I've noticed that I've also written and/or said - i.e. when I'm talking about the future with my friends or when I'm goal-setting in my journal - that I want to have a "successful" marriage.
But what does that mean? What makes a marriage "successful"? How can we measure the success of a marriage? Well, as long as a married couple stays together, aren't they successful?
No - I don't believe that simply staying together is enough to make a marriage successful.
tenyn's formula is based on his own personal experience. From what I know about tenyn and his marriage, I'd definitely say his marriage is successful. And I doubt anybody would argue with me. tenyn's list made real sense to me, and it was a fun activity that I then completed using my own relationship and reposted on the couch. I'm expanding on my couch post for this blog entry. I plan to return to this list periodically to reflect on our relationship and revise my ratings as necessary as our relationship evolves and changes.
You can read tenyn's "formula" post - page 34, post #1348 on the couch. You can also read the responses that follow - including other's relationship ratings and their explanations.
1. Do fun things together - My rating: 5
Mr._C. and I do get out a lot - we occasionally go to a movie theater (although not as much as I'd like to as there are a lot more movies I'd love to see in a theater), maybe go to a local amusement park, or we might to out to eat. But we really don't do a lot of inventive and creative things - i.e. going to local cultural festivals, getting tickets to a concert, wine tasting, checking the newspaper for events, heading into the city (Harrisburg) since we're close enough to it. We tend to stick to the "safe" activities that we know we both enjoy - mostly the "dinner and a movie" rut. We can sometimes be spontaneous, but it's sort of a rare event that we'll just decide to get up and go somewhere - anywhere - without having at least the semblance of a plan. I can't say I've ever had a bad time with Mr._C., but we could be more creative and spontaneous when it comes to thinking of something to do together.
Edit: I changed the rating for this "category" because Mr._C. and I so rarely go out, even on weekends. Lately, there have been movies that Mr._C. and I have wanted to see, but we haven't been able to gather the energy to even go to the video store and rent them.
Edit: Mr._C. and I don't go out as much as we used to because we can't afford to spend the money on unnecessary things right now with me being unemployed. We're even getting tired of going out to eat. We're less and less in the mood for any of the restaurants/types of food we can get close to home, and we don't have the energy to drive to the mall to go to a different restaurant. We have ideas about things we could do, but we don't do them. I'm considering lowering this rating. To be fair, I'll wait until I have a job again to see if things change for the better.
2. Laugh a lot - My rating: 7
I'm easily amused, and I laugh all the time. I'd say Mr._C. is pretty good at entertaining me. We're awfully silly sometimes. Mr._C. loves to tickle me and can sometimes be very playful that way. I believe Mr._C. and I have compatible senses of humor, and that helps. We can both laugh at ourselves - depending on the situation. But I'm sure there have been times when one or both of us has/have felt embarrassed in front of each other when maybe we could have laughed off the situation instead. Plus, I can sometimes allow my feelings to be hurt easily, so Mr._C. gently poking fun at me can make me feel hurt rather than as if I want to laugh. But a second part I want to add to this item that tenyn didn't mention is that knowing when to be serious is also important when it comes to humor in your relationship. Additionally, you should know whether or not there are any subjects about which you should never joke around your partner. If your partner has a sore spot about a topic, you should know your partner well enough to avoid it.
Edit: I changed this rating to a seven instead of an eight because lately Mr._C. and I haven't had much to laugh about. We're going through a rough patch - not in our relationship but in life in general - and we've both felt frustrated about our situation and depressed that there's nothing we can do at the moment to change things.
Edit: Things are getting worse, IMO. I'm unemployed again, and Mr._C. hates his job. He tells me about it every day, and while I'm tired of hearing it, I know I should be supportive. It's getting more difficult for me to keep a positive attitude. The longer I'm unemployed, the more irritable I become. I think I'm at least mildly depressed. Again, I'm going to postpone changing this rating until things stabilize. Once I have a job again and things return to a more normal state, I'll see if this improves.
3. Be involved with each other's lives - My rating: 8
I originally gave Mr._C. and I a 6, but I've changed the rating since then.
