Category Archives: Personal Life

4 Tips for an Egalitarian Marriage

My pinterest homepage is full of the usual mix of crafts (especially note cards), gardening, recipes, funny animals, and “helpful” blog posts about making your marriage stronger.

I’m a curious soul, so I generally read these latter posts, figuring that somewhere in them there must be something helpful.

Yeah…not really. All of the ones that propagate my pinterest are those that at face value seem great, but when you really start thinking about them, they’re really sexist and misogynistic, even though they’re all written by loving wives.

Here’s the problem: they all are written with women in mind and generally that woman is actually seeking help for a problem in her marriage. Most of the “solutions” offered are ones that the wife can implement without her husband even really understanding that there is a problem. When I picture my own marriage trying to do some of these tips (“Have a weekly husband/wife meeting” for example), I can only snicker. I mean, the idea is that you pencil each other into your busy schedules so that you can discuss the upcoming week, which is pretty ridiculous when this is your spouse we’re talking about. “Honey, I want to schedule a meeting with you so that we can discuss scheduling future meetings…”

This is as bad as scheduling sex! Or really scheduling anything in your marriage!

I guess life is different when you have kids, but honestly, if your husband in involved with the kids (like he should be!), he doesn’t need to have a weekly meeting for you to tell him that Timmy has baseball practice on Thursday and it’d be nice for him to be there. Because, you know, he should already be planning to attend like he does every week.

If Suzie has a tonsillectomy scheduled for next Monday, Dad shouldn’t need a meeting to tell him that Suzie will need him to help hold her hand.

The tips that piss me off the most are those which tell women that they should “love their spouse more”. You have to remember the type of women these posts are going to affect most–those who feel like their marriage is on the rocks. Most of these bloggers are very anti-divorce. For them, it is a woman’s responsibility to keep the household together, regardless of her personal feelings.

It’s really easy for a desperate woman to forgive her husband for everything, but it’s not emotionally healthy. She can decide to be submissive to his will and smile to the world while inside she’s dying. This is abuse. And telling a woman that if she just loves her husband more he’ll change is flat wrong.

Yes, it is imperative that you love your husband! BUT, loving him should not mean sacrificing any aspect of your own well being! If you find yourself wondering why you married him, you need to identify the actual problems with your marriage (are you working too hard so that he can play?) and address them. Trying to remember the good times of your relationship won’t help if your husband is no longer the man you married. People do change and that’s both a good and a bad thing in a marriage (depending on if you are growing and changing together).

Anyway, enough of my rant. Here’s my 4 tips for a happy and healthy egalitarian marriage (because you two are partners in life).

  1. SPEAK. AND LISTEN. Seriously, your husband should be your best friend. Treat him as such. Talk to him about what’s going on in your life. Your likes, your dislikes. Vent to him. Listen to him when he needs to vent. If you ever feel like you can’t say something, anything, to your husband for whatever reason, run, don’t walk away from this relationship. That isn’t what a marriage should be!
  2. SPLIT THE CHORES. You both live in the house, you both have equal responsibility to keep it clean. Of course, your family situation is probably different than mine and that’s cool! Dividing the chores equally doesn’t really mean that the chores are divided perfectly in half. A lot of tasks make up all that goes into running a household and you should split them up in such a way that makes the most sense to you and your family (children should also be put to work maintaining the household).

    When splitting chores, be mindful of the time you and/or your spouse spend working and commuting (seriously, give each other extra credit for that commute!). Since I work full time and my husband works part time, it is more fair for him to do more of the housework. Plus, he’s the real mess maker of the two of us.

  3. SPLIT THE BILLS. I realize that this is difficult in families with only one income earner…

    Actually, I’m scared to picture my life if I were dependent on other people for money. I’m one of the odd people who in high school was loaning my parent’s money. Even though I wasn’t earning all that much to start with (just mowing/raking my grandma’s yard), but I didn’t spend it, either.

    But, if you’re cool about getting an allowance from your spouse, that’s fine. That’s your life. I wouldn’t want it, but that’s me.

  4. HAVE TIME FOR YOURSELF.  You and your husband are two individual people. You are not joined at the hip. You have separate interests. So, enjoy them! Apart! Do not be afraid of your independence.

    You and your husband should spend lots of time together. I recommend eating together 99% of the time, but you know what, sometimes your husband is going to get a police call in the middle of you cooking dinner and if you don’t eat you will literally tear him a new asshole because low blood sugar affects you that way (true story).

    But, if your husband enjoys working on cars, you don’t have to be involved with this. I quite enjoy shooing him out the door to play with his friends so that I can watch what I want on TV instead of having to share with him. This actually makes the time we do spend together that much sweeter!

 

I imagine that the author’s of those blogs I mentioned earlier would have a conniption if they read that last bit of advice (about spending time apart). I guess they feel like a marriage on the rocks is one in which the individuals of the couple are “growing apart” and the only way to combat this is to spend more time together.

I think it’s important to identify why your relationship is “growing apart”, because honestly, you can spend every waking moment physically together, but not be connecting emotionally. It’s funny that they’ll recommend remembering the “good old days”, but would be afraid for people to reconnect with being independent.

I just finished a book where the main character thought that she wasn’t ready for marriage because she didn’t want to give up her independence. What had instigated this thought was her sister’s husband clarifying with the sister her plans to going to the main character’s house for a late evening. It is not losing independence to tell your husband that you are going out. But, you have lost your independence if your husband tells you that you aren’t allowed to go out (this is an abusive relationship: RUN!).

marriage-2
A cute couple, but I don’t think couples can be defined by gender. You love who you love! 🙂

Why I don’t overreact when my husband falls over.

My husband is 19 years older than me and he has a heart condition that causes him to overheat (he had the “widow maker” heart attack when he was 39, before we met). He had a stroke a year after the heart attack (still before we met) which has left his left side alternatively ultra sensitive and completely numb. To top it all off, shortly after we started dating the pickup truck he was driving while towing a boat  was rear-ended by a tractor trailer and he got chronic vertigo from the accident.

In other words, he’s normally only about a half step away from hitting the ground.

