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Posts tagged ‘Marriage’

Love and Dating

Dear Loch,

So, this past weekend we hosted your wedding. It wasn’t our intention, but you and your friend Shiloh were so into the idea of getting married that her mother finally called and said, “I think we’re going to have to do this thing.” Once confirming that the bride and groom both understood it was, in fact, a (said in a whisper) “pretend” wedding, the parents got to planning. The thing about me and your Dad (and, as it turns out, the bride’s parents) is that we can’t do something at 70%. A wedding to you guys basically consisted of fancy clothes, an aisle, vows and cake – with cake being the big draw. The adults added flowers, snacks, a decorated venue, ring pop favors and, thanks to Shiloh’s mom’s job, a limo – so guests under 5 could drive around the block for 20 minutes. Ridiculous? Maybe. Super fun playdate with a theme? Definitely. When I asked the flower guy at the grocery store if I could have any roses they were going to throw away, he asked me what they were for. I said I wanted to use the petals to decorate a 4-year-old wedding. He said, “For someone who’s been married 4 years?” and I said, “No, for a wedding of 4-year-olds.” He looked at me like I was cracked. I explained that everyone involved knew it was just for fun. But this morning when you told me that, now that you’re married, you and Shiloh would be “getting an apartment”, I wasn’t so sure. I said, “You’re not getting an apartment. You’re staying here with me. You know you’re not really married right?” You looked at me like, duh… and said, “I knooooow Mommy. But when I really marry Shiloh one day, we’ll get an apartment.” I said, “I hope you get one before that.” 

The thing is, if you grow up and marry Shiloh, that would be fantastic. She’s a darling girl and we love her family. Plus, telling people you got married for the first time at 4, would be pretty hilarious. But, you don’t know who the heck you’re going to marry, and I’d hate you to rush headlong to the finish line of relationships before exploring the whole exciting gamut of love and dating. As I’ve said before, I love being married and I’d love it for you, but there are so many wonderful things to happen between now and then. Don’t miss out by trying to achieve the end result.

Your Dad was a long-term-relationship guy, and judging by your adoration of the female sex – your penchant for complimenting women, and the fact that you notice things like when I’ve had my hair or nails done – you might be too. I, on the other hand, dated a lot, and had only a handful of real relationships before I met your Dad. That was good too. I’d hazard to say I probably had more fun than your Dad, but I also had more heartbreak, so it’s a toss up to which is better. I’d like to see you have a lot of experiences. To date women that aren’t right for you, and women you think are, but turn out not to be. I’d rather you to go all in, and feel the crushing sting of a failed relationship, than hang back and choose the safe or easy path. Love in itself is a risk but it’s a risk worth taking over and over again.

As you start your dating adventures I have a couple words of advice. Keep in mind I was a pretty avid dater in my time and I ended up with a great spouse, so I kind of know what I’m talking about. Plus, I’m a woman, and that gives me some insight you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to.

I'm not saying you have to date any of these scarf models from I'm just saying you don't have to stick to only one type of girl.

Try not to have a “type”. I can’t speak to who you should be attracted, that’s just chemistry, but try to avoid limiting yourself to a certain hair color or look. Avoid saying things like, “I don’t date (fill in the blank) type of girls.” You never know where you’ll make a connection, and if you close those doors without finding out what’s behind them, you might be missing out on a great love affair – or at least a great story.

When asking a girl out, be direct. Decide what you want to do- go to a dance, a movie, dinner – and man up and ask.  You can be casual, “We should go out sometime” or “I’d like to take you out this weekend. You interested?” “Are you going the dance?”  Yes? “Great. You want to go with me?”  I’m not sure? “Well you should. Let me take you.” Or something like, “I want to check out this new restaurant/band/movie, you wanna go?”  I can’t promise everyone will say yes. Keep in mind what I said about regrets, the ones that say no often do it for reasons that have nothing to do with you whatsoever, but at the very least she’ll be flattered and impressed by your confidence. Just be sure you’re clear with your intentions. You go further being bold. You don’t want people to say, I think he was asking me out…

Oh, and a smile never hurts.

My first date was with a boy named Andrew Westlake. I was 9 or 10 and he asked me to the movies.  His mother drove us to the theatre and sat behind us with his little brother. I remember his brother teasing us and Andrew freaking out. I remember chocolate covered raisins. I remember his mom trying to give us some privacy by not talking to us. But mostly I remember feeling special.

