Today is my husband’s birthday. Forty four years ago today, his mother was having her own Labor Day, of sorts.
On his birthday, as I celebrate with him, I also pause to remember how we met, why we married each other, and how we stay together. It isn’t something we take for granted, and we talk about it often, as we see other marriages that take the path of least resistance. Friends that haven’t been so fortunate will ask for advise on “how do you deal with….” or “how could I have avoided…..”, or any number of retrospective questions after the dissolution of their marriage. I am no expert, and certainly not qualified to hand out marital advise, but I can tell you from my own perspective what has worked for us.
Where is the best place to meet someone?
I know I have heard people answer this with “church”, or “the produce section”, or “at a volunteer event”. I am sure these are all good viable options. Although they might improve your odds of meeting a quality individual, it is really still a craps shoot. I think they are no more effective than walking into a crowded room and playing “eenie meenie miney moe”…Why? Because losers can go to church too, and sometimes those people at volunteer events are doing court-ordered community service.
Me? I met my husband when I fell on him in a country western bar. Yep…I was dancing on a speaker box that he was backed up leaning against, when someone (it may have been me) spilled a drink. I slipped and fell, with one cowboy boot clad leg landing on each of his shoulders. From his perspective, he will tell you that suddenly a long leg appeared out to either side of his face. Due in part to the particularly short skirt I was wearing, when he turned around he was immediately familiar with me in a way that some eastern religions would dictate we were already married. Thank God for underwear and dim lighting.
I hate to give the impression that I am clumsy, but a few days later, on our first date (at a local Carnival), I was walking quickly ahead of him, to lead him to the men’s restroom that he was needing to find, when I tripped on some of the wires running across the ground. I hit the ground hard, and it was NOT a graceful fall. Another short denim skirt left me with skinned up knees, and a battered ego. But I did manage not to spill my margarita. BONUS points for that.
Of course, there are some places that I don’t recommend meeting a prospective Mr or Mrs Right…
- On the set of ANY reality show
- In a courthouse–too many plaintiffs’ lawyers and other criminals hang out there.
- At an all you can eat buffet.
- At an acid rock concert, if you’re over 18.
What Do You Look For In A Mate?
Yeah, a sense of humor, blue eyes and long walks on beaches are nice, but they aren’t enough to sustain you through forever.
My husband asked me once while we were dating why I liked him. I told him “because if I say “look, there goes a wombat”, you know what I am talking about”. Not that knowing your Australian marsupials is important to finding a mate, but having a similar intellectual capacity is. So, I would say when looking for a mate, look for someone who is of about the same intellect as you. Sure you could settle on someone who is all brawn (or all boobs) and no brains, and you have to break down the big words for him/her, or speak in short sentences, you will ultimately feel superior to your mate, and that makes for bad balance. Plus, muscles turn to fat, boobs sag, and hair turns gray. You better find someone who can hold your interest when the body starts to go, because it will happen. Not a question of if, just when.
Spirituality is also important. Spiritual belief, or lack of one, is foundational to who you are. You don’t have to obsess about finding someone at your own church, but you probably should find someone with a similar spiritual basis. If you are Baptist, and he is Catholic, you at least both have a foundation that believes that Jesus Christ is “the reason for the season”. The nuances between the religions is workable. If you both believe in nothing ,then you have no beliefs that are in conflict with each other. BUT, if you are a fervent Christian, and your potential spouse is a committed Atheist, you are going to have some issues. Again–not a question of if, just when.
Other factors to consider:
- Do you both think children are little angels sent from Heaven that will complete your family?
- Or little devils Hell-bent on destroying your social life, giving you gray hair, and coloring on your walls with black sharpie pens?
- This is a trick question…The answer is c) all of the above.
- Do you both believe that when you marry someone you also marry their family? Or not?
- If yes, are you prepared to allow his 35-year-old brother to live in your basement when he gets fired? Again?
- Do you have a fascination with designer handbags and footwear?
- Does he think a vacuum cleaner is a more suitable anniversary gift than 2 dozen long-stemmed roses?
In the South, you should share an understanding of what happens during football season, hunting season, and when the “big ones” are biting. During these times, as a woman you will either be a seasonal widow, or you will learn to enjoy football, learn to shoot a whitetail at 200 yards, and learn to bait your own hook.
Let me just help you here….You will LOVE being a widow during these times. Your house will be clean, quiet, and nobody will whine about the Jimmy Choo peep toe pumps you picked up on “sale”. After all, you only have 68 pairs of shoes, what is one more?
Once You’ve Married Him, Then What?
Hopefully you took the above advice to heart and chose someone with whom you had a high degree of match. Because you will not change him. You may get him in a suit from time to time, but you shouldn’t look forward to it. In order for it to happen, someone has to die or get married, and you don’t get to pick. Just be happy that he only wants to wear Wranglers and boots, because this frees up more money for the twice monthly mani-pedis that you like to get.
