Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Marriage Hints From The Trench We Dug Ourselves Into 14 Years Ago. We've Added Bookshelves, So, It's Quite Cozy.

The flowers are blooming, rain clouds are clearing to wedgewood blue skies, wedding conversations are wafting through coffee shops on caffeine scented breaths, aardvarks are slipping through old zoo gates for clandestine rendezvous in the park.... Ahhhh! Spring is in the air! And, with anniversary #14 coming up this year, I feel I have some advice to dispense to the world.  Well, unless you're an aardvark, because there's no way I'm upsetting that apple cart.

I'll wait for that aardvark reference to sink in.




You know there's a footnote, right? At the bottom of the page?
Don't worry. I'll wait.




I know! There's never a bad time for an obscure aardvark reference!


My Top 10 Advice Bullets Arranged into a Convenient List Format for the Soon to be Married!

1. Get your "How We Met Story" straight:

Now, I use to to start my "How We Met Story" by telling people that Jon and I met in 1st grade.  And then, every time, in mid story mind you, he would call me on it. Apparently, I was exaggerating. A lot. Because, technically, in a chronological time line sort of way, we met in second grade. And to this I would roll my eyes, with love and probably even more exasperation, and say, "Dude. Seriously? You totally just ruined the story arc of this conversation!" So, get it straight. Because being that far off is just embarrassing. Obviously.

2. Allergies, check them first:

When I was a little girl I would imagine my adult life complete with, not a house full of children and a husband, but a house full of cats. Because, well, because they're cute. And they don't talk all the time like children do. But, eventually, like most girls, I grew up and thought, "I can have the best of both worlds!" (cue the unicorns, rainbows and daisies here)

Come to find out? Ya' can't.

Because, no matter how many times your husband-to-be mentions that he's allergic to cats, you will disregard it, because you know he lived with a cat named Weldon from, like, 3rd to 12th grade. And people who live with cats can't be allergic. Duh, Jon. Everyone knows that!

Then, one day, your sister will find an abandoned kitten in her neighborhood. She will think of you and your love for all things kitty. And then, when she hands over the smallest softest ball of cuteness ever, you will fall in love. You will name her Penelope. You will also ask your parents to care for the kitten until you and your new husband find an apartment that will allow pets. They will agree. And, then, with kitten hair clinging to your shirt thicker than 90s dance club glitter, you will tell your husband about your newest dearest love. And he will sneeze. And blow his nose. And his eyes will swell shut. And, your parents will have a new cat. That you, in your haste to hug it and squeeze it and love it forever, bequeathed with the cutest girliest name ever: Penelope. Which, a month or so down the road, will create an awkward situation for your Dad when he takes her to the vet to get spayed. Because, good veterinarians don't spay cats with ding-a-lings. Pee-pees. Wienies. Peeps. Bits and pieces.... If you know what I mean.

And, for the next 13 years, your parents will be the owners of a large male cat that will only answer to the name, Penelope, simply because Jon lied about his allergies. This is not how you win over your in-laws.

3. Anniversaries: Set a Baseline

We set our first baseline on our very first anniversary (because we're overachievers) when Jon was studying for finals and posted a big "Quit Bothering Me: This Means You Martha" sign on the back of his computer chair. Then, in total disregardment for the sign, I had, um, posted myself, because I thought it was funny, and, well, let's face it, a reminder I truly needed because I totally bothered him and made him take me out for an ice cream cone where we talked about behavioral biometrics? Mathematical optimizations? Dot matrixises? Possibly... terabyte uploads to the cache? Heck man, I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention. But, we celebrated our anniversary with double scoops of chocolate and knew that it could only get better from there.

We were so wrong, because:

On our 10th anniversary we celebrated by driving to Fred Meyer to go grocery shopping, putting Katie in their free child watch and then sitting on the display of patio furniture while I nursed Ellie. And? Baseline totally re-set. Lower than it was before. Because there was no ice cream. Because, as everyone knows, ice cream cones raise the bar of any and every situation. Even ones with conversations about kernel sized Unix captcha.

But that's ok, because:

Then, a few years later, when, for the second year in a row, you sign yourself up to run a half marathon on your anniversary and leave Jon to figure out how to entertain both kids at the finish line for at least 4 hours (not because you run an 18:30 pace, but because the line for your post race massages is just that long) it puts that anniversary it in the running for the Top 5 Anniversary Celebrations of All Time! Baseline? Shoot man, it wasn't even visible from where Jon was sitting with whiny children waiting patiently for me to cross that finish line so I could mooch some free bananas and bagels from the post race food tent.

Baselines, they make every anniversary participant feel like a winner!

4. Find Your Standard of Laziness:

Me, circa pre-1st anniversary: I think I'm going to clean the bathroom after work today. (spoiler: I don't really think it needs to be cleaned yet.)
Jon, circa same time frame: OK (leaves for class)
9 hours later
Jon: (walks through door, heads to bathroom, comes back few minutes later) Hey! Bathroom looks good!
Me: (putting down book, thinking about telling him I actually didn't clean the bathroom, decide against it) Thanks, it really wasn't that hard.

Repeat until one of you actually cleans the bathroom.

4a. Bonus Marriage Hint For Free:

This works for every room in the house! But not the lawn. Because, not only did Jon forget to mention being allergic to cats before marriage he neglected mentioning his grass allergy as well. Geesh.

5. Agree on the Little Things:

Before we got married the church made us take this day long marriage class. We got a three ring binder full of papers that talked about... I don't know, stuff? I remember that we participated in "fun games" like standing along a line on the carpet to signify our spending habits! They did, however, totally give us free donuts! (Probably how Jon got me there.) And, we learned all about how, sometimes, it's the little things that can dig away at a marriage relationship. Do you squeeze from the middle or roll from the bottom? Do you load under or over? Then,they sent us outside to talk privately about our toothpaste and toilet paper preferences. And, our conversation went something like this:

Me: Is there toilet paper by the toilet?
Jon: Yep. Then we're good?
Me: Yep.
Jon: Want to go play tether ball?
Me: Yep.

And then, we totally sneaked onto the church's tether ball courts and played for the rest of the designated "private discussion time". Because, even without being married for 14 years, we knew that it isn't how the toilet paper rolls that's important to a marriage, but the actual presence of the toilet paper within reach of the toilet itself.


What's that? You're saying there's only five bullets on this list? No, dude, I sneaked a sixth one in there. And it's something else I learned at that free donut marriage seminar: Never keep score. It's so not worth it. Because, apparently, Jon can play tether ball like nobody's business.

*This is an obscure reference based on a Girl Scout camp song about aardvarks. Don't worry, (gestures over right shoulder) they didn't get it either. I mean, maybe it'd make sense if I sang the song bu- Oh! Well, ok, if you insist!

The Aardvark Song (hem, hem)

There was a large dark aardvark in the park,
They say he's missing from the zoo. (That's me folks!)
The police are searching high and low,
But they have not seen him have you? (Peekaboo!)

Why did he go? Oh! I'll tell you the reason!
(in a whisper) 'Cause, it's, aardvark mating season.

When an aardvark makes a date,
He slips right through that old zoo gate!
So, if you see to two aardvarks necking in the park,
Don't upset their apple cart.
Why not?
Do not be a spy.
You're not the FBI.
And you should never break an aardvark's heart!

P.S. These things totally happen. In real aardvark lives. 

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