Mr._C. and I talk about work a lot. I support whatever "career move" he could decide to make (except him quitting his job), and he makes sure he talks to me and sort of "consults" me before making any major decisions - whether or not they're work-related. I get along with his friends and family (in general) - and vice versa. Mr._C. has become close with one of my male friends, and I have a couple of his friends with whom I can relate. When we're apart, we talk on the phone every day. I even started playing Dungeons&Dragons Online (DDO) in order to "spend time with Mr._C." - gaming online - when we were apart. He has taught me so much about his passions - mainly "mobile electronics," which is essentially car audio (he's a total audiophile) - because he wants me to be a part of his life. But Mr._C. often tries to give me advice - especially re: my teaching career - when I don't really want advice or for him to tell me his opinion. He often doesn't seem to understand that I'm more sort of "soul searching" and on a quest for a career I'll truly love and on a personal journey rather than asking for help. I tend to end up feeling guilty that I don't want to teach right now because I feel like Mr._C. wants me to continue to teach. But again, I would add a second part to this item - not only should you be involved in each other's lives, but also you should not be too involved in each other's lives as you need to retain your individual interests and desire for time alone and away from your relationship. Being involved doesn't mean hovering and needing to know every detail of every encounter your SO had with every person he/she met that day. Being involved is more about being supportive.
Edit: I changed this rating and actually increased it. Lately, Mr._C. and I have had to be very supportive of each other. I've been supportive of Mr._C. in dealing with a possible career change, and he has been very supportive when it has come to doing what it takes to get my car fixed. We have driven hundreds of miles back and forth to a car dealership in Harrisburg and for my (hopefully) future job.
Edit: Things in this area are looking down, too. Again, I think this is related to my lengthy unemployment. I feel like Mr._C. is starting to resent the fact that I'm unemployed while he hates his job and is miserable every day when he wakes up and has to go to work. I feel like resigning from my teaching job in MD and moving back to PA was a mistake. I feel like quitting my AT&T job, even though it was making me sick, was a mistake. I feel like it's my fault that we're in this situation. I've also noticed that just about everything he does irritates me around the time of my period. I don't know if that's because I'm not on the Pill right now and am PMSing more or if it's because I'm genuinely irritated by him. Will wait on this as well until this blows over.
4. Don't freak out when you disagree - My rating: 8
Mr._C. and I are pretty solid in this area. We don't really have fights. Yes, we disagree, and we've had arguments before - one or two of which stayed around and evolved and came up again and again. But we both tend to be reasonable and logical when we disagree, and we "fight fair." We both listen and try to take time to understand each other. We may raise our voices at times, but we never put one another down or call each other names. Mr._C. has a temper, and he'll sometimes be angry over something that doesn't have anything to do with me, but he'll still take out his frustration by yelling - not at me specifically but in general frustration over the situation. He'll always apologize later for yelling at me, but I don't take it personally because I know it's not about me. When Mr._C. is to blame for an argument or for hurting my feelings, he's quick to apologize, and he tries to comfort me with a hug - a really good bear hug. And I'll hug him back, even if I'm mad at him. When we do disagree, it's usually over quickly.
5. Get fit together - My rating: 1
I gave us a solid 2, but I may have been generous in going that high. I figured the little bit of effort we put in was worth more than a 0.
Mr._C. and I don't exercise - unless sex a few times a week counts as exercise - and we go out to eat in restaurants all the time. But we have talked about exercising together - going for walks when the weather is nice - and we did discuss joining WeightWatchers together. I had success with WeightWatchers before, and I suggested I'd have more success if Mr._C. was doing it with me. We did have a bit of time when we lived together in Maryland during which we tried to eat healthier together, but we got bored quickly and fell off the wagon.
Edit: I'm the heaviest I've ever been. I'm going to drop this rating until I get my act together. I have less than a year before I get married, and I don't want to be a fat bride.
6. Celebrate each other's successes - My rating: 7
Mr._C. and I are pretty good at this one. He has always been proud of me for being a teacher. I think he sort of looks up to me. He helped me through my first year of teaching, which is the toughest job I've ever had, and he was happy for me when I decided not to quit and to go back for a second year. Mr._C. was a high school dropout when we met, but he has since earned his GED, and I was so proud of him for bettering himself. But I worry that maybe Mr._C. won't be as proud of me if I decide not to continue to be a teacher. Again, this item is about being supportive.
Edit: I feel like I've done a better job of this lately than Mr._C. has. Lately - i.e. when Mr._C. has had a good sales week at work - I've tended to response with statements like, "That's great, babe," and, "Cool! Your paycheck next week will be huge!" When I've had a job prospect, Mr._C. has responded with statements like, "I really hope you get a job soon," and, "I really hope this comes through" - statements that speak a lot less to any accomplishment of mine and more to the financial situation we're in.