Have a sense of humor. If you don’t, you shouldn’t get married, and you should absolutely never have children. You must learn to appreciate a burping contest, and his fascination with gas. Not the kind you put in your car. There will be farting.
Learn about natural consequences. After you have children, you will quit using the word party as a verb, and you will not drink very much, or very often. He will not make this same change. You have two choices:
1) be angry with him ALL THE TIME. This will only cause you to get wrinkles sooner, and should be avoided.
2) understand that he will not slow down until his body gives out. His body is a finely tuned party machine, and will not stop until his engine is blown and his wheels are rusted in place.
Like it is with children, natural consequences work the best. As he lies on the couch the next morning, licking his wounds, try not to bang the pots and pans TOO quietly. This would only lessen the impact of his hangover, and his lesson will not be as effective.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
Marriage is not, as some would have you believe, a balance of power or a constant array of compromises and negotiation. The best lesson you can learn is that you don’t always have to be together doing the same thing. It really isn’t of Earth-shattering significance if he would prefer to spend the afternoon looking at guns and ammo at Bass Pro, while you would rather go antiquing. You really will survive being separated for a few hours, and will both be in a better mood when you come back together later. It’s a win-win.
Do compromise when you must. Don’t be selfish. When choosing a movie to see together, remember that he doesn’t care to see Magic Mike any more than you care to see Predator Versus Alien. He could lose serious street cred being seen at a movie like that. Girls prefer romantic comedies, fantasy, and comedy. Boys prefer shootouts, street racing flicks and comedy. There is only one common denominator. Go catch The Hangover or Bridesmaids, and save Magic Mike for a girl’s night out, or to see with your gay best friend.
You are not his mother. Do not publicly scold him for eating with the wrong fork, spitting on the ground, or checking out the hootchie that just passed in front of him. The only reason you noticed is that you saw her too. The hootchie is dressed like that for a reason, and it is working. It is human nature to look, and both of you did. It isn’t his fault, and he didn’t do anything wrong. Get over yourself and realize that he is going home with you.
I fell on Greg 17 years ago, and fell for him shortly thereafter. I can say with absolute certainty that we will be together until we are separated by death. In the mean time, I will laugh with him, love him, relish the decent, smart, funny, sensitive man I married. I will also tolerate the gas, the party fouls, and the hung over Sundays, because they are inconsequential in the grand scheme.
For his birthday, we celebrated with his family. I made one of his favorite dishes, Green Chili Pork Stew, and his favorite pie–key lime–along with a healthier pie for those of us who prefer chocolate. Not a compromise, but a win-win!
Green Chili Pork Stew
- 3 pounds lean thick cut pork loin chops, cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds mild Hatch green chilies (fresh or frozen)
- 1 32 oz can hominy, drained
- 2 14 oz cans white shoepeg corn, drained
- 2 14 oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
- juice of 3 limes
- 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
- 5 tablespoons chicken base (paste style bouillon)
For Garnish: crushed tortilla chips, crumbled queso fresco, sliced avocado, and slices of lime.
In a large dutch oven set over medium high heat, heat olive oil. Salt the pork and add to hot oil. Brown meat on all sides. Add remaining ingredients, with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
Ladle into bowls, and serve with the toppings.
Key Lime Pie
- 1 1/2 sleeves Maria Gamesa cookies (about 30 cookies)
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
In a food processor, pulse all but 12 cookies until they are fine crumbs. Add butter and sugar, and pulse until well combined. Press into bottom of nine-inch pie plate. Arrange the remaining cookies along the sides of the plate, pressing slightly into crumb base to hold them in place. Place in 350* oven for 10 minutes.
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup key lime juice (must be key lime)
- 3 egg yolks
- zest of 2 key limes
Whisk all together in bowl. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 350* for 12 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before placing in refrigerator to cool completely. Serve with fresh whipped cream.
This pie is decadent, dense, chocolatey, and feels sinful…Just don’t tell anyone that it is low-calorie, lower carb, is made with tofu, and takes less than 5 minutes to make, and they will think you are spoiling them silly. May be made with no crust, to further reduce the calorie and carb counts.
- 1 prepared (pre-baked or chocolate crumb) pie crust, 8-9″ (optional)
- 1 12 oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 14 oz package firm or extra firm tofu, drained
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup (or sweetener of choice)
- 2 tablespoons almond milk (or milk of choice)
Melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Add all ingredients to a food processor and whiz until blended well. Place filling into pie shell, if using. Press down with a rubber spatula, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for a few hours. Top with whipped cream if desired, or fresh fruit.