This life lesson entry is something I’ve spent the last five (almost six) years learning about. Yes, that’s right: home ownership.*
I mean, marriage. Marriage, marriage, marriage.
I’m no expert, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a marriage guru (is that even a thing?)or wedding expert or whatever a specialist in this field is called. But I am a wifey. And I have a great husband. And I figured that with my little bro less than a month away from marrying his beautiful fiancée Christine, now was the perfect time to talk about what makes a marriage work.
And so, without further ado, let’s consult a REAL expert: nine-year-old Jess.
“I hope several things happen this year. One, I want more adventure. Two, to be listened to. Three, to be proposed to. And also, I want a pet pig.”
I have some notes.
Young Jess: you live in Malvern. Your life is an adventure! Every day, you walk to school not really knowing what’s going to happen. Sure, not a LOT happens during the day (except the shootings as you get older…but don’t worry about that presently)…but nighttimes are crazily unpredictable! This is why you sleep with a cup of hot water by your bed every night.** Don’t wish for more adventure. Cope with what you’ve got already.
Also, no one listens to you because you’re kind of weird and also only nine. Nine-year-olds aren’t exactly subject experts on anything except, like, scented markers and stickers or whatever kids are into these days (iPads?).
And the pig? You don’t know how much damn work a pig would be. Theoretically, they’re adorable. But they get bigger! The daily food bills alone would cost more than you make in allowance in a year. I mean, unless you get one of those little teacup pigs, in which case…OK, I see your point. They are darling.
Now about the proposal thing.
Weird as it is, I can explain why nine-year-old me had wedding bells ringing in her ears. It’s all about the Anne. Of Green Gables, that is. I was desperate to find my Gilbert Blythe. I KNEW he was waiting for me somewhere in The Big Park near Empringham.*** So I figured that if I put my desire for a proposal out there in the universe, maybe it would happen (note: this was many years before The Secret became a big deal, so I was probably totally ahead of my time).
It did not.
I did, however, succeed in making my friend Chris feel TOTALLY UNCOMFORTABLE at his birthday party by basically telling him he should marry me ASAP. I was eight at the time. He fell off his chair. I can’t say as I blame him. Would YOU want to marry this face?
Yeah. No. (Except Karl. He would. I mean, he did. And the face was moderately improved, so…I guess he’s got OK taste after all.)
Anyway, marriage has always been something I figured I’d do. I actually assumed I’d have a husband, but I never did any of the ‘act out the wedding ceremony with my stuffies’ thing. In fact, wishes of pig ownership and early matrimony aside, nine-year-old Jess was extremely practical with her approach to life. For instance:
“If I won a million dollars, I’d pay off the mortgage and car. And then use the rest for wants and needs.”
I shit you not. I wrote that.
Of course, later in that diary the writing prompt was “What was your worst punishment?” and I said, “I hate it when they stuff my head in the blender and then turn it on!”
So, you know. Grain of salt.
But back to marriage! It’s great. It’s fun. I’m incredibly lucky. Karl is a keeper in every single way. Examples? I have them!
He’s great for bouncing creative ideas off of. OH! And for educating me about nerd culture. In this frame, I’m guessing that one of his action figures is called “Captain Snowsuit” and he’s telling me it’s actually some dude from Star Wars or whatever.
So even though I was 99% sure Karl was the best person for me, I wanted to know if there was any one thing I should know in order to make my marriage happy. Right before I got married, I asked around to find out what people figured the key to a long and happy marriage was. I heard many opinions, but the one that stuck with me was from my wise old dad: keep your sense of humour. Above all else, do not be afraid to laugh at yourself and try to find the absurdity in the situation. Most things aren’t as dire as we perceive.
Some are, but most aren’t.
So, after almost 6 years, I can attest to this wisdom. And add to it! Here’s what I want to say to my little brother and my future sister-in-law:
Brother! How are you old enough to be getting married? Aren’t you fifteen in the basement scaring the shit out of me with Myst? (Question: why was it always dark and the sound effects were so good? WHAT WAS WITH THE FOOTSTEPS?) Anyway, you’re older than I think you are. I know, intellectually, that you’re thirty-something and a doctor of philosophy and a professor and whatnot…but in my head, you’re still my little brother.
First, I just want you to know that I’m super proud of the person you are. You’re smart, you’re funny and you’re always the one I want to turn to for a classic eyeroll/squinty side- eye when Mom says something questionable (which is, like, every other sentence…amiright?). Second, way to go with Christine! She’s a kind, sweet, smart person. And she loves you! And you her! And you got a super-cute kitty cat in the deal. So now you’re getting married and that’s terrific.
Allow your (slightly) older sister to impart the knowledge she’s gained in her five (almost six!) years of marriage:
- Humour is important. I see you and Christine busting each other and it warms my heart. It’s so key to a good marriage. A drama-free marriage is the best. The stuff that will throw you for a loop is plentiful and unexpected, so there’s no need to have anything but a loving, slightly goofy relationship to fall back on. Be each other’s rocks.
- Without trust, you have nothing. This is the truest thing ever. If you fully trust your partner, you’re good to go. Don’t lose that trust. It’s invaluable.
- It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree on all the little stuff (read: what movies are best, what music to listen to on road trips…Karl), as long as you’re painting the same big picture.
- Don’t stop appreciating the little things. It’s so easy to fall into a routine, but try your best not to take your partner for granted. Even if it’s a simple kindness, like an acrostic poem featuring their best traits, or a papier mache bust, they’ll appreciate it.
- Surprise each other. Spoil each other sometimes. It makes the everyday more exciting. But remember the stuff your partner doesn’t like being surprised with. Because those kinds of surprises are the opposite of what you’re going for.
- Do something kind for someone else together. It’ll make you both happy. And a third person, too!
- I know I don’t have to say this one, but I will anyway: don’t judge your marriage on anyone’s but your own/don’t let anyone’s opinion of your marriage colour your own thoughts. You are a grand couple and your marriage will work for you. You guys know each other best and you’re the best for each other. Other people are great, but their experiences are different from yours.
- Sometimes make the food AND do the dishes AND clean the kitchen. In other words, give your partner a break. This also applies to sleeping in.
So, in conclusion, I think you crazy kids are a dynamic duo. You’re adorable together and you have the most Hello Kitty products of anyone I know. You could always open a Hello Kitty museum, if you wanted to! I wish you nothing but the very best. Years of love, happiness, travel, good times, dreams being made into reality and lots and lots of cuddles with Tanooki. Enjoy each other, love each other and don’t forget to trek up to the ‘bridge now and then to see your parents and sister and her little fam. We love you and we couldn’t be happier for you. Welcome to the family, Christine! Ken, keep being the awesome human you are.
Marriage! It’s better than pig ownership. By a long shot.
I feel like I’m going to use this graphic a lot more than I initially figured I would.
*Home ownership= having your water pipe explode and flood your basement and then send you into early labour the day after. Then having your water heater explode and ruin the very basement that was JUST FIXED BECAUSE OF THE EFFING PIPE. Also, painting. A lot of painting.
** My theory was this: if some burglar breaks in and tries to…I don’t know, steal my music stand and trumpet or something, I would douse him with hot water. Which would…slow him momentarily? Enrage him further? And yes, I do realize that if he had broken into my house even ten minutes after I went to bed, he would only be slightly dampened with lukewarm-to-room-temperature water. And that would DEFINITELY further enrage him, probably causing him to smash my soap collection before he stormed back out the window, trumpet and stand in hand. And yes, I collected soaps of different shapes and scents. Judge away, Judgey McJudgerson.
***Note: he was not.