Tag Archives: Values

You Don’t Have to Get Married, So Maybe You Shouldn’t

Old School wedding scene

Screenshot from the movie “Old School” (Image/DreamWorks Pictures)

Frank: “Hey, I just want to thank you one last time for being here. It’s the best day ever.”

Beanie: “Don’t even start with me, Franklin, okay? You need to walk away from this ASAP.”

Frank: “What?”

Beanie: “You need to get out, Frankie. This is it. It’s now or never. You need to get out of here while you’re still single.”

Frank: “I’m not single.”

Beanie: “She’s 30 yards away. You’re single now.”

Frank: “Come on, Marissa’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Beanie: “Why don’t you give that six months. You don’t think that’ll change? I got a wife, kids. Do I seem like a happy guy to you, Frankie?”

Beanie: “There’s my wife. See that? Always smiling? Hi, honey. Judging, watching, ‘Look at the baby.’”

Mitch Martin: “She’s coming down the aisle, Beanie. Let it go.”

Author’s Note: I think the #1 problem in the world is how poorly humans manage their relationships. Even if you disagree, follow my logic, please. The biggest influence on whether our lives suck or are awesome is the quality of our closest relationships. For most of our lives, that’s the relationship with our spouses or long-term romantic partners. Human conflict is problematic everywhere. But when it’s two people who decided to pool resources and promised to love one another forever, and make and share children? It’s a crisis. The ripple-effect consequences know no bounds. Divorce breaks people, and then broken people break other things.

I think the #1 cause of divorce is relationship-damaging behavior by men who honestly don’t recognize it. Good men with good intentions who damage their wives’ emotional and mental health with behaviors they don’t understand to be as damaging as they are.

How? Why? There are no easy answers. But I think the closest one is: No one knows. Just like people spent decades smoking tobacco without knowing it had dire health consequences.

I think we don’t teach our children the truth about adulthood. That we don’t teach our boys the truth about manhood. Not because we’re liars. But because we didn’t know either.

This is the sixth in a series of posts about The Things We Don’t Teach Men (And How It Ruins Everything).

The Things We Don’t Teach Men: You Don’t Have to Get Married

I can’t prove this, but I believe almost everything we do in life is based off of us modeling the behaviors of others or doing things we believe we are “supposed” to because we think: This is how everyone does it!

Like when we stop our vehicles at red lights or “STOP” signs even though we can see that no other cars or pedestrians could be hurt or affected by us disregarding the traffic signal. Humans are creatures of behavioral habits. And many of those habits start before we can even talk, watching others around us do all the things.

I think that’s why most people get married. Because we grow up with adults who are mostly married or in some stage of dating, and that then makes us believe “Getting married is just what you do when you’re old enough!” Sprinkle in any beliefs about sex being sinful and wrong outside of marriage, and it’s not hard to see why most people make a beeline for a relationship model well known to fail painfully half of the time, and on average, spending $30,000-$40,000 between the engagement rings, wedding bands, wedding receptions and honeymoon trips just to get started.

A few key points here:

I am NOT pro-marriage (unless people plan to have children).

I am NOT anti-marriage.

What I AM is anti-divorce.

I am, I believe, a well-informed pragmatist on the subject. And I know that 95% of people WILL marry, or are planning to marry someday. That’s real-life math. Of all people ages 18 and up in the United States, 9.5 out of 10 are married, used to be married, or are planning to get married.

Thought exercise: Name something besides air, food and water that affects 9.5 out of every 10 people.

Other than cataclysmic apocalyptic things like asteroids striking earth or nuclear holocaust, there aren’t many things capable of impacting the human population as significantly as marriage does. Yet, the majority of people in positions to improve or optimize marriage, and to teach young children the things they need to know to have healthy and successful marriages, don’t seem to be talking about or thinking about any of this stuff.

We tend to not worry about cancer until we’re diagnosed with it.

We tend to not worry about marriage until we’re sobbing in the kitchen watching our wives drive away for the last time with our kids in the backseat.

The Masks We Wear Doom Our Relationships and Families

I got engaged and married sooner than I wanted to. I didn’t feel ready. But all around me, my friends and other couples we knew were getting married.

I was afraid to lose her. My fear of not being with her was bigger than my fear of getting married.

