Should Your Spouse Be Your Best Friend?

June 26th, 2013

I’ve been asking the question a lot lately, ‘Should your spouse be your best friend?’ I’m asking mostly to just get answers, I don’t have a necessarily profound viewpoint. When I was younger, and married, I thought that there had to be something fundamentally wrong with our relationship if we weren’t each others best friend.

There are a lot of interpretations of what a ‘best friend’ means, too, but when I say it, I really mean best friend. The one you confide in, the one who has your back, in any circumstance, who knows your secrets. The one you talk to when no one else will do. Plenty of couples have this in each other, plenty more say they do, but I don’t think it’s always the case. Lot’s of men have their one best buddy, and many women have that ‘sister’ type of friend, the one we go to, perhaps, to talk about our spouse when their is a problem in the relationship, does that person mean any more, or less than our spouse? Should it? What about a step further… can one have a best friend of the opposite sex, who isn’t your spouse?

I read an article today talking about how some of the strongest relationships are forged in times of crisis. I suppose it was like that for me; my best friend is a man, he is married, his wife is a wonderful woman. She understands that he and I have this special bond, and it doesn’t bother her (although I can’t say that it never did). There have been times when she had even called me to come talk to him, in that way that only I can. Our friendship may not have been forged out of crisis, but it strengthened us, that’s for sure. He was my late husband’s best friend. I’d known him all though our relationship, and marriage, and when my husband passed unexpectedly, at a very young age, he and I were the ones that understood each others loss to the same degree, and it made our friendship so much stronger. There has never been anything romantic between us, and there never will be.

I truly believe that you have to be your own best friend first, and be able to love yourself before ever being able to really love someone else. I also don’t think that there is really just one person who was made to satisfy every need of another. That’s why we have intimate, and platonic relationships simultaneously. I’m not currently in a romantic relationship, and I wonder what reaction a new man in my life will have once I make it clear that this other man is who I consider my best friend, and always will be. Would it be unfair of me to enter into a new relationship without allowing that new person to fill that slot if it were possible?

What do you think?

 

Separate Bedrooms??

June 19th, 2013

When they first told me about it I thought it was a very strange idea. Why would a happy monogamous couple not want to sleep in the same room? I thought maybe there was something wrong in the relationship that they were hiding from me.

Not the case apparently. My son and his girlfriend of five years are, quite happily, living together, and love the fact that they each have their own bedrooms. They aren’t alone, there seems to be a small, but growing population of couples doing the same thing.

So, I asked them about it. They said that they get mixed reviews, but when they explained why they like it, and why it works for them, they really brought me around to their way of thinking. They are two different people, with different styles. He decorates his room his way, with a masculine flair, and she has hers her way, much more feminine. He is more of a neat freak than she is, so it helps with that as well; no arguments about the room being too messy. If either of them wants some alone time, they just go to their room and shut the door – problem solved. It helps out with their different schedules, TV shows, music being listened to, etc. Other couples I know who have their own bedrooms enjoy it because of snoring issues, temperature differences, white noise, or just plain personal space in the bed.

Traditionally, I suppose, the bedroom is generally the females territory. Maybe most men don’t care, but for those that do – why is it the guys who have to sacrifice? Perhaps this is why “man-caves” are becoming so popular. After all, where’s the rule that says as soon as you’re living together, or married, that you have to have the same room, and possible lose part of your identity?

Way to think outside the box. What do you think? Would you be comfortable sleeping separately from your spouse?

 

Who Isn’t Getting Married?

May 13th, 2013

I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a new book that’s out called, “Is Marriage for White People?” Apparently black women, according to this research, are the most un-partnered group in our society. Why?

His answers are interesting, and make me think that perhaps black women are emerging as the lead in the “strong women” category. According to this research, more than 70% of black children are born to unwed parents. This alone might cause one to think poorly of this group, or that it is simply because more single black women are getting pregnant. Not so. His research shows that the reason for this is not more unplanned pregnancies, but the fact that more black women are preferring to remain single than white women.

Unwed childbearing is a consequence of the marriage decline, regardless, but the research indicates that most other races – and even black men – are more likely to marry outside their race, while black women are still encouraged to marry within. Maybe it is social pressure… or perhaps they are just one of the last groups of people trying to hold onto what they were taught and how they believe. If the men of their own race aren’t living up to those same standards, and ‘marrying out’ is not a desirable option, why not just stay single?

