Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Why Marriage Is An Unreasonable Undertaking

up close reddish azaleas 2016

If you’re feeling bummed about your relationship success record, let me assure you that you’re in plenty of fine company. It’s probably a lucky thing that none of us know what to expect prior to tying the knot. It’s no doubt fortunate that the romantic view of marriage prevails and that helpful hormones drive us to procreate, because from any angle, living with another person over a long period of time is a downright unreasonable undertaking.  

To ourselves and to those who don’t know us that well, we (you and I) seem perfectly normal and quite friendly, don’t you think? After all, when we’re alone, we’re fairly  easy to get along with. Nobody hassles us or questions us. We get to do whatever we want, whenever we want. But hormones speak loudly.  Finding a mating partner is a brilliant survival move built into our bodies, and we begin the search for that perfect partner. 


Dating is essentially a sorting process, and the whole idea of dating is to keep the line moving. Does he fit?  Does she fit? If not, next please. Here’s a big bonus:  when the going gets tough, we can throw a flag on the play and walk away from any relationship game. We can stop. We’ve all got stories about crazy dates and why the weirdness had nothing to do with us.   When things go awry, we simply flee! How convenient! This is especially helpful in maintaining the myth that we have nothing to do with who we attract, or what we summon from them, and that our only true mission is to find the “right” person to be our lucky partner. 

Onward brave humans!  

What are we looking for? Someone who makes us feel good. Normal.  Happy. Satisfied. Interested. Excited. Inspired. Loving.

What’s not to love about that? It seems perfectly reasonable.

We sort, we try out people, and at long last, BINGO! We find a person who might work for us! What do we do now? 

Because this person is extra special, we go the extra mile and really get to know them. We meet their parents and college friends. We thumb through photo albums, eat meals together, or go dancing.  We attend a concert or sports event.  Maybe we take an evening stroll through the streets of our city, go for a waterfall hike, hit the beach or maybe even take a road trip. All of this makes us feel as if we have done our proper homework. 

We haven’t. Or more accurately, we can’t. Not really.


We continue to spend time together under ideal conditions until our inner jury excitedly and enthusiastically votes yes.   Yes! This is my person! Let’s get married!

Why is this person the chosen winner from all available candidates?

Because who we are looking for is someone with whom we experience a pretty smooth existence. Someone who doesn’t fire our emotional triggers too often or in a way that makes us realize we might have an issue or two. 

This person might even be someone we’d say we have a lot in common with, and it’s true that we do — under ideal conditions.  

In ideal circumstances, s/he doesn’t activate the parts of us that will show up later when there are stress factors. In the early stages of our relationship, we do this totally brilliant thing. We focus on finding things to love about each other. Of course we find plenty of things to love, and this is good. Paying attention to each other in this positive way helps us get along naturally. We feel good about who we are around them. S/he seems decent, conscientious, and they pay attention to us in ways we love.

Let’s say our relationship grows and we decide to marry. We say, “I do.” We take the plunge. 


In doing so, the most unreasonable part of the story officially  begins. It’s totally freakishly impossible to know what we’re in for in a marriage, no matter how much we think we’ve prepared, or how well we think we know each other. In truth, we say “yes” to a future we cannot even begin to conceive of, and we willingly sign a long term agreement without knowing the terms, reading the fine print or researching thoroughly. Marriage is basically a crazy idea. I really don’t know why anyone does it.

This is the part of the story where everything changes, because our perfect petri dish takes on new visitors. 

There’s a household to maintain.  Do we like the same furniture, what makes a house a home, who washes dishes and who mows the lawn, do we dust and mop on Saturday or hire someone, and what about landscaping?

There are employment issues to consider.  Shall we live near your work or mine, do a job I love or one that supports us better, or accept the new job offer and move away from family and friends?  

There are finances to discuss. Is my partner a spender or saver, is there full disclosure, who manages our money, what are our financial priorities, do we agree on how to plan for the future, is money pooled or separate? What if something is promised and not delivered? What if a job is lost or gained, which changes the playing field?

There are groceries to buy and eating preferences. And sex — how much is good  — and when, why, where, and what’s included? There are pets, personal habits (whoa!), Ex’s and interesting family members, not to mention how to spend leisure time and vacations. Does a family reunion qualify as vacation? (Was that a “no” or a “hell no”?)

On top of all that, maybe there are children — mine, yours, and ours. Having children in the mix is like deliberately lighting a firecracker under your basic understanding of yourself and humanity from the beginning of time. Children require us to re-think our entire existence. It’s their job.

