Tag Archives: marriage

Tommy Gets Married; Thoughts About Love, Commitment and Proactively Washing Dishes

My co-blogger Thomas Cooksey got married this past Friday. The wedding had the usual wedding stuff like vows, speeches, prayers, food, wine, friends, kisses, and at the core of it all, a husband and a wife. But it was all done at a very high level here, which is really all you can ask from a wedding. The rituals are nice, but any five year old can draw a picture. It takes care and execution to make art. And that’s the unusual wedding stuff like sincerity, some risky jokes, poignancy, chicken and waffle appetizers, generous pours, friends, passion, and at the core of it all, honest-to-God true love.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about commitment. Two weddings in 24 hours will do that. I mean, if half of marriages are ending in divorce, then it’s reasonable to say that commitment, while maybe not more valuable, is certainly more rare than love, possibly more precious. It’s odd that commitment requires something like death to be proven. They put that “death do us part” right there in the middle of vows, and that grim certainty is really the best case scenario. It’s probably the weirdest thing about commitment, that you pray you never have to prove the “for worse” part even as you vow it. Love is easy by comparison. Love is warm meals, comforting hugs, and good sex. Commitment is something else. It’s like an airbag. You hope that you always get to just assume it works. And maybe it’s ultimately like a fighter saying they’ve given all they had. That last punch had better of knocked you out, or how do you know? Any other loss means you could have done things differently.

I don’t think people like thinking about that side of marriage. And I don’t blame them. But most of life exists as a string of contingency preparations. I make a lunch in the morning for a hunger I’ll feel at noon. I place a portion of my paycheck into a retirement account for when I’m too old to want/need to earn more. I change my car’s oil, make insurance payments, wash my clothes, go to the gym, and do a million other mundane activities so that my life can move along smoothly and I don’t have to think thoughts like, “Am I going to die with a heart full of regret?” That’s what real commitment has to be, maintenance to prevent breakdown. That’s real passion, staving off the rust. Ambition often looks like fear, because success isn’t that different from non-failure.

Five years ago, I know I didn’t like those ideas very much. But that’s just the procrastinator in me, the same kid who would eat cereal out of a Tupperware container instead of proactively washing his dishes. Nowadays, the idea of process actually seems more sensible, and in some ways, romantic. Save $1,000 a month or win the lottery. They can both make you a millionaire, but only one of them is your creation. Pushing chocolates, fixing dinners, walking the dog. A hundred actions repeated over thousands of days to keep the machine running. Walks to prevent heart failure. Long walks with conversation to prevent failures of the heart.

A couple years ago, Thomas Cooksey had this picture as the banner of his Facebook page:

I’ve known Tommy a while now, and I think it’s safe to say that he gets it. He’s probably always understood this thing that took me running out of Tupperware several times to understand. For that, buddy, I’m proud of you, and I wish you and Annie both the best.

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Preparing Against Failure: A Complete, Iron-Clad, Pre-Marital Checklist

I was recently, randomly, and mostly against my will, forced to think about marriage.  A coworker of mine (who will remain unnamed because the following conversation makes us both look like tards), asked me if I was ready to get married.  As I typically do with overwhelmingly important topics, I gaffed at it by saying, “Not a chance.”  A salesman born, my colleague followed up by restating, “But she’s the right one?”  Why, nameless colleague? Why?

“I guess if I knew the answer to that, I’d be ready to get married.”  Case closed.

What bothered me about this exchange wasn’t the personal nature of the topic (I actually love getting over-personal), it was the complete lack of criteria within which the conversation took place.  Am I ready?  Is she right?  Those sound like questions that will be better-fielded by future Dusty, no matter when they’re asked.  Oddly enough, the defining statement related to this “hindsight is 20/20” mindset came from my current girlfriend who opined, “You never truly know someone until they do the thing you thought they’d never do.”  In other words, you will never know if you made a bad decision until it’s too late.  High-quality and completely unhelpful truth bomb from my lady friend.  There aren’t enough clit-lit questionnaires to tell a woman when that will happen, and I don’t even know where a man references these kinds of relational queries.  My thoughts on sound relational decisions?  Nothing premeditated unfortunately. When I’m selling or advising, I often try to work in the question, “What’s your process for evaluating important decisions in your life?”  The irony is that I have no such process for anything, especially something like marriage.

Until now.

I’m going to give you the ultimate, unsubstantiated, pre-marital checklist from the male perspective.  If you can agree with 100% of the statements below, then you’re with the right girl, and you’re ready.  Before reading this list, it’s important for you to remember that I’m 26-years-old with nearly zero life experience.  I’m like Will Hunting with the brain of a normal person.  That disclaimer aside, there’s no way this checklist shouldn’t be a mandatory questionnaire during pre-marital counseling (also, this is written for a straight man, or the “butch” looking to be in a gay pseudo-marriage).

  • You’ve had at least 37 make-out sessions lasting over 15 seconds
  • You knocked those out in the first 45 days of dating
  • She doesn’t hate animals
  • You don’t hate animals (or if you do, you plan to never have children)
  • ŸYou and her see eye-to-eye on the “kids” thing
  • You’ve met her parents, and they’re tolerableŸ
  • She doesn’t revert into a pre-teen drama queen around said parents (ie. “deal-breaking revertigo”)
  • You farted in front of her before she ever farted in front of you
  • She thinks Archer is a funny television show
  • She at least pretends to enjoy watching your favorite sports team between 5-10 times per year
  • She cooks
  • On general topics, she has requests instead of demands (if someone “demands” that the toilet paper roll faces a certain direction, they don’t know how to value another human being)
  • You’ve stood by her as she went through a crisis
  • ŸShe stood by you as you went through a crisis
  • She doesn’t force you to watch shows on the CW (unless you want to, then that’s different)
  • You don’t lie to her about enjoying things like CW shows to appease her
  • You don’t lie to her
  • She doesn’t park in handicap spots
  • She’s frustrated that Two and Half Men was ever popular
  • She was never agnostic for longer than 4 years. That’s just not trying
  • You haven’t bought a video game in 6 months
  • You know what an emergency fund is and have actually funded it
  • She finds you interesting
  • Honestly, she actually is super-interested by your personality
  • You checked both those boxes above
  • Neither you nor her thought this was credible in any way

Helping you get out of your own way,
Dusty “The Real Hitch” Riedesel