Brian and Linda: Marriage Advice from the Divorced Guy

Marriage Advice

Last weekend I was driving to the place where I ride my bike. It beautiful. I get out there, relax, and enjoy nature.

This week I was driving and I passed signs for Brian and Linda's wedding, and then the reception. I thought of how happy Brian and Linda must be on this day. It was an awesome day to sweat 20 lbs off in a tux. I thought of how I felt on my wedding days. Yes, there have been two. With this in mind, you can learn from people who succeed at something, or you can also learn from people who fail at something so I feel I have some good advice from a divorced guy.

Pick Your Battles, and Your Battle Times

Your spouse is not perfect. This you need to learn right up front. Your life will not be perfect. How you handle the reality of that is HUGE part of how your marriage will go. This doesn't mean you become a welcome mat for your spouse to walk over, but you do need to set realistic expectations. With this in mind, let some things roll off your back. Wait a day or two to see if it is still bugging you. If it is, then start thinking about how to bring it up, and more importantly when to bring it up.

There is that whole “Don't go to bed mad at each other” and it's next to impossible if you bring up stuff AS YOU ARE GOING TO BED. For me, when my head hit the pillow I had two things on my mind, and if we weren't doing the first thing, I wanted to sleep. This is NOT the best time to bring up serious subjects. Your spouse is exhausted and wants to sleep. I know, let's dump some serious discussion on them, and see how they make decisions when their brain checked out hours ago.

In the morning before work is a crappy way to start the day. As soon as you get home from work is awful because you want to relax. How about after dinner. Another tip I would add is give a warning shot. Maybe some time during the day send a “I need to talk to you tonight” text to let them know. While a “we need to talk” used to mean you are breaking up, now that you're married that option is off the table. Don't panic.

Reinforce Your Commitment

Let's face it, there will be times when things are said or done, and you are royally cheesed off. This happens. Remember, it's not going to be perfect. So if you are going to bed angry, try to remind your spouse that while you don't like them at the moment, you do love them. I know that's weird. Buy can you love a child who just spilled chocolate on the carpet? Sure. Well then, remember that you can be upset with someone and still love them.

State that, “You know that really hurt me, and I'm upset. I want you to know that I still love you, and I'm sure we can work through this.” Why I feel this is important is when you get into a bad situation, it may feel like everything you do is not good enough, that all you do is wrong, and that your relationship is doomed. A reminder that you are a team, and you will work through your problems might be a key to having a dialogue vs an argument.

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

If you need to point out something that needs work, the “bad news” might go down better if you add something positive to it first. “I love that you are such a (hard worker, good mom, etc) and I can see that when you (whatever they did) and I deeply appreciate it. Here is a way that take that great action and maximize the impact would be to ____.

Don't Be A Buthead

Be careful saying something nice up front if it is followed by “But…” as everything before the word But gets erased when you use it. This is really hard to do. I the love the way you do this, and that BUT when you…. that doesn't work.

Know Your Schools of Thought on Marriage

There are two schools of marriage (for me).

  1. Two complete people who choose to be together.
  2. Two incomplete people who choose to be together to complete each other (the Jerry McQuire Marriage).

People Can Change But It's Never Easy

By the time you get married, you are who you are for the most part. People can change, that is true. It's a bit like steering a giant cruise boat. Sure it can turn, but it takes time, and it is slow. If you are marrying someone and thinking later that annoying thing they do will change, you might want to reconsider. For one, if they do change it may be something that comes naturally, and consequently, it takes effort to not do something that is just like a reflex. So if you marry someone who drinks, and think later you can talk them into giving it up, you may be not so presently surprised. If you want someone to give up something they truly enjoy, it may happen along with this thing we call resentment.

Have Something In Common

You are going to be spending a lot time with this person, it would be nice if you could do things together that you BOTH enjoy.

Be The Person Your Spouse Wants to Hang Out With

You never get any time together. You finally do, don't spend that time telling your spouse they you never spend any time together. Instead tell them how much you miss them, and how great it is to spend time together. Give them something to miss. Nobody likes a no it all. Nobody wants to be around a person who is always complaining. Be someone your spouse wants to hang out with.

Women – Sex Makes You Stupid

Don't sleep with someone. I know that women are independent and strong, but thanks to movies, romance novels, etc when you have sex with a man you become blind to their faults (in most cases). Typically, it is harder for women to have sex with a man without having emotional ties.

Date Night

We are busy, so come up with dedicated times to spend together. There are no exceptions. This shows your dedication. If you do need to use a Date Night for a non-date night activity, be sure to appreciate the other person for letting you go off the plan, and make it up to them. To the person who is “giving permission” do it with a smile, and you will be the coolest person on the planet. A person people (your spouse) will want to hang out with.

