Wednesday, June 12, 2013

7 Easy Steps to a Crappy Marriage!

Lots of books and blogs have been dedicated to helping people have happy and successful marriages but what about those masochists out there who enjoy struggling and beating their head against the wall?  Well, I have a handful of easy things you can do that will be guaranteed to make you and your spouse miserable and best of all they are things we all do naturally on our own.  The key is keeping your focus in the right place and you won't be burdened by peace or fulfillment ever again.

1.  Focus on your own needs and desires - Make sure you take every opportunity you can to let your spouse know how they are failing you on a regular basis in case they forgot how inept at marriage they are.  Describe in detail what it would look like if they were to fulfill all of your wildest dreams and desires, feel free to reference your friend's spouses, exes, or even your parent who did things the right way.  The good part is if you each are focusing completely on your own needs and desires then you'll be too busy to actually meet the other person's needs.  It's like each of you writing out a super long wishlist for Christmas gifts and then giving them to each other instead of any actual gifts - imagine the disappointment potential!

2.  Focus on their flaws - Sure you have much more of an ability to change things in yourself than someone else, but honestly, who wants to take time looking at their own junk when there is so much to point out in your spouse?  The great part is this is super easy as, unless you are a priest and are married to Jesus, you have a sinful flawed human being in your house who screws up on a regular basis.  Pointing out when they mess up is as easy as pointing out when they breathe.  If you ever get around to fully chronicling and categorizing all of their shortcomings you can start looking at yourself, but honestly you could spend a lifetime just studying every nuance of their failure.

3.  You can't have too much criticism - Don't just hold all of that frustration about their flaws inside, make sure you say it loud and proud and remember tone of voice and timing are important here.  Make sure they are already in a foul mood or even better wait until the middle of an argument to start airing your grievances.  Also whenever possible make sure you criticize them in front of others, like at a dinner party you could publicly humiliate your spouse for extra points or do that fun thing where you act like you are talking to your kids but your are really making a jab at your spouses character like "Now Johnny, I sure hope when you grow up you get a great job so you don't have to live in squalor like we do, thanks to your lazy dad" or "Suzy, you need to ask with manners, you don't want to grow up and be an ill-tempered dictator like your mom do you?"  Make sure you disregard anything that might lead you to develop appreciation as that can throw the whole thing off, best to filter every bit of data recording all they do poorly and deleting all they do well.

4.  Never, ever let it go - When people tell you not to keep score in marriage they are trying to throw you off so you won't be able to win, because winning means remembering every single offense in vivid detail.  Keep a secret journal of when the last time you had sex was or take pictures of messy spots around the house to shame them on Facebook.  Rookies start with the very first thing their spouse ever did to hurt them and catalog everything moving forward, but if you want to do it right you can use stuff from before you ever met them like how they grew up, mistakes they made in other relationships, you can even count offenses from other people if you lump them into categories like "Men are always..." or "Women aren't happy unless..."  Don't forget anything and definitely don't forgive anything because you are likely morally superior to them in every way and don't need grace yourself.  You'll become bitter and apathetic, dying from the inside out and they will start seeing the entire relationship through your resentful glasses as well so it is a gift that keeps on giving.

5.  Make sure you keep a fixed mindset - Everyone knows you are either just naturally good or marriage or you aren't, you can't learn how to be a better spouse or how to better love them and they definitely can't change either.  You are who you are, women have been that way going back ten generations and it's your god-given right as a man to talk like that from time to time.  Throw out things like "You just need to love me the way I am" so you don't have to see change as a possibility.  Give them a mixed message of complaining about stuff wanting it to change, but attacking their character at the same time so they know they are really just too stupid, lazy, or morally bankrupt to ever pull it off anyway.  It's not like people can learn and become better at things so what applies to school, sports, hobbies, and the rest of life has to apply here as well - you are either born with it or you aren't.

6. Don't ever let the blame fall on you - It's like a fun game of hot potato where you can point fingers back and forth until the other person is stumped or runs out of ways to redirect fault.  Since most marital problems are circular instead of linear in that they just keep looping in cycles the fun really never has to end.  Don't ever apologize or even hint at the possibility that you might share some responsibility, its like being a good negotiator you have to start at the far extreme and when you get worked down to the middle it makes them feel like they got something when they really didn't.