Which is all well and good. My biggest mistake was NOT being more fearful of divorce. But really, there was no way I could have known what I do today. And I never believed divorce was a realistic eventuality. My parents split when I was 4. I always said I would NEVER get divorced, and I meant it.

But I was just a kid. And you can’t know what you don’t know.

I was worried, but it wasn’t enough to scare me off. I assumed EVERYONE worried. I assumed EVERYONE doubted themselves. I assumed EVERYONE must feel this way leading up to their weddings.

The math for me was simple: I loved her and wanted to be with her, and I perceived marriage to be the only way that was going to happen.

We were married at 25.

Prior to marriage, we never had a legitimately honest and vulnerable conversation about sex. Likes, dislikes, fantasies, preferences, etc.

I blame me for this. I have some weird guilt-shame hang-ups about sex. Maybe all boys growing up in Catholic school in small, conservative Midwest towns do.

I wasn’t fully honest about things I liked and felt and wanted in the bedroom. I thought I was being a gentleman because I never wanted my wife to feel like she wasn’t good enough. And I never felt comfortable telling her all of the things I really thought about and felt, because What if she thinks I’m a weird perv and doesn’t want to be with me anymore?!?!

I never wanted to “plan” a date night or to have sex because I had this ridiculous idea in my head that all sex should be an act of passionate spontaneity.

I rarely flirted with my wife the way I did as a young single guy, or the way I can now as an old single guy.

There are several examples, I’m sure, of my wife and I not being as intentionally transparent and honest with one another as we should have out of fear of what the other might think.

The concept of being ACCEPTED is really important to a lot of people. It was always really important to me. Intellectually, I care less today. But emotionally? It still feels the same. There are people I want to like me and it’s not fun when it feels as if they don’t.

But a magical thought occurred to me over the past couple of years of dating, and once I recognized The Truth, almost everything about being single started to feel positive.

It has forever changed the way I feel about human relationships, about career opportunities, and about many significant Life events.

You DO NOT Want to Marry Someone Who Doesn’t Like the REAL You

I can’t begin to explain how powerful this realization was for me.

What am I so afraid of? That someone who is truly not a good fit, or a company that is truly not a good place for me to work, will reject me for being the most honest and real version of myself?

What is the motivation to date or marry someone, or to earn a job, where the true and authentic version of yourself is incompatible with the other person, or with the place you spend most of your time every day?

Yet, so many people put on masks and try to say things and behave in ways they believe the person they’re dating or the person interviewing them for a job wants to hear and see. So many people are afraid if someone knows the REAL us that we’ll be deemed unworthy of love or employment.

People go to great lengths for acceptance. To feel part of something with the best of intentions. What we often don’t realize until much too late is how many bad things could have been avoided if we were more courageous in sharing our innermost selves and thoughts and desires and beliefs, because the people who want THAT version of you—romantically or professionally—THOSE are the great matches with an incredibly high chance for success.

When you’re young and ignorant like I was, it feels safer to hide certain thoughts and feelings that might earn you a rejection from someone you want to like you. But when the stakes are as high as a marriage, or even a job where you will spend most of your time, there couldn’t be a more important time to be YOU.

Because you’re already good enough. Whether they like you or whether they hire you can’t and won’t change who you really are.

So we must own all the things that make us who we are.

And if we have to suffer dozens or hundreds of personal and professional heartbreaks and disappointments in order to get to our highly filtered matches? On the back end of a difficult divorce, I’m confident saying it feels worth it.

And even if it didn’t? Bad matches are bad matches, no matter how much they like you. And bad matches don’t have happy endings.

When people enforce their boundaries vigilantly while dating, ONLY people with a high probability for success will ever end up exchanging wedding vows with one another.

Your life will suck less and you will have a better chance for succeeding in your relationships if you read and behave according to this:

Please Read This:

THE MAGIC OF BOUNDARIES: DATE WELL, MARRY THE RIGHT PERSON, AND LOVE HARD FOREVER

 …

You don’t HAVE to get married. You don’t.

And even if you feel like you do, I promise you don’t want to marry someone with whom you have significant compatibility issues. Every day turns into a shit show, and you kind of want to die.

When we exercise bravery, we can embrace disappointment and those BAD things that happen because we understand that all the future good things can’t happen without these moments; then we all have the opportunity to write stories with less horror and trauma and tragedy, and with more humor and hope and happiness.

