Marriage Lessons…?

Couple Embracing 1As usual, my pre-blog state is one thing, the actual blog another. During break this morning I came across this article in the Huffington Post and just had to read it.

I’m almost sorry I did.

I was born in the early 50’s, so I never really “knew” what their version of marriage should be. Yes, my mom loved my dad. Yes, my dad suffered from PTS from World War II, something men back then didn’t talk about. Yes, my dad occasionally pulled out the Army Belt to make a point to my brothers.  Yes, that wasn’t the right way to do things, but that’s how it was done.

But this article entitled, “Aweful ’50s Marriage Advice Shows What Our Mothers and Grandmothers Were Up Against,” shocked me to my core. With all the news lately about domestic violence, and perpetrators saying that’s how they were raised, gives even more insight into what our mothers and grandmothers really went through.

Taken from the Ladies’ Home Journal’s Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, here are the top lessons back then:

Lesson: A woman’s “personality” is to blame for marital problems. (April 1953)

Solution: Sylvia was advised to “change her personality and deeply rooted attitudes” against her husband, the counselor wrote, because she’d “deeply wounded his masculine pride.” Being too “fast” with boys in her past had left the 31-year-old almost as emotionally immature as a child of four or five … driving her husband out of his home to the corner bar and into the arms of other women.” The counselor found ways to blame Sylvia in every aspect of the couple’s marital woes, from Everett’s drinking to Everett’s probable infidelity, while Everett himself merely “modified” his drinking and philandering.


Lesson: The longer you’ve been married, the more you should let domestic violence slide. (April 1954)

Solution: Apparently, Lucy was now chained to her abusive husband because she’d somehow missed her window of escape at the ripe old age of 36. “[Lucy], her child and her elderly aunt were financially dependent… Without Dan, Lucy was marooned” — safety and mental health be damned. Lucy’s husband, a man who didn’t like seeing women in pants, was even excused for considering his son a “rival” because his wife wasn’t paying him enough “badly needed praise, appreciation, admiration [and] love.”


Lesson: Wives should be able to read minds (February 1953)

Solution: the counselor chided Alice for her lack of ESP. “In cooking him expensive steaks and smothering him with excessive protestations of love,” it was explained, “she was offering him not the kind of attention he wanted and needed but the kind she wanted herself.” A good wife would have realized she was making nice dinners the family couldn’t quite afford, even though her husband wasn’t using his big boy words to express himself.


Lesson: If you don’t give your spouse enough attention, he has a fair excuse to cheat on you (May 1953)

Solution: “Of course, she herself was largely responsible for Joe’s infidelity. She practically drove her husband to find in the company of another woman a little of the praise and credit he was not receiving at home,” the counselor wrote. Amy was advised to “adopt a divergent set of values” because she was “just too busy.” Poor Joe “felt like a nobody who didn’t count” while his wife made sure they had enough income to eat.


Lesson: Never try to have it all (October 1955)

Solution: The counselor found Patrice at fault not just because of her career, but “the way she handled her career, her husband [and] her child.” Patrice, the counselor noted, “grew to womanhood hating the unalterable fact that she was doomed to be a female in a man-made world.” Luckily, she got her “true reward” in the end, “when she reduced her career to second place … she became a successful wife and a successful mother.”

You have to read the details behind each lesson. You have to.

Here is the link:

Have fun. And quit squinching up your face every other word…



Marriage: (1) the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife. That’s from the Oxford Dictionary.  The Cambridge Dictionary says almost the same thing: a legally accepted relationship between a woman and a man in which they live as husband and wife, or the official ceremony which results in this. Okay. I get this.  Regardless of the (2)’s and (3)’s after the (1), marriage is just about the same in all dictionaries, all books, a universal given that enables a couple to stick like glue to each other until death (or other circumstances) do they part. 

As most of you know, there are many a road bump that presents themselves between the innocence of “I Do” and “I Did.”  Some my friends never made it past bump one or bump fifteen.  Some have slid over the bumps like snowboards over the mounds. Marriage means different things to different people. We all make the same mistakes: it’s just that some of us marry them, others of us merely date them.

I am just coming down from another one of our famous family parties ― this one a barbeque celebrating 30 years of wedded bliss between my husband and myself. Actually we celebrated this momentous occasion last January, but hey ― who wants to barbeque hot dogs and brats in two feet of snow?  Now that the beer has been drunk and snacks devoured and brats scarfed, I sit in my living room the next day, and it hits me. Thirty years. When I got married Ronald Reagan was president, Sharkey’s Machine was #1 in the box office, and John Belushi died of an overdose. The prince of England that recently got married (William) had just been born, and gas was 91 cents a gallon.  I could go on and on about the changes in the world, the economy, and the scientific community in the last 30 years, but the point of all this purging of dates and ages and discoveries has nothing to do with the evolution of the world. It has to do with the evolution of me.  It’s more a story about putting up with the same human being longer than it takes to get to Jupiter and back.

So many things have happened in these thirty years. Just stop for a moment and try and remember what you were doing your-age-minus-thirty years ago. I can barely remember what I did last week, yet those days of living in apartments and going on field trips and school plays are as fresh as a month ago. Yet in all those years I managed to produce two great kids (who have produced one great grandbaby), beat cancer, say final goodbyes to parents and in-laws, survive a multitude of jobs and houses and financial states, and still say “I Love You” to the man lying beside me at night. Is that a blessing or just luck?

As I get older I realize it all bubbles up from the same pot. Life and Luck and Love all start with the same letter as Loss and Limits and Lousy.  I used to believe the world was a wonderful grey alphabet of choices that existed just for my perusal.  Now I know that, in the long run, choices are forever either one way or the other. There is no “kinda” yes or “maybe” no. You either do or do not. You either are in love or you’re not. You either have chemistry or you do not. Waiting around for emotions and magic to “grow” doesn’t happen. You either want to rip each other’s clothes off or you are turned off by the thought. You either want to cuddle or you do not. You either are willing to drop your expectations of “perfection” or you will search until you find it.

I’m sure I have not been the prize of the century for my married half. Hubby is a logical, practical, bullet-pointed hunter who works with the world just as it is. I am a dreamy, ditzy, pretzel logic kinda girl who mingles astronomy with astrology and astral travels when convenient. I am over-emotional, over-reactive, and too introspective for my own good, and keep an eye open for dragons as well as airplanes in the sky. But there must be enough here for him to want to stick around all these years.  We have come toe-to-toe with financial disaster, taken giant leaps of faith, and guided family members through the hardest days of their lives. We have also stood side by side at soccer games, baseball games, graduations, funerals, weddings, DUI’s and masters degrees. We have built decks and fixed cars by ourselves, travelled to Disney World and Las Vegas, and gone camping and skiing with all sorts of families. We have been dreamers, financial analysts, psychologists and best friends. We have been parents, children, babies and spoiled brats. We have been blossoming flowers and nasty weeds. We have said “yes” more than we have said “no,” and still do a great hippy hippy shake to “Kickstart My Heart.”

These thirty years have been the best years of my life. They’ve actually been the only years of my life.  No road is smooth, and every one we wander down is full of turns and choices. That’s what life’s all about anyway, isn’t it? In the end, your choice doesn’t matter. Just what you do with it. And I’ve been lucky enough to have made this one with my best friend.

Happy anniversary, you old dog.