Tonight we had our bowling league and it was very warm in the building even before we started. He was sweating profusely and with about 3 frames left in the 2nd game, he was looking so bad I told him I’d hogtie him if he even joked about bowling the 3rd game. He tends to push himself too hard. Luckily we were already on the same page.

In the 10th frame of the second game he threw a spare, which definitely looked like he’d done everything in his power to stay straight. As he walked back to push the button to reset the pins, I was pretty sure that he was either going to fill it with a 1 or he was going to hit the floor.

Now, he doesn’t actually fall very often! In fact, I think I’ve only seen him fall maybe once, though he’s told me about numerous occasions when he has fallen and I haven’t been around, but most of these have been in ditches while retrieving a car as a tow truck driver or not being able to get out of bed properly. On flat ground, he’s usually more or less stable, though he’s often catching himself on tables, or at the bowling alley, the ball return and wall (he likes lane 16 because of the wall!).

Anyway. When he let go of the ball for his fill, it looked straight for the pocket and I was bracing myself for him to hit the ground. He nearly caught himself, but then, down he went.

I stayed in my chair. I did not jump up and rush towards him. I guess to an outsider I appeared like I didn’t care that my husband had just hit the ground.

But really, I’d never taken my eyes off of him. Since I knew he was going to fall, I was watching to make sure he landed properly. He’s twice my weight, so there’s no way I could have caught him without him crushing me, so the only thing I could do was watch and see whether he’d land properly or whether he’d seriously hurt himself.

As he started to go towards the floor, I’d seen that he’d gone into his stumble backwards, meaning that he was falling butt first. This is good! He’d twisted his body somewhat, so I thought he’d landed more on one butt cheek than the other, but it turns out that he’d bumped his knee when he’d landed. However, from watching the way he fell, I knew he hadn’t actually twisted anything, which he confirmed after the fact.

Once he was on the ground, I still didn’t get up. I was still watching him. Two guys who were up to bowl after he’d finished (one off either lane next to him) came over to help him up. He refused the hands as I knew he would and levered himself back to his feet.

First, I know from personal experience as a klutz who trips a lot, a person who has just wiped out needs a minute or two to put their senses back together, so running over to drag them to their feet isn’t very helpful. Second, I know that most people who have just fallen down are embarrassed about looking stupid in front of a crowd and would love it if everyone just ignored what just happened.

He was able to get up on his own terms and without pain, or rather, without any worrisome pain that would come from a serious injury. In other words, he was fine from the fall.

I was concerned about the overheating, though. He definitely looked done in, BUT, I have seen him look worse. He has nitroglycerin pills for emergencies and I have seen him look terrible right before taking one of them. Tonight, he didn’t look like he needed one and I don’t believe he took one. He really just needed to get out to his car where he could blast the AC and get his body temperature back where it needed to be and I was torn between making him actually sit a moment and getting his shoes changed so he could run outside.

By the way, though he has taken the nitro roughly once every few months, there has never been anything on his heart monitor report that has ever indicated that he really needed it.

I gave him about 10 minutes outside before I went to check on him. One of the bowling alley employees had given him a rag full of ice to put on his neck, which was kind of her. He’d put it on even though he really hates the feeling of dampness on his neck (I think he was just being polite; he told me that he started feeling better as soon as he got outside where it was at least 10 degrees cooler). He really did look a lot better while sitting in his car and he was on the phone with his son, so I felt fine leaving him out there while I went back to bowl the 3rd game.

20 or so minutes later I started worrying about him a little because usually when he overheats enough to skip the 3rd game, he comes back inside within a couple frames, but this game was half over. So I went back outside and he was simply still on the phone with his son. He came back inside a short while later and while not looking 100% (for him), he looked a heck of a lot better than he had!

I know that I was probably the least worried person who’d seen him fall, but then, I’m not someone who gets frazzled during an emergency. Generally I fall apart after the emergency is over, but since I never felt that he was in any real danger, there was no reason for me to fall apart at all.

It’s not like when my dad dehydrated himself a few years ago and fell twice at home.

When my mom found him on the floor, she started screaming hysterics. My brother was baffled. And I took charge. I got him up and conscious and was able to walk him outside to await the paramedics my mom had managed to call (911 sent out fire and police as well because she’s was in a panic and not good at explaining the emergency). The paramedics actually walked right past my dad, who was looking fine-ish on the porch, until we told them that the fallen person was right there. They looked him over, took his blood pressure, and said that they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He declined any medical attention and since everything seemed okay, we told them that they could leave and my dad got up to go back inside.

I was following close behind him and right inside the front door, he went down again. Luckily this time I was able to get my arms under his armpits and more or less lowered him to the ground. Okay, really it was a controlled fall because I’m 4’10.5″, 120 lbs and my dad is 5’10”, 160 lbs and I couldn’t actually keep him upright. When I caught my dad, I knew that we were both hitting the floor, so I just tucked my leg under me and sat down hard.

Hence why I wasn’t too concerned about my husband’s fall: he’d essentially done the same thing tonight.

I told my brother to run out and get the paramedics again; they were still parked in the driveway doing paperwork. They helped get my dad into his bed (where he wanted to be) and then helped him get into the car when I told him that he was going to the hospital and he could either ride in the car or the ambulance.

I calmly drove my dad to the hospital in his car. My brother drove my mom in his truck–they rode separately because my mom needed to grab some stuff from the house for my dad and it was easier for them to just come behind me. I hadn’t been able to find my phone during the 5 minutes it took for the paramedics to get him into the car, so I’d just grabbed my dad’s.

At the hospital, I parked the car next to the emergency entrance and went inside to get an orderly to help me get my dad inside. Once he was in a wheelchair and in the hands of a nice nurse, I had to move the car into a parking spot.

At this point, I pretty much lost my shit. The emergency was out of my hands and I was no longer able to keep it together. I had no idea why my dad had suddenly fainted twice.  I was in tears, trying to see well enough to get into a proper parking spot. I’m surprised that the only thing I hit was the curb at the emergency entrance which was curved and I couldn’t see where it ended and the road towards parking spaces started.

