Friday, February 22, 2013

Marriage Variations

I have a subscription to More magazine--yep, the 40+ rag for woman who've "outgrown" Cosmo & Glamour (I still read them even if it isn't targeted for my demographic) & I recently came across a very good article about the "9 Ways to be Married" by Doren Allen.  I often get questioned by well-meaning folk about when Xing Fu & I will get married or if we are getting married.  Let me set the record straight--we're not.  Ever.   And yes, sometimes a little niggle of doubt creeps in--since we aren't married, what does that mean in the long run? It is still considered the ultimate commitment. And even to this day, after statistics show that the institution of marriage is lessening, people overwhelmingly feel that marriage is still the way to go to demonstrate your undying love.  Even if you buy a house together, write wills that lay out specifically that you are together & deserve all of those rights of marriage, etc., etc., there are still difficulties with NOT being married.  So I was gratified to see that More had this article highlighting 9 different "marriages" & that our choice was number 2: Living Together, No License. Here are the statistics from the article: The US Census Bureau says that 15.3 million heterosexual Americans co-habitate.  47% are 35+ & 13% are over 55.  And really, after both of us failed at being married the first time, mebbe, just mebbe, it is better without it.  It's not like the expectations are any different--we are just as committed to each other as if we were married so why do we need a piece of paper to prove it? The naysayers like to indicate that it is easier to call it quits & walk away instead of working at our partnership.  Yes, on the surface it might appear that way, but we own property together, along with a host of other things that make it very difficult for either one of us to "just walk away." And frankly, I work hard at this & resent anyone who tells me that our relationship doesn't matter as much or mean as much because we aren't married.  The rest of the article has many other forms of "marriages" including gay marriages, open marriages, & modern traditionals.  Read it--it is very interesting.

My second part of this post has to do with a Your Tango article entitled "5 Marriage Mistakes That Lead to Divorce".  They all made a lot of sense.  I was especially taken with the 5th one:

Major changes in priorities – major changes in priorities can cause an end in a marriage. People grow and change; sometimes they grow together in the same direction and other times they grow apart. There are other people who never change and are the same person fifty years into the marriage. What can be problematic and end relationships is when one or both partners change their priorities in ways that are unacceptable to their spouse. Some people mentioned a major change in religious beliefs and practices could strain the relationship, some people talked about putting jobs or children before the marriage and yet others complained of drastic changes in friendships or relationships with in-laws. Again, I think it comes down to trust and consistency.

When I reflect on my failed marriage, I think this one was it.  Neither of us cheated--the number one reason (and one that I would end a relationship on--reference to the Bull).  We really did grow apart & by the time we figured that out, it couldn't be fixed.  This time, I think Xing Fu & I realize that communication is the key--check in, make sure we're moving forward & if we're not, deal with it immediately & make our relationship the priority.  So, we may not be happily married but in my mind we are happily married.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


OK--obligatory Valentine's Day post---the love of my life & all that rot!  Funny, when I look back, I was truly, madly, deeply, head over heels.  Perhaps not so giddy 3 years out but I am still truly, madly deeply & that's a very good thing. I came across a little article about good habits to keep married couples strong.  Yeah, Xing Fu & I aren't married but in a lot of ways it feels like we are so I tend towards these kinds of articles. I really liked what this one had to say in particular.  These are really simple things--nothing extraordinary. 

Like not trying to change one another--yeah, I really wish Xing Fu would do some things differently but I fell for him the way he is so why would I want to change him now?  (OK, I admit, I'd like to try sometimes & I have to pinch myself occasionally not to).  

Or saying out loud why you appreciate him---men need to be stroked (get those minds out if the gutter--YEESH!)  Tell him what a great dinner he made the other night--remember the old saying you need 5 positives to 1 negative comment--how locked into the negative nit-picky stuff do most couples get?  Make it a new habit--send an email of appreciation, a text, a get it.  Keep the positive in the relationship--appreciation goes hand in hand with that.

Make sure that you are an ally--don't side with the enemy.  This was a big mistake that I made with my first marriage--I allowed my mother's negative crap get in the way of my relationship with my ex.  I should have looked to someone else to vent about him--not someone who already wanted him out of my life.  I have Xing Fu's back  & he has mine--we can vent about whatever we need to without the other criticizing.  Very important I think.

