Tag Archives: marriage

To Breed or Not to Breed

A couple of weeks ago, I wandered down a blog rabbit hole reading a post and responses concerning the author’s dilemma of whether or not to have a third child.

The comments were sensitive and thought-provoking, relying on various writers’ personal experiences and larger ethical questions, such as: Is it selfish to bring more children into a world where profound climate change threatens to create an uninhabitable future for the next generations?

Set against the current debates on Roe v. Wade, the decision whether to have children at all is increasingly fraught.

It is, of course, both a deeply personal and mostly unknowable decision with no ”right” answer. Some of the women had yearned for children and wished they’d had more before their biological clock stopped ticking. Others admitted that parenthood involved more sacrifice than they’d ever expected. Which isn’t to say they regretted or resented having kids, though some might have, but it was not exactly what they’d envisioned.

Having struggled to balance a demanding career with raising two kids— on my own after my divorce when they were young teens— I know it’s not a simple choice. And that it’s not for everyone, regardless of what your friends, family, or well-meaning co-worker tells you. Or, frankly, your spouse, unless they are the sort of person who is guaranteed to cook, clean, change diapers, do at least 50% of the work, and take over when it all becomes too much to handle.

The only person who should decide what you truly want is you. Letting anyone else pressure you either way will just lead to resentment.

As someone who is not particularly patient, and who likes things done the way I want them done, I could easily have forgone the parenting experience. And not because I don’t love my kids, which I do, but because I would have been a happier person if I hadn’t been stretched so thin.

I do know this: parenthood is hard. Kids get sick, get hurt, require a lot of attention for the first two decades, change your marriage (not always for the better), and come into the world with their own personalities which may not be the mini-me you envisioned. And how would you handle serious illness or disability— theirs or yours? Or becoming a single parent?

For anyone on the fence, I’d say you will be ”ready” when you feel that any and all obstacles are less important to you than not having kids. If you thrive on order and control, the chaos implicit in having children will be profoundly stressful, no matter how much money you can spend on childcare. Kids are messy, unpredictable, and not for everyone. I know an awful lot of people who never had children and don’t regret it.

Another litmus test: What’s your ideal pet? A cat, which can be happily left on its own? A dog that needs frequent walks, lots of attention, and rewards you with unconditional love?

Or no pets at all?

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Marriage: Live, Learn, and Prosper

For my stepdaughter’s upcoming bachelorette weekend, attendees have been asked to offer a piece of marriage advice. Below are some observations to ponder, serious and otherwise.

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com
  • “A wedding may require a team of professionals; a marriage only requires two amateurs.”
  • “It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” ~Rita Rudner
  • “In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar. They still are.”
  • “Marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
  • “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.”
    ~Benjamin Franklin”
  • “Marriage is the bond between a person who never remembers anniversaries and another who never forgets them.”
    ~Ogden Nash
  • “The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it.” ~Anne Bancroft
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”

On a less-snarky note, the following is a good checklist for how to get along in any long-term partnership. Condensed here, so click for the full article.

Remember Your Commitment
Life is busy and unpredictable. You both signed up to ride together during whatever comes your way. A foundation of love and caring helps you get through the tough times.

Assume the Best of One Another
Unless you’re married to a total rotter, your partner probably means the best. Even if they piss you off — and they will — their intentions were likely pure. So, as a general rule, assume you both have each other’s best interests in mind. (Unless proven otherwise.)

Don’t Ever Stop Trying
Make the commitment to keep being generous, showing appreciation, and saying thank you more than you probably are. Being taken for granted is never sexy.

Stop Stonewalling
This is the act of shutting down during an argument. The person stonewalling stops responding and maintains a calm exterior, which tells their partner that they don’t care at all about what they’re saying. What to do instead? Ask for a break. Then return to the discussion — sooner rather than later — when you’re ready.

Communicate Respectfully
Argue and attack the issues at hand without getting defensive, digging up the past and throwing it in the other’s face, dismissing a partner’s experience, or any other caustic habit.

Always Be Flexible
Life’s full of surprises, not always pleasant ones. A couple’s ability to ‘go with the flow’ – especially when it’s dramatically different from what they expected – gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and get to know each other in ways they might never have known before.

Curiosity Saves Couples
Your partner will likely change over time, so being open to the ways in which he or she changes can allow you to identify the ways you’ve changed as well. Shared curiosity — learning a new skill, hobby, traveling, etc. — creates new opportunities to bond.

Be Willing to Grow and Learn
Everyone screws up, says dumb things, gets stuff wrong. It’s all about how people react that defines a relationship. Being willing to admit mistakes, and apologize sincerely, is an important key in creating a deeper bond with your partner.

Stop Invalidating
This type of belittling can be incredibly destructive to a relationship, implying that what they’re doing or saying means they must be either crazy, stupid, or some combination of the two. It can happen in a quick, almost casual manner (“That’s ridiculous”), or it can be passive-aggressive, telling a partner how they should react before you even speak (“Don’t freak out, but I have to tell you something…”). Marriages thrive on mutual trust, respect, and security. Without this, the relationship will eventually corrode.

