Tag Archives: how to wreck your marriage

The Wedding Countdown: 2 days away

Line-in-Sand_3

Five, four, three, two …

Tomorrow will be one: One day until our youngest princess marries her prince. Natasha Jackson and Kory Myrick will tie the knot at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Today was a break-neck busy, dizzying sort of day. As Kelly and Natasha carefully applied swirls of icing to 124 cupcakes, I kept watch over three pork butts on the grill. I’m a charcoal-only guy, sworn to uphold the fine art of grilling by controlling the heat of a briquette – and the smoke of damp chunks of hickory. Once upon a time I thought that barbecuing was simply the act of putting a slab of meat on a grill over flames, with an occasional squirt of lighter fluid to keep the fire raging.

That’s what I now call “desecrating,” not barbecuing the meat. In fact, there’s nothing barbecue about my grilling these days. The sauce can go on the side after the morsels are properly grilled. I can’t even tell you how many years I snuffed out flavor with flame or thick sauce. Grilling is an art form that I seek to master.

A little while ago when I let the dog out I checked the grill – 8:30 p.m. – and the temperature gauge still read 175-degrees. That was exactly 12 hours after I put three pork butt roasts on the grill, flanked on both sides by white-hot briquettes, with a 9×12 drip pan under the meat – about 17 pounds worth of hog heaven. I checked periodically to make sure the temperature was between 225 and 275, turned the meat ever so gently when necessary, and kept the oak chips and chunks smoking after the first hour.

The smallest roast registered 170 degrees at the center just three hours later. The others came off the grill and 12:15 and 12:45, respectively. Given a good half hour for the juices to settle in but not too cool off to noticeably, those butts practically fell apart. The meat either pulled or shredded with ease, and I shared some burnt ends with Natasha as she iced cupcakes. Kelly got some samples of the interior goodness. She’s not a burnt ends fan and not a fan of the spices that gave the outer butt a nice kick: chili powder and cayenne pepper. My rub recipe, which was applied the day before, also includes a healthy amount of paprika (sweetness), salt, pepper, oregano and the primary ingredient: brown sugar.

The pulled pork, my grilled-finished mac and cheese (first time I’ve tried that) and other goodies will be the fare for Friday’s rehearsal dinner.

Tonight (I’m writing this Thursday) is my final entry for “How to Wreck Your Marriage.” Tomorrow’s, on wedding eve, I’ll give some pointers on what to do when you’ve wrecked your marriage.

Yeah. I have some experience. (Guys, I dare you to tell me you don’t).

And tonight, we’re talking about sex. And I’m talking to the guys.

Wrecking ball No. 15 – Believe that sexual purity and faithfulness to your wife is a line in the sand, and as long you don’t cross it, you’re pure.

See that line? You can get right up to it – inch your way closer, closer and right there, just not OVER the line – and you haven’t strayed from your vows. That’s the wrecking ball that will eventually knock you over the line if you keep standing there, toying with your thoughts, fantasies, the thrill of a pursuit or chase that, hey, is just a friendly sort of thing and, besides, all guys do that.

All guys do that: hardly needing to be lured or enticed to the line because they live right next to it. If you’re rationalizing the fantasies that play out in your head, you’re likely connected to others who also have their toes about a millimeter from that purity line. Just stay right there and I promise – You. Will. Wreck. Your. Marriage.

Here’s the thing about that line: It allows for “look but don’t touch,” to flirt and entice without consequences. But, ultimately, it allows for different options. When you’re comfortable enough toeing the line, any marital crisis, unaffectionate moment or indifference from your wife, or the desire to just be “a really good friend” to another woman in a time of need are life circumstances that lead to easy justification for crossing the line.
Every man needs to read “Every Man’s Battle,” subtitled, “Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time.”

See, here’s the deal: What you think you’ll gain in pleasure, approval, acceptance, confidence – whatever – by testing and eventually crossing that imaginary purity line amounts to a grain of sand compared to the pleasure, affirmation, dignity and strength of being faithful, from seeing the sexual connection of marriage as a body, mind, soul and spirit intimacy that comes from honoring and cherishing your wife.

