Archive | 11:58 PM

Happiness Project Update 8: I Accept That This is Not an 80s Movie

4 Aug

For better or for worse. Yeah there’s always both.

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Relationships whether they’re marital or parental, can cause a lot of stress and Advil consumption. Now aside from purchasing a Costco two-pack of these headache pain killers, and hanging out with a punching bag, My Happiness Project requires an attempt to improve on this element of my life.

There’s no way around it. Family and spouses are the people you hang out with most in your life and it’s best to try to make the existence for the better. It’ll help decrease wrinkles and gray hair.

So what does Gretchen Rubin suggest during this quest? A lot of the issues she mentions aren’t the concerns I need to address. Everybody’s relationships are different. But there was a good reminder …

“When you give up expecting a spouse to change (within reason), you lessen anger and resentment, and that creates a more loving atmosphere in a marriage.”

This is something that applies to stubborn parents as well. No use trying to change your moms or pops. They’re old school, that’s just how they roll. But for some reason people forget or don’t want to be reminded of this rule when you’re talking about husbands, wives, or partners.

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Now before I got married I was hoping for a Jake Ryan. I was hoping for Lloyd Dobler. I was hoping for some Breakfast Club kind of story, for a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off kind of adventure, for a Some Kind of Wonderful romance. But once I got married I realized I wasn’t living in an 80s movie. I was living in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Married with Children, and Roseanne except without the humor. I knew I was getting into a non-80s scenario when the priest asked “Do you take this man to be your …” But as with any marriage you really didn’t get to know the person until you lived together.

Rubin talks a lot about “nagging” and about “not expecting appreciation.” I can see how nagging finds a place in a marriage, I see it happen all the time. But I’m not a big believer in it. But being appreciated, you better believe it. A thank you goes a long way. Noticing goes a long way. If you’re not going to do what I ask, then you better appreciate the fact that I did it for you. Most of the time I find myself doing all kinds of things for the good of the family and most often then not I don’t get that nod, that thank you, that high-five, that good job, that gold star. Being appreciated should be an unspoken rule. If not with words at least with a post-it note or a gallon of rocky road ice cream. There would be a lot less hostile eye-rolling.

But there are all kinds of ups and downs in a relationship. It comes with the territory. But I thought I was prepared for it.

A good friend of mine gave me some savvy piece of dating/marriage advice a long time ago … way back in my college days. He said once you find the guy … the one … take a good look because there are no refunds or returns. If he doesn’t like dancing but you do, don’t expect him to take you dancing after you get married. If he loves Monday Night Football don’t expect him to watch The X-Files with you that night. Same goes for you, if you don’t like that he’s into 1960s Mustangs then don’t go to car shows with him and act all happy. Speak up, say you don’t like that crap and you’d rather spend you’re time watching HBO.

That sort of stuck with me. So I never looked for someone I needed to change. I never expected my spouse to change. I expected him to stay the same. However the wooing era ends and the leaving the socks on the floor phase began. Rather quickly. In addition to the “Can’t you just do it” stage which appears quite often after having kids. The 50/50 relationship became the 70/30 relationship.

So this segment of the Happiness Project requires more than just one chapter. It’s more like a volume. Realistically I think I’d need more than a month to tackle this task. No 30-day makeover for this one. Marriage is an ongoing saga that requires constant face lifts. But just like Rubin, I was reminded that during a Happiness Project you have to focus on yourself, everyone else can just enjoy the ride.