Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

February 27, 2009

B-4 I Sink Your Battleship, I Better Learn The Rules Of Engagement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:30 pm

 

At Least With Battleship I Have The Possibility Of Winning Due To Dumb Luck

At Least With Battleship I Have The Possibility Of Winning Due To Dumb Luck

As much as I rail against the predictability that is my life, I am starting to believe there is something to be said for routine. In a weird way, it provides a sense of comfort knowing you can focus on the things that really matter. Spending quality time with Jenn, minus the girls, does not happen as often as either of us would like. Most of our days involve a constant hum of ‘mommy I want’ and ‘daddy can I.’ Just being able to eat a meal with both hands rather than having one arm clinging to Paige as she attempts to climb out her highchair is a novel concept. So, when we get an hour or two alone, what we do is of little concern.

The typical date night normally involves dinner, a movie and finds us winding down the evening at a local java shop. One reason I love this is because it means I get to sip a girly coffee drink without anyone catching on, including the barista. The tip is ordering the Fru-Fru drink first and then the manly drink second. It goes something like this: “She wants (point to the wife) a tall decaf skim sugar free Vanilla Latte no foam and (lower your voice for emphasis) a Grande STRONG black coffee for me!”

As I settle down with my Vanilla Latte into a booth, Jenn chooses a board game for us to play. Choose is probably not the right word considering we both know she is going to bring Scrabble back to the table smirking all the way there. The grin comes from the fact that she knows she is going to own me yet again and it gives her the opportunity to do her happy dance. It’s a cross between the Icky Shuffle and Dirty Bird mixed with a little bit of the Macarena and Running Man. Yet, somehow I am the competitive one in the relationship.

In the twelve years we have known each other, I have never come out the victor in a Scrabble game with Jenn. This makes me feel D-U-M-B (9 points). Jenn would disagree and say that she is just more S-T-R-A-T-E-G-I-C  (12 points X triple word score = 36 points) with her letters. After a few rounds that end in my miserable defeat, I ask if we can Q-U-I-T. 

Jenn obliges, but says the only other option that has all its pieces still intact is Battleship. After having her hit me with triple word score after triple word score, a classic naval war game seems fitting. It appears payback will happen on the open seas. Thinking my beautiful wife will aim for the center I place my fleet around the edge of the grid.  Pretty soon we both are aiming at targets.

Back and forth we go attempting to knock out patrol boats, submarines and destroyers. Tonight I am the Admiral of the Navy having decimated almost all of Jenn’s ships. Feeling a little snarky, I begin to deal with my embarrassment over the Scrabble debacle by gloating:

 

Me:  B-4 I take out your last ship I am willing to sign the documents for your surrender

Jenn: Hit! Easy fella. If you don’t watch it, I’ll C-2 it you are sleeping on the couch tonight.

Me: Miss. Sorry, for my poor A-2’tude. But, can’t you handle a little losing?

Jenn: Hit!  E-8 it! You sunk my battleship. Are you happy now venti boy? Why don’t you order another Latte while you do your victory lap!

Me: To honor this glorious occasion, I think I will….I think I will.

 

My victory was the product of pure dumb luck. I landed a few targets earlier strictly by chance. Even though this evening it was done all in good fun, those gloating missiles on the other hand were launched strategically. After a few years in any relationship, one begins to learn the other’s “board strategy and tendencies.” Having insight into their vulnerabilities, weakness and insecurities, you know precisely where to aim your verbal artillery in any argument. If you are not careful, disagreements can spiral out of control and closely resemble the game Battleship where you are on separate sides of the board lobbing missiles at one another. Your living room morphs into a scene out of Pearl Harbor.

Yet, why do we resort to this tactic? Do we do it out of frustration? Maybe we approach arguments like debates where there has to be a definite winner and loser. Is it a trick we use so the other person will see how serious we are in defending our perspective? Or does the Battleship technique come out strictly because we are mean spirited and cruel? As wrong as I know it is, when I get wounded, I want others to feel my pain.

The thing is when Jenn’s words seem extra sharp it normally has nothing to do with her tone. Her intent behind speaking up is never malicious. I know how deeply she cares about our marriage and also my character. The words sting due to the sobering truth they contain. The accuracy of her words being right on point is extremely freakish.

