Homes 202: Marriage

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Homes 201: Relationships

Actually getting married is not as hard as society pretends that it is

  • Wedding rings are a ridiculous industry, and there are rings for every budget
    • A more affordable ring has the advantage that it can be lost and replaced easily
    • To anyone that isn’t a jewelry expert, cubic zirconium is completely indistinguishable from diamonds
    • Usually it’s more affordable to get an engagement ring and wedding ring combo than both individually
  • Propose a few months to a year out
    • The longer the proposal is from the wedding, the more expensive it’s likely to get
    • It is conventional for the man to propose to the woman, but the other way can work as well
      • In some ways, women proposing to men takes away a man’s natural ability to pursue a woman
    • Try recording the wedding proposal without her knowing
  • Set a wedding date 3 months to a year out with an approximate idea of the type of wedding
    • Determine the number of guests
    • Choose the wedding party members and ask them about participating in the wedding
    • Work out a basic budget and a honeymoon budget
    • Depending on your financial situation, you can simply elope
      • The more expensive a wedding is, the more stress will be connected to the money
      • One of the tradeoffs of eloping, however, is that many people will still want to celebrate the wedding
  • Plan the locations for the reception, ceremony and anything else like bachelor/bachelorette parties
    • Schedule a rehearsal time
    • Secure parking and transportation for the venues
  • Determine what wedding professionals you’ll need, get bids on them and sample their work
    • Wedding planner or consultant
    • Florist
    • Photographer or videographer
    • Wedding coordinator
    • Officiating pastor
    • Ushers
    • DJ or musicians
    • Caterers
  • Make final arrangements for hiring the professionals
    • The wedding industry is a very overinflated market, so anything you can do yourself will save you a lot of money
  • Coordinate with the professionals about the desired theme and style and determine the details applicable to each
  • Find out what you’ll need to buy or make
    • Decorations
    • Food, drinks, desserts, snacks
    • Tuxedo and bridal gown, headpiece, veil, gloves, shoes and jewelry
    • Bridal party’s and groomsmen’s outfits
  • Send out Save the Date notices, and later send out invites
  • Get the gift registry filled with new home items
  • There are many other ways that a conventional wedding can become very expensive
    • Hiring professional calligraphers or painters
    • Having a destination wedding in a scenic vacation location
    • Adding ceremony elements that require additional professional work
    • Many other ways too long to list here
  • Make the wedding more memorable
    • Make a First Fight Box
      1. Write love letters to each other and put in a box with a bottle of wine
      2. Seal the box on the wedding day
      3. Open the box after having the first marital fight
      4. Both sides take their letters and read it in the corner, then enjoy wine together
    • Send a wedding invitation to the President to get a congratulatory letter from him and the First Lady