I’m trying to avoid being preachy, but I need to say that my faith and value system is based on the belief that it’s up to each man to redeem manhood. And every man fights this battle. To the guy who believes that monogamy is old-fashioned and unachievable, my advice is to get far away from the woman who loves you, because you’re setting her up for unspeakable pain. Do her a favor and get out of her life now.

Tough words? No, the tough words come from the empty, tear-drained eyes that accompany the question, “How could you?”

So where is a man supposed to draw the purity line?

Nowhere. There isn’t a line that you can see, that if you simply stay on this side of it, you’re okay. Your wife’s hand, your wife’s heart, your wife’s trust and honor are your anchor. (Spiritually speaking, for us Christians the anchor is Jesus Christ, and the words of Paul the Apostle: “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.” There’s no line there, no other options. And it means battling to the death for your beloved princess. Not up for that? You’re not ready for marriage).

This sort of faithfulness and purity is possible, especially if you lock arms and hearts with other men who refuse to draw that line. And you’d better find those allies and partners-in-arms in every season of life. Our biological and sexual “wiring” is one thing. Our sexually-charged, anything-goes culture is out to wreck you: your marriage, your dignity, your manhood – your life.

Guys, no one has suggested this is easy. That’s why it’s called a battle. But every warrior headed for or engaged in battle asks himself, “Is this cause worth it?”

Is your wife worth it? Come on, ask yourself that question.

If you can see that line in the sand, you’re not saying, “Maybe not.” You’ve already said, “No.” You’ve answered that question long before you stepped across that line.

Playlist

Casting Crowns, “Slow Fade.” Please take five minutes to see this powerful music video.

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Four days from wedding day: The countdown

Four days away from giving my daughter’s hand to her prince. Natasha and Kory will officially embark on their forever together, but they’d tell you that their hearts are already on that lifelong journey.

Tomorrow (I’m writing Tuesday, post will publish Wednesday) my primary job is to rub the butts. Um, that’s pork butts, of course, getting them ready for a day of smoking over charcoal and hickory on Thursday.

Can’t you already savor the aroma? Tempted by the taste?

flower man

Let’s shift gears and prepare for more of “How to Wreck Your Marriage.” Today and tomorrow’s wrecking balls can be used by either gender, but I’m primarily talking to the guys. You might want to have the kids out of the room for tomorrow’s, unless you’ve got a young man age 12 or so and up.

Wrecking ball No. 13 – Wait for the big moment.

Women are always doing those “little things” to make life work for us, but we need a big moment – a big splash – to show her how much we love her.

She says, “I keep asking you to take out the trash, but it’s as if you don’t hear me.”

You say: “But I bought you flowers that one time. Back then. A few months … or so … ago. Didn’t I?”

She says, “I just need you to tell me sometimes that I’m pretty.”

You say, “But you know I feel that way about you, you know, without saying it. Besides, my love language was mounting that flat screen for you on the wall in the bedroom. Speaking of which, the Cardinals game starts in about 15 minutes. Why don’t you make us some popcorn?”

That’s it. Wait for the big moment. No need to get bogged down in the little things – especially the little things of the heart. There’s really no need to tell her you love her, because you show her all the time.

A cool variation of this wrecking ball is to create chaos – oh, you can do it – and then step in to rescue your damsel. It’s kind of like putting out the fire with a hose in one hand and still clutching the lighter and/or gas can in the other hand.

She’ll appreciate that. And be sure to keep track of your great moments, because you’ll need to remind her
ad nauseum on those occasions that she points out – either indirectly or flat out – that you’re not doing your share of the work around the house.

BONUS WRECKING BALL: If she asks for help with the dishes – because, of course, you would dream of taking that on by yourself – tell her you could help except that it’s “women’s work.”

She’ll love that. Any reference to the 1950s (when women knew their place) or telling her that your mom didn’t expect you to help around the house, so it’s her who has the problem.

Playlist

A couple of great selections. Because I referenced the 50s and Saturday’s wedding has a “vintage” theme, here’s Ronnie Milsap with “Lost in the Fifties Tonight.”

Followed by Nazareth (that hair ROCKS) with “Love Hurts.” It was 1976, I was 13. Kelly and I started “going together” in November that year.

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Five days and counting, we’re full blown ‘Wedding Central’

night-lake-dark-scenery

Wedding countdown

Five days away from Natasha and Kory’s “I do.” We’re now counting down by blocks of time and tasks that are getting checked off Kelly’s master list(s). (Re: see yesterday’s post).

