October 27, 2011 By Chuck AllenIt may be hard to believe but those cute little critters you call pets are actually monsters. Well, they could become monsters – if you let Read More »
October 24, 2011 By Chuck AllenAh, vacation! It sounds so relaxing and fun. Images of lying on the beach or screaming on roller coasters dance in our minds. Packing is no Read More »
October 20, 2011 By Chuck AllenFighting back often means hunting down the monster. Most people assume that hunting begins with gathering the right equipment. Even in horror flicks the main character Read More »
October 17, 2011 By Chuck AllenWhy are all shows about marriage comedies? Whether it’s movies or television, if the main story is about marriage, comedy will abound. Sure, there are married Read More »
September 22, 2011 By Chuck AllenOne of the goals of this blog is to provide advice for men who are considering marriage. Women have strange rituals such as teas and showers Read More »
Tag Archives: Marriage Monsters
It may be hard to believe but those cute little critters you call pets are actually monsters. Well, they could become monsters – if you let them. And to make them even scarier, most people do not realize when their little cutsie-wutsie has made the transformation into marriage monster.
When people plan for marriage they sometimes talk about things such as how many kids they want to have, what kind of jobs they want and where they want to live. Rarely do they ask the critical question: What’s your critter tendency factor?
The critter tendency factor says a lot about a couple’s compatibility. There are several ways to label it, but essentially there are four different types of critter tendencies. They can be described by the individuals initial thought about animals. When you first see an animal, is your desire to:
1. See it
2. Hold it
3. Feed it
4. Have it move in with you
If you’re married to a #3 or #4 then you probably recognized it immediately. If you’re still staring at the list wondering what the difference is then you’re probably a #3 or #4 yourself. By the time people reach stage 4 they have often lost the ability to differentiate between people and animals.
Before we go any further I should also point out that this is a continuous scale with people falling in various degrees of each stage. For example, some #1 individuals’ response could be better described as “see it and shoot it”. This is not a new category, but is just an extreme of the one category very near zero. You will also find some people who are on the border between #1 and #2 as they will occasionally pet animals, but not every animal they encounter. So remember this is a scale, not contest.
If a #1 marries a #4 then problems are inevitable. You might as well build a separate house or find some other compromise because if either partner gets their way entirely, the other will be quite miserable. Here is a sample conversation between one of these couples:
“Can’t we get another dog? Poochie looks so sad and doesn’t have anyone to play with?”
“What about the rabbit or the cat or the hamster?”
“You know dogs can’t play with those animals! Poochie would eat them all.”
“I know.” (Insert evil grin here.)
“Don’t be mean! You know you love hippity-hop. So can we look at puppies now?”
“I know, why don’t we build a special place for all the animals to live. Oh wait, that place already exists. It’s called a zoo!”
(The conversation goes downhill from here.)
But even couples where both partners fall in various stages of #2 and #3 can end up having problems. Just because someone likes to pet the neighbors dog does not mean they want one for themselves. It’s the difference between baby sitting for friends and having your own baby – definitely not the same thing.
And that space between #3 and #4 can be a huge gap. Feeding a pet (owning it) that stays outside is far different from having a pet sleep in the bed next to you. One is like having a best friend that hangs around a lot. The other is like taking that friend along on every date.
Keep one thing in mind, though. No matter how cute or precious that little critter is, it’s not worth losing your marriage over. It’s really not. So learn to compromise in a way that recognizes both partners critter tendency factor. (Even if I just made that term up.)
Ah, vacation! It sounds so relaxing and fun. Images of lying on the beach or screaming on roller coasters dance in our minds. Packing is no fun, but we do it with joy because of the adventures that lie ahead. We fill bags with clothes, coolers with ice and our head with unrealistic expectations.
If you are like most couples you have one partner that prefers to do most of the driving. This is normal and healthy, so don’t let it bother you when you meet those odd couples who share the duties evenly.
For the sake of your marriage I highly recommend that the driving partner review all maps and directions thoroughly prior to departure. Even with the best planning, however, the time will come where the non-driving partner will be called upon to read the map and navigate. This is a true marriage monster.
Even if the past hour of the trip has been filled with loving chatter and bonding, an evil mist fills the vehicle once the map is unfolded or the GPS settings are adjusted. Somehow my wife transforms from someone who loves me into an evil alien whose sole aim in life is to confuse me and get me lost. Consider this example of a road trip transfomation:
Conversation before the navigation duties:
“I’m really tired. I guess I should have gotten more sleep last night.”
“I’m sorry, honey. Do you want me to get you a drink out of the cooler? Some caffeine might help.”
“Thanks, Dear. That would be great. By the way, those sandwiches you made for lunch were fantastic.”
“Awe. I’m glad you liked them. I cut the edges off just like your grandma used to do.”
Navigation crisis arises. Map/GPS is consulted:
“What road was that we just passed?”
“I don’t know. The map says…”
“I didn’t ask what the map said. I asked what road we just passed.”