The book indicates that higher incarceration rates, and the fact that more black men are marrying inter-racially, contribute to this dynamic. Additional statistics indicate that more black women are becoming college graduates than black men, and that more highly educated women are more likely to marry. So, with that said, who can blame the current trend? With these figures, the “eligible black men” pool gets smaller and smaller for these women.

So why not just carry on with their education, refuse to “marry down”, and raise their children on their own?

 

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

April 26th, 2013

A fascinating article came across my desk the other day, regarding what makes women stay in a relationship that they know isn’t right, or worse – marry when they know it’s not going to work.

They listed the top five reasons women gave for this behavior. It was particularly interesting because these reasons applied to many types of relationships, not just romantic ones. I think it’s a natural behavior, not just for women. We all do it, I’m guilty myself, for me it wasn’t in a romantic relationship, but rather one of employment. The reason I bring it up, is because the reasons were identical. I had worked in a corporate position for almost two decades, and by the last five to ten years of that ‘relationship’, I was miserable, growing more so everyday. I complained a lot, and I knew that I was no longer happy, but I did not leave.

Now I ask myself “Why did I stay?” The same reasons people gave for staying in their relationship too long; I’d invested so much time, I was scared of giving up the good aspects of the relationship to find it’s only worse elsewhere, maybe things will get better if I would just stick it out, etc. A good friend of mine in the same position put it perfectly; “Being at this job is like having a bad boyfriend. Just when you get yourself ready to bail, they go and do something nice to remind you of the reasons you should stay.”

In any relationship where you’ve grown accustomed to a certain comfort level, it becomes very difficult to sever, when deep down, you know you need to. If it’s a job, the consequences aren’t as severe, only you run a risk at that point. In a relationship though, it’s much more serious. At the very least, the two people are at risk of being hurt, but does that make it any more right for you to stay on and continually grow more and more miserable, and resentful towards your significant other?

Of course not! That same reason is exactly why you should get out if you know the relationship is no longer working out. I’m by no means saying that you should bail at the first sign of trouble, or that you shouldn’t be trying to work out your issues. I’m talking strictly about relationships that are, or should have been over, yet continue only because of fear (of being alone), or unrealistic expectations (things will change if we stick it out, or worse, have a child) or sheer laziness. (I don’t want to go through the hassle of splitting up, separating all our stuff).

If your heart is no longer in the relationship – and I believe everyone does know when they reach that point, regardless of whether they choose to ignore it or not – it’s time to get out. After all, breaking up with someone after a very long term relationship is tough, I know first hand, but marrying someone when you’ve already got those feelings is much worse.

 

Would You Buy Your Own Engagement Ring? I Did.

April 21st, 2013

I read recently that more and more women are buying their own engagement rings. The reason was mostly because the women wanted the ring that they want, and aren’t expecting their man to have to pony up that much cash just because they want something more than he might be able to afford. Not a bad idea, but it takes some of the magic out of the whole proposal thing a little.

I know this because I, too, bought my own engagement ring – although not at all for the reason above. I’m not sure how many women out there are in the same situation I was in, but it went like this; we had been together for years, we’d already bought a house together, and had been talking marriage for a long time, I had a feeling he wouldn’t actually do it though. I took care of the finances in our relationship, and the only way he would be able to do it without me knowing was if he was secretly squirreling away money on his own, and I had serious doubts that was happening.

So, I started saving a little on my own, just for this. I’m fairly basic, and not really into jewelery or diamonds much, so I didn’t save a lot, the principal of the ring is more important to me than the bling of the ring. We were out to dinner one night, and I brought up the question, “When do you think we’ll get married?” His reply was, “Whenever we can afford it.” I said, “Well, what would you do if I told you we could afford a ring right now?” He said, “Then after dinner, let’s go get a ring.” And, that we did. It worked, I was excited, but I will admit, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the surprise of an all-his-idea proposal. Perhaps that was a red flag I should have paid attention to… If he would never do it on his own – should we be doing it at all?

We never did end up getting married. We split up a few years later. It was a very difficult, painful time for me – I thought the world was ending. However, in hindsight, it was the best thing that ever happened to me – which explains my passion for the work we do at www.shouldigetmarried.net

I’m very curious, how many other women out there also bought their own ring? What were the reasons? Did you get married? Are you still married?

