Ed and I have been together just over seven years now, married for five and a half of those. I KNOW. We are surrounded by young colleagues who are getting engaged left and right and it’s really lovely to see how excited they are and sit back and know I will never, ever have to plan another wedding again. Amen.
Anyway, these bright-eyed youngsters sort of look up to us as a couple who is Doing It Right. (High-five, Ed!) And while this is really sweet and flattering I don’t really know what to say when they ask me for my tips and advice for a happy marriage. I mean, first of all, five years isn’t that long and I know we haven’t faced a lot of the rough stuff life is going to throw our way. Although a friend did point out to me we have dealt with a fair amount of bullshit and upheaval in a relatively short time and we haven’t let that kick our asses too hard so maybe we’re on to something? But I still feel weird speaking with any sort of certainty or authority when asked for advice. Do these people not understand what an incurable dork I am? And that I think it’s hilarious to yell “scrotum” when my niece is on the phone with her boyfriend? Pretty sure literally anybody else on the planet is more qualified to give advice on such a major life decision.
The first thing people usually ask is if I like being married, which I do, and they’re always shocked to learn that before meeting Ed I had very little interest in it. Like organized religion or neck tattoos, it seemed to suit other people fine but it wasn’t my jam. My usual answer is, “I like being married to Ed” because for me it’s more about the other person and the quality of our relationship than the institution as a goal in itself. So yeah, I’m a fan, but only under very specific circumstances.
One of Ed’c coworkers asked me during a happy hour outing, quite sincerely and practically ready to take notes, for my advice my advice on a successful marriage. I made some joke about keeping the wine cabinet stocked but then I thought about it for a minute and realized that all my knowledge was based on how Ed and I operate, our values, our personalities. So I told him to ignore advice from other people because if I followed someone else’s plan for a happy relationship my head would spin from all the conflicting bits of wisdom thrown my way over time. He seemed relieved by that, and I hope it gave him some comfort to know you don’t have to have some sort of perfect plan in order to be OK, and it’s probably not super healthy to try to model your relationship after anyone else. There are lots of happily married people out there, but I wouldn’t necessarily be happy with any of them.
So my genius advice was “don’t listen to other people” and now I’m basically relationship Oprah. Where’s my money?
The title of my autobiography.
Dear 18 Year-Old Christen,
First of all, good job with the sunscreen. KEEP IT UP. You won’t regret that and all the girls who showed up to prom tan look like handbags now.
I feel like I need to quickly assure you that your life is going to be great. It looks almost completely different than what you’re imagining right now (some of your timelines and expectations are, to be blunt, fucking bonkers) but it’s really the best and you are happier than you thought you would be. You go through some wild stuff to get to this point, but it’s worth it.
I don’t want to give too much away, but please, please listen to your instincts when it comes to…pretty much everything. People are going to tell you you’re doing a lot of things “wrong” and it’s tempting to listen to them. But your path and your life are different from anyone else’s. Don’t settle and don’t talk yourself into doing what everyone thinks would be best. They may seem like they have it all figured out, and although they mean well, they have their own shit to figure out and are putting their neuroses on you. You’re doing just great and every mistake you make leads to this life you’re living right now.
You could stand to drink more water, though. Maybe work on that a little.
38 Year-Old Christen
PS You’re going to wake up this morning with a zit. DUDE I KNOW.
Number of People in the Last Six Days Who Have Asked Me About My Reproductive Plans/Status in the Last Six Days: 4
Of Those People, The Number That Were My Husband: 0
Of Those People, The Number That Were My Husband’s Boss: 1
Number of People Who Wanted To Know What the Damn Problem Is: 3
Of Those People, The Number That Were My Husband’s Boss: 0, Blessedly
Number of People in the Last Six Days Who Have Called Me “Weird” or “Creepy” for Saying I Do Enjoy Children, Despite Not Being a Mother: 1
Number of Times in the Last Six Days I’ve Been Tempted to Bail on Society Because, Seriously, This is Bullshit: Lost Count
In the event that you find yourself helping out at a 10 year old boy’s birthday party:
- Watching a documentary series on the American mafia will absolutely get you in the right frame of mind. I was in a “take no shit” mood the moment I stepped on the scene and those little animals could sense I had zero qualms about smashing any of their faces into a wall if they disrespected me.
- Febreeze will help the smell of FEET that your car will instantly absorb after five minutes of three rain-dampened, stinky little boys chilling in the backseat. Or you can set fire to the car*. Whichever is more convenient.
- Beer. Just… ugh, who even cares? It’s not like they’ve listened to you all night. They wouldn’t notice if you started shooting up.
- Whose idea was it to take these heathens bowling? A nice idea in theory, to be sure: get them out of the house, pizza, a structured activity that will ideally wear them out. On the other hand: we just handed them weapons to fling at each other. Aces.
- Take a minute to look at that big kid. He’s playing and joking around with his friends and looking so grown-up. When did he get so damn funny? Soon he won’t want or need you at his party. Sit back and watch him laugh and be the very best little guy you could have hoped for.
*AFTER the kids have exited the vehicle. I’m not a monster.
We’re still allowed to wish people a happy new year, right? I figure you have a week and then it’s just weird.
I’m not a big “new year, new me!” person but I am relishing this feeling of a fresh start. While wearing real pants was a bit of a shock to the system (Christen + Leggings 4Eva), being back at work is actually comforting. I crushed it today and have been whipping projects into shape. I spent much of last week getting shit together at home although there’s still work to be done. But the general feeling that everything is chaotic and overwhelming has passed. There’s such pressure to hit the ground running with a renewed sense of energy and as much as I want to – and can be – peppy and hyper-efficient, there’s something to be said for taking it easy on myself. Luckily everyone around me is dragging ass right now so I look like the Energizer Bunny by comparison. Small victories!
Speaking of “works in progress,” I am committing to some better self-care in the coming months because I’m useless to everyone around me if I’m a ball of anxiety constantly on the verge of flipping out. It’s not fair to anyone and it’s not a healthy, happy way to live. I’m not naive enough to think I can be happy at all times, but there’s a better ratio than the one I’m currently living. I know that much.
It’s also not entirely fair for me to tell 2015 to fuck off because, while the last quarter or so was a dumpster fire, much of the year was really lovely. Also, we saw The Force Awakens which reinforced my love of Han Solo (he and Captain von Trapp are two of my first crushes which says A LOT about my dating history, which could also be classified as a dumpster fire from 1994 to, oh, 2009) and any year where we get some sweet, sweet Star Wars action is a good one.