When I got the car into a parking spot, I called my husband (he was my boyfriend of less than a year at the time). Well, I was using my dad’s phone, which is connected via Bluetooth to the car. I hate Bluetooth! I had dialed the phone normally, but it decided to connect to the car’s radio, so I had the phone up to my ear, but my husband’s voice was coming out of the speakers. I was speaking into the mouthpiece, but the microphone is actually in the roof above the driver’s seat. In other words, I’m sitting there blubbering like an idiot, trying to explain to him what had happened and where we were and that I wanted him there NOW, all while getting incredibly pissed that I couldn’t understand him and he was having trouble understanding me!

Luckily he did get the message and arrived in I think record time. He was very good at calming me down and getting my mind off of every worst case scenario; his son too, who he’d brought since he wasn’t sure what the situation required.

It took about 24 hours for the doctors to determine that my dad had just severely dehydrated himself (though he perked up within an hour of them giving him his first bag of fluids as soon as he’d been properly admitted). He spent an additional two days in the hospital as they tried to figure out how he’d dehydrated himself and debated whether to continue the “battle prep” for the colonoscopy.

You see, that’s what he’d been doing when he’d dehydrated himself. He’d spend all day drinking Gatorade and laxatives for the colonoscopy he was supposed to get. His doctors were baffled that the battle prep was the cause of the dehydration because the Gatorade was supposed to keep him hydrated.

However, my dad has some weird (UNDIAGNOSED) form of diabetes and he hadn’t even thought about the sugar content of Gatorade when he planned his battle prep. A few weeks later he experimented and drank a bottle of Gatorade and paid attention as he peed out more than he had drank. This is what had happened to cause the severe dehydration, though after 3 nights in the hospital, the doctors still couldn’t figure out the cause. Had my dad been thinking about sugar, he would have chosen a diabetic friendly battle prep and would have been fine. But, because his A1C is practically perfect, his doctors are convinced that he is not diabetic. Dur–he’s able to control his sugars with diet and exercise and has been treating the diabetes for over a decade–before it could start to negatively affect his body!

My dad did enjoy his mini-vacation in the hospital where he was doing as much walking around as he could get away with despite being labeled a fall risk. They even gave him the nifty compression cuffs for his legs!

A Routine Traffic Stop

I have never been pulled over by the police, except for that one time when they were having a DUI checkpoint when I was driving home from the bowling alley. But, this doesn’t stop me from feeling like I have to have a plan should that ever happen to me.

This morning as I drove to work I evaluated the situation in case a cop decided to pull me for whatever reason. I have a slight lead foot (I end up going 5-7 mph over the speed limit usually) and drive a 20 year old SUV. I don’t pay attention to my taillights and could have one out without knowing it (I nearly always turn my lights on, even in broad daylight).

Anyway.

This morning, I realized that if I got pulled over, I would find myself in a bit of a pickle. My wallet, with my driver’s license in it, was in my backpack, which was on the floor of the front passenger seat (this is true about half the time, with the other half being my backpack is in the actual passenger seat). Now, the last time I reached over to the passenger floor while wearing my seat belt, I pulled a muscle in my back/neck and thought I was going to die because it hurt so bad. Virginia has a seat belt law, so taking my seat belt off before the cop sees me wearing it seems like a very bad idea.

Plus, there’s the whole issue of the cop seeing me reach around into my floorboard before he gets the chance to walk up to my car window–what’s he going to think I’ve grabbed?!?!

Did I mention that there’s a whole host of random crap in my backpack and my wallet is usually somewhere at the bottom?

And my registration is in my glovebox, I think (it may be in the center console). One of the two. So again…do I break my neck or risk a lack of seat belt ticket?

So. I guess I should leave my important stuff in their places until the cop gets to the window so he can see my seat belt is on. But then…what’s he gonna think when I ask to start rummaging (seriously, there would be some rummaging going on) in my backpack and my glovebox?

I guess it’s a good thing that I’m a tiny white girl and not a black guy of indeterminate size. Cop is totally going to assume I’m harmless.

Which got me thinking–what would I do if I actually was a black guy of indeterminate size?

Ya know what? I think that if I get pulled over, I’m just going to do what everyone recommends black guys of indeterminate size do: I’m going to leave my seat belt on and I’m going to keep both my hands on the steering wheel (I may even turn my car off so that the cop doesn’t think I’m a flight risk). I will already have the window rolled down. When the cop comes to the window, I’ll be polite and tell the cop that my license is in my wallet in my backpack and that my registration and insurance are in the glove box (you know what? I think I’ll make sure these items are  in my glovebox in a clearly marked envelope). When the cop tells me that I can reach over and pull them out (because that’s how tiny white girls are treated), I will calmly tell him that I’m more comfortable staying as I am and give him (or her) permission to retrieve the relevant items. When the cop looks/acts uncomfortable doing this because I’m a white girl…well, that’s not my problem.

Hmm…thinking about moving my period supplies from their private pocket in my backpack to the main compartment with the rest of my crap, just to add to the awkwardness of the situation, in case the cop is a squeamish guy.

Anyway, what do y’all think? Good plan?

 

3.5 days!!

At the bowling alley tonight I was able to ask him how long he’d gone without a cigarette so far and he admitted to 3.5 days! I’m not sure when he’s counting from and I really couldn’t care less because he survived being outside with some of the smokers, getting a “contact high” without actually smoking himself. While I don’t like the second hand smoke going into his lungs, progress is progress as we work our way to my 3 week goal.

By the way, I have no idea if 3 weeks is actually a magical deadline, but to me it seems like a great place to start.

Oh dear…I literally just realized that he’ll be facing his biggest test later this evening if he goes over to his best friend’s house (yes, they’re both night owls). I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed one of these visits where my husband didn’t smoke at least a few puffs. Good luck, honey! I love you and know you can persevere! Not that he reads this blog or even knows that it exists, haha.

Oh! And last night I was able to ask him if he has a pack somewhere. He answered with a “I really don’t want to talk about this!”, which for some reason I’m taking as a “no”, even though this kind of redirection is typical for him when he’s trying to hide something. It just doesn’t feel like he’s got a pack…yet. But just because he doesn’t have a pack doesn’t mean he won’t beg a cigarette off of someone. It amazed me how easily he was able to get cigarettes off of people when we went through that attempt to quit!