The marriage package offers something unusual. Unlike dating, where we can flee whenever we’re dangerously close to discovering our quirks and crazy places, marriage offers the lovely and ongoing opportunity to be accountable for every aspect of ourselves over time. It offers the every-day, all-day chance to view who we are and what we’re about, with  ever-present assistance from our partner, which is quite something to reckon with. It’s a little shocking, frankly, to live with someone who reflects us.


Marriage delivers jaw-dropping lessons. For starters, it cautions that the comfort of sameness doesn’t always save us.  Having similar tastes or interests won’t necessarily get us through a marriage with flying colors. Who knew? Being madly in love is not an iron-clad guarantee for marital success, either. That realization has taken many of us to our knees. And no itty-bitty lesson here: the small bomb realization that the buck stops with us individually — the hardest lesson of all in a partnership.  It’s a lesson most of us don’t learn  for a good, long while, or ever. Whether or not we want to learn it, it is true that trying to change the other person instead of ourselves is a recipe for long-term torture. It’s a lose-lose proposition.

But there’s good news, hang in there.

Stargazers 7-16-16 all seven skinny


I have studied couples since the early 80’s.  What I know for sure is that the couples who negotiate this totally unreasonable marriage adventure with the most grace and ease are the ones who learn the spectacular art of appreciation and acceptance. They look for and find each others’ strengths. They seek out what’s special about their partner, and they experiment with how this is an advantage to their game of two.

As individuals, yes, they are entirely different from each other, but they don’t fight. Instead of being resistant or critical, they are fearlessly devoted to discovery. They are curious and quizzical and interested in evolution. They look for and find what’s unique about the person sipping coffee across the breakfast table, and encourage the expression of “personal best” even if it means a major adjustment. They believe they are better together, even with changing circumstances or challenges, and that belief makes them recession-proof. The results of this kind of appreciation are miraculously, mind-blowingly uplifting, giving their relationship backbone and heart. 

Loving and honoring your differences makes a couple road-worthy. It’s the hugest thing. Appreciating your differences will get you through.

Well, maybe marriage isn’t so unreasonable after all, it’s just not what we thought it would be. Instead of promising happily ever after, or blue skies and smooth sailing because we fell in love, maybe marriage is a course in ordinary, everyday enlightenment. And maybe, just maybe, knowing another person so intimately, and loving yourself ever so truly, is like having seven stargazer lilies blooming in your heart, all at the same time.


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To Hmong Women, Connecting Love and Marriage Is Laughable!

in love beachI’m reading “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert, who also wrote the book practically everyone in the world read —  “Eat, Pray, Love.”  In the early pages of “Committed” she describes meeting a group of Hmong women and asking questions about their culture, specifically about marriage. The Hmong people are an isolated ethnic minority, inhabiting the highest mountain peaks in Vietnam, Laos, China and Thailand. The interesting thing about these people is that they never really belong to the countries in which they live.  The Hmong are a free people and apparently you can’t tell them what to do, how to think, or where to go.  They are fiercely independent nomads, storytellers, warriors and anti-conformists. Elizabeth said being with the Hmong people gave her a very good idea of what “family” must have been like four thousand years ago.

A Funny Giant!

Elizabeth arranged a meeting with a village of women, and hired a young interpreter.  The women thought Elizabeth was funny and they broke out in peals of laughter at the sight of her.  Then they proceeded to put hats on her head, and gave her babies to hold  — all the while pointing at her and laughing. All of that hilarity was just fine with Elizabeth.  She realized that she was a giant, alien visitor from a foreign culture.  She decided that being their object of ridicule was the very least she could do in return for getting to know these women for a day. Here’s an interesting tidbit.Hmong girls In the Hmong culture, men and women spend very little time together. Yes, you have a spouse and you have sex with that spouse, and your money is tied with that spouse.  And it is even possible or likely that you love your spouse. But other than that, men and women go their separate ways during the day.  Men work and socialize with other men.  Women work and socialize with other women.

He’s Not The Center Of Your Life

If you are a Hmong woman, you don’t expect your husband to be the center of your life — your best friend,  the person you talk to, your intellectual equal, or someone who comforts you when you need it.  It doesn’t happen that way. Hmong women get their support and nourishment from other women.  Friendship and connection is everywhere.  All ages of women — sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers — do everything together.  it’s practically impossible for a Hmong women to be lonely, because all her best friends are an arms length away.  And when there is work to be done, many hands make light work. Interesting, huh? When Elizabeth asked the women “where did you meet your husband?”  Or “how did you fall in love,” the women  found her questions to be humorous.  But when Elizabeth finally asked “what’s the secret to a happy marriage” the women fell on the floor laughing.  She never really found out what was so funny to them about her questions, because (Elizabeth decided…) the way these women think and the way Elizabeth thinks were just too far apart.