Make your dates feel special. Pay attention to what they say and act like a gentleman. It’s always nice to start with a sincere compliment. Not random, placating niceties, as they come off as shallow and calculated, but something you believe to be true and say out loud. “You look really pretty”. Or, “Those jeans look awesome”. You want to be candid and genuine. Trust me, girls know the difference. Plus, I guarantee she put some serious energy into how she looks. Acknowledge the result. It’ll make her more confident, which makes her more comfortable, which ultimately makes the date more successful.

A successful date is one where the conversation is easy, the company is good, and the time just flys by. If the physical attraction is there too, then you’re golden. Sometimes you’ll find yourself on a date with someone you found physically attractive, but once you’re out with them, it’s kinda tough. I dated an investment banker in New York once who was handsome, smart, romantic, and had a ridiculously enormous 2 floor apartment that I hosted a number of parties at (trust me, that was a big deal). Sadly, we just didn’t click. "Snowy Park at Night"

One winter night, we were walking through a beautiful, empty, East Village park. The trees had ice on every branch so they sparkled in the lamp light, the ground was lightly dusted with snow, and there was a slight mist, so everything just seemed magical. I commented on the beauty and asked if he had to choose a way to describe it, what way would he choose? When he looked at me with consternation, I elaborated. Take a photo? Write a poem? Draw a picture? His face was blank, and he said something like, “Why would I want to do that?”  I let it go, but in that moment, I knew we were over. Zero. Imagination.

That’s the thing, someone can be good on paper, and not right for you in real life. When I first moved to LA, I met a guy on Halloween. I was, if you can stand it, at the Playboy Party – sadly, not at the Mansion. I met a guy dressed in a full superhero costume. Afro wig. Tights. Mask. The whole deal. He was pretty funny so I gave him my number. We talked a couple of times on the phone and then met for a date. This sounds ridiculous, but when I saw him again, out of costume, I was disappointed.

Rick Eades,

I was disappointed not because he was unattractive, but because he was too attractive. Too chiseled. To generically handsome. I guess I’d gotten it into my head that he was this quirky dude, and this guy was not what I expected. But I thought to myself, Really Leigh? He’s too handsome?! Get a grip! At dinner I found out he was not only an ex-fighter pilot for the air force, but a Harvard Grad who lived at the beach and worked for a Hedge Fund. He had a motorcycle and took weekend trips to Palm Springs and Vegas. On paper he was perfect. In real life, I wasn’t sure if I was attracted to him. For our second date he invited me to a BBQ at a friend’s house. I drove to his place in Manhatten Beach thinking, Ok, this might be something… When I got there his house at the beach turned out to be a glorified frat he shared with multiple buddies. It was the kind of place you’d be afraid to walk barefoot or use the bathroom, not the place of a 30-something man. I was happy to leave it to go grocery shopping, until we got to the store and he was all, “Babe this” and “Hon, that”. “Grab the mustard, kay babe?” When did we become a long term couple? We’d skipped like 15 steps. By the time we got to his friend’s, he was acting like he couldn’t wait for our wedding and I was weirded out. When he got hammered and hit me with a “You can drive, right babe?”, I was done. On paper can be deceiving. I thought I could ignore the lack of chemistry by focusing on his credentials and, subsequently, looking at me on paper, he thought he could just plop me into the girlfriend box. It doesn’t work that way. When he leaned in to kiss me that night, I put my hand in front of my face and high fived him. I think I actually said, “High Five!” It was pretty awkward. I never saw him again.

As a general rule, I think men should pay on a date. I know we’re liberated and all that, but I’d advise you to still pick up the tab. It’s old school, but classy, and chicks dig it. Don’t go broke dating a girl, or try to impress her with expensive places or gifts. Sometimes too fancy/expensive is a turn off in itself. It comes off as needy. Thoughtful gifts almost always trump pricey ones, and if you don’t have the cash don’t pretend you do. Just don’t be stingy with your attention or your  wallet. Cheap is unattractive.

Consider your date’s interests. See what she likes before making plans. Never show up with the thoughtless, “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”  Take charge. Just be sure not to push or try too hard. I dated a guy that always had to plan a big thing. A grand gesture. Going to see Rent and then going to the top of the Empire State Building. Tour of the Hudson on a riverboat and then dinner at some swanky place. He was more into showing off than getting to know me. I told him I wasn’t ready to be committed. I was. I just wasn’t ready to be committed to him.