“I wasn’t looking.”
“You weren’t looking? How can you tell me where to turn if you don’t look at the road names.”
“Well, I saw that it started with a ‘p’ and the map shows a Partridge Drive. Maybe that was it?”
“Oh wait. We just passed a Wal-Mart. This map doesn’t show a Wal-Mart anywhere around here.”
[Muttered swears have been removed to keep this site clean.]
“Ok. That is Piedmont that we just passed. Do you see that on the map?”
“Piedmont? That starts with ‘p’….”
“Yes. Yes, it does.”
At this point it is easy to assume that aliens have taken over my wife and that she is, in fact, the monster. Conversely, she probably assumes the same of me. Some marriage books recommend playing a quick game of “rock, paper, scissors” (also known as “Ro-Sham-Bo”) to determine who gets to be the monster.
The key, however, is to remember that there was a reason the two of you started this trip together. At some point in your relationship this alien sitting next to you was the person with whom you most wanted to travel. A few wrong turns and a long pause to read the map for yourself is not the end of the world. Most importantly, it need not be the end of your relationship. A deep breath and an apology for losing your temper might be the best weapon in this case.
Fighting back often means hunting down the monster. Most people assume that hunting begins with gathering the right equipment. Even in horror flicks the main character usually stops to gather guns, ammo, silver crosses, baseball caps and a thermos of coffee. These items are retrieved from the basement, or the basement of a parent/friend/neighbor who conveniently stockpiles such items.
Hunting down the monster, though, begins with understanding the enemy. Sun Tzu in the Art of War puts it this way “know your enemies and know yourself”. We don’t cover the knowing yourself part in this series. That involves a Zen master surrounded by ninja warriors and is beyond our scope.
Knowing the enemy often sounds like the easy part. It’s not until we waste our time fighting the mechanical creature pillaging the city that we realize they are actually controlled remotely by the mad scientist. He’s the real villain. Misdirection is everywhere leading us to think we know who we’re fighting when we really don’t.
The same thing is true with marriage. We often assume the villain is the gorgeous new coworker or our spouse’s new hobby. We create monsters out of all sorts of things and begin fighting them. It’s rather silly in some cases, like Don Quixote fighting the windmills. If you’re like me and you haven’t actually read that book, imagine Luke Skywalker fighting R2D2 or the Ghostbusters crew trying to capture taxi cabs. In either case we have pointless and meaningless battles.
In some marriages the spouses assume each other to be the monster. If your marriage took place in a Las Vegas chapel of which you remember very little, you might want to consider that an option. Otherwise, it’s probably not the case. Despite the fact that your husband is covered with hair or has fungus-infested toenails, he is not a monster. Even though your wife’s cooking may resemble a witches brew, she is not the monster.
So if you want to amass a great monster-hunting arsenal, go right ahead. Feel free to strap ammunition to your chest and tie a bandana around your head like Gizmo in the movie Gremlins. Grab some trail mix and a survival knife, if you still have one. (But I’m warning you, the waterproof matches probably won’t work any longer.) Gather your tools because in the next few posts we’re going to take on some of the worst of the marriage monsters.
Why are all shows about marriage comedies? Whether it’s movies or television, if the main story is about marriage, comedy will abound. Sure, there are married couples in horror or action movies, but their relationship usually has little to do with the story. It seems marriage has been relegated to situational comedies and romantic comedies.
No wonder so many young people rush into marriage expecting everything to be happy and fun. Even the bad marriages in sitcoms are entertaining. The shock is understandable, then, when they wake up one day and wonder how they began living with a monster. Monsters aren’t as much fun.
So I propose a different view of marriage. Marriage is a horror flick. There are monsters and villains to be battled.
If they are ignored they will wreak havoc and mayhem. They will build robotic creatures and pillage metropolitan areas. They will wear horribly unfashionable striped sweaters while terrorizing your dreams. They will lurk in the closet while suspenseful music plays in the background, waiting to pounce when you least expect it. They will randomly hide your stuff so that you can’t find anything. Oh, wait, the hiding stuff is not done by a monster. That’s usually done by the wife. I guess I got carried away.
The main point, though, is that we need the right expectations. More time will be spent dealing with monsters than sitting around the kitchen table cracking one liners at each other. Books and movies are not as good when we confuse the genre. If you don’t believe me, convince your wife to watch Monty Python with the expectation that it is the newest soap opera. Or trick your husband into watching Steel Magnolias under the pretense that it is an action thriller in a southern setting. In either case the person with the wrong expectation is going to be disappointed or, at the very least, confused for a while. Those two words – disappointed and confused – could be used to describe a lot of married people starting in about year two or three.
The question facing you is the same question facing every main character in a horror flick: are you ready to act? All the minor characters have been eaten, killed or maimed. The main character may have even experienced some loss or injury from the villain or monster, but what makes them different is that they take action. They fight back.
What do you think? In our next post we’ll talk about monster hunting. Is horror a better genre for marriage? Do you have any horror stories?