 

Dude, Don’t Do It…

April 10th, 2013

I have a friend who works with a guy, and he just told me this story that I feel completely compelled to post here on our blog.

This guy – let’s say ‘Chris’ has been dating a co-worker for awhile now (I’m not entirely sure how long, doesn’t matter). He is in love and decided he wanted to propose to her. Since they work together, he thought it would be cute if he proposed to her at work… Not something that I’d be interested in, but whatever, he wasn’t proposing to me. He made it an elaborate ordeal too, flower petals in the parking lot, the works. Good for him.

Prior to the actual proposal taking place, everyone in the office was talking about what a mistake this is, they are too young, they haven’t been together long enough, and some knew of her infidelity – but thought it wasn’t their place to say anything. So, my friend handed him a business card from www.shouldigetmarried.net – and told him he should get an Invite for Insight, just to get real feedback from his family and/or friends – he laughed and said “Dude, I don’t need that, we’re in love.” To which my friend replied, great, if you don’t need it, that’s awesome, but why wouldn’t you want to know how your friends and family, or co-workers feel about your decision, it could be that they all support you and think it’s a great idea, and if some don’t, you’ll at least know the truth. If you’re afraid of finding out the truth about how people feel about your situation, wouldn’t you want to explore that before making such a huge life-altering decision? Chris said he would not.

As it turns out, he did not get himself an Invite for Insight, and she did accept his proposal. However, within two weeks of being ‘happily’ engaged, fighting began, she has moved her things out of his place, they are not on speaking terms, and he has been having several physical relationships with new people.

I’m glad it turned out this way -that did not get married – because it’s clear they were not ready. It was evident to most who knew Chris. Had they continued with the engagement, who knows how long it would have lasted, or if they actually got married, how long before they would end up in divorce court?

My point here is that sometimes those closest to you can see – so glaringly – what you can’t, that it doesn’t hurt to find out what they think. It’s anonymous after all, so where’s the harm?

 

Who Says You Have to Sleep With Your Spouse?

April 7th, 2013

I’m finding myself curious, about what seems to be a growing trend, of married couples who choose not to sleep together. (I don’t mean sex, I just mean actually sleeping). I’d never known couples who don’t sleep together, at least no one that does it simply because they prefer it – my grandparents had separate bedrooms, but that was because ones snoring always kept the other awake.

A very close friend of mine, and his wife sleep separately, but it started out as just being respectful since he was such a restless sleeper, but now it’s just what they do. (I’m not entirely sure that she is crazy about the arrangement though) Then I visited a close family member recently, and he and his girlfriend had just gotten a new apartment, and they each had their own rooms. I was initially concerned that there was something wrong in the relationship, they are only in their early twenties, and no snoring, or health issues exist that would prevent them from wanting to share a bed.

When I asked them why they do it, and they both said it just works out better this way, he has his room the way he wants it, she has hers her way. She keeps the bedroom too messy for his taste, and they just decided that instead of arguing all the time about it – it’s just better to each have their own rooms. Makes sense I suppose. They told me that another young couple they are close to have it that way as well. I started to wonder if this is something that’s becoming more popular, or am I just out of touch in this area? Now today, I came across an article showing that “Sleep Divorce” could be the answer to insomnia.

When I was married I know I would definitely have been seriously offended if my husband suggested that we sleep separately. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it now, I’m quite used to having my bedroom my way – and to myself – that I wonder if it’s not such a bad idea after all. What do you think?

 

Love Tattoo

March 24th, 2013

When I was married, my husband was a tattoo artist. He had one hard and fast rule about his tattooing; he’d never tattoo anyone’s name on a person, unless it was their child’s or their own. He was often asked why, and he certainly angered a few potential clients, but his answer was always, “Relationships don’t last, and I’m not going to put someone’s name permanently on your body only for you to have my artwork covered up or removed later on. Your name most likely won’t change, and your children will always be your children.”

It bothered me at the time, because I naturally internalized it as in insult to our own relationship. We’re going to be together forever after all, so how do you know these people won’t be too? Did this mean that he expected us not to last? Does every relationship, no matter how solid, eventually end?