You know—all the good shit.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Having the Same Goals Won’t Save Your Relationship

hands slipping part

(Image/singleblackmale.org)

An unexpected phone call changed everything.

I was in the middle of failing to learn how to speak Spanish effectively when my dad handed me the house phone.

“Hello?”

She spoke.

Oh man. It’s her.

I hadn’t talked to her in six months, and even though we’d known each other for a few years, we didn’t know each other particularly well.

After a lifetime in Ohio like me, she was moving to Florida with friends, she said. She had just graduated from the same university where I had another year of classwork before I’d get my degree.

Something was telling her she needed to see me before she left. You know — a feeling. Just like in the movies.

Dad reluctantly agreed to a stranger he had never met flying into town and staying with us for a few days that set the direction for the rest of my life.

The family loved her. My friends loved her.

I loved her.

She canceled her planned move to Florida, knowing I was planning to move there a year later. She would wait.

I instantly stopped living like a single 21-year-old. I would wait.

We had the same goals.

And for the first time in my young life, I was pretty sure I had found someone with whom I wanted to chase them with forever.

An Unmatched Pace Will Cause Just as Much Distance as Misalignment

I think alignment between two people is a prerequisite to them having a successful relationship.

Two people must want the same things in life for them to have a functional, mutually beneficial partnership.

We can generically call them “goals.”

But what I really mean is that two people must achieve alignment with their values (and honor one another’s boundaries) to have any chance of making it.

I think people need to share core beliefs about life (especially if they are raising children together), otherwise I think their lives will suck. Painfully.

I think people need to honor their partner’s honestly communicated boundaries, and I think people need to enforce (that means, being willing to walk away) their own well-communicated boundaries when they are violated.

When you Share Values and Enforce Boundaries, you achieve Alignment.

And that shit’s important.

Here’s what happens when two things are off by just one degree, according to Antone Roundy’s blog post about achieving alignment in business:

“I’ve been thinking lately about the big differences little things make.

“Consider this. If you’re going somewhere and you’re off course by just one degree, after one foot, you’ll miss your target by 0.2 inches. Trivial, right? But what about as you get farther out?

  • After 100 yards, you’ll be off by 5.2 feet. Not huge, but noticeable.
  • After a mile, you’ll be off by 92.2 feet. One degree is starting to make a difference.
  • After traveling from San Francisco to L.A., you’ll be off by 6 miles.
  • If you were trying to get from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., you’d end up on the other side of Baltimore, 42.6 miles away.
  • Traveling around the globe from Washington, DC, you’d miss by 435 miles and end up in Boston.
  • In a rocket going to the moon, you’d be 4,169 miles off (nearly twice the diameter of the moon).
  • Going to the sun, you’d miss by over 1.6 million miles (nearly twice the diameter of the sun).
  • Traveling to the nearest star, you’d be off course by over 441 billion miles (120 times the distance from the earth to Pluto, or 4,745 times the distance from Earth to the sun).

“Over time, a mere one-degree error in course makes a huge difference!”

Going the Same Direction Doesn’t Mean You’ll Arrive Together

My wife and I always wanted the same things. Sure, there were times we had competing interests and personal things take us in opposite directions, but never far enough that our hands couldn’t reach out and grab the others’.

However, we had a catastrophic problem with pacing.

She didn’t enforce her boundaries strongly enough when I was an asshole.

And I didn’t enforce my boundaries strongly enough when she wanted to me to keep up with her — for me — unsustainable running pace.

As serendipitous and magical as it all felt having her call me out of nowhere that one night and change all of her life plans to give us a shot at Forever, I was still just a kid in his early 20s trying to figure it all out.

She wanted to leave Florida faster than me.

She wanted to get engaged and married faster than me.

And she wanted to do a bunch of little life things, which added up to Huge Life Things, at different speeds than me.

She’d get her way sometimes because I’d reluctantly agree. I’d get my way sometimes because she’d reluctantly agree. And rarely, if ever, were we feeling the simple joy of doing something for someone we loved.

Rarely, if ever, were we giving more than we take with a grateful and unselfish servant’s heart.

We were shoveling coal to keep the steam train moving, but not without a lot of resentment and questioning of whether the effort was worth it.

