Be in Love With Who You Are...

I have been making a decent supplemental income as a freelance writer, lately; and, I was writing an article on this viral post last night. I thought it was ugh, for so many reasons (check out my thesis below, if you are interested). Anyway, to write the article, I scrolled through several hundred of the top thousand or few comments on the original post. Writing articles that get picked up for a paycheck takes some actual research. Usually, comment threads on public posts are full of idiotic nonsense; but, I found a hidden gem, yesterday.

The post in question was filled with pretty foul language. Meh, who cares? At least, to me. I didn’t really notice that so much. I swear all the time. Remember this? But, someone made a comment about how it seems so inappropriate that this is how husbands and wives talk to each other these days, and how it’s basically shameful and disrespectful to both of them. It’s not that sanctimonious comment that I cared about; it’s the response that has stuck with me. Someone responded to the commenter that it doesn’t matter how a couple communicates with each other, so long as they are okay with it. She said she lives by a little aphorism that she heard a long time ago:

Be in love with who you are, not who others think you should be.

That resonated with me, and has really stuck in my head. Bryon and I are best friends, as I’m sure most husbands and wives are. At least, I hope most husbands and wives are. We aren’t just best friends in a greeting card slogan way; we’re really best friends. There’s no one else in the world who I confide my secrets in, who I want comfort from when I have a bad day, or who I laugh with, quite as much. But, that means that we have our relationship, our way. We are silly and sarcastic. We joke and tease.

For example, every time Bryon tries to talk about physics, I pretend to fall asleep; and, every time I try to watch more than one episode of Golden Girls before bed, he puts on his GG appreciation device (earplugs and eye patches). We are gloriously happy with the way our marriage is. I wouldn’t change a thing, really.

However, we’ve come across people who think that we should change how we behave, outwardly, or who are uncomfortable with the way that we communicate. They don’t like when we tease, or the way that we joke with one another most of the time. They don’t like that we laugh at self-depreciating humor, or humor at one another’s expense. Frankly, I think it’s nice to laugh in your marriage. We used to try to change who we were to accommodate others’ discomfort for teasing or joking; but, it’s really hard to change your communication style for a few hours at a time, just to abate others’ discomfort. Have you ever seen a couple trying to pretend they are different people; it’s soooo awkward. We look like we’re acting like Mr. and Mrs. Stepford, at least to us.

We’ve been married almost eleven years now. It’s time to stop that nonsense, right? Clearly, neither one of us is unhappy with the way things are going, and I think that after all this time, if we were having communication issues, it’d have become clear by now. Okay, we do have trouble communicating about whether or not he should take out the trash more often; he should. And, we have trouble communicating about whether or not I should continue to purchase copious amounts of whatever I want, at the moment; I should. It isn’t like we’re bickering, or screaming, or having fights in front of neighbors; we’re laughing together. And, our teasing doesn’t include calling each other names like:

Even if it did, meh. These people don’t seem to be too happy, but maybe they are? If they are, it’s no one’s business how they communicate with each other. The problem with their communication style, the reason it makes others uncomfortable, is that it violates social norms, and conventions. Bryon and I don’t violate social convention in our communication style; I can assure you of that.

When I saw that aphorism, it really stuck with me, that we are in love with the way we are. We send emails back and forth all day, filled with jokes and teasing that others wouldn’t get, because we are silly and dorky; and we probably call each other idiot a lot, but don’t really mean it. We also have, “I love you” sprinkled in there about a million times, not just at the end, like it might as well be a signature block that no one bothers to read.

When you are communicating all day with someone, just because you miss them, I think that means you kind of like the person, even if you call them a poopy-head. Bryon’s job makes him impossible to reach by phone anymore; so he gets a zillion and one emails, just to tell him things like, “my lunch was too salty, how about yours?” and I get ones that say things like, “my phone annoyed me.”  I also get a “wake-up” e-mail every morning from him, because he leaves the house so early now, that the first thing he does, when he gets to work, is send me an email, to tell me to have a great day. It’s kind of lovely to be greeted with an absentee good-morning.

When I started to get really sick, Bryon was the thing that saved me, really saved me. I will never, in my live, be able to express how thankful I’ve been to him, for all the nights he stayed up, watching me to make sure I didn’t die. I will never be able to thank him for carrying me to the bathroom, for washing me when I couldn’t wash myself, for sleeping next to hospital beds, and for taking down my last words, the nights I was afraid, truly afraid, that I wouldn’t see the morning.

So yeah, we are in love with the way we are. When I saw the phrase last night, I read it to him over the phone, and we were talking about it. He said, that he’d never change a thing. No one who’s happy should. Marriages, or any relationship that works, are complex organisms, and after a while, you’ve got to find the groove that makes it work for you. Once you do, who the hell cares what anyone else thinks anymore?

I felt it was icky for so many reasons. The first of which was the dad who seemed to have never met his kids. I’ve not seen a dad these days who has never once put his kids to bed, fixed a breakfast, lunch or dinner, or poured them a damn cup of juice. Then, at the end, she claims that her husband made her get rid of all the sippy cups. WTF? He’s never been home, or made a single parenting decision, but he makes proclamations about what kinds of cups the kids are allowed to use? Then, we have the fact that these kids are total jerks. I don’t judge others’ parenting, except silently, of course; but, if your kids are this bad, someone should remind you that you will, one day, be inflicting massive asshole adults onto the world. Please don’t do that. And finally, we are having a problem that no one is talking about these days, with “mommy juice;” she’s leaving with her victory bottles of wine, flung in the air like a champ. Sure, she’s probably not an alcoholic; but, the joke of “mommy likes to drink” isn’t funny anymore, and I’m not sure that it ever was. Wine sales have skyrocketed in recent years, right alongside alcoholism rates in middle-aged women. I don’t get the fact that, for some reason, the fact that mommy drinking every day, to deal with being a mom, is a joke.

Yeah, yeah, I can take a joke just like everyone else; and I get that most of the ideas in this post were jokes, exaggerated, to make a point; I’m not an idiot. But, my point was that when we ignore the issues above, and pretend that they are funny, we are taking huge steps backward in what we have rallied against, as modern parents (and people), to change. We want dads involved in childcare! You’ve got it! We want kids to be good, polite, non-self-indulged! You’ve got it! We want to treat addiction like the serious mental health issue that it is! You’ve got it! Whoopise! Haha! I’m not saying there weren’t hilarious parts of this post; there were. There were lots of parts that cracked me up; but overall, it was backward humor that was just…stupid.

--when the article goes live, I'll let you know, and put a link for you :)