I grew up in a solid, nuclear family, my parents are still to this day happily married, and I never had to deal with the pain that divorce or separation can cause in a family. He definitely did not have the same experience growing up, and actually never met his father until he was in his twenties, and unfortunately even when he did, it was just one more let down for him. So, I began to understand why he felt this way.

My views are quite different today, having been divorced, and in another long term relationship that turned sour. I often think of his philosophy, and sometimes consider the thought of getting married much like getting a tattoo… On your face. You’d better be really certain of what you want, and know without a shadow of a doubt, that this is something you’re going to want to last for the rest of your life.

Of course, it’s all too easy to get a divorce these days, and even tattoo’s can be removed.

 

Get Married – The Split is Easier if You Divorce

March 23rd, 2013

I get to read so much regarding marriage because of the work we do at www.shouldigetmarried.net – and I’ve heard it all; “Late marriage has it’s consequences”, “Getting married too early increases your chances of divorce, above the normal 50%”, “Marriage is healthier for you than staying single” “More couples choosing to co-habitate versus getting married” “Children of divorced parents twice as likely to get divorced.” – How is anyone supposed to know if getting married is the right thing to do? Is anyone who is actually looking to get married in their near future even remotely considering all these crazy, ever-changing stats? I don’t think so.

I came across a pro-marriage article today that made me laugh out loud. It stated that divorce makes a great argument for marriage, because when you split up – and apparently you inevitably will – it’s easier to separate things if you actually have to get a legal divorce, as opposed to just splitting up all of your stuff, without legal counsel. I’m sure that there is something to be said for that, but it’s a sad show of the state marriage is really in, in our society. Thirty percent of divorced women in a survey said that they knew – at the altar – that the marriage would not last. I bet what they didn’t know when they said “I do” was how bad divorce can really be. If they did, they surely wouldn’t have gone through with it… would they?

Something is just so wrong. Where did it start, where does it end, when will it change? Now, I’m being sarcastic here – BUT – It almost makes me think that we should all just be forced to go get married once, kind of as a test, right off the bat, but for real, to see what we’ll be up against. (The hell with love, what’s that got to do with anything anyway?) We will learn what married life really is all about; sharing your life, your body, your home, your dreams, and finances, etc. – then at some random moment, you must get divorced. We will all experience that life-altering misery, and be forced to start over. Then, and only then – once we learn to get on with our lives in a normal fashion, and figure out who we really are, and what we do or do not want in a relationship, do we get to marry for real, for love.

What do you think? Of course there will be those happy few who fall in love during the test marriage, and live happily ever after, but I guess that happens the regular way once in awhile too.

 

The Invite for Insight

March 18th, 2013

At a coffee shop in Portland, Oregon, this week, there was a conversation between three women and a friend of mine, Marielle, about the “Invite For Insight” from www.shouldigetmarried.net and her surprise to the reaction of one of these women.

Two of the three women thought the Invite for Insight was a fantastic idea – a great way to get real opinions from people you love and trust, without any drama, arguments, or hurt feelings. The third woman however, said ‘Whoa, I just got engaged, please don’t get that for me.’ We were all so surprised by that reaction. Marielle explained to her that the Invite for Insight is not a bad thing, it’s invaluable feedback on a very serious decision – one that will impact your entire life – why wouldn’t you want to know what your loved ones really think about your decision to get married?

It seems to me if there is that much doubt about what your friends or family members think, then perhaps that alone is a big red flag for you. What are you afraid of hearing? Do you already know that people you trust are not happy with your decision? When asked at your wedding if anyone has anything they want to say, or a reason why you two should not be getting married, will you wonder what they are all thinking and just not saying?

The Invite For Insight was not created to be be negative. It’s an invaluable way to learn the truth. If you invest in an Invite for Insight, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out what people have to say, when they know they are speaking anonymously, AND it can really help make a good relationship turn into a great marriage as well. It can help bring to light many different areas of concern for anyone considering marriage, and help you explore them before the wedding so you both start off you marriage on the right foot.

After all marriage is one of the biggest steps you’ll ever take, it may be a success or it might fail, either way your life will never be the same. Wouldn’t you want to start off on the best footing, knowing what issues you could face, and how you will deal with them, knowing what other people might have to say to you if they knew they could be really honest? I know I would.