A Miserable Marriage

Today on Facebook, one of my friends posted a question “what is the key to a successful marriage?”  People were posting all manner of things:  honesty, communication, devotion, sex, similar interests … all of them relevant, timely remarks that logically seem to help in making a successful marriage.  But something about it didn’t really seem to hit right on the mark for me.

My comment was a little off the beaten path of the rest of the comments (big surprise, I know..).  Nonetheless, I think mine was the most accurate, which was:  reconcile yourself to misery.

This idea came to me after I thought about a popular quote about marriage:  “I can’t have what I want and be happy; you can’t have what you want and be happy; let’s compromise on misery.”  This is intended on being funny; that in a marriage neither person can have exactly the way they want things to be; each has to give a little to get a little.  The idea isn’t that we are actually going to settle on being miserable because we both can’t have exactly what we want, though.  In reality it just pokes fun at the idea that anything other than the exact way we want things to be is absolute misery.  The truth is it’s not.  Not having exactly what you want isn’t misery, it’s just not exactly what you want.  The beauty in compromise is that it is not a complete annihilation of one side in favor of the other, but rather a synthesis of the two in which there is an element of each side’s happiness present.  In reality, a compromise can be seen as the happiest of all possibilities, for it is the best of both worlds.

I think this reflects a current problem we seem to have found ourselves in, which is that we seem to think that we are going to find a life-partner that is exactly the same as we are, thus there will never even be a need to compromise.  We think that there even can be a person exactly like us out there, and that when we marry them everything will be pie in the sky and ear-to-ear smiles.  I can’t even count the number of couples I know that seem to think they will always agree on everything, and that if they don’t that may as well be the end of their civil or religious union.  This seems to be a wholly naive and childish way of viewing the world:  that there are two people who actually are so alike they will never disagree and need to find a middle-ground on which to compromise is (in reality) just plain stupid.

So what is the key to a successful marriage, you ask?  Why, it’s reconciling yourself to misery!  In other words, it is going in to a marriage realistic about the fact that no matter how compatible eHarmony said you were; no matter how much you seemed to have in common on those initial dates – there is going to come a time that you and your life-partner do not agree on something (and believe you me, it will be a big something).  Recognize that now, because it will happen.  No matter what you do; no matter how you try to avoid it – it will happen.  One day down the line, you will be asked to compromise (in most cases, many days and countless times down the line).  The key to a successful marriage is knowing that one day the need to give a little to get a little will be upon you.  Denying this is a way to make your marriage fail, because you will be destined to think that there is no way to reconcile something that you thought was supposed to be perfect.  In reality, nothing is perfect – marriage included.  Reconcile yourself to the compromise on misery, which really won’t be miserable if you just give it a try.

Four Things Not To Do At Your Wedding

Let’s go with another list, only this one is not so much about my train-wrecks in the dating world as it is about what to not do at your wedding.

Of all the weddings I have been to, at least one or two things have been done that made just about everyone in the room gossip the day after.  From a bride who got so wasted she couldn’t walk, to a groom complaining loudly about the gifts they got – there have always been a number of faux pas when it comes to weddings.  And this should come as no surprise with the number of wedding etiquette books and websites that are out today.  Updated every year, these etiquette manuals are made to ensure that you don’t leave your wedding with less family and friends talking to you than you went in.

Now I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of the things listed in those etiquette books, most importantly because they seem to lack the understanding that in a crippling economy, money actually is an issue.  So with that in mind, I have come up with my own etiquette, which is as simple as the four things not to do at your wedding.  Avoid these and you should be golden.

#1  Don’t complain about your gifts, either before or after your wedding.  This goes beyond weddings to babies, birthdays, etc.  When someone goes out of their way to bring you a gift, even if it is a meager one, you should be grateful they sacrificed their time and money to show you that kindness.  I have been to a lot of weddings where people did not bring gifts and the bride was complaining about the disparity between gifts on the table and guests in the reception hall.  And I’ve seen people complain on their Facebook pages about the gifts they received – all of which is completely inexcusable if you want to keep friends.  If you don’t like a gift, be considerate and return it quietly.  And whether you like the gifts or not, always send a ‘thank you’ via the mail.  Not sending a ‘thank you’ for any type of major gift (be it bridal, wedding, baby, anniversary) is a sure way to lose friends.

#2  Don’t change into slippers once the reception begins.  This may seem petty, and while you are the bride/groom and you should be having a good time, it is in very poor taste.  For one, you’ll ruin the pictures.  For two, you’ll set the standard for your guests to strip off or change other articles of clothing of their own choosing, and as fellow attendees I can say with certainty that we don’t want to see that.  Rather than changing shoes, do something different like wear comfortable, yet stylish shoes from the get-go.  I’ve been to weddings where comfortable, wedding flip-flops were worn; wear stylish, matching tennis shoes were on the entire bridal party.  You don’t have to go ten miles down the road to Tackyville to be comfortable.

#3 Don’t give us updates about your pregnancy.  I know, I know – having a baby is a blessed occasion, and you shouldn’t hide anything.  But, really, you should.  I’m not arguing that anyone should be ashamed about being pregnant before getting married – it’s the 21st century and a lot of people do it.  And props to those that see it as the opportunity to “do the right thing” for the baby.  But when you announce updates (“Thank you everyone for coming, and we wanted to let you know we just found out – it’s a girl!”), you invariably subject us to Aunt Beatrice and Grandma Flo’s gossipy conversation about how the bride shouldn’t have worn white, and the groom had better start looking into management positions to feed the baby.  I went to one wedding quite a few years ago and did not even know the bride was pregnant until she announced the sex of the baby during the toasts, and was then subjected to two hours of my date’s mother telling me all the details of just how the groom’s vasectomy didn’t stick.  Thank you, I’ll pass.

#4 (And this one particularly applies to those that also fall under #3), don’t get CRUNK.  That’s right, I said it.  Don’t get so crazy drunk that you can’t walk or speak clearly.  You see that crazy chick in the photo above?  I bet she’s regretting allowing a beer bong at her wedding reception now, wouldn’t you?  Not only will being a complete drunk at your own wedding ensure family gossip for years to come, but you’ll ruin the pictures and garner a reputation.  A wedding I attended last year was so out of hand with the drunkenness that we actually left before a full on group orgy broke out.  As it turned out, the debauchery didn’t really start until the after party, but it was only because of the drunken displays at the reception, itself, that I had to end up being told about it.  Twenty years from now, you don’t want your kids to look at your wedding album and see you falling over your dress with champagne spilled all over you.  Trust me, you don’t.  We all know the planning process has been a stressful one, but just save the heavy drinking for the honeymoon (even if that ends up being one night at the Motel 6 down the street from your apartment).

It would seem that these things would be common sense, and yet every wedding I attend has some semblance of at least a few of them.  No matter how many weddings you have been to, when your big day comes I know you will be tempted to do one of these horribly tasteless, unbelievably obnoxious things.  Just remember what it was like to be a guest at that one wedding when the bride fell over after too many whiskey sours and showed her panties to the entire crowd.  You don’t want to be her, now do you?