things i have learned about marriage (even though I’m not)



Why am I writing this?

Well. In that warped way I collect thoughts and ideas and learning I came across two items about marriage almost simultaneously as I was reading different things searching for an insightful piece of information for something I was writing. One was on a blog (and I included the entire fabulous little write up below) and the other was in Tennis magazine (whew. Talk about piecing together some random pieces of information). But when one dropped on top of the other and both captured a really nice thought about marriages and long relationships I started to write.


All my married best friends are in rock solid marriages. And I guess I should include my sister also.

Rock solid. Okay. Sure. All of them have had some ups & downs and several had what I would call a ‘trial rocky’ period. And I cannot find one true similarity between all of them (excepting me and I will not be claiming any cause & effect relationship in this situation). All have their own unique balance and are rock solid. I am lucky to have them as friends.

And then.

I read the blog post below and it really does seem to make the whole dating game seem worth it.

The realities of “you are no picnic to be living with either” is a kind of stunning reminder of how difficult it is to share space with someone else who you may adore and love but drive you frickin’ crazy at the exact same time.

Some people have this crazy fairytale idea of what marriage is or should be and while I certainly won’t suggest it isn’t easy I also won’t suggest it isn’t really “work.” Oftentimes it is just keep things in perspective.

It is really easy to lose sight of all the little aggravating things we do that can be annoying to others and rather focus instead on the other’s “dirty sock” (or whatever) issue.

It truly can be a huge pain in the ass to live with another human being.

Squeezing toothpaste from the end or the middle. Not wiping off the counter if dripped something. The load of laundry that is sitting there that could have been started at any time as they walked by.

All need to be balanced by the amount of times maybe they have made you laugh when you were ready to cry. The random act of the romantic that does remind you that they care despite all the crap going on.

Anyway. whatever those things are that are good to balance the “bad.”


I imagine we would all like the little things to be perfect because they all feel like little aggravations that we don’t need. And the little aggravations can become “personal” very very fast. Like. ‘I have told them a hundred times so they must know it is important to me but they don’t do anything about it.’


I imagine my friends in long term marriages have mastered balancing the ‘unimportant imperfections’ of their partner.

It doesn’t mean the little stuff isn’t important. It just means that some little stuff is just that – little.


And then there is the really big stuff. (this is where Tennis magazine comes in)

So. Kim Clijsters had retired to raise a family. She then unretired (and here is where all this marriage stuff comes into play).

Here are some quotes from her husband (a successful European pro basketball player):

“The most important thing I had to know was whether she really meant it or not (the unretiring and playing again) and when I realized that it was something she really wanted to do it was the easiest decision of my life to say, absolutely, I am 100% behind you to do it.”


So Clijsters (a really good player by the way) is making a pretty improbable run at the US Open maybe a month after she had unretired and her husband is with the kid in the stands:
“all I did was keep quiet. I was just trying to be a good dad and a good support system. I saw the kind of work she put into this and I was just really really happy to see that happen for her.”

(just want to remind everyone here that he is a top grade athlete with an ego and ambition of his own watching someone – albeit someone he loves – being successful in her sport while he had put his own success in his own sport on hold at the time)


I admit.

It’s that kind of stuff that makes me believe in marriage and partnership and stuff like that.


That Tennis magazine article and the following post made me want to write something for all my good friends who have marriages I respect and envy. Marriage is only tough I imagine if you let the little shit get in the way of the big shit.

(the blog celebrating 10 years of marriage)
It does not matter how much they love you, men, after having failed at blaming a passing bus, the cat, a shuttle launch in Houston, a dragon in the basement, a bear in the woods, they will ultimately try to blame their flatulence on you. As if.

It is as enduring as the fact that-

They will probably never learn to handle their dirty socks in the precise manner you hope that they would. Women all over the world pour their energy into their husband’s sock disposing  habits.

Inevitably, I’ve come to realize that we are all happier in this house if I just pick up the damn socks myself.