Edit: The last statements I made still apply. Mr._C.'s comments are becoming more hurtful to me because I feel as if he's beginning to resent either me or the fact that I'm still unemployed. We just haven't had much to celebrate lately.
7. Listen; don't wait to talk - My rating: 7
Mr._C. and I are both good listeners. However, I've been feeling like I've been the better listener lately and like Mr._C. hasn't been listening to me the way he used to when we were first dating. In the past month or so, he has made several hurtful and/or confusing comments to me that I don't believe he would have made had he listened to me and/or remembered various conversations we've had. Also, there are a few disagreements that Mr._C. and I tend to have over and over. We just never solve the problems - despite trying different compromises. I feel like we just don't understand each other when it comes to these issues, and maybe we never will get to that point.
Edit: Things are much improved when it comes to the "few disagreements that Mr._C. and I tend to have over and over." We don't have those same disagreements any longer. In fact, we only really have one major disagreement now - and it's about our finances and our financial situation. I'm sure this will always be an issue as neither of us will ever be rich. But if I can get a job, we should be able to sort things out. I feel like two things have been happening lately. First, I sometimes feel as if I'm talking too much - as if he might be sort of "zoning out" while I babble on and on. Second, I haven't always been telling him when I'm mad or sad or don't want to talk. Overall, our communication is solid and has been from the beginning, so I'm not really worried about these things, and I have faith that things will return to normal once I'm employed and we're out of this slump.
8. Nurture each other - My rating: 7
Mr._C. doesn't always understand why I cry - and I guess it's not reasonable to believe that he should just "get it." However, in general, Mr._C. is tender, gentle, and loving. He may not understand exactly why I'm upset - that I'm angry instead of sad - but he does try to be comforting. He can usually tell when my being upset doesn't have anything to do with him. I essentially have one way to respond to any extreme emotion - happiness, sadness, anger, embarrassment, etc. - and the way I tend to respond is by crying. Mr._C. really does need to use context clues to read my emotions sometimes, so maybe I could be more clear. On the other hand, Mr._C. is lacking when it comes to reading my emotional needs re: our sex life. I want him to be able to open up to me and talk to me about his sexual fantasies, but he's very shy and wouldn't even write some erotic fiction together with me. He needs to learn to nurture my mind when it comes to our sexual/physical relationship.
9. Be romantic - My rating: 7
I gave us a 7 on the couch, and I changed my rating to an 8 at one time, but it's back to a 7.
Mr._C. and I hold hands a lot, even when we're just laying in bed watching TV, and we say "I love you" to each other every day at least once, talk on the phone every day when we're apart, or Mr._C. will pat my butt on our way upstairs or even when we're out in public. We do have a little bit of romance in our life, and we enjoy spending as much time together as possible. Mr._C.'s marriage proposal was classic and romantic. However, again - Mr._C. isn't quite as romantic as when we were first dating. He sent me flowers to the school where I taught for our "two-month anniversary" - made me feel really special that day. He's still a sweet man, and I believe he always will be - but he hasn't sent me flowers for any special occasion in a very long time.
Edit: I changed this back to a seven instead of an eight because recently I felt a bit of an emotional disconnect, and I was wrestling with the porn issue (see "Aletta Ocean and the naughty weekend.").
Edit: Things really haven't been all that romantic lately. We didn't really celebrate our anniversary in October, we didn't go to the PA Renaissance Faire this year, and we really didn't celebrate all that much at Christmas. I didn't do much for Mr._C.'s birthday in March. We haven't had the money to do much for or with each other for almost the last year. We went to a wedding this past weekend, and there was one sort of sweet moment - not necessarily romantic. My friend, H, was doing the daddy-daughter dance with her dad, and I started to cry. If you know anything about my relationship - or lack thereof - with my dad, you'll understand. Mr._C. saw and immediately put his hands on my knee and tried to comfort me until it was over. That's not really romantic, I guess, but he knows that this lack of a relationship is a source of pain for me, and he genuinely wishes there was something he could do to make it easier for me, and I think he truly feels helpless because there's literally nothing he can do. It shows that he cares, and I think affection is where romance comes from. I know that he has the capacity to be romantic.
10. Connect sexually - My rating: 8-8.5
I originally gave us an 8, but I recall a post somewhere in which I believe I rated our relationship an 8.5 overall (including all aspects, not only sex life).
I've talked a lot about my sex life with Mr._C. here on SF already. Read my many posts in the forums for details.
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