Once your marriage ceremony is over, life will normalize again

  • There are a few things to do shortly after the ceremony
    • Go through every document with your maiden name on it and change it
      • Make sure the event is recorded through the legal system
    • Send out thank you cards for the wedding
    • Memorialize the event and archive it
    • Combine both of your possessions into one home
    • Get rid of or store everything that you and your spouse have duplicates of
  • Start to adjust your life to living with them
    • You’re no longer a son/daughter, you’re now a husband/wife
    • You’ll need to adjust to the likes, dislikes, preferences and habits you’ll have differences on
      • Sleep cycle
      • TV/music use, pets
      • Bathroom use, shower times
      • Expressions of affection, sexual desire, sexual expression
      • Cars, maintenance cycle
      • Punctuality, productivity, cleanliness standards, housekeeping habits
      • Shopping habits
      • Trash vs save vs recycle
      • Temperature settings
    • You’ll need to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking of the two of you
      • Money habits
      • Holidays, traditions, vacations
      • Friends, family relationships, recreation
        • Shift your amount of involvement as appropriate and as agreed-upon
      • Appearance, reputation
      • Food, eating habits, etiquette
      • Religious and political views
    • Set some rituals that will make marriage more enjoyable
      • Make a non-negotiable scheduled date night every other week
      • Take a picture every anniversary with last year’s photo in it
      • Divide the household tasks fairly
        • Shopping
        • Paperwork, bill paying, insurance, budgeting
        • Trash, yard work, housework
        • Buying gifts, sending letters, arranging social activities
        • Car, maintenance/repairs
  • Your family and their family will become a permanent part of your shared life
    • You can include or exclude your family as much as you want, there’s nothing wrong with either outside of cultural norms
    • Don’t try to find faults in their family if it’s not dangerous, unhealthy or destructive
    • Learn to say “no” to extended family, especially about decisions that affect your whole family unit
  • Your relationships with your friends will change
    • Your unmarried friends will grow more distant, especially if you’re closely involved with your spouse
    • Your newly married friends will develop their lives in parallel and comparison to yours
    • Your “veteran” married friends will generally treat your marriage as quaintly new
    • Your spouse will not meet all of your needs, so make sure you have other friends and family around
  • If you’re unhappy, that unhappiness will bleed into your home and drag down your spouse
    • Don’t let your career interfere with your home life
  • Marriage is permanent, but it’s a lot of the same thing as a romantic relationship
    • Marriage is essentially a lifelong friendship, which will only hold together based on both of their skills at being a friend
    • They’re still human and won’t be able to provide all of your answers, especially as you get to know them more and start thinking like them
  • It becomes much easier to take a spouse for granted than when dating them
    • While there is a constant uncertainty outside of marriage, marriage makes that person more familiar to be around than being alone
    • Keep the romantic passion alive after marriage
      • Break routines once in a while and keep life interesting
      • Do something silly or unpredictable to make things more fun
      • Try new things together with them
    • Reaffirm your love for them consistently
      • Praise them and show your appreciation at least once a day in some way
        • Write love notes
        • Give them a massage
        • Give them the last food item
        • Ask them about themselves and genuinely listen
        • Find new ways to let them know that you like them
      • Make sacrifices for the benefit of the family
        • Take care of the children or chores for them
    • Keep learning about them
      • Find new ways that you like them
      • Think about what’s important to them
      • Make a more thorough assessment of your partner
        • People in their life (friends, potential friends, rivals/enemies)
        • Recent important events in their life
        • Upcoming events
        • Their current stresses, worries, hopes and aspirations
      • Look at yourself in relationship to them
        • Your triumphs and strivings
        • Your injuries and healings
        • Your emotional world
        • Your mission and legacy
        • What you want to become
  • It can be tempting to put distance with them when life gets harder, but keep learning openness and love
    • Develop a sense of humor and spend time having fun with them
    • Try new things with them to build positive and new experiences
    • Keep dating them at least once a week and make time for intimacy and sex
  • Don’t compare your marriage with anyone else’s
    • Each marriage story is uniquely different
    • You will eventually experience small parts of every other marriage you see
  • Don’t neglect the sex life
    • Everyone is horrible at sex at the beginning
      • There is no shame in being a virgin, and two virgins in a marriage get to learn about sex from each other
      • Contrary to movies, sex is dirty and messy and silly
    • The actual amount of time sex happens is relatively fast
      • Men will reach orgasm quicker
        • They don’t need much foreplay, and it’s exclusively confined to the bedroom
      • Women need foreplay to build up the experience
        • Good foreplay happens across the day, and can include him doing the dishes for her
    • Men have more of their identity connected to sex
      • They are psychologically, physically, emotionally and socially involved in it
        • Many men will suffer a period of impotence, and it’s a depressing time for them
      • Women are to a lesser extent, but being seen as beautiful is more important to them than their sexual performance
    • Eventually, the sex will get boring
      • Try new things and be willing to explore
        • Dress up and make foreplay matter more
        • Try new positions or silly ideas
        • One person gives directions
        • Talk sensually or harshly to them
        • Try scheduling “sensual time” to get away and be intimate
      • Be spontaneous and open-minded
        • Take it out of the bedroom
        • Never withhold physical affection, sex will always make both people happier
      • Don’t rush it
        • It can’t be forced or hurried
      • Above all, avoid porn
        • Porn has destroyed many relationships by setting unreasonable expectations
        • It reduces the commitment to your spouse in the bedroom
        • Women look at porn almost as much as men, so it’s not gender-specific
        • One of the easiest ways to fall into porn is to put nearly everything else as a priority over sex
  • A marriage doesn’t hold together for the reasons that people think it does
    • Marriage is about commitment, not sentiment or feeling or love
      • Though love is absolutely wonderful in a marriage, it is not a prerequisite for marriage to stand, since marriage is from a higher value than love
    • Personality problems and mental disorders don’t ruin marriages, but the way that both people respond to those problems will
    • Shared interests don’t keep a marriage together, it’s how a couple does those shared interests together
      • Find common goals to work towards
    • A good marriage doesn’t have people keeping track of each other
      • Both people should behave out of desire and love for each other
      • Selfless love should always be a priority
    • Gender differences don’t cause marriage problems, but problems do come to the surface from those differences
      • Men need to be respected
        • It is a woman’s responsibility to learn to be respectful of her husband
        • This is seen as offensive, but is often the start of most marriage problems when a man refuses to love her when he’s disrespected
      • Women need to be loved
        • It is a man’s responsibility to behave more lovingly towards his wife
        • This is often the inspiration for a wife to disrespect her husband as she doesn’t want to respect him when she feels unloved

