“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said, according to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The season for bridal showers came when I was younger. That rush of marriages taking place every few months. Friends and cousins and co workers all at that age where they start tying the knot.
With it come the bridal shower invites. At least, where I’m from they did. Is that a regional thing? You’d all gather around with your gifts and sip mimosas (or beers, depending on the crowd) and inevitably a journal or index card would get passed around the table for you to write down your best advice for the couple.
I was, during that season of my life, frighteningly unqualified to be handing out relationship advice.
I still am.
The difference is, now I know it. Back then I wrote little quips like Never go to bed mad and Always make time for one another.
Which, yeah, is valid. Sure.
Brilliant advice? No. It’s not.
Because that shit they can figure out on their own.
There’s no advice I would offer to couples today if asked. I can only offer my perspective. I can only share what’s worked for me in my current relationship. None of it worked in any previous relationship I had. All of it is particular to me and my husband. But I think perhaps people can extrapolate from it some juicy nuggets they can chew on, digest, and crap out some helpful morsels of their own.
(That sounds so gross. Sorry. Analogies aren’t always my thing.)
So there’s the first thing I’d share: Stop asking for advice. Because what works for one couple may be disastrous for another.
Also, the person you’re with today is not going to be the person you’re with years from now. Not because I’m fatalistic and believe you won’t stay together. But because people change. Yourself included. It’s natural.
It’s also scary.
There may be times you look at the person beside you and ask if you even recognize him or her any longer.
Does it matter?
The better question, for me, has always been Do I want to take the time to get to know this person? If the changes he’s shown haven’t changed the kindness or the humor or the tenderness that I so love and value in him, then it’s me I need to confront. Not him. It’s my aversion to change I need to examine. The same applies to him when I change.
You’re going to argue and it’s going to hurt. A lot of the time it won’t even be over what matters. You’ll be dealing with a sick child or a lost job or money trouble or all three and more, but it’s the laundry on the floor that will cause the big blow out. It’s hard though, in the heat of the battle over whether or not it’s a big deal for your partner to just throw the goddamn laundry in the hamper versus whether it’s a big deal to just pick up what your partner was too fucking distracted to care about and throw it in since you are already on your way to the hamper if you really feel so fucking passionate about it, to remember that your partner is as stressed as you and needs you to maybe hold some space for him.
You’ll want to throw things at the wall.
Remember that the more peanut butter there is in the jar, the bigger the dent it will leave in the sheet rock. Just saying. I mean, that’s what I’ve been told. Let’s move along.
You’re not perfect.
You’ll do things like scream for help while you cling to a wooden beam after falling through the ceiling of your kitchen because you didn’t know you could only walk on the beams in the attic. And he’ll come running and unwrap you from the wires tangled around your legs, help you down with a gentle hand, and dust you off while checking to be sure you are injury-free before calling your mother to laugh over it. Meanwhile, when he trips down your porch steps as you are both walking out to the car, you’ll spend your entire thirty minute drive with him next to you watching as you struggle to laugh in silence with tears streaming down your cheeks and your O-ring struggling from the strain of trying to hold in all those guffaws.
It’s ok though, because he isn’t perfect either.
Sometimes he’ll make you feel you’re not enough and sometimes you’ll make him feel like he has no voice. You’re both going to make each other feel lots of feels. Some of them, if you’re lucky, will feel so damn good. Some of them, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, will hurt.
There’s never a win or lose.
Except for this . . . if you both find ways to make the other feel loved enough that it carries you through the times when you feel otherwise. When you feel less than. If you both still hold onto that . . . you’re winning.
I have no advice.
I only know that it matters when he’s the calm one in the room. It matter when I pack his lunch. It matters when he reaches back to hold my hand as we’re walking. It matters when I encourage him to chase his dreams. It matters when he does the same.
There is no magic guide book that will help you navigate this, or any other relationship. But it helps to find the things that matter to you both.
I sort of can’t wait for the next bridal shower invite.
I’ll be looking for them to pass around the journal or hand out those decorated index cards. I’ve reached the point in life where I know that the flowery sayings are just that. They’re nice and pretty, but ultimately will end up as dry and fleeting as a flower in a vase.
No, I won’t write out any quips or advice. Instead I’ll share a story filled with laughter and heartache, highs and lows, pain and joy. It’ll be all about me and my husband and our life and the particulars, most likely, will never apply to you and your relationship.
But the hope?
That always applies.
As strongly as you feel about your god and your religion and your freedom to worship whomever you choose, that is how strongly I feel about my atheism.
I respect that you believe you must behave a certain way and be a good person because of what your god expects from you. Likewise, I believe that I must behave a certain way. I’m a good person because it’s how I want to be treated. I am kind and respectful to everyone I meet and I hope for the same kindness and respect in return. I’m this way because I believe in being a good person and trying to make a positive impact while I have time on this earth.
I respect that you believe you must attend church, or temple, or mosque, in order to pay tribute to or worship your god on certain days of the week. Likewise, I believe in taking time on certain days of the week to focus solely on my family and friends. To connect with them in meaningful ways and create lasting memories while my health and time allow. I believe in making sure that the people I love most know how much I love and appreciate their presence in my life.
I respect that the god you believe in tells you that you have to “save” others or convert them to your way of thinking.
You can ask. Go ahead. Ask me if I, or my children, would like to accompany you to church or temple or to mosque.
My reply is, and always will be, “No, thank you.”
However, while I respect your desire to ask me, and don’t begrudge you asking once, I have to draw the line.
You are welcome to ask once. If my answer is, “No, but thank you for asking. I appreciate your kindness in extending the invitation, but I have no interest in attending church/temple/mosque/any other religious gathering,” then you need to not ask anymore.
Continuing to ask me, and continuing to pressure me and my children, is bordering on consent violation.
Yes, I said “consent violation.”
You’re coming across as “rapey.”
Let me explain, please.
If my teenage son were to ask your teenage daughter to have sex with him, and she says “No,” then that should be the end of it. But if he continues to ask, and pressure, and cajole, until she has sex with him in an attempt to get him to leave her alone, that would be considered a violation of her consent. I think, as her parent, you would agree.
Anytime you pressure someone into doing something that he/she has told you he/she does not want to do, you are violating their wishes and being an incredible asshat.
Even if god told you to do it.
Your continued pressure on me and my family to attend your religious events and subscribe to your religious beliefs will eventually work, but not in the way you might think.
I’m not going to stop being an atheist.
I will, however, stop being nice when I tell you, “No.”