No Connection

I’m giving you the short version, of course, and we’re talking about one single group of Hmong women for one single afternoon.  But Elizabeth came away from that experience  thinking that the Hmong people she met probably believe that romantic love and the actual reasons for marriage are not connected. Such a contrast to the American way of life! Whenever I read information about the traditions of another culture, past or present, I think to myself, “Wow.  There are so many ways of making anything work.” 

What’s Natural For You?

Your relationship just has to work for you and your partner.  You don’t have to model it after the American way, or what your family taught you, or by what anyone else thinks.  This I am very sure of. How would you change things up if you could?  What’s more natural to you than what you’re currently doing? Checking to see where you might be mentally or emotionally following convention rather than following your heart is worth your consideration. Compared to many people I know, Eric and I have  an unusually open and friendly relationship with all of our past relationships, including boyfriends, girlfriends, and Ex’s.  Whoa.  Really? Yes.

Do What Works For You

Eric is in business with his ex-wife.  They talk on the phone often.  He sees her and spends time with her at business events.  I love that he can do that and feels free to do that.  I support this fully. My ex- husband comes to visit, and sometimes even stays with us.  The two of us (me and my EX) went out to dinner last time he was here — without Eric.  I write to MacKenzie’s father on email.  I write to another gentleman I used to live with and we stay in touch.  In fact, he’s my therapist/consultant/coach. Eric loves that I do that and that I feel free to do that. Oh, believe me.  By many people’s marriage standards, both us would be in trouble immediately.  To some folks this “including the Ex thing and past boyfriend thing”  sounds downright weird and scary — like why in the world would we do THAT?  I mean that’s just asking for trouble, isn’t it? Many marriages would not tolerate this sort of thing.  You’d hear the gavel hit the table, and those past intimate connections would be forbidden, frowned upon.  At the very least, they would be suspect. But for us, it’s normal, effortless, surprisingly fun,  heart-expanding and contributes greatly to our relationship with each other. So that’s what we do. My philosophy:  Have it your way!  Find what works and do it.


 Comments welcome.  To see where to comment, you have to SCROLL ON DOWN…. WAY DOWN.  Feel free to comment on this blog site.  I will approve your comment and you’ll see your comment posted a little later.  The comment approval process is an interim process which helps to avoid spam. WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEBSITE? PLEASE DO — JUST INCLUDE THIS COMPLETE BLURB In Care of Relationships with Terri Crosby– Tools For Creating Positive Momentum. Terri Crosby is a relationship mentor.  She helps you create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love.    She offers change-of-heart, change-of-mind perspectives to create great relationships.  If you are ready to take your relationship to the next level, you can sign up to be on the mailing list HERE.  To subscribe to her blog, go HERE.   Continue Reading

Intimacy Is Everywhere

Hello Everyone,

Today, intimacy.

Love to you all,

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Friday Love: Bam! Gate Breaking, Anyone?

Good Friday, Everyone!

Today, I’m sharing a story about how I accidentally accomplished something on my bucket list. I ran through an exit gate while looking the other way. The hood of my car is scratched up, and one windshield wiper is a mess, but let’s have a good laugh about how we never expect what “getting what we want” includes!

Let me know if you relate…

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Enough with the Name-Calling

It seems to be a growing fad these days to call someone a narcissist, or declare they are toxic.
Political name-calling is similar—we assign politicians and voters to categories, and brush them off as if they are unintelligent, inferior, or even worthless.
By labeling others, we miss their humanity. We gloss over their struggle, their best effort at dealing with life. We dismiss them.
We do to them what we believe they are doing to others.
Look past a label, and in the soft light of day, there stands a person like you or like me, coping as best they can. At the end of the day, no friend, parent, or lover making conscious choices intends to be mean, or to ignore, or to embellish. There is always more to the story.
If we label others, then for sure we label ourselves. We trap ourselves into believing we are less than. Or not enough. Or we don’t give ourselves the time and forgiveness to work through our “stuff.” Maybe, if we stopped accusing others of narcissism, we could forgive ourselves for those moments when we were narrow-minded, inconsiderate, or afraid.
When it comes to labels, nobody wins.
So, my dear people, I suggest we peer a little deeper into ourselves to investigate a need to separate ourselves from others by tacking them with a label filled with disdain or scorn.
It is my wish that you view this video and take it to heart.
Much love,

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