Made me cry

My husband is 19 years older than me (the same age difference as Akinli and Kahlen when she will be released from service). He and I often joke and wish about time travel or magic so we could have more time together.

I like imagining such a world where I travelled his timeline, being a point of happiness even as I couldn’t stick around for obvious reasons. Even though it makes me cry.

“The Siren” by Kiera Cass –

“It was enough to show he thought of me from time to time. Maybe he’d remember me down the road, whatever life he lived, as that girl he’d met one time who he baked a cake with and who knew how to jitterbug.”

Start reading this book for free: http://amzn.to/2aI7bsF

Made me cry

My husband is 19 years older than me (the same age difference as Akinli and Kahlen when she will be released from service). Dennis and I often joke and wish about time travel or magic so we could have more time together.

I like imagining such a world where I travelled his timeline, being a point of happiness even as I couldn’t stick around for obvious reasons. Even though it makes me cry.

“The Siren” by Kiera Cass –

“It was enough to show he thought of me from time to time. Maybe he’d remember me down the road, whatever life he lived, as that girl he’d met one time who he baked a cake with and who knew how to jitterbug.”

Start reading this book for free: http://amzn.to/2aI7bsF

The destructive effects of birth control on marriage…part deux

You know it sucks trying to be a well-rounded, well-researched pain in the ass when you have to write a part two of a post that was never intended because you forgot what your initial complaint was…

So…that sentence above got a little lost. What had happened is that when I first saw Mrs. Anderson’s blog post I got so pissed about her graph and how incomplete it was, I quit reading it and started thinking about everything it implies, but is so wrong about. It took me a few days to actually have time to right my response (because I don’t usually do much of anything after work except veg on the couch with the hubby). When I did finally take some time to write my response Friday night (as we vegged on the couch) because I knew I could stay up as long as needed, of course the historian part of me said that I couldn’t respond to something I wasn’t entirely sure of the context of, which meant I had to go back and read her post and you can see the rant that was the result of that. I’d gotten so caught up in the sexism of her post that I’d completely forgotten about the scientific and historical arguments I’d thought up at work. It wasn’t until this morning when my husband added another theoretical point on my “he only comes to bed in the morning when I use the bathroom” chart that I laughed about “correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation” and had a literal “oh shit” moment.

Because yeah–I think it’s important for women who are confused enough to seek out the marriage advice of folks like Mrs. Anderson have someone like me writing about everything she wouldn’t dare mention. Like the fact that her chart needs to be read with the understanding that “correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation”.

Here is the offending chart:

50eab-divorcepill

In my previous post I hinted at my offense at this chart because you’ll notice that the blue “Pill” line seems to be tapering off even which some may cheer for, but it doesn’t mean less people are using birth control, just that they’re switching to non-pill methods.

Now, I’m going to analyze this chart a hell of a lot better. The first thing to notice is that the divorce rate is staying relatively consistent now. It’s naive to think that it’s on another upward swing because anything can cause a divorce and in my opinion, divorce is highly preventable (don’t get your panties in a knot quite yet, I’ll get to that in a little while–if I forget, drop me a message and I’ll update this post).

Disclaimer: I have no talent or desire to to an actual statistical analysis of this data. I literally should have failed college statistics (thank you TA for not destroying my poor GPA, I wasn’t stupid enough to continue down that path, so you saved me and I learned my lesson!). The one thing I did eventually learn (via the Environmental Science department, where the statistics calculations we used, while I also failed at them, had more specific meaning to me, so therefore made slightly more sense) is that to be “statistically significant”, the alpha (result of statistical calculations) must be above 0.05. In other words, based on the calculations, it has at least a 95% chance of occurrence to get this FANCY TITLE. That is all that “statistical significance” is–a fancy title. So take it with a grain of salt because something may not be “statistically significant” because it has a 94.99% chance of occurrence. The same is true about a “100 year flood”. The media portrays this like it means “a flood like this only occurs every 100 years”, but in reality the way of calculating this is to take the top 100 floods, put them in order by size with the biggest as #1 and that flood is a “100 year flood” because it has a 1 in 100 probability of occurring IN ANY GIVEN YEAR. A “99 year flood” is the second worse flood and it could be a mere centimeter smaller than the one above it. So in a world with more bigger floods, a “50 year flood” could be less than a foot smaller than a “100 year flood”.

Anyway, so now you know why I’m just going to eyeball this graph to give my analysis. Besides, for what I care about, an eyeball is all I need.

So…what are some of the causes of divorce? This seems like a good place to start. There’s cheating; abuse (mental, physical, sexual, spiritual, etc); one spouse being gay, transgender, bisexual, etc; umm…”irreconcilable differences” (which covers a lot of things); this is depressing, so you get the picture. The point is that this graph is trying to narrow all these causes into one root cause: “The Pill”.

Which now begs the question: why did the divorce rate jump (it did) after The Pill became mainstream? I’m VERY glad you asked!!

WOMEN’S LIBERATION!

Cool. Thank you very much ladies of the past for making it almost socially acceptable for my husband and I to both hyphenate our names because we’re both important parts of this marriage! Considering where things once were, there was no sarcasm intended in that sentence above. I really am grateful for these ladies and it’s a condemnation for where we still need to go that I snark at.

Women’s history is a slow, but forward moving entity. I don’t really want to go all into it, but my studies generally started with what women did during the US Civil War (the abolitionists, the spys), though there is SO much that they did before that. I just haven’t studied it as in depth, so there’s only a few names that pop out at me–Anne Huchinson is one if you want to start a little bit further back, though PLEASE, don’t think it that ever really has a beginning! Women’s history is important, even as it’s usually ignored with the rest of minority history.

To simplify, let’s look at this list of “women’s issues” (issues that women were actively involved in) starting with the US Civil War: Abolition. Rights for freed slaves. Rights for immigrants. Rights for children. Rights for women. All through this there was Temperance, weaving in and out as social ills were blamed on alcohol. Then there was the Women’s Right to Vote, which there were probably as many women for this as there were against. Remember that also during all of the above, these women activists were attacked not only for what they were fighting for, but also because they were acting outside of the realm of women–women were supposed to be under the control of their husbands and fathers or other male relative. To speak out against anything not condoned by their protector made them that much less of a woman, though even when they did have the support of their husband, both sorts of husband was still often accused of being less than a man for not controlling his wife.