Marital conflict is not a bad thing

  • There are many reasons conflicts in marriage happen
    • Stress from work, family and miscommunication
    • Anger while venting or complaining over the other person’s lack of sympathy
    • Issues about loyalty between in-laws and spouse
      • The spouse should always take priority
      • This can get complicated when parents are involved, but immediate family should come before extended
    • Money issues and balancing between the freedom it provides versus its symbol of security
    • Feelings of sexual inadequacy
      • Both sides should communicate to the other what is attractive to them
    • Housework and chores to be done and the distribution of labor
      • Make a list for the other to complete, and finish items on the list they give you
      • Designate each person to certain household tasks like trash or dishes
        • This will need to get revisited routinely, especially if the tasks are consistently not done
    • Moving from being a couple to being a parent
      • This comes from lack of sleep, not feeling appreciated, extra responsibility and managing responsibilities
      • Mothers tend to feel intense affection for a newborn along with a protective instinct
      • Fathers tend to feel resentful for their wife not having enough time for him, constantly tired and preoccupied with the baby
  • Most conflicts are natural and progress in a healthy way
    1. It starts up softly and without extra harshness
      • There is a degree of kindness and softness to both sides’ behavior
      • Both people have personally decided to be fair towards the other, and they fight fair as a result
    2. Both sides have the relationship in mind when saying something potentially hurtful
      • Expressing feelings openly
      • Expressing the personal need to calm down
      • Apologizing for rudeness or intensity
      • Stopping the conflict if it’s clearly out of control
      • Sharing appreciation and love during the whole dynamic
    3. Both sides are watching their body’s reactions to the conflict
    4. Both people are willing to compromise
      • Everyone should be seen as having the right to make mistakes and fail
    5. At the end, both sides are more tolerant of each other’s imperfections
  • Even difficult marital conflicts can be resolved with enough open communication
    • See the other person as part of your team
      • Don’t even THINK about divorce as an option
    • Use the Speaker-Listener Technique, which is simply shared active listening
      1. One person is the Speaker and has the floor
        • The Speaker must be honest
        • The Speaker must respect that they are using the other’s time, and need to get to the point within a minute or two
      2. The other person is the Listener
        • After listening, the Listener must paraphrase what they heard the Speaker say
        • The Listener must edit out the tendency to respond or disagree verbally or internally
        • This isn’t a matter of trying to solve the problem, it’s about communicating
      3. Once the Listener has expressed what they understood in a way that the Speaker finds acceptable, the roles are reversed
        • Both sides should look for ways to apologize
      4. Repeat until both sides fully understand each other’s point of view

Every marital conflict can be resolved, but it takes both sides to resolve it

  • The only way to succeed in a hurting marriage is to mutually apologize and accept being wrong
    • Counter-intuitively, the one who receives the first apology, not the one who gives it, determine’s the relationship’s success
  • Respect the other person’s hopes, aspirations and desires
    • If they don’t feel free to share their values, they will feel unsafe
    • The only way to create shared meaning in a marriage is for both sides to value each other
  • Anyone who succeeds in resolving conflicts in a healthy way will have a lifetime of generosity and kindness to share with their spouse
    • There is a middle ground to aim for between conflicts being avoided and bluntly confronting disagreements
    • The quality of a marriage will determine the quality of parenting
  • Getting out of a vicious cycle of fighting is difficult, especially with a bad family background
    • It can be distressing to feel like your new family is repeating what your childhood family was doing
    • The more stressed you are, the less reasonable your answers will be to the conflict
    • If these problems are not resolved, then hopelessness for an answer and loneliness will set in
  • A good marriage won’t wait until a crisis to get help
    • They will include peers or older friends in the dispute to come to a mutual understanding
    • The marriage will be a priority, even when both sides feel there’s little hope
    • If the marriage isn’t a priority then extended family, children and friends will be dragged into the conflict and will often be forced to pick a side