Don’t get wasted on a date. At least not alone. If you’re out having a ball and you’re both buzzed, fine. Just don’t get sloppy (try and avoid this whether you’re on a date or not). Don’t get her wasted to make things easier. It’s obvious and weak. Earn the action you want, don’t try and trick her into it.

Jon Pratt Photo

I went to the movies with a guy in Montreal once who hadn’t bothered to check the times, so we were an hour and a half early. We went to a pub and he proceeded to order 6 shots of tequila. I didn’t want tequila but he didn’t care. I did one shot, to placate him and stop the barrage of “Don’t be a pussy“, and he did the other 5. He proceeded to get in a fight with a guy he claimed owed him money, made me write down the guy’s contact information, and ordered and drank 3 more beers. During the film he kept trying to grope me, and when the movie was over he ended up screaming at me on the street because I’d had the audacity to hold the door for him. His arm was in a sling from a rugby injury and, in his mind, I was trying to emasculate him by treating him like an invalid. I told him he wasn’t an invalid, he was an idiot. I never saw him again either.

Be on time. This is a good rule for life. Promptness is both appreciated and respected. I wasn’t so great with being on time growing up, so I’m putting more emphasis on it now. If you’re going to be late, let the other person know. There is no excuse for not doing it in the cell phone age. And if you are late, for goodness sakes, apologize. I once went on a date with a guy I’d met shooting a deep sea fishing television pilot. (Don’t ask) I was one of the only people that didn’t barf on the very rough sea. For this reason, and this reason alone, I came off as more attractive than my model costar. All 5’10” of her Swedish body was literally green. My future date was a friend of the producer financing the shoot. We made plans to meet for dinner at a little Italian place in the West Village. I ended up sitting at a table in the window for 45 minutes drinking alone. No call. No text. Nothing. I was about to leave when he breezed though the door without the least bit of contrition. Everything in my body said, Get up. Go. Leave him with the bill. I wanted to say something cool like, “Ok, I’m glad you’re alive. I had too Pinot’s. Be sure to pay the man.” But did I do that? No. I let him talk me into staying for dinner where he proceeded to talk about himself for the whole evening. I knew I was better off not to return his calls after that.

If you’re on a date that isn’t working out, see it to the end, and then exit as politely as you can. Don’t extend it. Don’t go for drinks.  Don’t say you’ll call. Be kind and hit the road. If it’s just unbearably terrible – she’s a fall down drunk, or a racist, or crazy – then call a spade a spade and excuse yourself. “This isn’t really working out. I think we should call it a night.”

If you’re ending more than a date, do it with grace and class. Don’t use social media. Don’t have a friend do it. My first boyfriend – and I use the term loosely as I’m not sure if we were ever alone in the same room – had his best friend tell me he wanted to end it. Even as a 12-year-old I knew that was lame. At minimum, make the call yourself. In person’s better, but not without mess. My boyfriend from first year theatre school blindsided me with a a breakup in Central Park and I lost it. I acted like a crazy woman. I stumbled out of the park in a haze of tears. I’m sure the people on the subway thought someone had died. In my defense, I was in a pretty dramatic phase in my life and that breakup was a culmination of many bad breakups, so my reaction was a bit extreme. I was also devastated because he gave me no reason. It was just over.

Always try and give a reason. One she can learn from like “This is just too intense”. You’re basically saying, “You’re too intense” but in a way she can process and maybe learn from. Or give her one she can move on from like, “I don’t want to be in something serious right now” or “I have to concentrate on my work”. She’ll be sad but she can feel it wasn’t her, and she can’t fix it or change your mind because it’s not up for negotiation. Just be compassionate. Being dumped hurts like hell. Do it as nicely as possible, just make sure you do it. I dated a guy for 2 months that literally left my apartment one morning and just stopped talking to me. Nothing had happened. It was just as if we’d never met. At least, by that time in my life, I had the foresight to tell him off when I ran into him on the street months later. I was calm and concise. I told him he handled what had happened with us ‘badly’. I said next time he shouldn’t be such a coward, and just have the balls to tell the girl it’s over instead of just running away. His mouth was hanging open as I walked away. It was a great moment.

