Kelly and I were married when we were still kids. I was two months away from my 19th birthday. We were too young. Got it.
But to have done it any differently? Would that mean no Kishia three years later? No Natasha two years after that? 30th anniversary before I was 50? There are things in my life I would have done differently, but nothing before the age of 40. (Except maybe that time my friend, Kenny, and I caught the railroad box car on fire. And maybe a few other things from those days.)
Does any couple truly understand what they’re getting into by getting hitched? No, but you can’t know. You can just know you’re supposed to and, ultimately, that decision is entered into and sealed by the couple. They are accountable to each other and God and — someday! — their children. (No pressure there, Kory and Tash, but this fella LOVES being a grandpa!)
Now let’s get on with the business of “How to wreck your marriage.”
Wrecking ball No. 4: Call 1-800-Mom-orDad.
You’ll see a lot of namby-pamby advice out there about making sure the groom has cut the umbilical cord to mom and that the bride steps away from being daddy’s shadow. Don’t believe it, because if your goal is to wreck your marriage — and this one is a slow, maybe even years-long process — involving the in-laws/parents inappropriately and not drawing clear boundaries about their efforts to steer your marriage and eventually raise your children for you is a no-brainer. (File away the “no-brainer” reference for a sec.)
How this wreck occurs is when bride and/or groom insist on using mom and/or dad to vent about the offending spouse. And this can happen very passively (another GREAT trait for marriage wreckage), as in bride/groom not actively complaining about the other to mom/dad, yet mom/dad might say, “Oh, you poor misunderstood boy/girl,” and the wedge drives a little deeper. Later, when the in-law mom/dad brings this up to the offending spouse, it will create great pain (a la “wreck”). And when offending spouse mentions that talking about her/him to your mom/dad was hurtful, you can blame your mom/dad (the in-laws – stay with me here), and apologize with, “I just wasn’t thinking.”
“I wasn’t thinking” is its own wrecking ball, at the ready for repeated use. Telling your spouse often enough that “I wasn’t thinking” will give him/her the clear signal that, in fact, you don’t think much about him/her. And when you defend mom/dad (instead of defending your spouse) by saying, “Oh, c’mon, mom/dad didn’t mean anything by it,” what you’re saying is that the in-laws don’t think much of or about him/her, either.
That’s a great way to wreck a marriage, and usually it’s a slow, methodical wreck. Might take years of practice. Give it a whirl!
This wrecking ball is basically spelled “F-A-M-I-L-Y,” because your new one will be messed up soon enough even without the deliberate or well-intended meddling of in-laws. But you want to be sure to remind your spouse that “our family has these special traditions at (insert name of holiday) that we always do.” There’s automatically a head-on crash, because both spouses can reference family traditions that are part of the fabric of their lives.
“Oh, honey, you’ll just love Uncle Merle. He’s the one with the hairy back. My family has played Twister with Uncle Merle every Christmas morning now for 83 years. He never wears a shirt. We love that silly goof-ball.”
“I was hoping we could spend Christmas with MY family. We do that thing every Christmas Eve and then eat deer organ meat and we all sleep on the floor together in the attic. I thought that after we got married you’d want to be with MY family. And what about Thanksgiving? I was thinking of having MY family here this year.”
It’s not just holidays when this thinking is popular. You can’t even begin to imagine all the wonderfully subtle ways this theme gets played out.
Keep feeding the “my family” theme that excludes your new spouse. Don’t for one second think of something as zany as starting your own family traditions, like instead of trying to keep track of who visited whom last Thanksgiving you do something silly like deciding that your family’s tradition — YOUR family, the two of you (and kids when they arrive) — will be to go to the Salvation Army to prepare and serve Thanksgiving to others as a demonstration of gratitude that your family — husband and wife and children — is incredibly blessed.
That would just be old-fashioned, kinda like that ancient Bible verse that says a man (not the woman) must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Old-fashioned. (As if those old sayings even had merit way back then).
Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (and music video), simply one of the best songs ever.