Imagine the situation a woman wanting to speak out would be in if she lived in a society where her husband is expected to control her. She’d be terrified to disagree with him because back then it was perfectly acceptable for a husband to hit his wife to keep her submissive. It was legally very difficult for a woman to go after a divorce while very easy for a man to ruin his wife with one–imagine the stigma of being a divorced woman–she can’t find work because she’s no longer “proper”. Gah–there are plenty of books written about this; if you need more information to be able to imagine this Hell, feel free to find one. Or there are lots of good documentaries. Let’s just leave it that there was this “Utopian Ideal” much like the one described by “modern” women who preach about a “Good Christian Wife who is Submissive to her Husband” and then there is REALITY when there are actual laws that prevent women from being independent AND a society that finds it morally acceptable to snub (meaning allow to suffer) women who are divorced, have a child out of wedlock, and, to some extent, who are beaten (there was a line, but it was still a grey area–“rule of thumb” and all that).

Anyway, This is pre-1920, a good place to pause and acknowledge the role of the rest of the world because at this point WWI has just ended, leaving many families without a male head of household. Wars had always left many women in such a state for thousands of years, but never on this kind of scale. This is because there’d been a change in how families earned their living. Before, the work of her husband may not have been socially acceptable for a woman, but she was probably lucky enough to live in a place where since she’d been honorably widowed (and enough of her neighbors were in a similar state) that it was okay for her to take over her husband’s shop or push his plow in the fields. She could game the system in whatever way was necessary and people would overlook it.

But, before the War, factories had been invented and while it may be okay for a woman to run her husband’s general goods store after his death, it was more questionable for her to work in a dim, dirty, factory. Factory girls weren’t proper girls. It might have been okay for a teenager to work in one before she got married, but after marriage she was expected to stay home and raise the children. Once she became a married woman, dirty work was just that: dirty. Scandalous. But, a family has to eat, so a woman did what she had to do and again, because she was probably lucky enough to live in a town where there were many women living a similar life, at least the scandal was minimized and ignored. Women would never brag about their day job in polite society.

Manufacturing during WWI wasn’t such a massive scale that women were expected to work in the factories while the men were away. This was merely women taking the jobs of their deceased husbands to be given up at the time that she found a new husband. REMEMBER THIS!

With WWII, we see those wonderful “Rosie the Riveters” and the “All American Girls Baseball League”. This was a time when factories actually were RECRUITING women to fill jobs vacated by men who’d been shipped overseas. Now, lets go back to what society had been. Before, most women only worked outside of the home because they needed the money to survive. Society encouraged this ideal. If a woman seemed to step outside of the idealized role of wife and mother, she was shunned or at least talked about behind her back. I believe even rambunctious and scandalous Anne of Green Gables quit her teaching job when she became pregnant (if not when she married), thus conforming to the ideal. Laura Ingalls also quit teaching upon pregnancy if not upon marriage.

And now, during WWII, we have the US government (feel free to leave a comment if your country had a similar campaign) actively telling women that they’re needed outside of the home. That they’re actually important to the war effort. Imagine what must have gone through these women’s heads: “Wait, I’m worth more than just my ability to have a child? I’m actually smart enough that you want me to build and fly airplanes, bombs, tanks, etc? You aren’t telling me you want me to be just a placeholder, because I personally am needed?” Even if she wasn’t having these revelations, once she was actually put into these roles, she must have enjoyed the mental stimulation, especially if she was one of those amazingly brave women who were flying airplanes near enemy territory without ammunition (because we all know that a woman isn’t in combat if she isn’t properly armed)!

The same “UNCLE SAM NEEDS YOU!” mentality went into recruiting women into the factories as it did getting men into the trenches. Is it any wonder that women reacted so strongly when they were told that they weren’t needed anymore when the boys came back from war? Yes, many happily went back to being a housewife and mother. Few told their children what they’d done (it was only in 2002 that those WASPs (Women Air Force Service pilots) were allowed to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery and then someone had the nerve to revoke those rights in 2015, though it went back into law this past May). But some really liked the work. They liked being useful as something more than making and raising children. So, women started actively entering and staying in the workforce even after they married and had babies.

Let’s say we’re in the 1950s, now. Women have been expanding their role. They’re still talked about behind their backs and their jobs are considered unimportant (because anybody can be a teacher or a secretary). Depending on the demographics of her town, she’ll be more or less accepted. Think deep south vs. NYC. Also at this point we need to acknowledge that demographics have changed. Fewer people know their neighbors and this downward trend is reaching rock bottom today. When you don’t know your neighbors it’s both very easy to vilify them and also to ignore them, which is why there was (is?) a wide gulf between the homemakers and the working women–both assume that the other is someone she probably isn’t. Anyway, at some point, college is suddenly considered a proper place for a woman (because education is necessary for women to be able to teach their sons to be educated and because college educated men make for good husbands), though they weren’t expected to actually complete a degree other than an Mrs. At least if a woman had a husband, her parents couldn’t completely give up hope that she’d turn out “normal”.

Then came the 1960s. The era of the protest. And women whose mother had potentially worked in a factory during WWII (having been told that she was smart and special to get her there), is now in college and maybe she thinks she’s “smart and special”, too. Like, maybe she’s capable of more than just an Mrs. degree. And as other minorities start to fight to get the same basic rights as white folks, white women start to wonder why their choices are still stigmatized. They begin to protest, too.

Meanwhile, by now the Pill has been developed and is LEGALLY sanctioned for use only within marriage. Even before this condoms existed and were stigmatized even when used by married couples. So, it’s not like the US government has always been pro-free-sex, there were laws on the books that said that you had to prove marriage in order to get birth control. For a relatively long time.

