Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rules For Love? part one

     There's this blog post going around Facebook.  You can read it by clicking here.  You should probably read it with a fresh perspective before I put my dos pesos in but before you go and read it I will tell you my first thought upon reading it.  Some of my posts have been much better than that.  Why aren't they being shared by complete strangers on Facebook?
     Are you back from reading it or did you just ignore me and not even read it?  You probably ignored me.  Most people do.  Anyway, I'm going to write a whole post about why this guy is full of shit and then a part two about what a real person with some depth to their soul and real problems might learn from a divorce.  Know, though, that what I think about that post can be summed up as it is full of shit and should only appeal to people who haven't gotten past the teenage/Disney princess view of what love is.  Understand that I'm not trying to insult the man who wrote it. I recognize why he wrote it.  I'm sure it was an immediate, unconsidered response to a breakup that he didn't want to happen and out of reflex he took all the blame on himself before he really had the time to think about it.  I have sympathy for him because I've made the same type of post.
     Still, someone has to fight the spread of these bullshit notions of love and romance that have lead to the ever higher divorce rates and I guess I'm the guy because I'm bored tonight. As I said part one will be a step by step breakdown of his list of twenty things he supposedly learned and why they are mostly crap.  Then part two, which given my recent track record will probably take at least a week to appear, will be my list of things that I've learned from my divorce.  They'll probably be mostly crap too but they'll be better and deeper than his anyway.  First, I have to tear his down, though, because I'm the kind of guy that likes to feel like he's always the smartest guy in the room.
     One: Never Stop Courting
     On the surface this isn't the worst advice except he goes onto to say that "you promised to be the man that WOULD OWN HER HEART."  That is literally, and I mean literally, one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.  No one owns anyone's heart.  If we're lucky we earn the right to have a place in someone's heart but we hold no ownership over it.  He also encourages men to never stop dating but that ignores the fact that most people hate dating. If you never stopped dating your spouse you would never fart or belch in front of them and anyone that thinks trapped gas makes for a good marriage has never had trapped gas.
     I can already hear the chorus of "but you don't understand what he's saying" but I do. Here's the thing, though.  The whole concept of courting is crap.  Love should be earned, of course, but it should be earned by being yourself.  I'll dress up when it's appropriate and I'll bring flowers at random times but for the most part if me being a good guy and a good father isn't enough for you to love me then I'm going to try to convince you otherwise.  I shouldn't have to convince you to love me and you shouldn't have to convince me to love you.
     The best way I can explain why this is crap is to tell you the best moments of my marriage; the moments that if there had been more of them it might not have ended.  They happened late at night when random conversation had kept us up for longer than it should have because we just wanted to be with each other.  They happened in early morning when I still had bed head, back when I still had hair, and I woke up with my arms around a woman in an old shirt filled with holes.  They happened when our son was being a total shit in public and our eyes met and we just shook our heads.  They were unplanned moments of humanity when we understood each other completely and they weren't planned and they certainly weren't courting.  If you think a good marriage is made of dinner dates and dressing up you don't understand what makes a good marriage.
     Two:  protect Your Own Heart
     This one isn't crap but I wish he would just say what he means.  Don't cheat.  Don't put yourself in a situation that cheating is even a possibility.  Don't share things with anyone else that you should only be sharing with your spouse.  Again, his advice on this one isn't bad but why do we have to talk about love and marriage in these flowery terms?  Why can't we just be blunt and honest with each other?
     Three: Fall In Love Over And Over Again
     He was making a lot of sense in this section of his post.  He talked about how people don't stay the same and they have to learn to reconnect with each other when they change. It was great advice until he wrote "Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her."  Cough, cough, bullshit, if you know what I'm saying.  Love is not something to be won.  It's not a medal you get after a sporting event.  I will do things like give backrubs or take her out for a night on the town or babysit so she can have a girls' night out to show her my appreciation for her love but I'm not going to try to win her love and she shouldn't try to win my love.  Love is given freely and if it's not then it's not worth anything.  I don't fight for my mother's love or my son's love or my friend's love and I'm not going to fight for my spouse's love.
     Four: Always See the Best in Her
     Again, good advice until he keeps writing.  He says to focus on the things you love about your spouse until you no longer see anything but love.  Am I the only one that thinks this is crap?  It seems to me that he's saying don't see your wife as a complete human being with faults and flaws and a complete personality but see her only as someone you love that loves you.  It's chauvinistic shit as is most of this list.
     Five: It's Not Your Job to Change Her or Fix Her