If Needed, Schedule Sex

You're busy, I'm busy, you're tired, I'm tired. Sex is important to everyone in the marriage. I know it would be great if violins started to play and “it just happened” but it doesn't. Here again, it's not going to be perfect. But if you put it on the calendar, all expectations are on the calendar, everyone knows what is expected. Sure it's not as romantic, but are you going to tell me that when it's done you're going to say, “well that was awful.” There is no bad pizza; there is no bad horrible sex.”

The High Road is Covered in Goose Poop

It's been 5 months since I've documented my life. I'm trying to do this without throwing people under the bus, pointing fingers, cause in the end – it doesn't matter. I am now divorced. Pointing fingers will not change that, so I take the high road and wish the best for my (oh, good God – now SECOND) ex-wife.

So I'm living alone. Me and a cat. Bernie. I've never been a cat person, but Bernie is OK. There are times when its nice to just have another heartbeat under the roof.

I'm not looking for as pitty party. It is what it is. I feel we did what we could. We spend thousands on counseling. We knew what to do, but thanks to our childhoods, our experiences, we are wired the way we are, and we couldn't change. As a teacher, I find this fact hard to believe. I believe in constant improvement. In the end, I guess a leopard can't change it's spots, and a Zebra can't change it's stripes. At that pint you either accept what you have (even if it's not exactly what you want) or you move on.


Things I've Learned So Far

Geese are pretty, but the crap on everything. It's one thing thing to have a robin poop on your car. Its a whole other story when its a goose.

Toilet paper rolls last for MONTHS when there are no women in the house.

It's easier to change the littler box daily for a few minutes, then to do it once a week.

I am developing an unhealthy fear of the unknown. I'm worried I will blow my 50's worrying about my 70's.

Play the Cards You're Dealt

The choices I've made my life have got me to where I am. I can't change the past. I can only do the best with what is left.

50 and Falling Apart

I remember my Toyata Corolla. It was the first car I had with power windows and air conditioning. A little old lady (seriously) owned it before I did and I drove the crap out of my car. I remember when the windshield washer fluid pump went out. Then I got a crack in the windshield. These were all little things, but things were starting to wear out. The last straw was the door handle came off in my hand. Shortly after that, the engine started having serious issues. I took care of that car and it had a ton of miles on it when it rolled into the dealer. Looking back, most of the cars I have owned gave a warning shot. We do what we can, but there comes a point when it makes no sense to invest into a car that is going nowhere.

I turned 50 in February which means right now I'm closer to 51 than I am 50. In the past month I blew out three of my only pair of jeans. I'm at 223 today as I record this. The most I've ever weighed in 226. The biggest reason I gain weight is from time to time I just don't care. I'll worry about it tomorrow. If you look at the your calendar, someday is not on it.

I remember at 25 wanted to loser weight. Then 30. I did lose 20 lbs when I got divorced. But the weight I lost has now found me and it brought friends. So when I turned 50 I thought, “I need to lose weight.” The problem is the older you get the harder it gets. This is depressing. It really is.

I started taking blood pressure pills. There is a chink in the armor. I use to go up stairs two at a time. No lacing up my shoes in the morning is an Olympic event. Good God how did this happen? Oh that's right, 80% of my food comes through the drive through window. I got a call the other day that its been a year since my last eye exam. That exam lead to me getting glasses. Those glasses that are now not strong enough at times. Those glasses that are bi-focals. That was weird. Bi-focals are for old people.

One my best friends growing up is fighting Lukemia. It's like we are getting old. I'm starting to look more and more like my Dad and my Aunt is starting to look like my Grandma. It's weird, and I'm not a huge fan, and yet we have no control.

I heard an ad on the radio for this place call Slimgenics who gaurentee if you follow their program you will lose weight. I know its a scam. Well not really. I can design a plan that I would gaurentee to work. I just don't follow it. But I went in to sign up. I figured, “What the heck.” I got to hear the pitch, etc. They took my blood pressure. Then they took it again. Then they told me to take deep breaths and took it again.

You know how your blood pressure medicine ran out a while ago, and you were going to “Get around to getting a refill.” Then you called it in and the pharmacy never called you back. Remember that? Then you did it again, and again, each time being ignored. It's because the doctor needed to see me. Nobody called, and as it turns out its been over a year since I had my blood pressure medicine.

The folks at slimgenics won't take me into their program.

So I got no jeans. No blood pressure medicine, and no time to fix it. Actually I'm going to the doctor this coming week. Don't mess around with your blood pressure.

I'm 50 and I'm falling apart.