Now, while I’m sure all of you are fascinated by women’s history, I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with the divorce rate. Well, I’ve shown you the progression of Women’s Liberation. From speaking out on husband-approved topics like slavery  all the way to women burning their bras. During that time, women were always faced with the tales of their mothers and grandmothers. Tales of women who, once married, were forced to stay in that marriage no matter how miserable they were. Tales from them about women who’d been shamed (as precautionary tales). But these women of the 1970s didn’t want to be forced into that life. Women-kind, as a sex, had lived through so many changes, why should they as individuals be forced into a life that wasn’t the one that they wanted. Yes, this kind of independence was still stigmatized, but if a man can run off to Paris to become a starving artist, why can’t a woman? During this time of upheaval, the simple truth that came out was “If a man can do this, why can’t I?” That is Feminism. The belief that I’m not less capable of anything simply because I was born with a vagina instead of a penis. And maybe there was/is a little chauvinism of “well, I can do everything a man can do WHILE bleeding for a few days every month AND I can grow a new person inside of me”.

So. The divorce rate. The first thing that had to change was that it became legally as easy for a woman to be granted a divorce as a man. In reality this was a slow process because there were still male judges who were less likely to grant said divorce. But, with time, this changed (that’d be that slow rise of the red divorce line way up above at the graph).

Because, let’s also head way up above to where I started my analysis: what are the causes of divorce? NONE of these are NEW. None of them. There has always been cheating. There has always been abuse. There have always been revelations that one spouse is not heterosexual or has any other sexual dimorphism (PLEASE do not yell at me for not knowing the correct terms to use here–when it comes to gender issues, I’m very sympathetic, but not a scholar. Feel free to correct me in the comments!). There have ALWAYS been irreconcilable differences.

People have always wanted to end their marriages: the problem was that it was socially and legally unacceptable. With Women’s Liberation, this changed. Yes, I’m blaming Women’s Liberation for the high divorce rate and I’m PROUD that it did! Because you know what? I think we’d live in a shitty society if people were forced to stay in relationships with people they don’t want to be with anymore! That situation cannot be healthy for anyone, but especially for any children that are involved!

Now, at this point I want to mollify those of you who got upset when I said that I believe that divorce is highly preventable. Here’s the thing: My husband was married twice before me to two women who sucked. Yes, he loved them at the time that they got married, but they turned out to be awful. Both cheated on him, though he said to at least one of them that he’d accept an open relationship so long as she was honest with him–she wasn’t honest. The rest of his girlfriends were, for the most part, not great (because, one of the things I love about my husband is that he’s always been honest, but gracious, towards his many exes, so I will not stoop to their level and call them trolls).

I think a lot of what eventually happened with them would have been solved by a few weeks of good PRE-marital counselling. I get the vibe that when he was 22 and married his first wife he was really just looking to be a husband and father and thought that what love they had was enough, though she ended up changing on him. In other words, he didn’t know her well enough before he married her. She’d been looking for a dad for her two girls and he probably liked the idea of an instant family. I think I can honestly say that whatever the cause of the divorce, it’s something that could have been spotted before the marriage occurred just by ensuring that both parties are honest with themselves about what they want and having a 3rd party ensure that both parties are being honest with each other by bringing up the hard questions. I doubt that there could ever be a time when the divorce rate hits zero, but if we begin to fashion a society where people are looking for marriages that are based on the right foundations for success, the divorce rate can get very low.

It seems like I haven’t had a post yet comparing a marriage to a wedding. I need to get on top of this.

 

Best Pun EVER!

Okay, so I’ve been having trouble with my milk tasting sour after only a few days of being open in the fridge.

My husband and I are watching Inlawfully Yours, a cute Rom Com. One of the characters is a pastor and as he poured some milk over cereal (out of a wide mouthed glass jar no less), I wondered aloud at how he keeps his milk fresh.

My husband replied that it is in a church (earlier the character said he lives in a room in the back) and that its protected.

So, of course I said, “Well I want some milk that’s been pastorized.”

😀

Prejudged: a White Girl’s Perspective

First of all, I’m not going to claim that what I have experienced is anything like what many minorities have experienced when it comes to discrimination. What I have experienced is the stuff of good party stories and long running jokes, not the harsh life of others who have been actually discriminated against. This is merely a post to shed a little bit of perspective and thought for those people who’s automatic response to stories of discrimination is to want to blame the victim for “acting wrong”. I’m related to many like this, unfortunately. My hope is to explain this in such a way that folks like them may think a moment about my experiences, ones that they’ve heard about enough times and laughed with me, and just maybe become a little more understanding when someone stands up and says that they were prejudged about something unfairly.

Prejudice is when someone looks at someone they don’t know and makes a decision about who that person is. The prejudice I get all the time is that I’m a child, even though I’m just over a month away from my 28th birthday.

You see, I’m short. 4 ft 10 and a half inches, as I insist on describing myself. I love that my husband also insists on including my half inch when he talks about my height. It always serves to get that first laugh out of a stranger and break the ice. “Isn’t it cute how much she cares about that half inch?” they seem to think.

I’m not small though. I’m built like a “brick shit house” as my husband says, looking more like an American female gymnast than one of the wispy Chinese gymnasts from this past summer’s Olympics. Before our wedding I’d heard about how short his mom had been when she was married and was excited to wear her wedding dress (she was killed in a car accident in 1996). But, apparently she was not only short, she was TINY. I couldn’t get my arms through the sleeves, let alone zip the poor thing. Due to time constraints, I had to purchase my own dress rather than create something new from hers.

So, this seems to lead to conflicting assumptions from people who look at me: I’m short, so I must be young, but I’m curvy, so I must be post-puberty. After that, it’s a conundrum for them. They make an assumption, when I brag about my half inch, that they should err on the side of young, because any “normal” woman would round up her height, rather than break the awkwardness of meeting a new person with a joke about her height. Most other women lie about their age and weight, because it’s socially unacceptable to be proud of our bodies. Obviously, I’m not normal.

At this point, I imagine most people are blaming me for being prejudged wrongly. I’m presenting myself as younger with my choice of words, so obviously I must want people to assume I’m a child. Have I done this? Yes, and to great avail.

