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Write it Out: Marriage will always be team sport

Kath’ren Bay in 1966, when she was 19.
Kath’ren Bay in 1966, when she was 19.

I wish I understood at 20 what I know now about:

Marrying at a young age: Want to see your future? Look at the family dynamics of your spouse-to-be. Careful, though, there is no room here for self- righteousness, because your poor spouse has only to look at your family to see his future.

For good and for bad this is what every generation struggles with in relationships. It’s called baggage. Unfortunately, it usually takes longer to recognize it and fix it than many marriages can weather.

Fighting: Intimidation, sulking, pouting, yelling, the silent treatment – these are all forms of manipulation, which is neither honest nor kind.

You don’t have to receive it, and – surprise – if this is your modus operandi you can stop doing it.

“That’s just the way I am” is a cop-out and is morally lazy. Your behavior is a choice you make.

Stand up for yourself and what you believe in/need/want but learn to do it with courtesy: Give the kind of grace you want. Saying you’re sorry when you are or should be is not a weakness, but a strength, and it keeps disagreements honest and you trustworthy.

Stop when a consensus is met: No, really – stop. It’s over. Done. Note: This is a good policy for the workplace, too.

Parenthood: It is a team sport. If he can gut a deer, he can change a diaper.

Raise your kids to be good citizens and responsible adults. You are not their friend – you are much more than that. This isn’t your time to relive your childhood through them.

Finances: Another team sport. Stay involved and don’t abdicate, submit or withhold. Be a grown-up and recognize the difference between a need and a want.

Act accordingly and pay your bills off monthly. If you can’t or won’t, you are living beyond your means and you will be sorry.

Addiction (yours or theirs): It is never just one addiction, and the addictions won’t go away because you act like they aren’t there. It doesn’t matter what “side” you are on. Get help.

Don’t worry about saving face: The people who stand with you in hard times are the same people who are there for you when you reach my age. The rest don’t matter. Really. Seriously.

Smoking: Are you crazy?