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Un-anniversary

Today would have been my parent’s 35th wedding anniversary.

I suppose it still is, but they’re on the verge of a divorce. It’s odd when your parents separate when you’re an adult. I mean you have your own life. My brother even has his own family.

Although, in some ways you do feel like you’re a kid again. Your parents’ marriage is a part of the foundation of your life. How they feel about each other means something to your own wellbeing for better or worse. How they relate, love, interact and take care of each other plays a big part in every relationship you’ll have, which is probably why everyone needs therapy.

This has been going on since February, so we’ve been living it for a while. I do feel divided. I have to learn new boundaries. I have to divide my time. Holidays are strange. I am bouncing back in forth between their two houses because I want them both to be okay. I know it isn’t my job or responsibility to do that but I’m a caretaker. But I’ve learned that I can’t be their confidant. I can’t listen to the negative about either of them. I didn’t get to choose my parents I just have to learn how to love them. They got to choose each other and can’t seem to figure out how to do it either.

So it’s a sad day as a child, an adult and a bystander. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel. I knew there were problems but I really thought they’d work them out. We were used to the dysfunction. We were accustomed to how things were. I never thought they’d give up. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m confused.

I wonder where we’ll go from here as a family. My mom now lives 30 minutes away. My brother isolates himself. I feel like I’m in the middle. My dad is just silent. Maybe we’re finally showing on the outside how we’ve been living for the last 20 years. Reality is hard to face.

I have to believe there is redemption of somesort. I want to believe that our family will in some way be better or all of this. I suppose that is up to us as individuals. At the end of the day its their marriage. It is their lives. We all have to move forward. We all have to mourn in our own way. I just hope at the end of the day we find a new way to overlap our lives and don’t all slide in different directions.

Predictors of Marital Success and Failure

A large portion of my class today was spent on techniques for marital therapy. We got sidetracked in a discussion about predictors of marital success and failure. Seems most things you think will save your marriage won’t and things you think will sink your marriage aren’t a predictor at all. Go figure.

This is all based on the research of John Gottman, one of the leading marriage researchers in the world. Visit his site and take the relationship quiz, to see how well you’re doing.

Anyway, onto the supposed predictors:

Marital Success Predictors

1. Resolving Problems – does not predict anything, couples who fail in marriage never resolve 69% of problems. Couples who succeed in their marriage never resolve 69% of problems.

2. Avoiding Conflict – does not predict success, in fact its a predictor of failure.

3. Giving value to one another’s advice – HIGH PREDICTOR, especially from the man. Women respond especially high to this as an important component to the success of the relationship.

4. Equality in Marriage- HIGH PREDICTOR in our culture.

5. Having enough money – does not predict success, even poor people can have a happy relationship

6. Making the relationship a priority – HIGH PREDICTOR – DUH!

7. Having good friends as a couple – does not predict. So you don’t have to have couple dates. Those can be as awful as dating in the first place.

8. Good sex life – does not predict – sorry guys, even people who have great sex still get divorced.

9. Being good friends with each other – HIGH PREDICTOR – funny you have to actually like your spouse for the marriage to work

10. Having children – does not predict, so having a child does not save your marriage, don’t try it.

11. Being in love – does not predict, love is only the beginning and should be a verb not a feeling. Love is a decision you have to make everyday. A good marriage is based on commitment.

12. Being able to disagree – HIGH PREDICTOR – means both people are present and involved, conflict builds intimacy. Go with it, work it out, it will make you feel closer and that you are building something together. Be worried if you don’t have any conflict or disagreements.

Supposed Marital Unhappiness/Failure Predictors

1. Arguing – does not predict failure, everyone can be The Bickersons on occasion.

2. Criticizing – HIGH PREDICTOR of failure, especially for men, they are especially sensitive and need to feel supported.

3. Ignoring Problems – HIGH PREDICTOR – sounds right, you cannot be passive about your marriage. It is something you have to fight for everyday!

4. Sacrificing Yourself for your partner! – HIGH PREDICTOR – you need to maintain a healthy sense of self and make sure you stay differentiated. If you’re catering to them you are probably getting boring and predictable. This is not to be confused with compromise – totally different.