You see, before we were married, my husband and I went to a hospital to visit his aunt. Halfway there, out of a 45 minute drive, I remembered that this hospital is operated by a company that requires an ID for visitors and I’d left my wallet at home because I rarely carried it back then. Instead of telling him of this problem, I decided to just see how far I could push the idea that I’m a kid. I wasn’t out to do any harm, I just wanted to get past the security guard rather than have to wait in the lobby, though if I wasn’t allowed in, I was fine with whatever was expected of me. It was my fault, you know. I had a book with me because even as I would leave the house without my wallet, I rarely leave the house without a book. In case you don’t know already, my husband is 19 years older than me, twice my weight and about a foot and a half taller than me. Obviously most people assume he’s my father. So, when we got to the hospital, I got into character. Instead of walking faster to keep up with him, I let myself fall slightly behind, appearing to be “tagging along”. I slouched just enough to look less confident of myself. I held my book with both of my hands, crossed around my body to emphasize the lack of confidence. I let myself be sleepy because it was like 8 pm and even though I’m nearly 28, by most nights I’m half asleep by 9:30 anyway. I didn’t speak, letting my husband take the lead. The expression on my face was of youthful innocence, looking around the lobby as though curious about it.

My plan worked as intended. The guard checked my husband in and handed him two ID stickers: one with his name and picture, the other with “child of” his name and picture (for me). I’m pretty sure it said “please return to” as well. At this point my husband started to laugh and said “that’s my girlfriend”. The guard gave that half laugh of “you’re pulling my leg” and said “Yeah, right. If you want to be arrested.” My husband said, “No, seriously. She earned that sweatshirt she’s wearing!” At this point, I had my ID sticker, so I smiled and showed off my orange Virginia sweatshirt, which I had graduated from 4 years before. The guard was still dubious and we asked him how old I looked and he gave me that leery “…16?” like he was adding years to what he thought because he didn’t want to look like a complete moron. So of course I told him that I was actually 26. He laughed and nudged his partner who had been ignoring the entire exchange, and wanted him to guess my age, but the partner had been paying enough attention to say “she’s obviously 25”. The exchange went along well enough and as we left, I tried to tell them that they’d never had a chance to get my age right because of my charade, but they weren’t paying much attention and I wasn’t going to push the matter because I still didn’t have a proper ID on me.

So, here’s the first lesson why prejudice about age isn’t harmless–what if I was there to do harm? I literally snuck into a hospital, right past two security guards who knew that I was not who they initially thought I was. Whatever their role is, they’re supposed to check IDs for a reason and they failed to do this with me. In any instance where someone is supposed to check the ID of adults, but lets children just tag along in with their parents, anyone like me can just fake my way in unnoticed.

Of course, my story of the hospital just serves to cement the idea that I deserve to be prejudged. I obviously have no problem carrying myself as though I’m younger than I am. And I can project my actual age as well. In fact there are many times when my husband is uncomfortable in a crowd and I take the lead. Growing up the joke was that I was a 36 year old midget because I’m an “old soul” and always was more responsible and cautious than my contemporaries. In fact I have always had little patience for inappropriate behavior–there’s a time and a place for everything, so while I can run and play with the best of my friends, when it was time to be serious, and I look down on immature behavior.

One of the first thing anyone notices about a person is their clothes and clothing plays an important role in what is perceived about the person. It’s easy to blame someone for being perceived incorrectly when they’re dressed against what they’re “supposed to be”. So, one could could claim that if I don’t want to be viewed as a child, I shouldn’t dress like one. Or in the case of other people, if I didn’t want to be labeled a thug, I shouldn’t dress like one.

And why, exactly, should anyone be expected to conform to a society’s whim in order to be treated with respect?

I work in a print shop, in bindery where I can get sweaty and dirty (ink, oil, grease, dust if I’m working in the warehouse). I wear jeans, hiking boots, and t-shirts. Recently I was given some nicer t-shirts and collared shirts with the company’s name embroidered on them that I also wear. I also have a thin flannel shirt, slightly too large, but very comfortable, for those days when I need long sleeves even in summer (I don’t like AC blowing directly on me).

This is how I was dressed a few weeks ago when my husband and I went to a baseball game in Norfolk, with tickets provided by the certain bank that we do a lot of printing for. I was excited for the game, especially since we’d be sitting in one of the suites, a first for me! As we walked towards the entrance, I was walking ahead of my husband, excitedly urging him on when an employee called out to us that if we had tickets we could enter there. We did, so we did. As the first man scanned our tickets, a second said “You look like your under 17, here’s some baseball cards for you”. I was flabbergasted and I looked at him like a dumbstruck guppy as I tried to figure out how to reply to that. The truth was that I wanted the cards, so I didn’t want to correct them and feel obligated to give them back. So I mumbled a thank you while my husband laughed. I was more annoyed when the first man handed our tickets to my husband, even though I was the one who handed them over at first, as he gave us directions to the elevator that would take us to the suites. It felt like he didn’t trust me not to lose the tickets, though it was probably because my husband was a tiny bit closer at this point and I was still suffering from confusion.

I had not intentionally presented myself as a youth. I hadn’t known they were even having a giveaway. I just wanted to see a baseball game. I hadn’t changed my clothes after work. In other words, I was me as me and someone thought I was a kid. I guess that if I wanted to be treated my age at all times I could make sure that I always project myself as older. I could wear clothes more befitting a woman “of a certain age”. But why should I? Why should I be blamed for the mistakes that other people make? It’s one thing when, like at the hospital, I make myself seem younger intentionally. But it’s something else when I’m just being me and I get handed a pack of baseball cards intended for someone a decade younger.

And, I shall end this by saying that I do know what it feels like when I know someone is improperly prejudging me. I’m not prejudging them by assuming that they’re thinking me a child when they’re actually not. If you’ve ever talked to a child or have observed someone speaking to a child, you’ll know that their tone of voice changes. I have heard this directed at me, though of course, it’s the voice appropriate for a 12 to 16 year old rather than an elementary schooler. Maybe you remember being talked to this way.

This is similar to when a black man is brushed aside as prejudiced when he says that he’s being treated unfairly. Because he’s just “misinterpreting the situation”.