     There isn't much to say about this one except EVERYONE SHOULD LISTEN TO IT.  There is a small problem with what he says, though.  He writes that if your wife changes you should love what she becomes whether it's what you wanted or not and this is true unless she becomes a drug addict or a gambling addict or abusive or a shitty parent or manic depressive etc etc.  Then it is damn sure your job to try to fix her or at least convince her to fix herself.  Much of my problem with this list of his is that it just isn't grounded in reality but in more of the Hollywood romance novel universe of what goes right and wrong in a relationship.  I'll talk about this more later when I address how this fool says don't worry about money.
     Six: Take Full Accountability For Your Own Emotions
     This guy actually says it's not your wife's job to make you happy and she can't make you sad.  Another of the stupidest things I've ever heard.  First of all, it is your wife's job to make you happy just as it's your job to make her happy.  That's what we should want to do for the people we love.  Of course, it's your responsibility to make sure you can be made happy, that there isn't something inside of you that keeps you from being happy, but I don't really think that's what he is saying.
     Second, of course your wife can make you sad just as you can make her sad.  This guy seems to be saying that you shouldn't address or talk about anything your spouse does that annoys or angers you.  That would be the opposite of honest communication and would therefore be the opposite of what makes a marriage work.
     Seven: Never Blame Your Wife If You Get Frustrated or Angry with Her
     If he was saying that first you should make sure it is something to be angry about and then you should see if there is a reason behind her doing what she is doing and if it is understandable then I would be all like right on man.  That isn't what he is saying though.  It seems to me that he thinks you should just be a smiling happy sap all the time and never share all of yourself with your spouse.  It seems to me that he thinks a husband shouldn't be a human.
     Eight: Allow Your Woman to Just Be
     This sounds like exactly the sort of thing that a half hippie like me would dig.  The problem is that he is saying this for when she's upset or sad and that's right some of the time.  A woman does want to just be held and know she's loved sometimes when she's upset and she doesn't expect her man to do anything about it.  Then other times, if you take this approach, she's going to get angry that you didn't do anything about her problems and tell you it means you didn't take them seriously.  Women, and men believe it or not, are complex creatures and you have to try to learn the signs of their wants and needs and react accordingly and even after years and years you won't get it right every time.  This guy seems to think all people are the same.  You can tell it when he uses the laughable term "the feminine spirit" as if all women are governed by some magic fairy in their behavior.  He doesn't seem to see women as people but just as women.  I'll bitch about this more when this guy talks about sex.
     Nine: Be Silly
     He talks about the importance of laughter and joking and on this one I'm obviously going to say right on man, I can dig it, and every other sixties cliche you can think of.  There is one thing I have to mention, though.  Sometimes you are going to be silly or your spouse is going to be silly and it's going to be the wrong time and you are going to get pissed off or pissed on.  You can expect to get everything right all the time and you can't expect your spouse to get everything right all the time.  Spoiler alert; that's one of my biggest lessons learned.
     Ten: Fill Her Soul Everyday
     Again, this sounds reasonable until the guy keeps writing.  One of people's biggest problems, and yes I include myself in this group, is that they don't know when to shut up. He says to ask your wife to make a list of ten things that make her feel loved and to memorize it.  Let me tell you guys a secret; if you and your spouse are making lists for each other that don't include groceries or chores your marriage is probably already doomed.  It is a person's responsibility to discover what makes their spouse feel loved and then to try to do it.  Asking for a list just takes away the fun of discovery.  Also, you should make your spouse feel loved in ways that will surprise them and that they wouldn't expect.  If I gave a woman a list of things that would make me feel loved it would be blowjobs, backrubs, and beer but believe or not left to their own devices women can do better that they.  Well, maybe.
     Then he ends it by saying you should make your woman feel like a queen and I swear I will keep beating this dead pet peeve of a horse of mine until it comes back to life so I can kill it again.  Sure, I'll make you feel like a queen.  We'll be in a loveless marriage arranged for political reasons and if you make me unhappy I'll have you beheaded.  Can we please put away the fairy tale bullshit people?

     So I lied.  This is going to be a three part post.  I'm going to split my response to his post into two parts.  Mostly because I'm tired of writing but also because I feel the need to say something.  I've realized that due to my sarcastic tone people reading this might think I'm down on love or don't believe in it but I want to assure everyone that is far from true.  I just get tired of trite lists like this and paper thin portrayals of love.  I have watched my parents fight and argue and get on each other's last nerves for my whole life and I don't think there is one thing on this list they've actually followed.  Sometimes things have been good for them and sometimes things have been bad.  Sometimes they've been good to and for each other and sometimes they haven't.  Theirs is a complex human love that has left even their own children wondering why they stayed married sometimes and at other times wondering how they ever lived as long as they did without each other. Here's the thing, though. They're still together and still happy.  Maybe even happier than they've ever been.  I wouldn't recommend their method of marriage for anyone but it has worked for them because it's real and they could give you some real advice instead of this cookie cutter trite nonsense that people like to peddle.

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