If you’re the one getting dumped – and I’m sorry you are – it’s the same thing. Have dignity, class and balls. Never argue or debate their decision. It’s made. Challenging it only makes you look desperate and doesn’t improve your chances of getting back together, if that’s what you want. My first boyfriend in NY dumped me out of the blue after we’d seen each other, at his insistence, every day for 3 months straight. He’d invited me away for the weekend to meet his mom, but I had to work. When he got back he told me he “needed space”. I acted cool, like it was totally normal that he’d asked to go away to meet his mother and now wasn’t sure if we should be together. When we had lunch about a week later, I brought him a postcard of the Grand Canyon. I thought I was being light and funny. That’s space isn’t it? But it was already over. I’m glad I acted cool, but I regret not asking some questions. What had changed? Why was he doing this? It wouldn’t have altered the outcome but I could have saved me months of wondering.

If you’re in a relationship enjoy it. Who cares if your friends ride you for being AWOL for a while. They’ll get you back eventually. Relationships, especially new relationships, are so exciting. Being wrapped up in love is the best. Just remember there’s a whole world out there, and once you surface from the initial haze, broaden your horizons.

If you get to a point in the relationship that you feel like straying, have the courtesy to break up with her first. I only cheated on one boyfriend. I knew it wasn’t going to work out long term, and when I met this other guy, I thought I’d see where it went before I made any changes. Essentially, I hedged my bets. My boyfriend was away most weekends so I started casually dating the other to see if it was something worth breaking up for. The affair imploded – as things tend to do when you’re not being honest – and I stayed with my boyfriend for another 3 months, but it was never the same. I had one foot out the door and should have just ended it when my affections had strayed. It doesn’t work out much better when you’re the “cheatee”. I’ve been the ‘other woman’ a couple of times and it’s sexy for a moment, and then it’s just depressing. One guy’s girlfriend lived across the country and we’d never met. As far as I was concerned she didn’t exist. But it was almost as if he was just filling his time with me till he could be with her. It made me feel used and shi**y. The other time I thought I’d found my soul mate our connection was so strong. I truly believed he’d leave her for me. He did leave her, but for one of the other girls he was fooling around with. I was heartbroken…and stupid. Affairs only lead to pain. In the world of dating if you find yourself about to cheat, hold off. It’s much more fun if you’re both available. Maybe not as sexy, secrets can be hot, but definitely more worthwhile.

One last note on cheating: I’m of the belief that if you cheat, it’s on you. You’re the one who screwed up, so you should be the one to suffer. People confess to alleviate their own guilt, but it only serves to hurt the person who did nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve the pain. Don’t rub your dalliance in their face. If you cheat or want to cheat, accept the obvious – the relationship is probably over – and be mature enough to end it. In a long term relationship like a marriage, my opinions on this issue are slightly less cut and dry. But sufficed to say, I’m anti-cheating.

When dating be confident. No girl wants a guy she can push around. Flexible, but not whipped. Girls like puppy dogs but they don’t respect them. Be honest with what you like – food, movies, people, interests – but also about how you feel – regarding issues, behavior, and feelings.  Be yourself. Have, and be proud of, your opinions and if she doesn’t get you, f*$# her. Her loss.

Dating and love are exciting. Sometimes painful, but for the most part pretty awesome. Every new person teaches you something about what you want, and what you don’t want. What you need, and what you like. What works for you, and what doesn’t. When I finally found your Dad, it was easy for me to get married. I’d done single, and I’d done it well. I didn’t need to wonder what else was out there or if I was doing the right thing. I knew. I knew because I’d done the work. I knew the landscape and I could say with all certainty this was a good plan. I believe it can work if you marry young, or marry your high school/college sweetheart, I just think it’s those couples who are more likely to wonder what they missed, or be the ones pining for the things they never got to do. I got to do them. It was fun. It was painful. It was wild, and then it was over. On the first date with your Dad I turned the page and understood that one chapter was closed, and another one was beginning. And I was ready.

Enjoy the ride until you’re ready.

I love you.

xo your mama

The exact moment your Dad proposed. Taken from a video camera your Dad hid in the trees..