Once upon a time, we could drive to Wal-Mart, I’d drop Kelly off at the front of the store, and she’d begin shopping and after I’d found a parking space, I’d go in and find her. It worked pretty well for a couple of decades. Nowadays I enter the store as I tap Kelly’s number on my cell phone to ask, “Where are you?”

It’s getting more difficult to recall life PD – pre-digital. Technology makes my head spin.

I’m also have trouble remembering when Kelly wasn’t part of my life. We began “going together” – that was the vernacular of the day – on Nov. 22, 1976. That was 37 years ago. We’ve been married 31. The truth is, every pre-Kelly memory seems to be attached to the question, “Where was Kelly?” We’re that connected; seems like we’ve always been.

Life without Kelly? I don’t want to remember that. The night before our wedding, I drove to the Belle City Park, where I’d caught hundreds of fish from the lake and clubbed hundreds of hits (and a few over the fence) on the baseball field. Some of my finest moments of almost 19 years of life had deep connections to the park and lake in my hometown.

But that night, I sat in the car, alone, fairly sure I knew we were way too young to get hitched, yet too much in love to give any credibility to conventional wisdom. As I stared out over the pitch blackness of the small lake, I asked God for a sign, some indication of whether I should be getting married in less than 24 hours. The thought that hit me was to imagine life without Kelly, and as I continued the ponder the profound question, the answer was right there in my gaze.

Nothing. Empty. Alone.

Meaningless and stagnant, much like that lake.

I married my best friend, and Kelly will say the same. We’re a couple of lucky, blessed married folks.

How to Wreck Your Marriage

Wrecking ball No. 12 – Major on minors. When you disagree or reach an impasse, be sure to pick your battle based on your spouse’s perceived weakness or that hot-button criticism that you know will throw off your spouse emotionally and mentally. Even better, stake your claim to your right to be an incredible gift to humanity by making a big deal out of … Nothing.

It’s not just about arguing over which shade of green is best – olive or evergreen – or what to name the dog. It’s about using that wrecking ball over and over by pounding your spouse with your “victories” in such disagreements. It’s amazing how something so trivial can be used to find and then wear away the chink in his/her armor, eventually exposing his/her heart so you can move in with even more force to prove your superiority.
If you’re puzzled about what qualifies as a major or minor point, just adopt the conclusion that everything is a big deal.

Playlist

Going to my deep well of sacred hymn favorites. These old songs play on a fairly continuous loop in my noggin. Here’s a super not-so-old arrangement of At The Cross, performed by the Gaither Vocal Band.

Two observations: Yes, it is sometimes tortuous to watch Bill Gaither sing. And at around the 1:27 mark it looks like Mark Lowry has fiery horns. Cool. And, oh yeah, Guy Penrod and David Phelps have crazy awesome voices.

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Six days to go, checking off the wedding prep list

My bride shared this on Facebook today. More proof that I've failed manhood. It is not an opinion that I share. Epic fail.

My bride shared this on Facebook today. More proof that I’ve failed manhood. It is not an opinion that I share. Epic fail.

Six days until Wedding Day.

I’ve watched now for 30-plus years as Kelly organizes, strategizes and prioritizes many a task – big and small. If Kelly was president, for instance, this nastiness we’re involved in with Syria might not have happened. Same for Iraq, Afghanistan and all the coming domestic and international conflicts. She’d kick everyone who was posturing politically out of the room, find out who needs to communicate here, what the problems are, and who needs to do what.

To wit:

“So, guys, Assad has got to go, right?”

Silence.

“Come on, people, work with me.”

“Right, ma’am.”

And right away she’d have lists, tasks and focus points for everyone, and with military-like precision, she’d accomplish either a peaceful resolution – “let’s find out why he’s such a bully and try some cognitive behavior therapy” – or a swift change in leadership, with all other Arab nations nodding in agreement and getting on with pumping our oil.

My bride is helping keep the Wedding Week schedule on schedule. Like I said, she’s about precision.

I, on the other hand, represent anti-precision. She suggests, “Let’s leave at 10,” and she’s ready to go out the door not later than 9:40. Me? I’m getting into the shower at 9:55.

