the end, right?
Secret Money 10 of 12Do you have secret money? Is it just a few twenties that you keep tucked away in your wallet in case you happen to run across something cool at a yard sale, or are we talking "secret bank account" here, or a credit card your better half knows nothing about? When it comes to slippery slopes in marriage, money is a topic covered in so much lard and black ice that it's a wonder any of us ever find our footing. Yet it can be done, and couples navigate the harsh financial straits together all of the time. Hell, some might say that balancing a budget together brings you two closer together as you weather the storm and suck up the sacrifices with each other. (I wouldn't say that, obviously, as I am currently hanging out in the upper deck of the Top 10 Worst Financial Partners In The History Of Love list).
Complain About Your Spouse 11 of 12Let me ask you bluntly: do you ever talk trash on your husband or wife to your relatives or close friends? And is that something you think your spouse would be okay with? When we talk about the sanctity of marriage and all that it is supposed to represent (and not just in some church way either), isn't it supposed to be this long ride where we always have the other person's back, no matter what; no matter how much we might be upset with them at any given moment through the years? I always thought so. I may be way off-base here, but when it comes to discussing husbands or wives, my rule of survival is "don't say anything about them that you wouldn't want them to say about you some night when you're not around to defend yourself."
Do These Jeans Make My Ass Look Like An Apartment Building? 12 of 12Listen, sooner or later most of us will notice that our husbands or wives are aging naturally. And sooner or later, your spouse is going to bitch about their changing bodies and mourn the trim and chiseled bits they've lost. But here's the thing: do not, under any circumstances, ever ever ever tell them anything that you know damn right well they don't want to hear when it comes to their physical appearance. Except maybe that they have a bit of broccoli stuck in their tooth. Okay? Promise me? I'm serious here; I think the ultimate commitment to someone's heart and to your own sense of respect for them is to honestly realize that you do still love them, even more than you did back when they were skinny or ripped or whatever.
We get so caught up in this rampant bombardment of physical bullshit day-in and day-out, our eyes slammed with a trillion images a day of youth and superficial beauty. We often end up forgetting how we fell in love with our partner's sense of humor and their recipe for eggplant parm and their fondness for dogs just as much as we fell for their looks. Don't make that mistake too often, my friend. Make sure your partner knows you still want to boink them every chance you can possibly get, okay? And if you really don't feel that way deep down inside, then stop trying to pretend you ever knew what love was to begin with.
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