Marriage: A Recommendation and Disclaimer

Dear Loch,

Upon rereading my post about how to be a man, I realized that it was, in many ways, a love letter to your father. He is a marvelous man and someone I am so very grateful to have in my life. I am a big believer in marriage. It’s not for everyone, but it was definitely for us, and something I truly wish for you. Finding someone that you want to share your life with is one of the greatest gifts you could ever have. Someone who’s lived your history and is part of your memories. Someone who, at the end, knows you were here. Someone for whom you truly mattered. But lest you think it’s all puppy dogs and rainbows, I want you to know that it’s not just get married, happily ever after, that’s it, the end.

I once MC-ed a friend’s wedding and in my speech I said that marriage is like picking the person you want to spend the rest of your life in a car with. You don’t road trip with just anyone. You have to really like a person to do that. The road will have it’s ups and downs, you’ll go through good weather and bad, you’ll be lost then find your way, you’d stay in some great places and some where the water doesn’t work, people will join you for a while and then they’ll be gone. To navigate that kind of trip properly you have to like the same things but not be the same person and you have to truly enjoy and accept the other’s company because after all the games are played, the magazines read and the radio’s off, it’s just the two of you forever, and that’s not something to be taken lightly. Lately, I feel like marriage in general, is up for debate. Should gay couples be given the same right to marry as straight ones? My answer is yes. Should it be harder to get out of a marriage so people take getting into it more seriously?  I’d answer a provisional yes. Should you be able to be married to more than one person at the same time? I’d go with no. And are same sex marriages undermining the state of marriage? No, straight celebrity marriages are. I’m talking to you Kim Kardashian/Britney Spears/Renee Zellwiger…

If you find someone you want to marry – truly spend your life with, not, we’ll see how it goes –  then treat it with respect. It’s not about the wedding. A beautiful wedding does not a beautiful marriage make. Don’t get me wrong, a fabulous day that celebrates you as a couple is a wonderful way to spend your money, but you still have to work on the marriage itself. When Dad and I got married (June 22, 2005) lots of people asked us why not just take the money we would spend on one day and use it for something more practical like the down payment on a house. That never occurred to us. We really wanted that day. Our day. And we never regretted it. To be able to make those promises to each other in front of our family and friends was so special for us. On my death bed, whenever that may be, I won’t be patting myself on the back for my practicality but reliving my most wonderful memories, and my wedding (and subsequent honeymoon) is  right up there on that list.

Our wedding party in our “Vanity Fair” shot. Shot by Wedding Day Memories, Toronto.

It’s that memory. That day. That look you see on bride and groom’s faces that says “Oh my God we’re really doing this…” The way your relationship feels different after, no matter how long you’d been together before. It’s that legal and, if you believe it, spiritual bind that makes you truly family, truly an “Us” that makes marriage so special. Subsequently it’s that same feeling that makes same sex marriage a no brainer to me. Someone Granny’s age once said to me, “But why do they have to get married? They have all the same rights…” I responded with, “Why did I have to get married? Why did you?”. It’s different to be married. It means something different. It’s the ultimate statement of love and commitment and if you feel that way and are really willing to put your hands in and do the work you should be allowed to. No matter who it is you want to marry.

The thing is being married is no joke. It’s hard bloody work. It’s changing your pronoun from me to we. And though I’d advocate retaining your own identity within your marriage, you can no longer make decisions just for yourself and that’s hard adjustment to make. Your choices directly affect one another. You can’t just do what’s best for you. I’d hazard to say that’s why so many celebrity marriages fail.

Didn’t Work. As Scarlett rightfully said, she just wasn’t willing to settle in and “do the work”.

When you’re a celebrity or married to your job, you live in a world where you are #1. In a celebrity’s case you have a team of people behind you who’s livelihood depends on your success. People who put their jobs first find they can’t just scrap it all based on what’s best for the marriage. They have to stay on their game. Do what the job asks of them and not what the marriage needs from them. Subsequently the marriage falters. Living in a different city than your spouse? Never going to work. Both people trying to be #1? Never going to work. For a marriage to succeed there has to be give and take. And that means one person has to give. It doesn’t always have to be the same person but it always has to be someone. You can’t be both looking out for yourself. It just doesn’t work that way.

Worked. She adjusted and took a back seat to his career. It’s a tough gig but worth it. Just ask Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward.