This is one of the major reasons I love Jenn. She will not allow me to remain the same and pushes me to be a better man.  Somehow Jenn sees things I tend to lend a blind eye towards or bad habits in my life I do not want to admit are there. Unfortunately, rather than confronting my own inadequacies, I have the tendency to try and lob a missile in her direction in hopes of calling a truce so we can go about our business with little to no change. If the Navy gets wind of how oblivious I am to the rules of engagement, they might demote from Admiral to deck hand. I better shape up or ship out. 

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February 25, 2009

Lucy When You Say Recalculating In That Adorable British Accent You Only Make Me Laugh

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 12:37 am

 

Lucy Could Learn A Thing Or Two From Kitt

Lucy Could Learn A Thing Or Two From Kitt

 

 

The gender roles get reversed when Jenn and I get behind the wheel. Unlike most men, I need to know the exact route from Point A to Point B and will stop in a second to ask for directions if I am lost. On the other hand, Jenn is bound and determined to figure things out on her own even if that means getting to a dinner party a few minutes late. She is not fazed in the least bit when she notices people sitting on their front porch chuckling over the CRV that has driven back and forth past their house 5 times. Jenn takes the term “joy ride” to a whole other level and likes to go for a ride with no agenda.

Having witnessed firsthand the “direction discussions” on her trip out east, Jenn’s mother decided to give us a GPS for Christmas a few years ago. The device has solved the problem, but not in the way I was expecting.  Jenn and I have joined forces and have built a healthy distrust of Lucy. This is the British tour guide for our Garmin Nuvi. Can you blame us for being a little reluctant to blindly follow her advice?

After all, those Brits drive on the wrong side of the road. This might explain why she always tell us that Starbucks is on the right side of the road when it is clearly in the strip mall on the left. Judging by the paths she takes us on, Jenn has concluded that Lucy loves to toss down a few too many pints before hitting the open road.

On numerous occasions, Lucy has sent us to restaurants that oddly look like dry cleaners as well as  directing us to dead ends and one-way roads. This is probably payback for repeatedly ignoring her advice and calling her a drunk underneath our breath. The first time we went our own way when Lucy attempted to send us on a wild goose chase she snapped back and said “Recalculating!” Having grown tired of her repeated pleas falling on deaf ears, she now screams, “Bollocks! You bugger! I’m really cheesed off. You are so naff, nancy boy!”

Taking a joy ride to enjoy the scenery is one thing when it is a lazy Sunday afternoon and you are in the car, but having no direction in marriage can be dangerous. Yet, how many of us knew our destination before we got behind the wheel as husband and wife.

 Jenn and I got married at a fairly young age, at 22 to be exact. I knew I was marrying my best friend, greatest supporter and a woman who made up for my many weaknesses. As a Christian man who thought something was worth waiting for, having a ring around my finger also held many fun benefits.

I remember sitting down after our honeymoon reading through a ‘Words of Wisdom’ book wedding guests contributed to and how every single person had a different take on marriage. It seems like if you asked 100 people what makes a great marriage you would receive 101 different answers. The discrepancy in numbers comes from the confused person like myself who can never make up their mind.

What is the purpose for marriage? Do you say I do simply so you can ‘do’’ it? Is it to make you happy? Do we get married so we will have someone there to meet all of our romantic and emotional needs? What about creating a family unit where kids are nurtured? Do we get hitched to have another body to get through the day-to-day routine? What about companionship? In this day and age, it might be for simply the benefits of a tax break.

Those responses were not meant to sound cynical or to offend. It was to show how everyone enters marriage with his or her own ideas of what this relationship should look like. From the moment we unpack our bags on our honeymoon, we take out a long list of needs we expect our spouse to meet. Our expectations are what drive our direction.

In a way, we program these expectations into our marriage GPS and head towards that destination. The problem arises when the husband thinks they’re headed this way while the wife is hoping to end up somewhere on the other side of town. There is just so many times you can hear “Recalculating! Recalculating! Recalculating!” till you find yourself way off course. From time to time, I handle my relationship with Jenn as if I was driving in the CRV with Lucy barking directions at me. I ignore the signals and keep on driving hoping that somehow I’ll end up where “I” want to go.

Over these past 30 days, I have tried to take an honest look at the expectations I have of marriage and how this direction has only got me lost behind the wheel. As a Christian, I know ultimately the purpose for my marriage is not to make me happy, but rather holy. My relationship with Jenn should serve as a testimony about God.  I wish I could say this is my normal destination point, but I often find myself recalculating on the fly trying to find the location of that tiny city known as Selfishness Springs. Now, if I had a Mio Knight Rider GPS with the authoritative voice of Kit guiding me to holiness, I would get my act together and begin moving in the right direction. 