Depending on the situation, I will make the prejudicer feel stupid by changing my demeanor and causing them to realize that I’m a competent adult rather than a precocious teen, but you know what, I’ll be honest here: sometimes I’ve just done something embarrassing and instead of correcting them I let them continue to stereotype me because in society, it’s okay for a teenager to trip over their own feet, but for an adult to completely lose control of their fork or end up with water all down their front from the ice shifting in their cup, it’s something to make fun of. With my anxiety issues, sometimes the only way for me to survive an embarrassing situation is to remind myself about these rules. I can laugh with them instead of running out of the building and hiding at home for the next month.

Like I said when I started this post, I’m not out to garner sympathy. I game the system as best as I can knowing how people look at me. And thankfully I’ve never been discriminated against because of my appearance. Whatever issues that may have become problematic were usually cleared up when I opened my mouth and changed the other’s assumption about my age. All I want is to quit hearing that prejudice doesn’t exist and that in all cases it’s the victims fault for not looking right, for not speaking right, for not acting right and that even when they look, speak, and act right, it still must be their fault for misinterpreting the intentions of the other. That is bullshit and as a short white girl, I have experienced being prejudged and anyone who wants to say otherwise should really reevaluate their life.

Advice for anyone off to College

My first bit of advice is that the student should have a general idea of why they’re going to college. It can be for specific training. It can be with an idea of what’s necessary for a particular job. It can be because of an interest in a particular subject. It CAN be because they have no idea what they want to do with their life and college seems like the “IT” thing to do in that situation. There are dozens of other reasons to go to college, but what’s important is that the student knows which is their reason.

The main purpose for knowing why you’re going to college is so that you pick the type of college that best fits your needs and budget. If you’re going for specific training, you definitely want to go to the school that is the best for this. There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on a pretentious private university when you only need to learn [insert your course(s) here].

Always address your budget. If you’re not sure where you’ll end up job-wise, you don’t want to end up with a lot of unnecessary debt. Some debt is fine, though, so don’t be terrified of it! Due to my parent’s economic situation, my student loan debt was capped at just under $20,000 for 4 years ($5000 a year; $2500/semester) for my top pick university, which I think is just about ideal given that I was attending the University of Virginia with no idea what I was going to do with my degree.

Yes, I attended the pretentious (public) university where it’s perfectly acceptable for me to announce that I graduated from “The College at The University”. Should you feel small because you attended the local community college for 2 years? HELL NO! (If I could make that a bigger font, I would!) What matters is that your college matches YOUR needs.

Guess what? Knowing yourself is the first step to becoming a responsible adult. You should practice this by choosing the right college for yourself instead of blindly taking the advice of the people around you who think that bigger and more expensive is somehow better. It’s not!

 

It would have been nice if I’d gone to college knowing that I had no clue why I was going and being comfortable with that thought. Instead, I kept that thought buried in the back of my mind while my outside alternated between faking “I’ve got this” and completely freaking out (seriously, I cried the whole drive to move-in that first day and was miserable for about a week). I regret a lot of missed opportunities because I wasn’t comfortable being directionless.

Okay, so now that you’ve chosen your school, now what do you do? Typically, you’re going to hear a lot of “have fun, but not too much fun!” and “learn something so you can get that fabulous job!” Yeah…that advice SUCKS!

So, here’s some practical advice: join a club. Or 10. Seriously, if you want to love your job, do something your passionate about. So, in college, where you have hundreds of clubs, causes, research opportunities, etc available to you, explore your interests. Even if you are in college for a definite “end goal”, JOIN A CLUB. Because you know what? Life is actually a pretty long time and stuff happens. What you love now can burn you out later. And that’s fine! When you’re middle aged and tired of doing the same old thing, you can look back at college and say “hey, I really enjoyed the time I spent ballroom dancing (or whatever your club was) and would like to do that again”. Do not spend all your time in your room or the library with your nose stuck in books. Get out. Meet people. Protest something. Get interested in something. Find yourself in something bigger than yourself. You know, all the crap like that!

My next bit of advice: Say yes. Unless any part of your gut says “DANGER”, say yes. Go hiking at midnight. Join a club by accident because a friend wants you to know something about his club so that you can help him out a bit. Go on a date that you don’t realize was a date until 3 years later. Go to Indian Culture night and eat food that’s way too spicy. Go watch a meteor shower at 2am in November on top of a mountain with no cell signal (because of a radio tower) with a girl you met 3 months before and her 3 male classmates even though you don’t have to do the assignment because you’re not in the class. Regret that you said no to the epic party because you had a final the next day (the party where your friend ended up in the closet wearing the Sorting Hat while singing…I still can’t get a straight story about what happened that night as they drank all the alcohol so they wouldn’t have to carry it home).

Don’t be afraid to be sober. I don’t like the taste of alcohol and have no desire to fight through the taste in order to get drunk. I’ve been willing to taste various drinks in hopes of finding something that actually tastes good, but so far, YUCK. My friends have always been cool with this and would hand me various drinks to taste (their drink, so I know it wasn’t spiked, not that anyone in our small group would do that–we never went out to proper clubs, bars, etc). Friends do NOT pressure you to drink. Period. End of Discussion. Friends don’t pressure you to do anything. They accept you for who you are and that’s that. If anyone starts to pressure you, leave.

Say yes, but do not feel pressured. There is a difference and you’ll know it. If you are not comfortable with any situation, leave. Do not worry about offending anybody. Like Dr. Seuss said: Those who matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.

My last bit of advice is that you should take as wide a variety of classes as you can for your major. I’d pick classes based on their name alone. That’s how I ended up learning about the religions of the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans instead of a class on Scientology, etc. I’d read “New World Religions” as “New AGE Religions”, haha. It took me a few weeks to figure out my error. I never dropped a course because even if I had no clue about the content, I figured I was learning something anyway. For instance: the history of philosophy course was not very much history, but a lot of philosophy that went over my head (I will never be much of a philosopher). And I can’t memorize from books. There was one class I nearly failed (besides statistics) and it was one that was recommended to me: Marine Biology (or something like that). It turned out to be a class about memorizing the Latin names and characteristics of specific marine organisms. Sorry, but unless I’m knee deep in sea grasses, I will never be able to identify one over it’s neighbor by it’s Latin name. EVER. In the field, sure (when I volunteered at the zoo I could rattle off all kinds of specifics about the animals), but out of a book? Hell no.