And inevitably, someone will say I just killed feminism by picking up my husband’s socks. But I’d wager that person thinks too much. Because the truth about life and the truth about marriage is that if a person leaves their crusty dried up socks on the floor, they most likely aren’t the kind of man who cares if there are dirty, crusty, vile, ass-tastic socks on the floor.  You can make this an issue for more than a decade if you want, but all you will have done is driven both of you crazy when in fact it takes 5 seconds to chuck the offending socks into the hamper. You can twist an issue every which way. You can imbue it with all sorts of bloated insinuations of how your husband does not love you/ is an inconsiderate moron who takes you for granted/ treats you terribly because you find random balls of sock about the house, but really the truth is, it’s not about you. He’s just a beastly cave man who likes to free his feet of sockdom where ever he may be.

And there is really no point in trying to change that about him. If you don’t want them on the floor, pick them up. He’ll never notice. And before you begin to believe this is because he is obviously ungrateful for all you do for him; consider this: You are no picnic to be living with either.

That’s right. I said it. Living with another human being can be a serious pain in the ass.  Especially when you’ve got that whole til death do us part thing hanging over your heads. This goes beyond socks. There are parts of your life that will be hideous-miserable. There will be days you will wish you  never said I do. Days when you become your ugliest self and lash despite your better judgment. There will be days where you put Divorce Court on the tube and wonder out loud how long of a wait there is to get on the show.

But having now survived ten entire years of this, I say it warmly and with fondness.

Marriage is a funny animal. So are the humans who do their best to navigate it. But it’s not all that hard. There is a formula; It goes like this: Don’t be so worried about his G-D socks all the time. In other words, most likely the best place to look when you are mad at your spouse is at yourself. Sure you can be mad about the socks. You can harp on him about it. You can make him feel defensive. You can put negative energy between you for a pair of crusty socks. You can even keep a running list of socks you find and how each one is an assault on your being. But then you’ll get around to thinking your marriage is hopeless and so many other yards have really green grass and that you don’t have love and happiness in your life and well, that can kind of blow.

You’ve got to choose your battles, because there will be real ones that matter far more than socks. So when you find a sock on the floor,  just toss it. When you are at odds with your beloved sockless cave mate, when you feel he hasn’t listened or honored your feelings or wishes, because that is what it is almost always about beneath the laundry pile, take a deep breath and respond in the most loving way possible. This is not easy. I fail often. But I have learned how much it matters. You can get mad as hell and live that way, or you can pause to say I honor and love you. Sometimes you drive me nuts, but I am willing to see it your way. I chose you for better or worse. You will find this is magic for when such simple words are uttered the response is warm in turn. Suddenly,  old, crusty-socked beast of a jerk-face cave man really does love you after all. You will find that it is easy to allow each other the delightful luxury of growing and being the persons you inherently are.

Your cave man is truly wonderful and romantic, really. He cares about your feelings. And no, he doesn’t bring home flowers or jewelry or other lame gestures of symbolic romance, I am talking the real kind of romance. Those moments when you catch him covering you in the night when your blankets have fallen to the side or the way he still smiles as he did when you walked down the aisle all those years ago. You will wonder where the crazy kids you were somehow became this picture of him holding your daughter, walking her to school, snuggling you both on Sunday mornings.  You will find him doing odd things like picking up his dirty socks and throwing them in the hamper; you will find he has been doing it more than you gave him credit for all along.

Keep at it long enough and you realize that for better and for worse, you’re pretty much living happily ever after, you know, if you dim the lights and use a soft focus.

It’s a good life, and you’re surviving it. It doesn’t get much better than that.

( Happy Anniversary, Michael. I love you. All the time always, and your dirty socks too. )

There you go.

All said and done I tend to believe this woman’s blog post couldn’t say what is great about marriage any better.

Congrats to all of you happily married.

You are part of the lucky ones in life.

Written by Bruce