Throughout our lives and relationships, we grow and evolve as Life introduces All The Things to us at whatever pace it chooses. New opportunities, major life events like having children, illness, financial hardships or windfalls, and a million others.

Sometimes we’ll want this and that. Sometimes we’ll want this and that in a certain timeframe.

Sometimes they’ll want this and that. Sometimes they’ll want this and that in a certain timeframe.

Sometimes that will work out for everyone.

Sometimes it won’t.

The question then becomes: Do I want this and that more than I want my relationship? Or, a much better and unselfish one: For the benefit of my Marriage which I want more than This And That, am I willing to give what is required to help my partner achieve their This And Thats?

Alignment matters. Am I willing to continue in that same direction?

Pacing matters. Am I willing to speed up or slow down so my hand stays connected to their’s?

Simply having the same goals won’t save your relationship.

Only love will.

And only you can decide which direction you’ll move and how much effort you’re willing to exert to keep walking hand in hand.

Because, love? It’s not a feeling.

Love is a choice.

…..

AUTHOR’S NOTE: One of my favorite writers is a guy named Mark Manson. He has written some of my favorite pieces on Values here, and on Boundaries here. They’re awesome.

Mark’s new book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” is being released tomorrow much to the chagrin of everyone who hates profane language more than they hate learning how to embrace discomfort for the sake of growth

Mark agreed to do a short Q&A with me as part of his book launch, which I’m super-flattered about.

I’ll be sharing that tomorrow. Bad language will be involved.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here

iron fist

(Image/YouTube)

I’ve been forging my shiny new iron fist and intend to wield it mercilessly on properly informed violators.

The purpose of blog comments is to provide a tool for feedback and the exchange of ideas. As a staunch opponent of censorship, and a strong proponent of free speech, I have intentionally avoided anything resembling the policing of comments.

For most of Must Be This Tall To Ride’s existence, the posts were little more than ultra-personal, first-person stories, leaving comments that might be deemed “offensive” in the camp of being critical of my ideas or insulting me.

I’ve always been okay with that, and I’m still fair game. But other people are not.

Things are different now. Human beings—real people—most of whom are kind, conscientious and respectful of others, are having ongoing conversations in the comments that live beneath MBTTTR posts. In certain respects, it has become a living, breathing community.

Communities have guidelines. Established and agreed-upon codes of conduct designed to protect the community and cultivate an environment where its members can thrive.

By allowing community members or visitors to knowingly violate the spirit and principles of the community, the community will eventually cease to exist because all of the principled people with healthy values and boundaries will find a better way to spend their time.

MBTTTR community members have always, and will always, come and go.

But it can never again be because someone who doesn’t represent the core values, mission and purpose of this place is poisoning the well.

What that means is, moving forward, if someone knowingly poisons the well, I’m going to stick my digital iron fist directly up their ass and ask them to leave.

The Case for Being Intolerant of Intolerance

“Hey, Matt!!! What kind of comments will you delete?!”

The simplest and most generic way to explain the new comment-enforcement policy would be: A comment should not grossly violate the Kindness litmus test.

Kind DOES NOT mean the same thing as “nice.” But they’re close. This isn’t about everyone liking one another. It’s about everyone treating others with the requisite amount of dignity and respect.

KINDNESS
“Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.”

If it doesn’t pass that common-sense sniff test, I’m trashing it.

“Hey, Matt!!! Isn’t it possible something might feel unkind to me and others but NOT you, which would cause more disagreements?”

Totally possible.

Because I remain staunchly anti-censorship. I am anti-censorship because I believe so strongly in personal responsibility. I believe people are in control of themselves and responsible for their choices. Choosing to share an idea publicly, which is then rejected by another person or group, is a fundamental part of the free exchange of ideas. And sometimes that will hurt people’s feelings. And that will create paradoxes and situations which flirt dangerously close to hypocrisy.

But so long as I adhere to the principles about to be shared, and so long as most of you do the same, we will often arrive at a great place.

“How?”

Moving forward, we will be a tribe.

A tribe that (when exchanging ideas in MBTTTR comments, at least) is united in its effort to lift up all tribe members. More on this in a moment.