Prioritize Sex and Date Nights
When you’re busy, this means putting it on a schedule and sticking to it. Like other self-care activities (e.g., going to the gym) if you don’t block time out in your schedule, it’s not going to happen. Especially if you have young kids.

Get on the Same Page
Whether it’s how and what involvement the in-laws will have, how many activities the kids should participate in, or even when/if to have children, having the same priorities builds trust and reduces stress.

Learn How to Move On From Arguments
Disagreement is unavoidable in any marriage — as are spats, snipes, and all-out fights. “It’s important to talk about what happened afterward and own your part,” says one marriage and family therapist.

Laugh it Up
If you can laugh together, you can survive anything.

Always Be Validating
Having your partner listen, appreciate, and understand you speaks to a basic need for connection. It’s okay to disagree, as long as you respect each other.

Stop Obsessing Over Who Wins
When couples respect each other, they can accept not being right in favor of maintaining a healthy balance. Successful couples choose their battles, knowing that closeness can sometimes be more satisfying than being right.

Make Time for Self-Care
Don’t just take care of your spouse; look after yourself. That means exercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep, and making regular doctor and dentist appointments. Investing in yourself and your own well-being shows your partner that you want to be at your best for them.

Pay Attention to the Little Things
For couples who have mutual respect, small gestures are second-nature. A simple love note, a slightly longer hug or kiss goodbye can make your partner feel validated and appreciated.

Give One Another Space
It’s important to be supportive and engaged with your spouse. But you also can’t hover over them and try and solve all their problems for them. Have enough faith in each other to know when to step back and let them handle something on their own.

Marriage, Pandemic Style

Ever wished your partner would spend more time with you? How quaint! This is the universe’s way of testing our relationships. And if the data from China is any indication, we’ll be seeing a wave of divorces once people can get to their lawyers.

Not me, though; one nasty divorce was enough for a lifetime. But since 24-hour togetherness  can strain any partnership, I’m trying to follow a few rules.

  1. Spend time apart.  Encourage separate activities to create some alone time; for instance, I’ll bake or write while my husband paints or works on his computer.  And if you live in a studio apartment, try to at least identify separate work spaces. With luck, this will give each of you something to talk about every evening besides the virus.
  2. Share a laugh: a book, video, joke, photo or film. We’ve just gone through all three Cage Aux Folles movies (note: the subtitled versions are funnier than the dubbed ones).
  3. Plan things to look forward to once life returns to normal — a trip, dinner at a special restaurant, going out with friends, etc.  Fantasizing encouraged.
  4. Connect with others.  We enjoyed a Zoom cocktail hour with two of our favorite couples the other night and are going to make this a regular routine.  Cheers!
  5. Make a big bowl of popcorn and find something fun on TV.  We’ve been watching old Nick and Nora movies from the ’30’s and adventure films such as the James Bond, Kingsman and Indiana Jones franchises.  Pretty much anything that bears no resemblance to today’s world is a good choice.
  6. Stop obsessing over the news.  It helps nothing and makes both parties depressed, which isn’t conducive to a happy home.  Being informed is one thing; worrying about anything outside your own control is counterproductive.
  7. Go for a walk.  It’s reassuring to see the flowers blooming and hear the birds chirping as if the whole world weren’t going to hell in a handbasket.
  8. Take deep breaths whenever your beloved is getting on your last nerve.

My mantra: “Whatever doesn’t make you want to kill your partner makes you stronger.”

two silver colored rings on beige surface

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Stayin’ Sane

Most days, the political news makes me want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for the next several years.

Take transgender military personnel. These brave folks are dodging bullets and land mines – are we seriously worried about whether they pee standing up or sitting down?

But, in the struggle to feel optimistic, I have a simple suggestion: buy wine. Not to drink, although drinking is to be encouraged in these fraught times, but to save.

This occurred to me yesterday, after stopping at one of our favorite wineries, Yamhill Valley Vineyards and buying a case of wine that won’t mature until 2020 or beyond. (Dare I suggest that we have a better chance with pinot than with our current president maturing by 2020?)

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Think about it: You buy a bottle that is drinkable now but is going to be so much better if you have the patience to wait a few years. (This may be the only area in which I am patient. Just ask my Long Suffering Husband.)

Your wine can be a little time capsule. You could wrap it in a current newspaper and hope that 6-8 years from now the news will seem quaint and vaguely amusing. You can put it away somewhere cool and comfortable and just visit it occasionally to make sure it’s doing ok. You can start collecting recipes of yummy food that will be perfect to eat with your special bottle. Be creative! Have fun!

Our friend Linda, the tasting manager at Yamhill, is taking this whole optimism thing to a new level. She has found a new love, lost over 100 pounds, and looks gorgeously, radiantly happy as her wedding approaches. What’s more of a leap of faith than marriage, right?

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Let’s all check in with each other in 2020, open our bottles, and toast our collective survival. Good times ahead! xx, Alisa

[Unsponsored post. All photos from Pixabay.com.]