I was sad to see that the wonderfully talented and goofy Zooey Deschanel separated from her husband of 2 years who is the lead singer for the band Death Cab for Cutie. Between you and me, I bet she is super thankful to Kim Kardashian stealing all the divorce gossip news. It seems to me that Zooey's marriage is going to come and go with very little fan fare.
I'm by no means a marriage and family therapisy or expert. However, I am someone who is 40 years old and has been with my husband for 20 years (married for 16). Regardless of my lack of expert qualifications, I am going to chime in here anyway.
Many of my friends (at least those who are allowed to get married) are divorced or separated. Given today's ridiculously high divorce rate, this should not come as a surprise. My sisters who are a few years older then me are both moms and married. We are all on our first marriage (in case people are keeping track of that sort of thing), but I was the first to marry in 1995.
I've long felt and said that too many people make a mockery of marriage. They go into it lightly and then seemingly blow out of there when they realize who they married isn't the person they thought they married. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Kim Kardashian.
One of the other things about marriage and divorce is how on earth is it possible to be in love with someone and have children with them one year and then literally hate them the next. I'm not judging here, really I'm not. I just honestly don't understand (and this happens a lot) how you can have such hate towards the mother or father of your children. Another thing I find equally as puzzling are couples who have children out of wedlock but claim they don't want to get married because they aren't ready for that level of commitment. Seriously? I, for one, can not imagine any situation that makes you more committed to someone than having and raising children.
I'm a fairly practical person at heart, so I have some equally practical tips for knowing if you are ready for marriage.
- Do you really like the person you are marrying? This might seem like an obvious and odd point to make, but it is something people often overlook. This can include things like if you enjoy their company and do you miss hanging out with them when you aren't together.
- Does your partner fight fair? I'm guessing that people who are reading this part will either totally get what I'm talking about or totally not get it. Fighting fair means not using a fight to bring up every stinking thing that annoys you about them AND not bringing up crap that you've been silently brewing on for days, months, or years. Fighting fair means you begin with "I" statements and not saying general things like "you never fucking listen to me". A better way of stating that (in case you care to know) would be to say "I sometimes feel like you just tune me out". Many people fear confrontation. I have found that arguments can often end up with me better understanding someone and therefore feeling closer to them.
- Does your partner like to bicker? I'm putting this is here because it is one of my pet peeves. I hate being around couples who bicker. Even more, I hate being around couples who can't even recognize this is their pattern. I don't see the point in the knit picking and back and forth bickering banter or purposefully making someone else feel stupid (except on rate occasions). I never dated someone who was always looking to pick a fight with me, and there is no way I would have considered marriage if this was our typical dynamic. It's exhausting to everyone involved.
- Do you know how to communicate with your partner? This is huge. Lots of marriages break down because people have either stopped communicating with their partner, or simply never really knew how to communicate in the first place.
- Do you know how your partner feels about money? Regardless of how much money you actually have, this is an important point to know. If you are someone who spends money as soon as it comes in then your more conservative spending partner needs to know that. It may be that you decide on having one joint account for all home expenses and then separate personal accounts. Whatever the case is, you need to have a game plan. It's also important to put all your debt cards on the table. You should have a general idea on how much debt your partner will be bringing into the marriage and what it is for.
- Do you know how your partner feels about kids? I am someone who is happily child-free. I never wanted children, and my husband knew that before we got married. Our plan (because we got married so young) was that we wouldn't think about having kids for the first 5 years of our marriage. After that, we brought the topic up every year to see if our feelings had changed. Luckily, we both agree that being parents is not important to us. In fact, probably the only thing that would break us up is if either one of us strongly changed our tune and now wanted kids. People still ask us when we are going to have children and my husband's answer is "When I grow a uterus". People usually change the subject after that comment is made.
- If you do plan on having children, do you know what your partner thinks about religion and how to raise them? 5 words; Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
- Do you know how your partner feels about sex? In this day and age I can't imagine how couples delay having sex until they are married. It just doesn't seem practical. However, having sex with someone doesn't always mean you know how they feel about sex and sexuality. Not sure what I mean by that? Many couples have un-fulfilling sex lives, and that sometimes means they go outside of their marriage to get certain needs met. For example, let's say you are married to a man who is pretty dominant in all aspects of his life, but really wants you to anally penetrate him while wearing a strap on. I'm going to guess that some married women would not necessarily jump up and down with joy upon hearing this. A fabulous way of figuring out what type of sexual activity you and your partner are open to exploring is to fill out a Download Yesnomaybe evaluation.
- Do you know where your partner wants to live? This is important to know especially if you are living in a temporary location. Some couples write out their top 3 or 4 places where they would like to live and see where and if there are any commonalities. When I got married, my husband was in a PhD program in Colorado. If you follow my blog then you know that I have never been a huge fan of that state. He was recruited from companies located everywhere from upstate New York to Northern California. Moving to Silicon Valley was a very simple decision for us.
- Do you know what type of lifestyle your partner is used to or expects? I'm throwing this is here because I've seen many couples not agree on how to spend money. For example, it's not uncommon for one partner to feel like the other is cheap, frugal, or thrifty, and for there to be many arguments over this. It doesn't have to be a deal breaker, you just need to have some sort of game plan in mind.
So there you have it my lovelies, my top attributes on what makes a good marriage. I'm sure I've left out a few so please feel free to leave comments.