The Magic of Defining Yourself

The best thing I’ve read recently is The Book In A Box Culture Document—something that very intentionally, deliberately, and thoroughly defines the culture of Book In A Box. (An MBTTTR reader thoughtfully shared it with me, and I can’t overstate my gratitude.)

One of the most important lessons of my first year as a partner in a startup company is the power of an organization putting clearly defined ideas to paper regarding its mission and purpose.

When you define your purpose, difficult decisions mostly go away. Because a choice tends to either serve the mission and purpose, or not.

The fantastic BIAB Culture Doc served as my model for fleshing out the principles that will guide the MBTTTR tribe moving forward.

…..

Thrive

(Image/likesuccess.com)

The MBTTTR Mission, Purpose, Values & Principles

MBTTTR’s beginning was firmly rooted in the Me, Me, Me space.

MBTTTR’s future will be firmly rooted in the Us, Us, Us space.

Our collective mission, purpose, values and principles will be clearly defined while ALSO being subject to scrutiny and change when new information demands change. Those conversations will happen with the passage of time, and we will collectively adjust course as needed. Together.

Mission (What are we doing?)

To tell honest stories about the human experience—even when it’s uncomfortable and against our natural self-preservation instincts—to connect others to good people, good questions and good ideas in ways that help humans thrive.

Purpose (Why are we doing it?)

To use judgment-free storytelling as a tool to lift people up—mending hearts, enriching minds and uplifting souls—for the betterment of human relationships.

We believe human relationships are the things which most strongly influence an individual’s quality of life. That people with healthy, high-functioning relationships have measurably better lives than those who do not.

We believe human relationships thrive when individuals are prepared to contribute positively to them.

We believe a person is best prepared to contribute positively when she or he is balanced in four key areas: Mind (mental health), Body (physical health), Spirit (spiritual health), and Emotion (emotional health).

Values (What do we care about?)

1. Things that matter.

“Hey Matt! What matters?”

Who do you want to be with if you only have one day to live? What do you want to do? What are the things you’re thinking about?

Those things matter.

Here, we mostly care about the earthly thing that matters above all others—people.

2. Learning and growth.

“Knowing things is great, but the reality is that most “facts” are either an illusion, or have a short half-life,” the BIAB Culture Doc says. “The success of our tribe will not be determined on what we know right now. It will come from our ability to learn quickly, and implement what we learn.

“This means every person in our tribe must be an active and lifelong learner. We all must be curious, willing to ask questions, and most important, willing to change our minds when new facts demand a new perspective.”

Come to discussions with a Beginner’s Mind. With humble inquiry.

If your goal isn’t to find the best answer, but to win an argument on the internet, our relationship will be short-lived.

The MBTTTR Tribe cares about finding the best idea. The closest thing to Truth we can arrive at in all of our flawed humanity.

“Let the best idea win,” says PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

And it will be a guiding principle here.

The beauty lives in the trying.

3. Results.

While we celebrate, encourage and admire those who try, we value results. Another BIAB-inspired guiding principle of MBTTTR will be just that.

You get brownie points for trying. You also get divorced.

Intentions often matter. But if you’re trying earnestly to be a good spouse, but failing as evidenced by your shitty, dysfunctional and broken relationships, we think that should be taken into account.

If you don’t TRY to hurt your wife, but you ACCIDENTALLY hurt her, the following becomes true: You hurt your wife.

If NOT hurting your wife is a guiding principle in your marriage, then your intentions mean little.

Another BIAB gem: We award medals for results. Not attempts.

“While we deeply value results, results by themselves are not enough; we must get results the right way. Of course this means being ethical and honest and doing the right thing. But it goes beyond that,” the BIAB Culture Doc says. “Getting great results means that we must be focused on the experience that people have when dealing with us.”

4. We value human connection and shared experiences.

By considering the experiences of the other people we interact with, it requires us to be empathetic and considerate. It forces us to see everyone as another human, with their own wants and needs and desires, and it compels us to consider those in our actions.

The most important life lesson I’ve learned post-divorce is:

A. Ohhhhh. THAT’s what empathy means!, and

B. Holy shit. Empathy is the most important life skill people need to succeed in relationships, but few people ever explain or define it for young people.

[Author’s Note: The remainder of this document is mostly in note form and heavily modeled after the content generated from the BIAB team. For the sake of time, I need to move onto other things. I will make this document a permenant fixture as a page on this site, and I (or WE!) will more clearly define these principles moving forward.]

