Marriage: how to maintain it

How to pass, fit in, eventually set an example, and ultimately lead the way.
ffj
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by ffj »

My wife and I have been together for almost 35 years (we met in college) and I like to joke that I think it is going to work out, haha. I don't know if you get a ribbon or a cookie for that ;) but we are doing something right to have not killed each other by now.

I'm approaching this advice from a traditional marriage, one man, one woman, monogamy (I have no clue or interest on how multiple partners would or could work)* but I can't see why it wouldn't work for gay couples.

We dated for 5 years before we got married. And we waited for four years before we had our first child after marriage. These are two huge reasons why we are still together, I am not exaggerating. In those 5 years before we married, we had some spectacular blow-ups that clearly defined where each of us stood on issues and what was acceptable behavior and what was a deal-breaker. We probably could have been more mature about getting to these conclusions but neither of us had any illusions about what we were getting into before it was made official. And we have never really fought much since then, almost 30 years ago. I'm not advocating you necessarily argue about anything, just have the difficult discussions (this requires time spent together for a while) before those cute wedding invitations are sent out.

Now for the easy advice: respect your partner. This means that you control your behavior that would have been possibly? acceptable when still a single person. You are married now. Do not be inappropriate with the opposite sex, do not do activities that could lead to bad outcomes, such as abusing alcohol, I would include drugs here also, and being around "certain" people that will tempt you into doing stupid shit. And don't ever bad-mouth your partner in front of other people or god-forbid a public site such as Facebook, do people still use Facebook? Whatever is current. Something that always grounded me was asking myself: " How would this make me feel if my wife were doing it?" If it feels not cool, it's probably not cool for your partner too.

Now for the hard part: you have to develop patience and a long term view of everything. This is critical for your marriage and especially if you choose to have children. What is even more critical is that both of you are rock solid in that relationship before the kids come along. DO NOT have children if the relationship is not stable. Children will only exacerbate unresolved problems. Visualize having an impaired child with your partner. Is everybody going to step up to the plate? That should sober you up to possible realities. Having children is not for sissies, it's fucking terrifying at times. Ultimately, it is worth the risk but you had better put your big boy pants on for the ride.

O.K., my larger point in that cheerful scenario ;) is that once you are married you should be looking at large time horizons because your attitude should have been all along this person is the one, right? This attitude really helps when life isn't throwing up ideal situations, which will happen more than you will want or expect. Work, money, sex, family obligations, kids, you name it will find a way to not make your life as ideal as you would like. But truly it is all temporary if you have tempered your mind to look at the larger scale. And to have the gratitude to know somebody else has your back, your partner that you have picked. I once worked with a guy that would always say: "Get your mind right." Yeah, get your mind right, this marriage is for the long haul.

Ultimately the one thing that always works if applied is that both people are actively trying to make the others life more enjoyable. This will never happen equally in effort or time or difficulty (which reminds me of people wanting to split everything equitably, as if equity exists) but if each person is looking out for the best interests of the other you can't help but be content and successful as a couple. Just don't look for it in every transaction, just look for the overall theme.

* your situation may differ, god speed

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Jean
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Jean »

I just want to congratulate you for the courageous decision, and wish you whole success in your procreative projects. It would be great for my own child if the peoples they'll share this planet with had some of your genes.

I'm sorry I don't have much advice, besides the usuals.
Do your best to always identify what you need in the relationship, and state it clearly to your spouse, and make it as easy as possible for him to do the same.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Henry wrote:So I do the deep sigh thing and say fuck me and get up and get her a tissue. I sit down and listen to the blowing of the fucking nose like the Royal Family is going to make an appearance. When it stops I hit play and we start watching the show. That's how you maintain a marriage.
Yes, but what happens when the two of you are sitting on the LoveSac and you say "Hon, can you get me a beer?" ;)

Another old school tip is to notice what sort of relationship your potential partner has with parent of the opposite gender, parent of the same gender, and siblings of either gender. All three of the men with whom I have been in long-term live-in or marital relationships were the first born boy in their family sandwiched closely between older and younger sisters, and much favored by mother in early childhood. My second husband, born into upper-middle class Iranian family in mid-20th century, was given a nickname which translates as "The Golden Penis" by his mother. First boy sandwiched between sisters and favored by mother is a halfway decent match, fairly balanced power dynamic, for an oldest sister in family of only sisters like me, but as one of my sisters recently noted, "The Golden Penis" is kind of hard to handle for any woman in a peer relationship, and all of my most significant partners have been "The Golden Penis." The mother of my first husband laughed as she told me how my husband as a very small child would pout until his older sister would hang up his coat for him when they came in from play, and I thought "Dear Goddess, what the f*ck have I done?"