So, for everyone who wonders who does all that behind-the-scenes stuff? Her name is Kelly Jackson, my princess.

Now back to the business of “How to Wreck Your Marriage.”

Wrecking ball No. 11 – Read between the lines. Fail to communicate. And imagine that every request, suggestion or effort to provide input to your life is a direct, unmistakable assault on your ability to think for yourself – and your very worth as a person.

That’s right. When you hear, “Hey, can you give me a hand with these dishes?”, you should automatically defend yourself with, “So, you think I don’t do enough around here? You think I’m lazy?”

Of course, that’s how we hear things because we’re used to speaking between the lines – you know, not really saying how we feel or what we want, but giving hints and clues, instead of just outright saying, “You know, I’m really not in the mood for Chinese tonight. I vote for pizza.”

Always assume that what your spouse says is only half of what he/she really thinks or wants to say. Yes, practice incomplete communication.

This is a good way to wreck your marriage, but usually before that happens you’ve gone loony, which is precisely what this form of communication causes.

Playlist

Probably one of the greatest performances ever. George Michael and Elton John, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

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The calendar speeds up; one week from Wedding Day

crayons

One week from today – seven days – Natasha will have become Mrs. Myrick, saying “I do” to launch forever together with Kory. (Seven days from Saturday, which is when I wrote this, so posting on Sunday means it’s actually only six days away. I’ll double-post at some point this week to get on track).

I’ve done quite a bit of reflection over these past several days, remembering the night before our wedding. I, for one, had no clue about what I was getting into on June 5, 1982. Here we are, 31 years and a couple of months later, and I’m still pretty much clueless – which is why I’m certifiably qualified to present the wrecking balls of “How to Wreck Your Marriage.”

Wrecking ball No. 10 – As promised, this one is the evil twin of “never, ever, ever change or expect change.” This disastrous wrecking ball is called, ”He’ll’/She’ll change once we’re married.”
You just keep telling yourself, because this one extends to family members, friends, associates, etc. Your prince’s friends are particularly boorish and juvenile? Well, that’ll change after you’ve been married. And even if the friends don’t change, YOU will be able to change hubby/wife who will suddenly no longer need to nurture those friendships.

He’ll change. They’ll change. You can change them all. After all, you’re madly in love, which means everyone will change the behaviors and traits that you didn’t like before you were married.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that one.

Her dad won’t be so overbearing and prone to give completely unsolicited advice. His mom has kept the umbilical cord attached up until now, but once you’re married, she’ll automatically let go of baby boy and respect your boundaries. The in-laws will love it that you’ve set boundaries and clearly defined how you expect them to be involved – or not – in your lives.

Before Kelly and I said “I do” lo these many years and months ago, I was an exceptionally picky eater, had poor table manners, and routinely demonstrated a remarkable lack of common sense. Today, things have changed. I have much better table manners, or at least developed those once I’d properly instructed and shown Kishia and Natasha how to belch the A,B,C’s.

Those other things? Nah. Still pretty much the same, although my menu has expanded considerably. Still, given a preference, meals should basically consist of meat and taters, and not taters with little green things thrown in or laying at the side of the plate, or with some odd selection of mustard-raisin dipping sauce, or some such thing.

So think of the things that irritate you most about the other. Now tell yourself that he/she loves you so much that he/she will no longer have a desire or capacity to be irritating. And if future hubby/wifey has a mom/dad that needs to butt out of your business, future hubby/wife will take care of that after you’re married because, after all, you two now wear the grown-up pants and you’re figuring out this marriage thing a step and a day at a time.

Yep, things will change for sure, but probably not the way you want them to change, although you have a distinct new direction in mind for your spouse. When using this wrecking ball, be sure to remind your spouse of all the ways he/she hasn’t yet changed, and that if he/she simply loved you more, she’d change. She’ll appreciate hearing that.

Playlist

I might be the only person on the planet who prefers Gerard Butler’s Phantom, so here, with some of the most powerful lyrics and emotions, is “Music of the Night” from the 2004 film, Phantom of the Opera.

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Wedding countdown and more marriage-wrecking advice

Today's selected photo has nothing to do with today's post. I simply love randomness - and penguins.

