The Dream of Marriage

HappyWivesClubThis post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 

I’ll admit it: I got married because it’s the thing to do. Not so much if you’re a man. If you’re a woman, however, getting a guy to propose to you is one of the best things you can do to prove your worth to the world and to your own self. I accomplished it young, with a pretty ring and all the trimmings. It was a huge accomplishment, a societal milestone that most American women are taught they ought to reach.

This sounds depressing, like the post I wrote yesterday: I’m Still Married Because I Admit When It Sucks. If you stopped reading right now, you might think my marriage was a sham, one of convenience or ego, or that I felt stuck in something unhealthy. But that’s not true at all.

I didn’t jump into a hasty marriage, nor do I regret it today: I’m with a wonderful, handsome, charming man whom everybody loves (though no one more than I). We have a beautiful daughter and a son on the way. We’re happy, healthy, safe, secure. I fall more deeply in love with him every day, and I know that getting married has something to do with it.

Seven years ago, when I got engaged, this would have surprised me. After all, I consider myself a liberated woman who doesn’t need a man to survive. I can work, I have means, I have brains. Marriage in many ways is an outdated institution that is supposed to relieve fathers of their daughters, physically and financially, so what did it really have to do with me? I wanted the trappings of marriage — the ring, the wedding, the white dress — but didn’t think our relationship would change much. No one, after all, was “giving me away.” I was already mine.

Imagine my surprise to find out that marriage actually improved my relationship many times over. No more telling myself I could quit. No more pretending I had other options. And honestly, something about the institution itself made me want to respect my relationship more: marriage is bigger, better, badder, older than I’ll ever be. It isn’t wise to flout something with so much history, I felt.

I stand improved by my marriage, and faintly embarrassed for the naivite that made me think walking down the aisle wouldn’t change my life forever. It has. It’s also made me think about what we tell young girls today, because the message is now muddled and contradictory. We should marry for love, but not too young, which means denying possibilities at happiness based on age alone. We’re more worthwhile if we’re married, but don’t need anyone to define our worth. The old taboos are gone, but wait! Don’t have kids until you’re married.

It’s all very confusing, and could stand some time under the microscope. What about you? Did you get married for the “right” reasons or the “wrong” ones? How has it affected your happiness, changed your dreams?

Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy HERE.

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I’m Still Married Because I Admit When It Sucks

HWClub_BlogButnA_400x100This post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 

That’s right. You heard me. I’m still married because when it sucks, I call it for what it is:

Pure, unadulterated suckiness.

People are often impressed to hear that I’ve been with my husband for 10 years, since I was 19. That doesn’t happen as often as it used to, and a lot of my friends are still searching for the perfect someone. So I’m proud to call this marriage my own. But, then, being with one person can be trying. It has its ups and downs, highs and lows, peaks and valleys. If you will.

Most of the time, of course, I’m very, very, very happy with my husband. Deliriously happy. Crazy happy. He is a dream I’ve achieved, and that’s a good feeling.

But I’ve been with him for a long time, and things start to add up, so all told a lot of that time has been sucky. Not actively sucky, necessarily. Maybe sometimes a little sad, sometimes a little boring, sometimes a little more compromise-y than I’d like. Sometimes terrible, too.

And when that happens, I try not to hide from it. I don’t tell myself it’s a phase, because it isn’t. I don’t pretend not be be angry (though I bet he wishes I would).

It sounds strange to say this is a secret of marriage, admitting when things are really, really lame, but it is. Danielle LaPorte said it better than I ever could when she wrote that there is euphoria in admitting what sucks. What isn’t working.

“Don’t worry about how you’re going to fix what’s broke,” she writes. “Just notice what sucks with ruthless honesty.”

And that’s great advice. In her view, this often leads to breakthroughs where people realize, Oh my goodness, this life is totally wrong for me. I don’t want to be in this business. I don’t need a storefront to sell my merchandise, I don’t want to hate Sunday nights any longer.

