The First Two Rules

Forgive others

Okay, I wish I could say the hardest part of writing this blog is over, it’s not. The hard part is in admitting to myself, my readers, and my family the number ONE thing I did wrong.

It wasn’t an affair, although that is pretty despicable on so many levels. My ENORMOUS mistake was leaving my home, my children, and the man whom I once considered my best friend, soul-mate, and life partner.

If you are in a marriage you have taken vows, to love, honor and cherish…
“For better, for worse
In sickness and in health
For richer or for poorer
Forsaking all others
Until death do you part”
Well that is the basic premise anyhow. So why then is the divorce rate nearly 50% in the USA? I really have no idea why Americans in particular seem to be so willing to renege on their promises. Not just the wedding vows, but also oaths of office, professional oaths like Hippocratic oath, or the oath one takes when entering a political office, or religious oaths when one enters the clergy. Why are these promises so easily broken? Why did I break my vow to forsake all others? Why does an officer of the law decide to break the law? Why do Doctors perform harmful experiments upon their patients? I DON’T KNOW! I wish I did.

Married reader, if you took that vow there was a reason you swore those oaths to your spouse so let me assure you that breaking the vows is NOT the answer! Most especially when children are involved, and no matter how bad it seems when you are living through pain of marital strife, believe me when I tell you, STAY, Leaving might be your only coping mechanism, as it has always been mine, just heed my advice and DON’T LEAVE! Unless you MUST.

IF YOU ARE IN FEAR OF PHYSICAL INJURY REPORT IT TO THE POLICE AND GET PROFESSIONAL HELP FOR ALL FAMILY MEMBERS. I can’t tell you to stay in an abusive relationship, but I can tell you that running from your problems won’t solve them.

Try, try, try to remember and focus on the things that once brought you together:

I met my husband at a Grateful Dead concert at Firebird Lake in 1986 or ’87. Truly for me it was love at first sight. Everyone around us was wearing “Dead Head” concert garb, tie dye, raggedy jeans, their eyes glazed from the free exchange of the psychedelic substances that flow at a Dead concert. Not my future husband, Chuck. He was wearing a long sleeved button up, red and white thickly patterned striped shirt, that was the first thing I noticed about him. The second thing I noticed was him staring at my butt in my tight jeans as I moved my hips, but not my feet, in time to the music. The other thing I noticed was that he was sweating because it was VERY hot even in the evening in the Arizona desert and he had brought nothing to drink.

I turned around in between songs and introduced myself,
“Hi, I’m Leah, and this is my friend Angela Cozens” I shouted over cheering fans.
“Hi, I’m Chuckie” he replied. CHUCKIE? Oh man did he just say his name was Chuckie? Yep, he did and for me that name and the shirt combined to make him just enough ‘different’ that I was pretty much smitten on the spot.

I am not saying that a striped shirt and weird name should be the basis of a marriage, I am just trying to show you that through it all, beyond the pain, there are and always will be memories of good times, there will always be a REASON you took those vows. My advice to anyone considering breaking a vow once solemnly spoken is to take the time to write those vows out, think about the meaning of the words, ask yourself what is different now than the day you made those promises? Instead of making an excuse for breaking a vow, FIND YOUR WAY BACK TO A PLACE YOU CAN KEEP THOSE PROMISES.

I think SOME marriage counselors are NOT the answer to issues facing a contentious marriage. It is my experience these well intentioned people wind up rubbing salt in wounds that need healing.

Focusing on the crappy things in each other isn’t going to help you, instead you should together take the time to privately recall those things that brought you together. The fond memories you share should be the focus of a healing process. The little things that helped you become a couple, and then a husband and wife are the stepping stones back from pain to happiness, I promise you it is true! Forget, or at least forgive the hurt feelings, even if s/he doesn’t ask you for forgiveness. Realize that no one will ask forgiveness for things they didn’t know hurt you. So when s/he does something that injures your psyche, try not to be angry about it. Try to show them how it hurt and why it hurt. If you take the pain and let it grow into anger, you lose. Anger is the vow killing, people hurting emotion which so few of us can easily control once “unleashed”. So head it off by healing hurt feelings as soon as possible, don’t let hurt and pain grow into anger or rage.

How do I do THAT you ask? Well number one I learned from my Mom that is, “Tell them to STOP”. The simple reasoning behind this is elementary. Suppose you are in grade school and the boy behind you pulls your hair. Not wanting to cause a scene, you say nothing and wipe that single involuntary tear from your cheek and, “suck it up”. You wonder why this boy whom you thought liked you has hurt you? Why would he be so mean it almost made you cry? Now become the boy. You are sitting behind one of the cutest girls in school. You really like her but you don’t want your classmates to know because they might tease you, and you certainly can’t come out and tell her because she might reject you, might like someone else, she even might make fun of you… So, with all these crappy possible outcomes for being an assertive communicator you decide that you can touch this girls beautiful hair, avoid any cajoling from your classmates AND get her to focus attention on you by simply pulling her hair.

You never meant to cause her pain, she never wanted to feel pain at the hands of a boy she liked, yet for all the positive feelings these two have for each other it is now hurt, pain, and eventually anger that results. Wait! What if the girl turns around and says, “please stop that, it hurts”? What happens? The boy has her attention and an opportunity for communication and even, if he plays his cards right, to compliment her, thereby letting her know pain was not his intent, and admiration was his motive. There is no chance for pain to become anger, because nicely, this girl said “stop”. So RULE 1) if s/he is doing something that hurts you tell them firmly to ” stop”.

RULE 2) please don’t get married until you are 30. People change SO MUCH between 21 and 30 they are barely recognizable. Oh you young people, falling madly in love with each other, not wanting to think about ever being with someone else… You want to get married because your religion and family, and society have programmed you into believing that marriage comes first. WELL I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT. Less than 100 years ago the life expectancy of humans was much lower, in fact, it was almost half that of today. So of course people got married young, and were actually able to remain in love, because most of them died not long after their kids were grown.

Today, in the USA most of us will live beyond 80. Within ten years, I believe the data points to an average lifespan of 125 or higher mainly due to advances in medicine. Some people predict the wealthiest of us could have lifespans that suddenly are extended at an exponential rate for a short time.

What does all this have to do with divorce? Simply this, at 21 there is no way you can say “I love you till death do us part” with certainty that you will feel the same way at 31. Because the you at 31 is so far removed from your 21 year old self that promise could very well end up hurting you and those you love the most if made too soon. So wait! Don’t marry before age 30.

More later…

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