Principles (How do we apply our values?)

The First Principle: We before me

 

The Second Principle: Tell the truth

“Amateurs want comforting lies. Professionals want to hear uncomfortable truths,” the BIAB Culture Doc says.

Truth is about caring. Truth can be painful, but if you deliver it right—with both candor and authentic kindness—it helps people more than anything else you can do for them.

The Third Principle: It’s not necessarily what you say or do, it’s how they feel

Again: Medals for results, not attempts.

There must be room in our hearts and minds for others’ experiences. Our experiences DO NOT and CANNOT define the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and expieriences of others.

The Fourth Principle: Our goal is to find the best idea

From BIAB:

We criticize ideas, not people.

Why? Because most people tie their identity to their ideas.

This attitude is toxic and destructive to creative and free discussions. We are the opposite. Confrontation is good, as long as it’s about the ideas and not the person.

We call this “shoot the message, never the messenger,” and the point is that all discussion is always about an idea, and never about a person. We discuss what is right, NEVER who is right.

However: You are not your ideas.

People must feel like their identity is safe–even if their ideas are not.

This is very difficult to achieve (it is in some ways against core parts of human nature), but if we can do it, we create an environment that has people intensely debating and rigorously scrutinizing ideas—that is simultaneously respectful of people.

This creates the best outcomes for everyone, because it means the best ideas will almost always win—which means the tribe will win.

CLARIFYING NOTE: This principle also means your beliefs must be based on facts, and you must be willing to change your beliefs if the facts change.

Feedback must be our North Star. It’s HOW we navigate and calibrate and make sure that we are serving the MBTTTR mission, the interests of the tribe, and the other people we affect. How else can we know we’re doing the right thing, unless we’re hearing it from the people we affect?

…..

For the love of all that is good and beautiful and worth caring about in this life…

Pretty please…

Be kind to each other.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Have a Good-Enough Relationship

(Image/theodesseyonline.com)

(Image/theodesseyonline.com)

“What *is* enough?” she asked.

Fair question, I thought, since I’d just written a list of things that WERE NOT enough, without offering any thoughts on what is. In Diagnosing Relationship Failure is not for the Self-Assured, I listed a litany of conditions that are great for relationship health, but which I think are things people (often men) use to “Yeah, but… !” their partners during arguments. I know how pathetic it is because it’s how I used to think.

EXAMPLE: Husband works late without communicating it to his wife, who came home for the day and spent two hours preparing a meal for their “date night” while the kids were with grandma. Husband forgot because he has a brain like mine, or he simply decided that a project on deadline was more important than making it to dinner with his wife.

Wife: “It would have been helpful if you’d told me about your busy work day BEFORE I spent two hours making all this. It really hurts that you didn’t bother letting me know you’d be late. This is so typical of the things you do that show me how you don’t respect me or this marriage.”

Husband: “Wait a damn minute. What about that new car sitting in the driveway we’re shelling out more money for precisely because I respect your job and that you needed a new one? It’s not like I was trying to ruin your night. I just forgot. I wasn’t out boozing with my friends. I was earning money so that we can live in this house and help our kids go to college!”

Wife: “You forgot because you don’t value our relationship. You only remember things that matter to you.”

Husband: “Things that matter to me?! [Insert spoken list in Asshole Voice® detailing all of the sacrifices he feels he makes on her behalf.] Talk about being ungrateful! Stop treating me like I blow all of our money on gambling like your brother, or shove you into furniture like Jim does to Lisa.”

I used to do it all the time, even if I didn’t always speak the words.

I thought because I was a nice, friendly person who didn’t have addiction issues, wasn’t physically abusive, wasn’t engaged in criminal activity, wasn’t a threat to abandon our family, was educated and employed, and contributed financially to things she cared about which I didn’t, that I was—by default—a good husband.

I thought because I wasn’t what I envisioned a bad husband to be, that I couldn’t be one. As if bad-husband behavior could ONLY be whatever I defined it to be.

Want to get divorced and/or be a life-long asshole?

Tell people you hurt that you’re NOT actually hurting them no matter what they say, or that YOUR definition of what something is or is not is the only true metric by which to measure Life Things.