One of the most popular anti-feminist, pro-marriage books of the mid-20th century (1960s), "Fascinating Womanhood: How the Ideal Woman Awakens a Man's Deepest Love and Tenderness" by Helen Andelin and the companion book by her husband Aubrey, "Man of Steel and Velvet", strongly suggest that there are two aspects of femininity that most men seek in their ideal partner: one is akin to The Older Sister who provides care and moral support, and one is akin to The Younger Sister who provides charm and delight through her gay coquetry. The key to maintaining or saving a marriage, if you are the wife, is to do your best to inhabit the ideal practices of both these aspects of femininity, and never challenge the male in his masculine role. For instance, the best way to behave when you are angry and female would be to stomp your little foot, shake your little curls, and refer to your husband with an epithet that builds him up in his dominance rather than cuts him down to size, as in "You beast!" with a tear in your eye as opposed to "You coward." with a look of disdain.

Anyways, MMV significantly and I sincerely hope that it does for the younger generation, but after multiple rounds of experimentation, in settings as diverse as after 18 years of marriage or on first coffee date, I have come to the conclusion that the advice offered by books such as these does "work", so there is always going to be a trade-off in terms of doing your very best to ensure the happiness of your husband vs. self-actualization as an individual human. Therefore, if you are female, you must first get solid assurance that your potential husband's philosophy and his very definition of marriage is in alignment with your ability to self-actualize. IOW, he comprehends what self-actualization entails and would be appalled with himself if he denied or limited the possibility for any other human, even at the risk of some direct loss of happiness for himself. Otherwise, it will be 10 PM one evening, and you are in flow in your studio working on your project, and a text come in, followed by another text, and another, because he can't do his final "walk of the fence" and lock all the doors until you are safely inside, and you will be torn, and the amount of energy you need to exert just to make the choice will be enough to take you out of your flow state, and back into his arms.

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fiby41
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by fiby41 »

Lowering expectations.

chenda
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by chenda »

@7w5 I hope the golden penis lived up to his name...

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@chenda:

Yes, he was a sturdy, indestructible, natural dominant with high degree of ambient flexiblity for a dominant, as is my preference. IOW, kind of sexual partner who can hold the frame no matter how you spin the picture. The only sexual request I can remember him turning down was based on his calculation that the tree house in the backyard was too dilapidated to sustain the rigor. I was in an erotic haze much of the time during our years together. I made the mistake of hooking up with him again recently. Casual sex with a stranger can seem meaningless. Casual sex with a man whom you once deeply loved can take you to a much deeper level of meaninglessness, even though our conversations before and after strongly confirmed that leaving him had been the right choice.

mathiverse
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by mathiverse »

Thank you for all the advice and well wishes everyone! I was particularly touched by Jean's message. Thank you!

It looks like there are a few themes:
* Prioritize long term thinking when it comes to making decisions.
* Communicate/argue in a way that resolves problems without adding new ones.
* Let your interdependence operate in a fuzzy zone rather insisting on strict tit for tat.
* Be aware that adding family members and major life changes may change the system of your relationship drastically.

And the piece of advice for style:
* Just get your wife/husband the damn tissue/beer already.

white belt
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by white belt »

mathiverse wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2023 12:20 pm
I plan on having children with my spouse, if that's relevant to your perspective.
Do you have family in the area that can assist with child-rearing? I’m recently married myself but we don’t plan on having children. I’ve seen plenty of marriages implode due to having to raise young children without assistance. Sometimes it takes a few years for the effects of the implosion to result in a divorce but it seems pretty common.

Make sure you are aware of the various government benefits associated with marriage including taxes, spouse benefits, and so on.

DW and I are a team that adds value to our lives beyond what we could achieve individually. Different approaches might work for other couples. We were both successful and independent before we met but I know for younger couples that might not be the case. YMMV.

white belt
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by white belt »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2023 10:37 am


Another old school tip is to notice what sort of relationship your potential partner has with parent of the opposite gender, parent of the same gender, and siblings of either gender. All three of the men with whom I have been in long-term live-in or marital relationships were the first born boy in their family sandwiched closely between older and younger sisters, and much favored by mother in early childhood. My second husband, born into upper-middle class Iranian family in mid-20th century, was given a nickname which translates as "The Golden Penis" by his mother. First boy sandwiched between sisters and favored by mother is a halfway decent match, fairly balanced power dynamic, for an oldest sister in family of only sisters like me, but as one of my sisters recently noted, "The Golden Penis" is kind of hard to handle for any woman in a peer relationship, and all of my most significant partners have been "The Golden Penis." The mother of my first husband laughed as she told me how my husband as a very small child would pout until his older sister would hang up his coat for him when they came in from play, and I thought "Dear Goddess, what the f*ck have I done?"
DW and I are both youngest siblings. The internet seems to say that is a terrible match, but it works for us. I think my INTJness made me want to do everything myself as a child because I felt like I knew how do it right, so kinda the opposite of being coddled.

chenda
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by chenda »

@7w5 lekka! Definitely agree with your last sentence too
Last edited by chenda on Fri Dec 08, 2023 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Slevin
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Slevin »

white belt wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2023 2:05 pm
Make sure you are aware of the various government benefits associated with marriage including taxes, spouse benefits, and so on.
Not exactly related, but depending on the state, you can often also file for a domestic partnership before marriage, which can give you the spouse benefits, and usually doesn't come with all of the messy strings of divorce, etc, if you decide to break up later*. Just have to sign a paper to dissolve. No tax benefits though.