February 22, 2009

When Is The Government Going To Step In And Bailout My Love Bank?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 9:52 pm

 

Where's My Part Of The Bailout Money

Where's My Part Of The Bailout Money

 

 

It is hard not to fight the urge to act like Chicken Little and run through the streets screaming “The Sky Is Falling…The Sky Is Falling!” Everywhere you turn all you see and hear is grim financial news: a slowing economy, turbulence on Wall Street and rising foreclosures. Turning the television off and closing the daily newspaper barely helps in tuning out the bleak news of the day. Potential layoffs serve as the normal topic of conversation around the water cooler. Going to work each day feels eerily similar to Survivor, as no one knows who will be next to ‘get voted off the island’ with a pink slip.

In these chaotic times, it appears that every CEO hopes the suits in Washington will drop a huge bag of cash in their lap. Automobile executives are even willing to go as far as carpooling in an El Camino if that means more money gets thrown their way. No wonder they believe this tactic works as the government seems to be tossing money in the sky hoping that it will solve our country’s financial woes. Many do not realize that President Obama considers rapper Fat Joe as one of his most trusted economical advisors as the bailout plan is akin to “Making It Rain.”

Forget about Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America. Those big boys of banking can handle their own. What about us little guys? My question to members of Congress is when should I expect my piece of the bailout money to protect the stability of my Love Bank?

In his book His Needs Her Needs, Willard F. Hailey Jr. says there is a “love bank” inside every marriage relationship. It is one way we track how the other is treating us. Whether we realize it or not, all of our actions impact the love present in your relationship both positively and negatively. You are either depositing love units to boost your balance or withdrawing them when you do something hurtful, insensitive or just plain stupid. If you hit a certain threshold through constant deposits, feelings of love are produced and sustained.

The problem arises when you withdraw more than you deposit. Like the majority of Americans, I went a little crazy with the spending and swiping of the credit card. I kept putting making payments while I kept charging away. It wasn’t until my Love Bank debit card was shredded when I headed to the ATM machine that I knew I was in my own little financial crisis. Thanks to some bad bookkeeping on my part, I often fail to realize when the balances are hovering dangerously low. Unfortunately, the Love Bank is far from FDIC insured and does not offer Online Banking. Luckily, I did come across a list of some of their fees and payouts. I wanted to share a few of them with you all tonight in hopes that knowing them might bailout another poor soul:

5 Units Taking out the trash, doing the dishes, folding laundry

-5 Units When you mention to your wife you took out the trash, did the dishes and folded the laundry

10 Units Tending to your crying child in the mild of the night so your wife can sleep

-15 Units Making sure you stomp up the stairs and hit each step along the way to your crying child’s room

15 Units Suggesting you get a babysitter and go to the movies

-20 Units Insist on seeing “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and having your wife ask for a refund

35 Units Preparing a candlelight dinner with goose as the main course

-5 Units Goosing your wife as she does the dishes after the meal

45 Units Telling your wife how beautiful she looks before heading off to work

-50 Units Commenting under your breath (but loud enough for her to hear) “Wow, she’s hot” as Jennifer Aniston graces the TV screen while you’re watching the Oscars

100 Units Taking your wife on a romantic weekend get-a-way

-25 Units Leaving the suitcase full of laundry at the bottom of the stairs for your wife to deal with when you get home

1,000 Units Being by your wife’s side in support as she gives birth to your child

-300 Units Having your wife pick you up from work while she is in labor and drive herself to the hospital (unfortunately, this one did happen…long story).

February 18, 2009

Knowing Your Wife’s Heart Is Something You Can’t Learn From Reading Cosmo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 10:59 pm

 

No, not this Cosmo... I am talking about the magazine folks

No, not this Cosmo... I am talking about the magazine folks

How well do you know your wife or significant other? After all those years together, are you confident in your knowledge about the woman in your life? Up until today, I would of answered yes. Now thanks to those stupid Cosmopolitan magazine quizzes I am not so sure. I guess my relationship with Cosmo is still not paying off even after all of these years.

You see, this magazine is the sole reason I chose to embarrass myself by joining the high school swim team and prancing around in a Speedo. One evening I was covering the local swim meet for the school paper and noticed how the girls gathered around and read fashion magazines in between races. Being smarter than the average bear, I reasoned this could be my “in” to girl time so I quickly learned how to do the backstroke. 