You are wrong. A LOT. About many things. Life gets so much better when you stop treating those around you as if their individual life experiences are incorrect figments of their imaginations.

In the aforementioned post, I wrote:

“Being nice isn’t enough.

“Being friendly isn’t enough.

“Having good intentions isn’t enough.

“Being a reliable financial partner isn’t enough.

“Avoiding criminal activity or substance abuse isn’t enough.

“Not cheating isn’t enough.

“Being home every night isn’t enough.

“Not being verbally, sexually, or physically abusive isn’t enough.

“Avoiding pornography and/or ogling attractive people in public isn’t enough.

“Not sucking as much as that other husband or wife you know isn’t enough.

“Being a good parent isn’t enough.

“The hopes and dreams you think you share aren’t enough.

“A fatal flaw or shortcoming or too-small-to-notice crack or untightened bolt flies easily undetected when things appear to be functioning—maybe even well.

“But the truth is the truth, no matter what you want to believe.

“Believing you are a good spouse DOES NOT make you a good spouse (just as someone else telling you what you are doesn’t necessarily make it so).”

To which I was asked: “What *is* enough?”

‘Enough’ is Whatever Two People Agree To

If one person disagrees, it’s not enough.

That means it will change between any two people. That means it won’t always seem reasonable to everyone.

“Enough” is what a husband or wife agrees is enough. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ve had three jobs since graduating college.

In my first job, I could come and go as I please, and didn’t have to tell anyone why or where I was going or anything. That was enough.

In my second and third jobs, I’m generally expected to be in the building between certain hours every day.

In my first job, I could wear whatever I wanted. I wore shorts and jeans all the time (it was in Florida), except when I had a high-level meeting to attend.

In my second job, we had casual days every Friday.

In my third job, we only have casual days once per month, with some randoms thrown in.

You will have your own personal opinion about those schedule and dress-code policies, and you are entitled to it.

If you start a company today, you can establish whatever rule makes the most sense to you. There’s no right or wrong. There’s just the way it is, and then people get to decide whether they’ll put up with it. It’s something that’s agreed upon upfront.

If I wore shorts and jeans every day, or came to and left my office without telling anyone in my current job, it wouldn’t take me very long to get fired. Maybe a couple of weeks, tops.

Even though that EXACT behavior was totally okay and part of the cultural norm in my job 15 years ago.

There is no universal Enough.

Just because your partner thinks it’s fine to snort coke and shoot whiskey in front of your school-aged kids DOES NOT mean you have to think it’s okay.

And just because your partner insists on home-schooling your future kids because he or she doesn’t want them exposed to kids saying bad words and talking about sex in junior high or middle school DOES NOT mean you have to agree that that’s the best way to raise them.

LONG, LONG, LONG before we marry, we are supposed to outline our values. We communicate them VERY clearly through our words and actions. If you don’t, there’s a good chance much of your life sucks.

Every day of our lives we have boundaries. Boundaries on what we will tolerate in terms of how we are treated, or in terms of what we are willing to be associated with, or in terms of what we are willing to subject children to.

Marrying or even seriously dating someone with conflicting values is a recipe for disaster. Always.

Marrying or even seriously dating someone who repeatedly violates your well-communicated boundaries is next-level foolish. Always.

We communicate our values.

We ENFORCE our boundaries. And, (this is really important) we walk the hell away once they are violated by someone who KNEW they were doing so.

I don’t care if that’s cheating, or speaking profanely, or leaving a dirty glass by the sink.

A boundary can be anything we determine it to be. It doesn’t matter whether it seems reasonable to the other person, but we damn sure better communicate those boundaries BEFORE exchanging “I promise to love you forever!” vows with them.

Have a boundary. Enforce it dutifully.

That process organically filters out the crap.

What’s enough? You decide. And in a marriage WE decide. Two of us—together.

With all due respect to the vast majority of humanity, discovering major value differences between you and your partner, or experiencing a blatant lack of respect for your personal boundaries AFTER marriage is a clear sign [* insert southern-twang voice*] you done effed up.

What is enough?

An honest and transparent person who communicates their wants and needs to someone they are dating, and then in love with, and then committed to; and their partner providing the same thing in return.

Simply because they love each other.

Preferably more than they love themselves.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: