Tag Archives: marriage

The Couple That Hangs Together…

You know that saying that goes, “If you really want to get to know someone, travel with them?” I’ve got a new one for you: “If you really want to know the state of your relationship, wallpaper a bathroom together.”

I know, your first question is probably, “Wallpaper? Isn’t that completely out of style?” Well, actually no. Wallpaper is enjoying a moment right now and there are a lot of very cool patterns available.

Our house was built in 1950 and at that time there was such a building boom that tile manufacturers couldn’t keep up with production. Instead, they made “tiles” out of the new wonder substance called plastic (also in horrid colors but that’s another story). When we bought the house the bathroom walls were green plastic tiles halfway up and the rest painted yellow. Obviously that had to go. So, when I was pregnant with our second child, I popped off those awful tiles and scraped off thick layers of mastic as best as I could, which left the walls a bit of a mess. They either had to be wallpapered, drywalled over or have a skim coat of plaster applied. Wallpaper was the cheapest option.

I put up a beautiful striped wallpaper with a border at the top that went with the rest of the house at the time. That was 25 years ago and the wallpaper no longer goes with the rest of the house. Plus, I was sick of it.

So, thinking that I still remembered how to hang wallpaper, I found about five patterns that I liked and C and I agreed on one called solitude.

I didn’t pay any attention to the fact that the pattern on the paper was an offset pattern (meaning that you will waste a good deal of paper making the pattern match). C removed all the cabinets (which I painted) and hardware from the room and I scraped off the old wallpaper and conditioned the walls for the new paper.

We knew that when you hang wallpaper the first piece you hang should be on the wall that is the most seen and completely plumb. This we did perfectly. Then we began hanging the rest of the room and got about halfway around and realized that we probably also needed to restart on the panel next to the first one and proceed the other way so that the end of the project (where there is always a mismatch of pattern) would be over the door and hardly noticed.

If you’ve never hung wallpaper I will tell you NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER attempt to wallpaper a bathroom for your first wallpaper job. It’s just too difficult. Besides the fact that bathrooms are generally small, they also have lots of things to maneuver around. Add to that walls that are completely out of plumb and you get THE TOUGHEST WALLPAPER JOB YOU WILL EVER ENCOUNTER. And that is why all the wallpaperers I called wanted $1,000 or more to do the job.

But I thought that since I had done this once before that I would be fine. And we mostly were, except for places where we weren’t and I’m not going to point them out because when you come to our house you’ll just look for them.

In a rush to finish, I decided to cut the last four panels for the job all at once. I thought I was meticulous at cutting them because they all matched, except I measured the length of them perfectly but didn’t measure the proper length from where the pattern matched so they were all a foot too long at the top and too short at the bottom. We had to shut down work until another roll of wallpaper arrived.

The new roll of wallpaper arrived and C cut it all because he knows how to be patient with cutting and not mess it all up. He drew the plumb line so I could keep the paper straight in spite of an inside corner that was over 1” out of wack and I hung the rest of the panels.

So the wallpapering is all done, but I still have some painting and fine fixing to do, but the bathroom is usable and the house is less of a mess.

Here’s the point: though working in a space so small we were almost on top of each other, making mistakes, having issues with hinges and hardware, shelves, medicine cabinet and the new light, not to mention the mess that extended into three other rooms of the house we did not scream or threaten, insult, scowl or threaten to divorce. In short, we just forged ahead and figured out how to make it work. Together.

To me, it is absolutely a testimony to us as a team. Clearly it would have been a lot easier to hire someone to do this work, but doing it ourselves made for a much better life experience. And now we have another $1,000 for a well-deserved vacation.


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Filed under advice, communication, family, house, manners, marriage, renovation

Where There is Love

the news has been filled with a lot of tough stories, what with all the strife abroad, the protests here at home and the natural disasters around the globe. but in the middle of all of that, we got a huge dose of “awwwwww…”

our daughter e and her boyfriend became engaged to be married. we knew that her boyfriend was going to propose to her because we spoke to him, like with did with our other daughter’s boyfriend, and told them they needed to come and speak to us before proposing. considering that both couples were already living together before they got engaged, asking for the boyfriend to come and speak to us was clearly an antiquated ritual. still, we clung to it because it gives us a chance to have a special moment with their boyfriend and officially welcome him into our family. we also get the fun of being in on a big secret and who doesn’t enjoy that?

e’s group of friends have this established ritual of throwing a surprise engagement party right after the engagement, so they were all poised for the big night last saturday. unfortunately, the party got a little too big to hold where it was originally scheduled, so it was moved to our house. it was a little hectic, but e’s friends brought food and drink and smiles.

what a happy, exciting night!

so now e and h begin the first tough test of their relationship: planning a wedding. so far they’re a good team, but we wouldn’t have expected anything less. it’s already interesting to see their ideas come together and in the end to see how they present themselves as a couple.

love is a beautiful thing. and when people you love express their love, well, life is more wonderful than usual.

sometimes a dose of love is all you need to put life in perspective.

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Filed under family, Love, manners, marriage, Parent

20 Important Rules for a Successful Marriage

I’m not an expert on marriage, but since C and I have been married for 29 years this month, I think I’m qualified to have a learned opinion.

So, here, in no particular order, is some of what I’ve learned about marriage:

1. Marry the right person. Character counts. There are things you need to talk about, honestly and in-depth before you marry someone. But before you do that, you need to be honest and in-depth with yourself about who you are.

2. Listen. Try to spend more time listening than talking. You might be surprised by what you learn.

3. Talk. Don’t be a martyr. Say what you need to say when you need to say it. Important word here is “need”.

4. Be polite. I’m always amazed at how many couples don’t say the simple words “please” and “thank you” to one another. If you would say it to a guest in your home, you need to say it to the person with whom you share your life.

5. No name calling. Not even if it’s a “joke”. Words hurt and they stick long after the flash of anger or annoyance has passed. Also, name calling is just a bad habit and it should be reserved for use on politicians and criminals.

6. Neatness counts. Messy living goes hand in hand with messy thinking which goes hand in hand with messy being. Honestly, it’s just an irritant, so grow up.

7. Enjoy each other’s company. Your spouse should be your best friend and the one with whom you look forward to spending time.

8. Make and keep good friends. You need a variety of people in your life and sometimes you need time away from your spouse.

9. Get rid of dumbass friends. They are never worth the time or energy. Especially the ones who denigrate your marriage because theirs is crappy.

10. Honesty is your friend. We all need some secrets, but ultimately the level of trust between the two of you should be so solid that you are able to fess up to stuff. It makes your relationship stronger and makes you a better person. Isn’t that part of the reason you chose a life partner?

11. Be a team. Life has ups and downs. Stop keeping score and stop competing with one another. Sometimes one or the other of you has to put your needs second for the short term so that everyone is better off in the long term. Negotiate the terms. Then renegotiate and renegotiate again and again as often as needed. You should have learned and changed some over the years and so should your relationship.

12. Don’t be a jerk. We can all be jerks and we can also do the best we can to not be jerks. Pay attention to when you’re being a jerk and stop it.

13. No cheating. Ever. None. Not at all. Does this even need to be said? You made a commitment and if there comes a point when you can no longer adhere to it, be honest with yourself and your partner. But be honest before you act out.

14. Really think of the money as “ours” no matter who earns it. The way you handle money as a couple can predict a lot about your relationship. Get on the same page with how to handle money.

15. Divide and conquer. No matter what you are doing or how you are living, a division of labor makes everyone’s life easier. Stick to gender rolls if it works for you, if not, figure out how each of you is going to learn a non-gender specific skill that will benefit the household.

16. Learn to pivot. Routine is great, but shit happens. Learn to be adaptable and you just may create good laughs and good fun.

17. Actions speak louder than words. Prefer to be and be with someone who acts lovingly toward you instead of just saying “I love you”. The behavior is the sustenance, the words are dessert.

18. His family is his, your family is yours. I’m sure you love your in-laws, but each of you needs to handle your own family issues yourself. Your spouse is there to help you through the issue, but you have to take the lead with your family.

19. Sex is not a chore. This one should actually be first but I didn’t want our kids to get the wrong impression. On the other hand, how do they think they got here? I’m shocked to find out that most married couples don’t enjoy an active sex life. You can’t have an intimate emotional life together if you don’t have an emotion-filled, satisfying sexual life together.

20. Laugh often . This is the great tonic of life.

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it’s the marriage, stupid

twenty seven years ago today c and i were married.  we had a small wedding in a tiny chapel at st. thomas the apostle in what used to be the country (now it’s an upscale suburb of gated communities). the tiny stone chapel with a tall white steeple was built in 1729 and has since been closed up in favor of a giant modern church.  

we were not members of st. thomas parish when we asked father dubrowski’s permission to get married there. (it was a picturesque stone chapel on a country road and a lot of people wanted to get married there). c told him that his great grandparents were married there, his parents were married there and he was baptized there.  father slid open the closet door in his office and revealed stacks of huge leather bound books that contained the records of the parish.  he pulled one off the shelf and began leafing through it.  the yellowed pages were handwritten, mostly in fountain pen, all in latin.  

he started by looking for c’s great grandparents.  he told us how people were usually married on a thursday, since that was often their only day off from work. he found c’s great grandparents wedding date in the records and read it to us, translating from latin.  it was a thursday.  he found c’s parents’ wedding date in another book and showed that to us.  he found c’s baptism record in another book and showed it to us.  cool. 

we were married on a friday. there was a raging summer rain storm outside during our vows, the church was mostly candlelit.  our reception was at a nearby restaurant (long gone now).  we paid for the wedding ourselves (the live band was courtesy of c’s great uncle).  i hired a seamstress to make my dress (i didn’t like or couldn’t afford anything i saw in the stores).  the lace cost more than the fabric of the dress.  (i saved the lace.  i sewed in on the bottom of the veil our daughter wore for her wedding.)  the whole thing cost $100.  i made my headpiece and veil.  we borrowed a car.  the florist surprised us with extra flowers at the church, he felt sorry for our puny budget.  he refused to make the kind of bouquet i wanted, the kind that you see in all the pages of wedding magazines now.  (back in the day a bouquet of non-white flowers was unacceptable) 

confession: i watch those wedding shows on tv.  i’m astonished at the amount of money people spend. i’m astonished at the attitudes of entitlement people have.  i’m astonished at how much time people spend talking and thinking about weddings instead of talking and thinking about marriages. i’m astonished at women who justify spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on wedding dresses because they’ve dreamed about their wedding day since they were a little girl.  i never dreamed about wedding dresses. i never dreamed about my wedding day.  i never even thought getting married until i met c and we decided to get married.  

we made a decision together to get married.  we didn’t go ring shopping.  (we were just too practical to spend money we didn’t have on the luxury of an engagement ring.)  after we announced that we were getting married, c’s family offered me a choice of two rings or one of two diamonds to be made into a ring.  i still wear the engagement ring. it’s from 1930s.   there’ve been a series of new wedding rings to celebrate our years together.  he’s had 3 and i’ve had three, each one with bigger diamonds.  hey, we’ve earned them along the way. 

we didn’t have a big fancy wedding.  we’ve had a big, fancy marriage.  there’s still a lot more to come.  



Filed under family, wedding