ooh. war. what is it good for?

by lizzie & isaiah on January 5, 2011 · 21 comments

beavis and butthead fighting via hate trackers on love your way design and wedding blog

image via hate trackers

There’s been a divorce in my family. It was fugly.

It has Isaiah and I talking a lot about what we do that works and what could, potentially, be an obstacle down the road for us. We are planning on doing pre-marital counseling soon, but we have always had completely open lines of communication.

I believe fighting is absolutely necessary. The couple who doesn’t fight (in my humble opinion) is a couple who has many things they’re not discussing and airing out.

We fight.

I believe we fight well. There are some ground rules we established after our first fight. We only had to hurt each other once to decide we never wanted to make each other feel that way again.

We break them from time to time. We are two hot-headed Chicagoans with particularly awesome sounding fuck you’s – no-no-no..fuck YOU’s. For the most part, we stick to the rules and fight within them.

Absolutely No Characterization

My mom recently read a book with an excerpt written by a marriage counselor that said the two most common things that were evident in couples that were divorced within five years were: Blaming and characterization. That was a longer sentence than it needed to be, but you see….I forgot the name of the book.

Characterization is saying, “You are _________” instead of “You do __________.”

We stopped doing this by eliminating “always” and “never” from our fights. Saying “You always forget” leaves the other person with an immediate defense of, “No I don’t always forget…Is that what you think of me?”

We keep our fights to things we have done that the other didn’t like…things we want to work on together. It helps.

No Fight is A “Or We’re Breaking Up” Fight

We establish immediately that no fight is about “the state of us.”

Keep the Partnership, Even in a Fight

We try to make sure we’re still on each other’s side…the side of working through something together…and not standing across a ring from one another, boxing gloves laced and what not.

Race to the Apology

We’re both eager to say we’re sorry when we know we f*cked up (I’ve reached my quota for the post, I believe). Neither of us ever has to beg the other to apologize for what they’ve done.

Physical Contact

Not the hitting kind. We try to hold hands or stay physically close to each other while we fight so the ice is broken immediately. Simple and obvious and stupid, I’m sure, but it works for us.

Letting Go

I am especially guilty of breaking this rule. My mind automatically saves hurt in filing cabinets, neatly categorized. Each time something links together with a past experience, I feel like it’s happened more often than it has. I exaggerate the pain I’m feeling so he really gets the gravity of the situation. He calls my bluff and realizes that I’m stacking experiences to make it seem more weighty.

This is a recent lesson I learned. Once you exaggerate a situation beyond the norm and make a bigger deal than it is…you’ve kind of lost rights to the original issue. While you’re apologizing for exaggerating, it feels like you should still be able to say, “But I’m still upset over this first thing.” Really, you should just let it go. Don’t “wait” for it to happen again. Stop looking for easily categorized actions from your love…Stop expecting disappointment. Err on the side of giving them more credit than they deserve…after all, this is your person.

It Doesn’t Seem Fair to Take Information Given at Close Range for the Gag and the Bound and the Ammunition Round

I love Fiona Apple, by the way. Her song, “Not About Love” is one of my favorites. This lyric, especially.

You know your spouse/fiance/boy/girl/love better than anyone, right? I know that I could walk up to Isaiah and say one sentence that would have him in tears. He could do the same.

If you want to ruin your relationship really quickly and create an environment of hostility instead of one of intimacy…go ahead and use that confidential information. If you want to live happily ever after, never use information you learned from vulnerability and openness against each other. That father issue you have, the abandonment issues you share and his fear of insert-something-masculine-and-manly here are yours to expose. They’re also yours to keep and cherish and protect to save each other just-shy-of-unbearable-pain.

In summary.

We are no experts on fighting. All of these things just come from a genuine care for your love’s feelings and heart and not wanting to be the one who breaks it. We don’t look to lash out. We don’t look to get even. We only fight to air out differences and move onward and upward, together. It’s always together.