“Quitting is a form of enlightenment, I tell ya.” To me, this doesn’t mean quitting my marriage, but rather quitting what breaks it. Quitting bad behaviors. Quitting my tendency to pretend things are alright when they aren’t, or that I’m behaving well when I’m not. Either way, I call it when it sucks. That way I avoid the pitfall of, as Danielle says, “planting misery seeds today and [expecting] to get a juicy crop next season.”

Because that ain’t never gonna work.

Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy HERE.

Remembering Your Real Dreams: Why I Love My Husband

HWClub_BlogButnA_400x100This post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 

It’s funny how infrequently I stop to count my blessings.

Don’t get me wrong, I do it every night. I do it when I have a hard morning with my daughter, when I have to get on a plane (which always feels like my last day on Planet Earth), or when I receive unwanted — but probably justified — feedback at work. But really, I ought to be counting them all the time, and I don’t.

This is particularly true when it comes to my career. I spend a lot of time — a LOT — lamenting the fact that I haven’t made it yet. Of course, it’s understandable to have dreams that aren’t fulfilled. I’m only 29. My best friends are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives, and the ones that have made it are now considering whether they cultivated the right dreams, hunted the right game. Maybe they did, and are just suffering from the “arrival fallacy,” which says that getting there is never really as good as we imagine it will be. Never as fulfilling, never as easy, never as glamorous. Or maybe we’re just young and striving is the nature of the beast.

The point is, in the face of all I want to do, it’s hard to remember how many of my goals I have accomplished. I’ve been with my husband for more than 10 years, married more than five. I love him dearly, we have a good life, a beautiful daughter, a son on the way. I’m grateful, so grateful. But somehow, never quite grateful enough, it seems.

As Kelly Cutrone says in her book If You Have to Cry, Go Outside, the unavoidable truth is that in the real world things don’t always come in the order we’re taught to expect them. She goes on to point out that women are supposed to become successful and earn money before they settle down. Married? Congrats! Kids? Great! Hope your career’s already in the bag, though, because it’s going nowhere now.

Well, I don’t buy that. My husband is my biggest fan, best support, most immovable rock. His faith in me is unshakable, and if I do one day accomplish my dreams, it will be in no small part because of him.

The lesson? Kelly Cutrone is right: life doesn’t have to happen in the order we’re taught it will. A happy marriage with a wonderful man (or woman) only relegates a girl in the Stone Age if she lets it. Me? I’m going to get that career, accomplish those dreams, with my husband at my side. He doesn’t hold me back: He helps me fly higher.

Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy HERE.

Using Voice Values to Deepen Work and Life

VoiveValuesI recently came across the concept of Voice Values when I stumbled on Abby Kerr and the Voice Bureau. You can read a little bit about them there, or you can subcribe to her newsletter and take the free self-assessment, which will tell you what you emphasize in your work: Excellence, for example, or Enthusiasm. Or perhaps Community, Clarity, Playfulness or Power.

Personally? I scored highest in Enthusiasm, followed by Helpfulness, which pretty much sums up my approach to the world. It would have been nice to see adjectives such as Excellence or Power, but frankly, those don’t really describe me that well. I want to help, I want to share, and I want to do it right now.

Of course, I write for a living, so these values make sense to me. Then I got to thinking: can you apply them to non-writing work? What about your art? Your boutique Italian grocery? Your home? I spent a lot of time mulling that question over, wondering how far Voice Values really stretch. Must you use words to transmit them? Or will pictures, photographs, products, attitudes work just as well?

I can’t say, but I’d like to try. The idea of blending the values that already stream through my written work into the rest of my life is irresistible. Now that I’m aware of the vibes I’ve been unintentionally putting off all along, I love the idea of trying to instill them into my life intentionally as well. I’ve always known what I want to accomplish with my life; now I know how I’ve gone about accomplishing those dreams so far. If Enthusiasm and Helpfulness are my platforms, then I might as well use them to their fullest extent. Thank you, Abby!