5. Harshness on the part of the wife – see #2 – men are more sensitive than we thought

6. Contemptuousness  – HIGH PREDICTOR, this is the final step in the breakdown of communication.

7. Differences in Sexual Desire – does not predict, again, sorry guys, this is empirical scientific research

8. Lack of talking (introvert) – does not predict, not the same as lack of communication.

9 Depression in one or both partners – HIGH PREDICTOR, get help! Everything is shutting down for one partner, the relationship cannot grow in this state.

10. Physical exhaustion – does not predict – take a nap, stop being so damn grouchy

11. Job Stress – does not predict – be supportive

12. One person makes all the decision – HIGH PREDICTOR – it takes two to make a good marriage, see #4.

13. Passage of time – does not predict. Just because you have been together for a while, it doesn’t mean you’re connecting or immune to problems and/or divorce.

14. Emotional or verbal withdrawal (stonewalling, shut down) – HIGH PREDICTOR. Men are the ones most culpable of this. They get emotionally flooded and can’t take it and since women can do the laundry, balance the checkbook and tell their spouse why they suck we stay connected a lot of the time. It’s a gift 🙂

Very interesting.

Brad Pitt on Divorce

In a recent interview with GQ, Brad Pitt gives a glimpse into his divorce from Jennifer Aniston. His view on the divorce explains, in part, why the marriage didn’t last.

“It’s talked about like it failed. I guess because it wasn’t flawless,” he says. “Me, I embrace the messiness of life. I find it so beautiful, actually. The idea that marriage has to be for all time — that I don’t understand.”

He has no concept of commitment, promise, vows.  He seems to hold an “as long as it feels good do it” attitude about something meant to be sacred and symbolic of God’s love for us.

Granted, I don’t expect to get model marriages from celebrities but it is indicative of a greater trend in the world about marriage – its disposable. We want quickie marriages and divorces that don’t inconvenience or cause much sacrifice.

Marriage sounds like something Brad was just trying for a while, if it happened to stick, great. If not, well he tried. What would have been beautiful was if he stuck it out. There is messiness in staying together no matter what. That is real marriage, I think.

Bridal Shower

Bridal showers are not necessarily my favorite places to be. All the silly games and traditions that just seem antiquated and downright ridiculous in 2004. I suppose we do it because it’s what our mothers and grandmothers did. I for one refuse to wait for Mr. Right to get decent cookware, a kitchen aid mixer, and good lingerie. I’m a independent woman, damnit.But I went for the bride, whom I adore. It’s nice to see good things happen to nice people for a change. I am seriously rooting for her and her happiness. I met Laurie three years ago at one of my many failed dot com experiences. She has been through the relationship ringer and I’m so glad to see her ecstatic with someone who treats her like a queen. So in her honor I learned how to “pass the cucumber” between my knees. I made a wedding dress out of toilet paper. I also appropriately oohed and aaahhed over cookware, candles and panties.

I have to humbly admit that our present was the best and the hit of the shower. Joanna and I created a “Honeymoon Survival Guide.” With such necessary items as baby power (so no one has to sleep in the wet spot), crazy glue (for any damage done to hotel furniture), first aid kit (for any damage done to honeymooners), snacks (in case you don’t want to leave the hotel room), energy drink (to keep up your stamina), wine and candles (to set the mood), colored condoms and lube (you can never be too prepared), a cop/perp kit (cause role play is fun), and a gift card in case we forgot something. Imagine all hilarity ensuing and everyone clamoring to get a peak inside the basket. It was a riot.

I suppose part of the purpose is to see multi-generational women talking about sex, relationships, marriage, and babies. You should have seen the look on my friend’s future aunt’s face when the panties came out. The frank talk of her future mother-in-law talking about how she hadn’t had any cucumber in a few years brought the party to a halt and inspired a good 10 minutes of laughter. The tears that flowed when her mom presented her with a cookbook that she had been compiling for eight years that included recipies from each guest, along with pictures signaled that a new time of her life was about to begin.

I guess those are the reasons we go to these things.