Don't get too comfortable--some things should just remain a mystery--'nuff said!  Along side of that--don't stop trying--don't get so complacent that you don't date each other anymore--date nights are important!  I never thought that until now--I alays thought it was hokey--it ain't!!

And my favorite:  Reminisce.  Re-visit those giddy days of first love.  Xing Fu & I have a ritual (another habit of strong couples).  Every year we re-watch Hedwig & the Angry Inch.  It was early on in our relationship when I tested him to see how open he was to movies of that ilk & how much he saw the love story as well.  He passed with flying colors & now, right around Valentine's Day or thereabouts, we watch it again.  I am nostalgic by nature so I love this suggestion.  

There are a few more & here is the link for everyone to see it--from MSN:

Enjoy & Happy Valentine's Day! 


Monday, February 11, 2013

Hold It In

Jump into that water and see for yourself
Take a deep breath and hold it in
Hold it in

She's got a secret
And she wants to tell
But I made a promise to hold it in
Hold it in

Hold It In--Jukebox The Ghost

It has been a while since my last post--mebbe that's a good thing--it means that I've been living my life with its ups & downs & generally having more ups than downs.  There have been a few--downs--like the continuing struggle with the youngest skid who really makes it hard to like her.  And instead of venting my spleen here, I went to a step mother discussion board sponsored by StepMom Magazine & got some good advice. Like the song from above--I do a lot of holding it in as a step mom.  I find it hard to admit that there are many times that when the SDs don't come over for whatever reason, I'm way happier.  It makes life much easier.  Saying that made me feel that I was a bad person--also being done with them on Sunday mornings--wishing that the weekend was over & they were going home.  It's not that I don't want them around or that I don't like them, it's just that it is very hard to maintain an unruffled & pleasant appearance--very stressful.  They cannot seem to handle that I have emotions too--that sometimes I get angry & slam a door or yell.  So every other weekend I'm on eggshells.  And the youngest doesn't make it easy as I said--the whole one step forward, two steps back kinda' thing, so that's why I sought advice because I was really at my wit's end.  Here's what one woman had to say:
I think a lot of times "I don't like her" really means "I don't like that my life is changing and my dad is changing so I am going to try to change it back to the way it used to be." Unfortunately, this usually plays out as an issue with the woman who walked into the situation, wondering what she possibly got herself into. It's easier to blame the new person because "those issues were not there before."
Give space and take space. There is no rush. You do not have to like each other, just treat each other with common courtesy. At some point your BF will have to take your side and stand up for you. It is not easy for them to do.

That was very helpful because it reminded me that it does take time & we're still new at this--and there will be setbacks.  Another woman had this to say:

I think one thing to remember is all that you are feeling is normal. The fact that you enjoy your time without the stress of having the girls there. That's normal! The fact you want to send them back to their BM when you've had enough -- normal! And it's also normal for the kids to have wishful thinking that their parents will get back together or that they will have their father to themselves when they choose to be around him. All normal.

Reading the responses on the forum really helped me--I have come to realize that sometimes I must have "a grin & bear it, slap a smile on my face" attitude when I am being pushed around & hope that I can contain my own emotions without losing it & saying what I'm really thinking.  I do that a lot when the skids are around.  This step parent gig really is one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I know Xing Fu is worth the effort but sometimes it ain't easy being green.  

But I end on a positive note--a good encounter--this past weekend my "M-I-L" was in town with the stepdaughters here too.  Never easy but I decided to do my thing with my besties & go wine tasting--definitely needed--I took some space for myself--something else that was recommended by other step moms.  And then I took my DS (Dear Son) & the middle SD to a sold out  Jukebox The Ghost concert at the OttobarThe three of us had a great time--all of the bands were great--first was the Lighthouse and the Whaler, then Matt Pond, & then JBTG.  I was happy to take them & I think it went a long way in building a positive relationship with the middle SD. So I know it can happen--at some point mebbe I can have a positive relationship with the youngest SD like that.  I don't know, but I keep working at it--like going to a basketball game when I'd much prefer to be out with the BFFs more, etc.  Time, Time, Time.....