*In CA a domestic partnership is treated "the same" as a marriage in almost all capacities once property / etc is involved (needs lawyer involved, property split equally, etc), so don't try this there without having monetary paperwork / etc in order.

Henry
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Henry »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2023 10:37 am
Yes, but what happens when the two of you are sitting on the LoveSac and you say "Hon, can you get me a beer?" ;)
We've been married nearly 25 years. Although I can't speak for all marriages of this duration, it becomes a duet. The interplay is for space not solos. That's why the smallest act like getting a tissue for the other is an act for both. The one eclipses the many. If it started out that it was agreed upon that one would always receive top billing, than I guess it could last. But otherwise, someone will leave the production.

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jennypenny
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by jennypenny »

After 38 years together, I only have a couple of things to add.

* If something really matters to you but not your partner, handle it yourself. It can be small ... if you like the bed made and your partner doesn't care, make it yourself; medium ... if you like to socialize and your partner doesn't, socialize solo and/or do all the planning for your socializing; or bigger ... if you like vacations but your partner doesn't, plan them yourself and be willing to travel without your partner sometimes. This might mean that you 'do' more than your partner, but I'd argue that's because you require more to be done to be happy, if that makes sense. That's not your partner's fault.

* As is often said around here, no responsibility without authority. I also believe that most decisions shouldn't be made by committee in a marriage. One person should be responsible for finances, cleaning, house maintenance, children's schooling, cooking, children's activities, etc. Meet regularly (I prefer quarterly) to discuss what's going on, but if you try to negotiate every day on every decision that has to be made it will cause too much background discord. Again, if it's something that's really important to you, take responsibility for it. If it's something that no one wants to do (usually cleaning), take turns (or hire out -- cheaper than divorce).

* On that subject, keep divorce out of the overton window. Not that it doesn't happen, or that there aren't good reasons sometimes, but I think it should be viewed like nuclear weapons ... of course you have the right to use them, but reasonable people don't include them in any normal thought process because of the of the likelihood of mutually assured destruction.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Henry wrote:We've been married nearly 25 years. Although I can't speak for all marriages of this duration, it becomes a duet.
Yes, I believe this is true of all marriage or similar relationships when they are going well. I remember that in around year 16 of my 19 year marriage, my husband came to pick me up from work because a blizzard was predicted, and I was surprised, because I realized that it was the only nice thing he had done for me that year. I can't quite remember when I stopped making bids, because they were so rarely returned, but it must have been well prior to that juncture. I think he must have wanted out, but had nowhere else to go. And I kept on cashing his check when he brought it home and making things look nice around the edges for the sake of the children.
jennypenny wrote: If something really matters to you but not your partner, handle it yourself. It can be small ... if you like the bed made and your partner doesn't care, make it yourself; medium ... if you like to socialize and your partner doesn't, socialize solo and/or do all the planning for your socializing; or bigger ... if you like vacations but your partner doesn't, plan them yourself and be willing to travel without your partner sometimes. This might mean that you 'do' more than your partner, but I'd argue that's because you require more to be done to be happy, if that makes sense. That's not your partner's fault.
I agree, but when you take this practice to the nth degree, as I did in my first marriage, you will eventually find yourself at best "happy although married" and just a bare quantum leap from "de facto divorced." or actually more like "de facto celibate single with a housemate/co-parent."
On that subject, keep divorce out of the overton window. Not that it doesn't happen, or that there aren't good reasons sometimes, but I think it should be viewed like nuclear weapons ... of course you have the right to use them, but reasonable people don't include them in any normal thought process because of the of the likelihood of mutually assured destruction.
I also agree with this, but would note that it's also very important to not take on this responsibility for your partner. If you believe that they are likely to divorce you or take off if you make reasonable request or uphold reasonable boundary, then just be prepared to wave bye-bye. I say that I divorced my first husband, because I filed the paperwork, but really he was the one who refused reasonable renegotiation/revival of contract. Saying that my first husband was divorced by me is like saying that Bartleby the Scrivener was fired by his employer.