7. Give your spouse exactly what they deserve - This one is key, and can't be repeated enough.  Marriage isn't a place for mercy, grace, or understanding, the most important thing you can fight for is fairness.  Before you decide to do something nice for them make sure they have done enough nice things for you, but if they aren't meeting all of your needs then make sure you withhold some things from them or else it will never be fair.  If she is being critical and nagging then just stay late and work and ignore her, if he is raising his voice in conflict just get louder, don't just get mad, get even!  Getting your spouse whipped into shape is like training a dog, don't bother with the positive reinforcement and don't reward anything other than perfection on the first try - heavy handed punishment is the key.  If they hurt you, make sure you hurt them back a little more, it's in the Bible that we are supposed to gouge out someone's eye if they poke ours right?  This creates a place where perfect people deserve a perfect spouse but the rest of us shouldn't get any breaks, and so the marriage will be fine until the first person has a bad day or makes a mistake and then, like dominoes, everything else will come crashing down.  Nobody deserves love, so why give it freely away when it is a valuable commodity to be hoarded?

The sarcasm is pretty thick through here, but for those who may not catch it I feel I should spell it out that these are the approaches I see all the time that give the same miserable results in marriage every time.  The key to improving your marriage is keeping the focus on what you can do to make things better, since that is all you have any control over.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Well, since it has been five months since I last blogged and it's New Years I guess I should try and throw up something and I'll even try to do what I've been trying for a while, write something shorter so people don't fall asleep halfway through!  So today I will talk about how to apologize well, since most of us are pretty bad at it.  We tend to do a quick 1% apology up front followed by 99% of justifying, explaining, excusing ourselves, and even blaming.  We learn to apologize while fighting with our siblings or on the playground and the forced apology we learn at that point often sticks as our only way we know how to apologize.

So most people apologize something like this:

"I'm sorry, but really I would have never yelled like that if you weren't being so darned stubborn.  I wish we didn't have to fight like that but if you would just listen to me and hear what I am trying to say I wouldn't have to yell.  Pretty much anyone in my situation would have responded the way I did and really it becomes completely involuntary at that point.  I come from a long line of yellers and between my red hair and being an only child I don't think you could expect much different.  In fact, lets just stop dwelling on stuff from the past, can't we just move on or do you just enjoy holding grudges?  So what, I yelled, big whoop, you are a big boy you will get over it, or you can just keep trying to make me out to be the bad guy who always does everything wrong.  So I guess I am just the worst wife on the planet because I yelled once, huh?  I mean compared to the way you yelled at me last week, or do I need to remind you of my mother's birthday?  You've done far worse than just yell and it is just all forgotten when you catch me yelling.  So, you knew what you were marrying and you were OK with me then, guess you'll have to be OK with me now.  I'm tired, I don't feel like talking any more about this."

A good apology is basically the opposite of that and has three main parts to keep in mind - Accept responsibility, Acknowledge the impact, and Speak to the future.  First make sure you take full responsibility for your choice, you could have chosen to act or respond in hundreds of different ways but your choice hurt the other person.  It didn't have to be purposeful harm or even conscious, but you did something that caused pain and you can apologize for it.  No blaming, no justifying, just accepting that you did something that caused pain or disappointment.  Second you make sure and acknowledge that there was hurt or pain rather than minimizing it or comparing it to pain you have felt.  They aren't just making a big deal of nothing and if you don't understand what damage was done then ask with a open heart and humility to hear.  And then finally speak to the future of how you would like to avoid hurting them in the same way in the future.  This isn't a grandiose promise to never hurt them again, which you both know to be a lie, it is taking their pain seriously by trying to find a way to prevent it in the future.  "Maybe we can figure out a way to call a time out when we start getting agitated so I don't ever get to the point where I am yelling that way, because I want to make sure when we disagree that I am able to do it in a way that always honors you."

Keep all three parts in mind and you will actually leave the other person feeling cared for rather than even more angry than when you started apologizing.