Today’s selected photo has nothing to do with today’s post. I simply love randomness – and penguins.

Hear ye, hear ye: Nuptials in nine days. Natasha Jackson weds Kory Myrick on Sept. 7. Next week will be a whirlwind, and although I have a number of tasks leading up to the big day, my only duties on wedding day will be:

1 – Walk bride down aisle; give her away.
2 – Bring wedding gifts to our house after wedding. (Bride and groom will retrieve in a few days).
3 – Return tuxes/attire to Men’s Wearhouse.

Even I can handle that.

I made that list as a precursor to today’s installment of “How to Wreck a Marriage.”

Wrecking ball No. 7: Make a list and keep it going – a list of wrongs, offenses and those times your spouse was just having a bad day and you wanted her to be having a good day because, well, you can’t both have bad days at once.

The list accomplishes a number of purposes, of which two are primary:

1 – It shows that you’re keeping a list, so your spouse had better be aware, and just might not want another entry. You are a force to be reckoned with.

2 – It’s ammunition. You write the list with permanent marker and use a neon orange highlighter to showcase the worst offenses, and maybe add a sticky note strip for quick retrieval and reference.

And like any well-prepared battler, you keep the ammo close for future use. Some of the ammo represents the “nuclear option,” which is That One Thing (or things) that your spouse has no defense for, no redeeming explanation for and no comeback for. Even though your spouse has apologized, pleaded for forgiveness and relived that offense over and over again (good for you!), you keep that one handy if you need a nuke. That moment might come when you’re in a corner and instead of relenting and admitting and owning your part in the real or imagined disagreement at hand, you launch an ICBM, equipped with a war-head that splatters your spouse’s worst moments all over the place. Again.

Justifying your own actions or words by pointing out That One Thing or even a lesser offense – which is not as bad as yours, of course, so keep pointing that out – is an ideal way to use this wrecking ball.

And what makes this method extra fun is that both spouses can load up the missile war-heads with nukes.

“I remember that time that you …”

“Well if you hadn’t done that thing …”

“You mean that thing you told me was off the table because you forgave me?”

“Oh, but you weren’t really sorry, or you wouldn’t be acting like THIS!”

The list of wrongs and offenses is indeed a heavy wrecking ball, capable of smashing a marriage in no time at all. (The antithesis is grace, love and forgiveness). So, if you want to wreck your marriage, keep the list in a mental file, have a hard copy that you carry in your wallet or purse, and make sure to make digital back-ups. A bonus back-up and great addition for the wrecking ball is to share your list with friends, your parents and the in-laws.

Woo-hoo! Now you’ve got some power. By now you’ve got the hang of it and are seeing that those lists can wreck all kinds of relationships with siblings, daughters, sons, moms and dads.

You’ll show ‘em! Keep enough lists and, by golly, you’ll be all alone in no time, no longer bothered by the past sins and offenses of others.

Playlist

I’ve given you Southern Gospel, Classic Rock, contemporary Christian and whatever genre “Afternoon Delight” falls under. Recently I’ve fallen in love with the sound of the Big Band/World War II era, and this just might be my new all-time favorite tune, recorded by the great Crooner himself, Bing Crosby (1944).

“I’ll Be Seeing You.”

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The Wedding Countdown: 12, 11, 10 days …

kneeling-in-prayer-at-sunrise

The Wedding Countdown is getting serious now. We’re at 10 days, counting down to Saturday, Sept. 7. Our second daughter, Natasha, is giving us a second son-in-law, Kory. I look forward to sharing with you the details (and photos?) of next week’s rehearsal dinner preparation, which will star my smoked pork butts and pulled pork. I’m a charcoal-grill-only guy, and I get a special thrill out of the hours-long process of turning a hunk of pork into savory shredded goodness. And, oh, the burnt ends! Don’t get me started this early …

I’m also trying something completely new. Think “non-meat” item. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we’re running down “How to wreck your marriage,” so let’s continue.

Wrecking ball No. 6: Don’t pray for your wife. I could have said “spouse” instead of “wife,” and that would be good, too, but the onus has been on the dude since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn that I embrace, being the creation account of Genesis.

(Program note: Stay with me here. You can embrace evolution, intelligent design, or any other possibility that you’re comfortable with. This bit of advice is sage for spiritual folks and deity-deniers alike).

