Valentine and Marriage: A Survival Guide

Rodney: Me and my wife used to be really happy together?

Friend: Really…what happened?

Rodney: We got married.

 Joke by Rodney Dangerfield

All jokes aside, Valentines Day is coming up and many people are expecting some type of recognition including my significant other. It is a day to celebrate love. I am not talking about sexual love. I am talking about caring love. As social creatures we all need caring love. We can’t survive without it. It is as basic as water. It is one of the pillars for human survival. We all need water, food, shelter, and love. And that caring love is what I receive from my wife and I return it in a mutual symbiosis.

How I met my wife?

I was in the college library running towards the elevator. The doors were closing. I put my foot in the door, entered, and saw the most beautiful thing ever, an empty elevator because I hate uncomfortable elevator silences with other people in it. Once inside I look out and see a pretty girl sitting at the end of the library. She had dark curly hair, a button nose, rosy cheeks, and full lips. She suddenly looks up and we lock eyes as the elevator doors closed. I wanted to leave the elevator and go to her but I just continued to stare at her eyes as the doors closed shut. Is she the one? Is this love? The moment passes and I think to myself …Wow, wow, wow!….now I have this elevator all to myself.

The next day I go to the library at the same time in the hopes of seeing her again. There she was, immersed in her studies. My mind was spinning. How should I approach? Should I do a direct approach and “grab her by the …um…ok…how do I say it in…um…hand.”

No, that won’t work. I should say something better. Say something witty.

I played with different pick up lines in my head that I could use:

Are you trying to trip me? Because I am falling for you.

Your name must be cholesterol because my blood pressure is rising.

I like empty elevators.

Crap! No….none of that will work. Think, think fast…

“Umm…is anybody sitting here?” I asked in a matter-of-fact manner. Smooth right. Yeah, I thought so at the time. She said,”No, go ahead.” I sat down. I pretended to study thinking of something else to say.

I have to say something really cool now. Something that will make her smile. Something that will make her feel like there was some magical, cosmic connection between us.

I blurted out “What are you studying?”

She smiled and says “A book for my history class.” Yes! She smiled. I am so good at this.

I need to close this thing before I say something even more brilliant and then she will think I am too good for her.

“Would you like to go out sometime,” I say with a smile. I would just like to add that there wasn’t an an ounce of desperation in my voice. Trust me. OK, maybe just a little.

Her cheeks turn deep red and shyly said,”OK.”

And the rest is history. We exchange phone numbers. I get up and head to the elevator. It was empty again. My life is good.

How we stayed together for 13 years?

Now I could answer this question with something cliche and mushy like saying “love” has kept us together all this time. But that is a cop out to what marriage really is and that is “work.” A marriage needs to be “worked on” and “love” by itself is not enough to keep a marriage together. I am leaving “love” out of the equation to get to the more practical side of a long lasting marriage. It is time to get SERIOUS.

Warning: There were several puns and jokes thus far but from this point onwards–not so much.

Know your Roles

Marriages usually fall apart when partners do not have defined roles. For example, my duties at home is to pay the bills, take out the garbage, clean the gutters, I will stop here because I don’t want to take too many gigabytes but you get the point. My wife has her role duties as well. I usually don’t interfere with her duties and she doesn’t interfere with mine. We each have our domains and respect each other’s contributions.

Respect Pact: Don’t call me stupid.

When we first got married we made a pact. The pact stated that we would not call each other demeaning names, especially names insulting the intelligence of either. This includes names such as stupid, idiot, dumb, moron, etc. Have we called each other demeaning names since the pact? I am definitely guilty here and so is she. We are not perfect. But we have NEVER called each other names that insult our intelligence. I have never called my wife stupid or anything similar and she hasn’t in return.

Communicate with the “I” method

All couples argue and get into fights sometimes. How is it handled after? Knowing the correct way of communicating an issue is of most importance. I was fortunate to learn this early on and shared it with my wife. In order to solve the problem it is best to use the “I” method instead of the “you” method. By the way, this method is also good to use in a workplace setting as well.

Examples of “I” method:                                      

I feel like you are ignoring me.

I am disappointed about how you said that.

Examples of “you” method:

You go out all the time.

You always say such things!

Notice that if you start your sentence with “you” it will sound more accusatory and it will automatically escalate conflict. However, if you start with “I feel” or “I think” it starts with the person saying it and it leaves an element of continued dialogue rather than a fight about “you did this” and “you did that.”

Logical arguments for not leaving your spouse.

For those logical fanatics. Below are two rational arguments for keeping a marriage together. Love is not included in these arguments but they are valid still.

The Novelty in Perpetual Error Argument

All marriages have what is known as the “honeymoon” period when everything is exciting and new. Then it wears off. Then one partner begins to seek that novelty and begin a relationship with another partner. There is excitement in this new relationship and leaves the other partner for this new relationship. Then the excitement wears off and they seek somebody new again. It becomes a perpetual cycle of cheating for seeking that “excited” feeling. The argument follows, why cheat at all or seek a new partner at all if ends up being the same, perpetually the same. It wouldn’t matter what partner the person ends up with, the “honeymoon” period will always end. And it will not matter how handsome, beautiful, if they are a movie star (look at the divorce rate for famous actors), rich, or famous the other person is. If there is one thing for sure, the “honeymoon” period will always end so there is no sense of leaving your partner only to experience the same scenario. You are better off staying.

The Wealth Argument

When you separate with your spouse, in most cases, you are losing half of your wealth. Not just money wealth, intellectual wealth is also lost as well. Remember all the role duties your spouse did, now you have to do them. Just imagine half of what you have suddenly vanishing. In closing, unless there is a prenup, expect to lose half your wealth and start doing all of your former spouse’ duties, therefore it is in everybody’s best interest wealth-wise to stay together. If there is a person outside your marriage with more wealth and you are interested in that person romantically, STOP. Before you act, apply the Novelty in Perpetual Error Argument and return to your spouse and be happy.

I know what your thinking. How dare you talk about wealth in relationships when love should be the focus? I know…..I know..kinda of douche-like and cold….so  I will end it by saying one thing.

I love my wife.

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