Pay attention to warning signs that the marriage relationship is hurting

  • Some conflicts can’t be solved until deeper mental issues are addressed
    1. The conflict makes one of you feel rejected or hurt by the other
    2. The conflict keeps getting brought up, but there seems to be no resolution
    3. One person is stuck in their position and unwilling to budge
    4. There is no humor, amusement or affection in the conflict
    5. Over time, both sides see the other as an enemy
    6. Both become more extreme in their views and unwilling to compromise
    7. Eventually both will emotionally disconnect completely from each other
  • There are many poor conflict styles that show someone is hurt deeply
    • Criticism – attacking your partner’s personality or character
      • Usually done with the intent of making someone right and someone wrong
      • Diagnoses the other’s failures, but not self-diagnosing
      • Uses generalizations: “You always…”, “You never…”, “You’re the type of person who…”, “Why are you so…”
    • Contempt – attacking your partner’s sense of self
      • Done with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse them
      • Communicating from a superior place
        • Insults and name-calling
        • Correcting their grammar
        • Hostile humor, sarcasm, mockery
        • Body language and tone of voice involve sneering, rolling eyes and curled upper lip
    • Defensiveness – seeing self as the victim
      • This can be any method of warding off a perceived attack
      • Making excuses for personal behavior
      • Meeting their complaint or criticism with a separate complaint and disregarding theirs
      • Disagreeing and then complaining about something unrelated
        • “That’s not true, you’re the one who…”
        • “I did this because you did…”
    • Stonewalling – withdrawal from the conflict to avoid conflict
      • They may be thinking they are being neutral, but they really just don’t want to be involved
        • Stonewalling actually elevates heart rate
      • They are actually conveying disapproval, distance, separation, disconnection and smugness
        • Stony silence
        • Monosyllabic mutterings
        • Changing the subject
        • Removing self physically
        • Silent treatment

Prolonged unresolved conflict will often lead to a divorce

  • A divorce comes slowly over time
    1. Both sides view that they’ll never divorce or even think about it
    2. Discouragement sets in when they realize marriage is harder than they realized
    3. The marriage is seen as boring and frustrating, and both sides are waiting for it to improve
    4. After some time, they both become desperate to make the marriage work
    5. At least one of the couple gives up hope that the marriage can stay together
      • One spouse has given up trying to get needs and wants met
    6. One spouse cheats when someone or something else starts meeting needs outside of the marriage
      • A lover from a social circle or workplace
      • An addiction to a substance
      • A detached lifestyle from their spouse
    7. The rift between the spouses grows and the cheating spouse will start suspecting the faithful spouse of cheating
      • The faithful spouse will have no clue and will simply be puzzled
      • If the distrust is bad enough, the cheating spouse will suspect the faithful spouse even more
      • One way to tell if a spouse is cheating is that they will place their phone facedown on the table
  • Many times a divorce is not an option
    • There are many logical reasons for this, not simply religious reasons
      • For the children to grow up in a good home
      • Financial stability
      • Not wanting to be alone or to start over with another relationship
      • The social image of divorce or the extra work it would create
    • The best way to keep a loveless marriage is to practice detachment
      • This is a matter of boundaries, and is treating your spouse as you would kindly treat a stranger
      • Detachment is easy to understand, but hard to do
        • Don’t give advice or try to change them or their decisions
        • Let go of the smaller things that irritate you, don’t comment on their behavior and let them live their own life
    • When possible, try finding new ways to connect with them
      • Enjoy meals together
      • Bond over shared experiences such as the children or television
      • Keep conversation topics lightweight and neutral
    • If the marriage really is a loveless and abusive environment, try to move on
  • Divorce is not the end of the world
    • After you spend time grieving, you get a chance to start over again
    • Broken homes are no longer seen as shamefully as they once were
    • Get over it quickly and move on, but be more careful with the next relationship
Next: Homes 203: Preparing For Children