Your father’s dream is to be a successful actor. When we met I was also an actor. Watching him go in and out of auditions with such confidence and success is one of the reasons I changed paths. He was loving it and I was becoming a neurotic mess worried about my hair and age and wrinkles. And when we decided to get married there just seemed like one too many actors in the family. At the time I likened it to being in Vegas where one of you is on a hot streak and the other is losing all their money. It just made sense for me to cash in my chips and give them to Sean. He had a better chance of winning for the both of us.

The trouble is, that was 8 years ago and though your father continues to earn a living as an actor, he still hasn’t “made it” and we struggle. We struggle to pay our bills. We struggle with my A type ambition and lack of “career”. We struggle with my realism vs. his “it’ll all work out” optimism. We struggle with my being sick and his having to earn almost all our income alone. We struggle when he’s away working one of his 3 jobs (on top of acting) and not seeing him enough. We struggle when he is home and working on one of the projects he hopes will take over from the side jobs, and we don’t see him enough. We struggle with the lack of time left in the day for me to get my dreams off the ground. We struggle with our fiery personalities and the fact that with 2 actors in the household someone always has the ability to get a little dramatic…

Baby, for all the great love your dad and I share, tying your life to another’s is a struggle. It’s worth it in our case, but it’s NOT EASY. When you were very little and we’d fight you’d scream. It upset us so much. We said we shouldn’t fight in front of you, but we weren’t so good at that. Now that you’re older you act like a little referee. You come into the room and if we’re raising our voices (which, despite our best efforts, we do often) you tell us to take a “Time Out”. I told you you could do that. I thought it might give you a sense of control when you might be feeling nervous about Daddy and me. It works. You like bossing us around and it gives us a chance to cool down. Your dad and I have a tendency to get on a bit of a train that neither of us can stop and our fights often escalate because of it. Having a period away from each other can help keep things in perspective. Sometimes, however, we don’t heed your advice and we keep at each other until we are both exhausted. That’s the thing, fighting is exhausting. I also think it can be healthy. We stopped trying to hide our disagreements from you for that reason. Is it pleasant? No. Does show you the truth of life? Yes. If you believed your parents never fought and then you got into a relationship and inevitably ended up fighting, you might say, “Well, this isn’t working. My parents never argued. This obviously isn’t the right person for me.” But if you see us fighting, then compromising, then understanding and then finally hearing and accepting each other you learn something much different. If we were parents that fought dirty, undermined each other and called each other names then perhaps you would just be learning nothing more than how to be cruel. But, for all your father and my bluster, we always work it through. We always come back to the table. We always end with love and that, in all it’s imperfection, is worth knowing.

And the things you fight about in a relationship are not all big things. More often than not is about dumb, everyday things like how you load the dishwasher. Sure, money, or our lack there of, is our biggest source of tension, but our most recent fight was about our cable provider. Dad wanted to switch and I didn’t. Everytime we switch something always goes wrong and we end up switching back. I wanted to avoid the anxiety and quite frankly I liked it all the way it was. I understood and could use it – and we have like 6 remote controls so that’s saying something. But the savings was $100/m, and I couldn’t in all good conscience say no, even though I really, really wanted to. The TV is my domain (your Dad’s more of a video gaming computer relaxer) so I’m a little testy about anything to do with it anyway.

So… we switched, and it broke down like this: Cable guy shows up and it’s not what they promised on the phone. We aren’t getting what we thought but are assured it’ll be “just as good”. The modem they install is faulty so they have to send us another one. The one they send us is different and doesn’t fit with the parts they’d installed. They have to send a technician to fix it. We go without cable, internet and phone service for 3 days. (Our cell phones don’t work in our house without our modem so we were really SOL). I stayed home from 8-12 to wait for a technician who never shows and when we call, they tell us that when they said “tomorrow” on Monday the person we spoke to was in INDIA and “tomorrow” actually meant Wednesday. I wait again the next day from 8-12. By the time I could actually turn on the TV, I found that my shows were now being broadcast with black bars on either side like I had a TV from 1987. When your Dad told me that was an SD channel and I had to find the HD channel to watch my show without the bars, I lost it. I told him I didn’t want to find it. I didn’t want to think this hard or try and relearn a whole new system that made me feel as technologically inept as my mother. I told him I was infuriated that I could no longer work the DVD player which was now his X-BOX and who’s controller felt like an alien in my hand. I went crazy and he was defensive and we subsequently lost it on each other. Terrible. Hideous. Behavior. 4 hours and multiple texts and phone calls later we realized that all he needed to say was, “I’ll fix it” and all I needed to say was, “Great, thank you” and the rest was just noise. But that’s the kind of noise you deal with when you tie your life to someone else. If I was single I’d just get the TV I liked and be done with it. But I’m not, so now I have to play You’ve Got Mail like I’m setting up for Modern Warfare 3 and do it with a smile on my face.