At first the plan worked to perfection. Considering I was like a brick in the water, this meant I normally had only swam in one event leaving me plenty of opportunities to answer questions on celebrity crushes, rules for breaking up with someone and what lipstick fits your personality. The girls felt they were unlocking the male brain and I thought I was getting closer to an actual date. Sadly, both of us were mistaken.

All the Cosmo quizzes got me back in high school was the friend card and a girl crying on my shoulder when their jerk of a boyfriend broke up with them. Fast forward to present day and the results have me wondering how well I pay attention to my spouse. I thought the only time I disengaged was on Sunday afternoons during football season, but maybe I do not realize how often my eyes glaze over and I go off to my happy place.

Thinking this had to be some sort of fluke, I Google “How Well Do You Know Your Wife Quiz” and decided to press my luck. Some tests were so easy an untrained monkey could pass them causing me not to put a lot of stock in the results. Then you had others that were more challenging than taking the SAT’s. Their sole goal was to make the male feel like the ultimate goober of a husband so they would shell out 3 payments of $39.99 (shipping & handling not included) for the communication CD’s they were hawking.

After a few moments of searching, I finally came across a quiz that seemed semi-legitimate with no hidden agenda. Jenn humored me and followed along with this whole charade. A few of the questions seemed odd like how many keys does she carry. I haven’t the slightest clue if it is 2 or 10, but I do know chances are good she has misplaced them. I also think chances are good that I will be paying later for sharing that tidbit.

Some of my answers were right on point as they were no brainers: Jenn’s favorite restaurant is The Little Dipper, she has been known to read cookbooks just for fun and would love nothing more than to replace the couches in the living room. Unfortunately, there was a fair share of responses that had Jenn rolling her eyes wondering how she married a guy as clueless as myself. I struck out on the favorite color question going for green (it’s red). Ditto on her favorite clothing store (Ann Taylor Loft) and mother’s maiden name (do you think I’d be foolish enough to post this on the Internet…).

This whole experience opened the door for conversations and taught me that no matter if you’ve are a newlywed or have been married for 50 years, there are parts of your spouse’s story you do not know. Go back to those conversations from yesterday. What dominated a large portion of the discussions? Presumably, you chitchatted about the kids, work, friends, weather, news headlines or what was on television the night before. We center our sights on general issues while the important details of our life go largely ignored. What chapters of his or her story are you missing? What is something they regret doing or not doing? What big life questions keep them up at night? How much do you know about the family they were raised in and the effects it had on shaping them into the person standing before you? Are they content in their career and purpose in life? If they are a parent, do they feel hopeless when it comes to raising their kids? Are there areas in their life where their integrity is compromised? What past mistakes are they struggling to learn from? Who or what do they struggle to forgive?  

In order to fall in love with Jenn all over again, I must begin to enter her world by asking questions that drive to the heart. This requires an investment where my responsibility is being attentive and a student of her world. Little details like knowing her favorite candy or how she likes her steak cooked are important, but pale into comparison to knowing her heart. This is something you’ll never learn in Cosmo. Trust me, I read numerous issues cover-to-cover waiting to come in last place in the 100M backstroke. 

February 16, 2009

He Went To Jared’s…….And Picked Up A Footlong Sub Of Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 3:41 pm

 

Watch Out For The New Cupid Jared Fogle And His Flaming Arrows Of Footlong Subs

Watch Out For The New Cupid Jared Fogle And His Flaming Arrows Of Footlong Subs

Maybe it is just me, but I do not understand Valentine’s Day. The holiday, and everything that comes with it, just plain confuses me. No, I am not one of those crazy conspiracy kooks who believe top executives from Hallmark, Russell Stover’s and FTD Flowers held a top secret meeting to concoct this lover’s holiday in order to boost earnings. Granted, when a dozen roses that normally cost $8.99 suddenly jump to $20 the week of Valentines, it leads me to think those folks who also believe the moon landing occurred on a movie set and the government has warehouses full of flying saucers are on to something. After all, the truth is out there.