Genesis. Follow Adam’s lead. When that crafty ol’ serpent tempted Eve, where was Adam? Off naming the animals? Figuring out that round rocks rolled better than square rocks? Hitting sticks and stones together, making sparks ignite? (Clever reference there to that 1976 mega hit “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band).

Oh, yeah. Adam. The truth is, he was standing right there next to his wife. Watching. Right there but absent.

Silent.

If you know the story, you know it got kind of rough after that – for all of us. For us guys, we’ve been trying to redeem manhood ever since. We work 80 hour weeks, start wars, compete on the athletic field, amass collections of cars and other toys in search of masculinity. And rather than get on our knees and connect with the Creator – Who, by the way, is waiting to shower grace on us, not toss lightning bolts at us – on behalf of our family and our wife, we’re prone to keep searching for what it means to be a man.

And that search often leads to the greatest crime of marriage: the accepting eye of another woman or the “harmless” pursuit of virtual partners in cyberspace.

The silence of Adam. Didn’t work so well for him. Not so good for us – and our wives – either. A lot of marriage wrecking balls inflict little dings and dents over time, eventually destroying the fickle bonds of “I do.” This wrecking ball – not praying for your wife – is insidious, too, and capable of inflicting damage little-by-little, but it’s also capable of toppling the marriage with one strong hit. When hubby shrinks away from the responsibility of speaking into the darkness and speaking light into the life of his wife, he embraces darkness. It might lead to a stubbed toe. Or instant destruction.

How can I wreck this marriage? Ignore my wife’s spiritual needs.

Done.

Playlist

Cool video here of Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” with scenes from “Armageddon” (Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis). Tyler’s movie dad, Willis, is on the screen she’s looking at during the tragic ending. But there’s another face on the screen in this video. See if you can figure out what I’m talking about.

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Kiss the bride: 11 days from the nuptials

We’re counting down the days until Natasha and Kory tie the knot. No one asked for my advice, but I haven’t let that stop me. I’m listing some of the best ways to wreck your marriage.

You’re welcome.

Fast-track to a wrecked marriage: fight like children.

Fast-track to a wrecked marriage: fight like children.

Wrecking ball No. 5: Life isn’t fair, but marriage should be. We deserve equal time. Wife has a girl’s night out, husband should get a guy’s night out. (Be sure to keep a list of times this equity is not achieved. We’ll revisit the idea in about a week with a wrecking ball named “Keep a list.”)

True story, told from a third party. Husband spends hours after work or on weekends cutting wood to earn extra money. It wasn’t uncommon for him to come home, hands calloused and stained with chainsaw oil and nostrils caked with chainsaw dust, to hear his wife announce: “You got be out in the woods with your chainsaw, so I get to go shopping with my friends.” Then she insisted that he do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.

True story, I swear.

Did the wrecking ball work?

Knocked ‘em off the cliff, so to speak. Divorce. It was a marriage full of wrecking balls, wielded carelessly by both parties.

Tie the fairness equation to money and you’ve got a ginormous wrecking ball. “You bought new tires for your truck, so I’m gonna buy myself some new shoes, a couple of purses, maybe have my hair done.” “I can choose to buy what I want because I make the money.” (Try that one for an instant wedge in your relationship. Then pound the wedge with more talk about fairness and equality, kind of the way two little kids might argue.

Playlist

You’ve heard the saying that it takes a big man to cry, and an even bigger man to laugh at that man.
Well, it takes an even bigger man to unashamedly admit that he still loves the message and harmony of Southern Gospel and the Gaither Vocal Band. Tonight’s playlist is a double-dose of grace from the old and new: Sinner Saved By Grace a la the GVB and Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns, featuring the piercing indictment, “Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing finger.”

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12 days and counting: Wedding day draws nigh

I've dabbled in origami for a couple of years now. My flowers will be among the décor at the Sept. 7 wedding of my youngest daughter, Natasha Jackson, to Kory Myrick.

I’ve dabbled in origami for a couple of years now. My flowers will be among the décor at the Sept. 7 wedding of my youngest daughter, Natasha Jackson, to Kory Myrick.

Flashback …

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).

Playlist …

Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (and music video), simply one of the best songs ever.

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