Male and Female Dreams

Cuddling_CoupleIn our society, women are much more comfortable talking about their dreams. Certainly they’re more comfortable labeling them “dreams.” If men do talk about what they want in life, the word used is usually “goals.”

“Dream,” after all, is very femmy. It doesn’t help that the word is forever and inextricably linked with our nighttime wanderings, but it’s more than that. You see it in the self-help section. You see it in the blogosphere. You hear it at the coffee shop. While men might want to make things happen, achieve, accomplish, dreaming is largely for women.

Why?

I was so curious about this I spent some quality Internet time trying to get to the bottom of it and came across a few interesting things. According to TIME Magazine, men and women do have similar goals in life: they largely agree on the importance of physical health, financial security, career fulfillment and children. The largest divide concerned religion: whereas 58 percent of men valued it highly, 68 percent of women did. Still, across the spectrum, dreams matched up pretty squarely.

According to the Daily Mail, men and women generally hope to accomplish their life goals before the age of 40. (Which is interesting when you think about it. I do this too, but seeing it in print highlights the silliness of calling something a “life goal” when you can reasonably assume to live twice as long as the time you’re giving yourself to do it in.) Some small differences did emerge: men rank marriage fifth on their list of goals, women rank it third. Their ideal ages for having families, achieving financial security and having successful careers differed by only two years in each case. Mostly, it seems, men and women are on the same page.

So why does it seem to me as those guys are so often left out of the conversation? Are they? Am I just missing the venues in which they’re conversing, or does it take surveys to reveal what men aren’t revealing on their own? I don’t have the answers yet, but I think asking the questions is a good start.

Go On A Date With Your Dreams

Young_RomanceThat’s right! I’m advocating you date your dreams. Think about it: what could go wrong? Dating your dreams is even better than dating real people, after all, because you don’t have to hold back your questions. So go ahead. Ask them how old they really are. How many people they’ve slept with. If they’re into commitment.

Why do such a strange personal inventory?

Well, how often do you allow something into your life that you know nothing about? Not very often, right? Not men or women. Not friends. Not animals or work projects. Even simple things, like food or furniture, are in your home because you thought about them, weighed pros and cons, matched them up with lifestyle or preexisting home goods, and brought them on in.

So why do we so often allow our dreams to dictate how we feel and live, without really thinking about what they mean or whether we want them in our lives? A lot of the time they’re just there, something that struck us and we decided to hold on to.

I’m not saying this is bad. When I was five years old, I decided to write a book, and that dream is still with me today. I cherish it, work toward it and love it. It makes me feel good about myself. It makes me me.

But other goals or aspirations aren’t as well thought out. It took me a surprisingly long time to let go of the idea of being accepted by everyone, and of having lots of friends. Neither of these things describe me. I don’t have the personality for it and I don’t particularly want to put in the work. It’s hard to have a lot of friends, after all, when you’d rather spend Friday night with the fireplace and your dog. Don’t get me wrong: I have friendships I cherish dearly, that have been with me more than half my life, that I work my butt off for and sacrifice for. Just not many. I had to let that dream go.

Just like I’ve let go of the idea of working in an office environment. I like office clothes. I like communal coffee breaks. I like morning meetings. (I do.) But I don’t want that life, not really. And so I’ve let go of the idea of working with other people on the day to day. Not that I don’t collaborate, or get ideas, or give ideas or love to talk; I’m just not cut out to be someone else’s employee.

We pass through life thinking we want things and finding out, over and over again, that we don’t really want those things after all. Or perhaps they even conflict. In Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney point out that people often actually have conflicting goals, such as spending more time on work AND more time on family. Hmm …

The solution? Introspection. Go on a date with your dreams! Get to know them. Ask them questions. Tell them about you. See where the good fits are, and find the flaws. What doesn’t work now may never work, or may just need some help. If you talk it through, hash it out, have a few drinks, you may just discover things you never knew.