ETA: Also, something that just occurred to me is that it may be the case that the factor that differentiates marriages that end with a bang from marriages that end with a whimper is whether or not the two parties engaged are both of a type capable of continuing to have sex while very angry.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

One night in our seventh year of marriage Edith coated herself with deep red greasy stuff she had bought in some theatrical supply store. She applied it from a tube. Twenty to eleven, back from the library, and there she was, stark naked in the middle of the room, sexual surprise for her old man. She handed me the tube, saying: Let's be other people. Meaning, I suppose, new ways to kiss, chew, suck, bounce. It's stupid, she said, her voice cracking, but let's be other people. Why should I diminish her intention? Perhaps she meant: Come on a new journey with me, a journey only strangers can take, and we can remember it when we are ourselves again, and therefore never be merely ourselves again. Perhaps she had some landscape in in mind where she always meant to travel, just as I envisage a northern river, a night as clean and bright as river pepples, for my supreme trip with Catherine Tekakwitha. I should have gone with Edith. I should have stepped out of my clothes and into the greasy disguise. Why is it that only now, years past, my prick rises up at the vision of her standing there so absurdly painted, her breasts dark as eggplants, her face resembling Al Jolson? Why does the blood rush now so uselessly? I disdained her tube. Take a bath, I said. I listened to her splashing, looking forwards to our midnight snack. My mean little triumph had made me hungry.
Leonard Cohen- "Beautiful Losers" (1966)

A literary cautionary note regarding what not to do. "Mean" is one of the many flavors of "grouchy" behavior that will cause men who are otherwise attractive to women to fail at long-term relationships.

chenda
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by chenda »

@7w5 I initially misread that Cohen quote but I definitely agree, it's like death by a thousand cuts.

Henry
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Henry »

chenda wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2023 9:49 pm
I had boyfriend who had a thing for eating ice cream off me. It was fine up to a point but after a while I felt I was been used as a plate rather than a girlfriend. Plus certain zones had to be rendered off limits for health and safety reasons. I'm not sure what the lesson here is other than compromise is probably useful.
I think it shows how Good Humor is essential to a relationship.

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Seppia
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by Seppia »

Congrats JP on 38 years!
I love the divorce/nuclear weapons parallel btw, will steal it for sure :)

7Wannabe5
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

chenda wrote: I initially misread that Cohen quote but I definitely agree, it's like death by a thousand cuts.
Yes, it's not about kink. It's not even about sex. It's about the fact that in the 7th year of their marriage (the first shed of skin), she exhibited initiative towards mutual growth, and he was frightened, and his fear made him mean, and his "win" was of the variety that can only be short-term, even though the length of that term may very well be greater than a human lifetime.
Monogamy creates powerful dynamics which force us to grow or the relationship deteriorates. The very fact that we care about the relationship prompts us to do the growing necessarily to turn things around. If you're in an open relationship and dependent on other-validation, then you just seek out another partner for an infusion of validation when gridlock inevitably develops within your primary relationship. But a monogamous relationship pushes you to hold onto yourself in your relationship with your partner. In my book Passionate Marriage I describe how emotional gridlock eventually presents all couples with four choices: try to dominate your partner to accommodate to you, turn yourself over to your partner, withdraw physically or emotionally, or develop a more solid sense of yourself. I often joke that the task of marriage seems to be finding out who you really are-while fending off a partner who's too ready to tell you!
https://crucible4points.com/interview-w ... rdage-com/

What Schnarch says here about open relationships and other-validation is one of the reasons why I would never advise young people to not attempt marriage or similarly emotionally committed relationship in good faith. It's always very easy to find somebody who will tell you what you want to hear about yourself. For instance, after my first divorce (as with the Edith character in the Cohen novel), it was very easy for me to find many men willing to strongly proclaim my ex "insane" for not wanting to have sex with me, but that's just economic market reality, not intimacy psychology.

However, that is not to say that there is no such thing as the "good" divorce or that humans can't continue to grow while single or polyamorous, once they have "differentiation" , "self-validation" and "self-soothing" in place. We all have rough days or years when our reactivity runs high, but we can also find ourselves on that high plateau where we actually crave interaction with somebody who has mapped our skin down to marking the smallest hot button. Also, of course, as with all things, there's also a level on which intelligence can perform what intimacy can't. The Dom who on our second date declared, "I fed you. I fucked you. And now I ask you to leave." while my orgasm was still subsiding, was on some level the most giving man I have known.

ETA: Also this piece which you have probably already read:
Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.
The risk involved in dating or marrying a girl who reads is that you may one day discover that she wrote something about your penis on a public forum . The risk involved in not dating or marrying a girl who reads is that nobody will ever write anything about your penis.

berrytwo
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Re: Marriage: how to maintain it

Post by berrytwo »

I have a book recommendation! The book is called We Do. The author is a marriage and family therapist and has taken the principles and patterns he has seen over the years to give practices for couples. The author recommends reading it together. It is a bit repetitive but has some solid substance in there (ie you can't change your partner like Jacob said).

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