I think if we fought about major things like the way we treated each other or how to raise you it would be different, but for the most part we fight about ridiculous things like emptying the garbages (this never gets done) or opening the curtains (which is a must for me in the morning and for your father is a, justifiably, obscure and irrelevant issue). At the end of the day you have to put the relationship first. Is it more important to be right or to be happy? Does it really matter that I have to open the curtains? No. Shouldn’t I just be happy he makes the bed? Probably. This is not to say you should just roll over in a marriage, you should just ask yourself what’s best for it and try and make your decisions accordingly.

Your Dad and I talk about everything. Years ago when I was maybe 14 or 15, I was eating with Granny and Granddad in the dining room table and Granddad finished, thanked Granny for dinner and got up to leave. I told him (in the cheeky way that only a child can) that if he was going to leave the table first it would be great if he cleared. He didn’t even bat an eyelash. He was like, ok, sure. And he took our plates so Granny and I could keep talking. You could have knocked Granny over with a feather. After, she expressed how she couldn’t believe I’d said what I’d said, and more so, she couldn’t believe how easily Granddad had complied. I told her at the time – and have told her many times since about my own marriage – if you don’t ask for it, how will you ever get it? You have to say what you want. Don’t secretly seethe for 30 years that someone doesn’t do what you think they should. Everything is a compromise but most things are much simpler than we give them credit for. If the compromises are too big then maybe that’s not the right person for you anyway.

For all the difficulties that come with marriage there are also so many amazing things. To truly feel like part of a team. To have that kind of trust. It’s priceless. I read an article in Vanity Fair a couple of years ago about a classic old Hollywood star, her husband, her lover and her husband’s lover all vacationing together in the 1940’s. Sean and I discussed it. Affairs vs. Open Marriages. What works. What doesn’t. And what it came down to – after a very lively “what if” discussion – is that we wouldn’t want to mess with what we have. That any short term pleasure could never compare with the long term security and unity we have with each other. That even knowingly accepting that breech of trust would be like poisoning the well and it wasn’t worth it. Committing yourself to one person for the rest of your life is hard but it makes it so much easier to know that all your feelings, and all you are, are accepted within that relationship. Nothing is taboo. Nothing is off the table. Anything is possible but everything is not necessary. We also discovered we wanted to take more vacations together.

Your Dad and I have made a pact to get remarried every 5 years. It’s fun. We get to have a different kind of wedding and re-commit to each other and remind ourselves of why we got married in the first place. It’s not for other people. It’s just for us. On our 5th Anniversary we renewed our vows in Vegas. Elvis did the ceremony in a total of 4 and a half minutes (no joke, we have a DVD) and though we laughed through the whole thing saying the vows again meant something totally different 5 years later just as it will 10, 15, 40 years later. When you first start out you think everything is going to be perfect. Life isn’t perfect. For richer for poorer means more now. So does in sickness and in health.

Our Vegas Wedding for our 5th! Just us, Elvis and the guy who took the pics, Dave.

Marriage is a journey and you have to celebrate your triumphs because not everyday is good. A couple that had been married for 60 some odd years was asked the secret of a lasting marriage and they said that neither had fallen out of love at the same time. That’s the thing. There’s ebbs and flows. You just have to keep growing and changing together. Encourage and help each other to become the best possible version of yourselves. Don’t swallow your feelings and be willing to trench it out to get to the other side of an issue. Keep working and keep finding new ways to respect and love the other. There are times when, at the end of the day your dad sits beside me on the bed and we just look at each other. As corny as it sounds, there is a stillness in his eyes. A calm I don’t have on my own and one I absolutely couldn’t live without. I’m safe with him. I’m happy. I’m cherished. I’m not alone. And that is worth everything.

Find it for yourself angel. Find it and don’t let go.

xo Mrs. McGowan (your mom)