Don’t fall apart when I’m under the gun
You can break my heart and I ain’t gonna run"
Tom Petty/Mudcrutch, "Scare Easy"
With October rapidly approaching, it occured to me that this will be my eleventh year of this blissful institution. When milestones like this crop up it always makes me ask this age old question. No, not "Why the hell didn't I stay single?". The question is, "Have I learned anything?". Truth be told, not much, but I've always been a bit of a slow learner.
While eleven years isn't much compared to folks like Flannery's parents who now have fifty years under their belt, you have to admit that doing something for that long has got to teach you something. And while I would never hold up our union as the ultimite model to go by, I have known people who have tried this peculiar institution and have done it poorly. So with that in mind, let me pass along the few things I've learned.
First you have to find a perspective mate, and this takes a lot of looking. It is a well known truth that hermits don't get a lot of dates, so you have to go where the people are. Now I can honestly say I have met a lot of interesting people in bars, bowling alleys, and at wild parties, but these are places you go looking for a good time, not a mate. While looking for a mate, decide what exactly you are looking for. When I found Flannery, I knew right away she was the one, and not just because the earth moved and choirs of angels sang in the background. Don't get me wrong, they did, but I knew exactly what I was looking for and she fit the bill to a "T".
For starters, pick someone who is smart, because no matter how sexy and good looking they are, at some point you are going to have to talk to them. Look for someone who shares your sense of humor because there are going to be times of trouble ahead and you need someone to help you laugh them off. Some other qualities to be on the lookout for: responsible, hardworking, shared values, witty, a good cook, great in the sack, and reasonably sober.
Okay, you have your mate lined up and it comes time to tie the knot. Don't worry about the wedding as the details are usualy handled by the women involved. As a man, all you have to do is show up, smile, and remember your one line, "I do." If you are a woman, don't worry about the details either as these will be resolved by all the other women in your life and whatever advice "Modern Bride" has to offer.
You're hitched! Now it gets interesting. You have a binding legal document that states you can have as much sex as you want and in the first year you will be getting a lot of that out of the way. Remember and cherish this time for later when you have small children around the house and only get to sleep in twenty minute increments and have all of the sex drive of a melted ice cream cone. Don't worry, the drive comes back and usually stronger than before, so eat your Wheaties.
From here on out, all I've got are some good "rule of thumb" suggestions. Such as:
- This is a parnership, but sometimes one or the other of you will need to lean on the other and someone has to pick up the slack. Sometimes you lean, sometimes you pick up slack. If either one does all the leaning, the other will be leaving.
- Try and make sure your mate has clean underwear. Silly I know, but it truly is the little things.
- Learn when to leave them alone, and don't be afraid to call for some "me time" occasionaly. It helps.
- With a woman the courtship never ends, a fact that my mother-in-law is always reminding me of, and as much as you might dispise the whole cards, candy, flowers nonsence you are going to have to bite the bullet or start sleeping in the truck. And ladies, you are never finished seducing your man.
- Be responsible with the money. You don't want to be splitting a package of Chinese noodles when you are sixty-five.
- Try not to come home drunk more than once or twice a year.
- Pick your battles. There are some things that are worth putting your foot down over. Most aren't. If you are wondering if a thing is worth fighting over, ask yourself if this is going to be important a week from now, or a month, a year, etc. I find this to be a good gauge.
- Nagging just encourages the behavior you dislike. Hint, suggest, compromise, but never nag. It just makes for hard feelings.
- Don't eat onions, beans, chili or eggs before bed.
- Sometimes a hug is all you need.
- Should you meet some attractive person who tempts you, just remember how much work you put into the relationship you've already got. You don't want to start at square one agian. And no matter how good they look, someone, somewhere is already sick of their shit.
- Don't let yourself go. Your spouse is going to want to take you out in public occasionally, and at some point you are going to want them to have sex with you. It's a fair trade.
- Don't neglect your friends, but remember your best friend is waiting for you at home.
- At some point the subject of children will come up. Buy a cat and try that out first.
- Never, ever, under any circumstances hit each other. Do this once and you will have lost a large part of your trust forever because they will always be looking for this to happen again. I've seen it happen. It's ugly.
- When no one is looking, pinch their butt in public. It just shows you care.
- If someone is pissed off over something, walk away until both of you can talk it over with a cool head.
- Don't be afraid of the silent treatment. It never hurt anyone.
- Sit down and eat together as often as you can.
- If your spouse cooks something, at least try it, and remarks like, "Where'd you find the dead buzzard for dinner?" won't score you any points no matter how fucking funny you think it is.
- Be honest and smile while you are doing it. It helps.
- Not everyone is "in the mood" at the same time, but give it a go anyway. Bad sex is better than none, and don't be afraid of variations on an old theme.
- If you have any ground rules, let them know up front.
- Try and temper your bad habits (and you know you have a few) and with a little luck, they will too.
Other than that, you are on your own. Just remember, life is short and the road is long, and you are doing this hand in hand with someone damn important, Til Death Do You Part. Good luck!
I love you Flan.