Some ladies will be making birdie sounds under their breath trying to explain away my lack of interest in Valentine’s Day: cheap, cheap, cheap. I will admit this line of thinking has a little bit of traction to it. Considering the times we live in and the fact we are surviving on one income with two rugrats to feed, being wise with our money is done out of necessity. I don’t think this makes me a penny pincher though. It’s not like I steal ketchup packets from McDonalds, pile free samples of cheese into Jenn’s purse at the grocery store or have a closet full of travel size shampoo containers I swiped from hotel visits. I like to treat Jenn, the girls and occasionally myself to something special now and then.

The more I have tried to wrap my mind around Valentine’s Day I have learned that this holiday is one of the few instances where value is found in the extremes. Almost every other situation in life it seems the middle ground is where you want to land. In my limited understanding of politics, the answer for change in our country does not lie in the flaming liberal who says the way for life to be all sunshine and roses is for everyone to go wild and free while singing a non religious version of Kumbaya My Lord. On the same hand, I would be a little nervous if the direction of country was placed in the hands of the staunch conservative who leans so far in one direction politically that their gas guzzling truck with gun rack only has the capability of turning right as the owner has disabled the left turn signal out of principle. The moderate viewpoint seems like where progress can be made.

The middle ground is something you also learn to appreciate if you live five minutes from the beach. In the summertime when the family is relaxing in the sand collecting seashells, the last thing I want to do is deal with Paige panicking over seeing a ghost when in actuality she just spotted an extremely pasty white guy taking his shirt off trying desperately to get some rays. The other extreme is just as unpleasant: the individual whose skin now resembles beef jerky thanks to lathering themselves up in Crisco before spending all day out in the sun.  

Many of us live this median lifestyle out of fear, for a sense of protection or not wanting to rock the boat. For the most part, this mindset has served us well and provided us with some comfort. Yet, Valentine’s Day comes and the middle of the road response of a nice meal out at Applebee’s with flowers, chocolate and a card seems a bit of downer if you are trying to express your undying love to your spouse. Even springing for a gigantic stuffed dog who barks “I Ruff You” every time you squeeze its’ paw appears to diminish the value of the relationship.

Men have been programmed to do “something” for Valentine’s Day. So we go into autopilot mode and get the predictable (roses and candy) or cheesy (picture of the two of you on a coffee mug). We all experience this pressure to do something, which make our actions seem forced or driven by obligation. The middle of the road in this instance is not a “feel good.” This is why Valentine’s Day was meant for the extremes. Either make it a 24-hour marathon of expressing love to your wife or let it be like any other day where you put her needs first.

If you are super romantic then by all means go all out. Leave your wife a love note on her pillow so she has something to read while you prepare breakfast for her in bed. After the meal, walk in the park where you first met talking about why you love each other so much. On the way home, surprise her with an afternoon of pampering while you clean the house from top to bottom and finally complete your “honey do” list. Have the black dress in the right size and matching earrings from Jared’s waiting for her so she’ll feel beautiful for a night out on the town: dinner by candle light at a fancy restaurant and two tickets to the play she’s been begging you to see. Then as the evening ends it will be what the Flight of the Concords say is “Business Time.”

The other end of the spectrum of ignoring the holiday completely has received a bad wrap. We have the married schlep that fails to show appreciation to his wife not only on Valentine’s Day, but also for the rest of the 364 days that make up the calendar to thank. If I just described you, then please man up and love your bride or at the very least resort to the middle ground for this one day by getting a card and a heart shaped box full of chocolates. I am begging you.

When I say it is okay to go to the extreme and treat this day in February like any other, it comes with the expectation that you are expressing your love throughout the year in different ways. Both extremes involve being proactive in your relationship as well as the care and support you provide your wife. The little things mean a great deal to a woman or so I have been told. This option still leaves open the possibility of going to Jared’s. However, instead of buying a diamond ring, you will be purchasing $5 foot long subs from Subway on your way home from work. Knowing your wife has had a long day with the kids and the last thing she wants to do is cook, you pick up dinner for the family to ease her mind.

So, after years of Valentine’s Day going through the motions of the middle ground, I decided to make the 14th like any other day in February. Actually, I decided to go retro this year – circa 1983. Jenn, the girls and I have settled down for a special movie night: Fraggle Rock. This was one of my favorite shows growing up and I wanted to share that experience with my girls. The special treat was going to Fresh Market to make sure each woman in my life had her favorite sweets for the show. Swedish Fish for Madison, Gummy Worms for Paige and chocolate covered pretzels and coffee for Jenn. Everyone all cuddled up on the couch together. I can think of no other place I’d rather be. 

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