What advice do you have for fighting? Any qualms with what we’ve shared?


hey…that’s not love, that’s narcissism!

by lizzie & isaiah on December 7, 2010 · 17 comments

narcissist drawing - blog on divorce

“Narcissist” by SneeFree

We’ve been talking semi-ambiguously about a recent divorce in our family. Eventually, we will be able to talk about it more, but for now, not so much. What I can say is that the person driving the divorce is acting like a full-blown narcissist. (I only say acting because I’m not a medical doctor…someone should diagnose it though..)

But if it looks like a narcissist, smells like a narcissist…sounds like a narcissist…

You get my drift.

The love of a narcissist comes from how their partner makes them feel. They don’t love people for who they are, don’t have any interest in getting to know who they are and can’t be bothered to try.

The problem with that? Inevitably, when the thick-and-even-thicker point of the marriage comes along, you don’t feel like such a champion everyday. You can’t base your love off of how someone makes you feel. That’s part of it. You wouldn’t want to be with someone you loved completely that made you feel like a lumpy potato. But, there has to be an even greater part of that love that comes from who that person is. Even the part you love that makes you feel good evolves into a quality you love in them: Their ability to love and see you.

Personal experience, qualities of the love of a narcissist:

  • They only have their best interests at heart.
  • Manipulate situations to get what they want.
  • When they fight, they remember every wrong that’s ever been done to them.
  • When they’re hurting, you have to hurt too.

The confusing part: I have a great amount of affection/care in my heart for this person still. I can’t believe the things he is doing and saying. But I don’t have a hard time picturing him saying/doing them.

The point:¬†Examine the way you love people in your lives. Are you only looking for what they give you? I hope not. I hope even more that you’re not one of those people who loves selflessly and is marrying/married to/dating a selfish person. It can be incredibly hurtful and damaging to love someone who is incapable of loving you back the way you deserve.


Fingers Crossed and Other Pet-Peeves

by lizzie & isaiah on November 30, 2010 · 34 comments

Fingers Crossed

Image via

I have many pet-peeves.

There are an annoying number of things that annoy me.

I can’t stand loud eating noises. Something that actually makes it difficult for me to imagine a day I will calmly stare at a child of mine while they smack away on a Goldfish.

I can’t be around people who call others out. Hence why I’ve never told anyone but Isaiah to either chew quietly or move far, far away from my ears. I learned something at a young age, “You don’t have to say everything that comes to your mind.” Most of the hurts we go through in our lives (barring the deaths, the illnesses and the like) could have been prevented if people just thought about what they were going to say before they said it.

I have many small pet-peeves that might seem neurotic to (cough, Isaiah) many people around me. However. There is one thing that I think is bigger than a pet-peeve. It’s something that rocks my spine like a car wreck every time I hear it.

That thing? Have I built it up too much?

I can’t stand when people get married and all along the way drop little clich√© phrases like, “This will be our only marriage, fingers crossed” or “We’ll be together forever, knock on wood.” Perhaps it’s the way a couple of recent, close divorces have affected me and my way of thinking on this topic.

I remember reading on a blog (the particular blog I can’t remember, I apologize) that there are good years and bad years in marriage. With a mentality of “I hope this one takes,” how can we be expected to make it through those times? Prepare yourselves for the long-haul. Imagine forever. Know that you’ll make it, don’t “hope” or expect luck to take care of things for you.

I feel as though we’ve been taught to think believing in true love is silly. We’re lofty if we believe that our marriages have what it takes. I think saying, “At least I hope we’ll be together forever” is only to satisfy to everyone around us that we are aware of the risks.

Decide. Marry deliberately for forever. If it doesn’t work, so be it, recover, move on…but don’t prepare for the worst from the beginning.

What are your thoughts?



by lizzie & isaiah on November 20, 2010 · 13 comments

Image via

I hope all of us here hate divorce. So I’m not going to say something blatantly obvious like, “I hate divorce.”

We’re all on the same page, right?

Moving on. I never like seeing people around me getting divorced for any reason. However, by the time it gets to that point, it’s often “time,” in an unfortunately real way. By the time you’re in that position, there’s very little anyone can do to “save” the marriage, because they haven’t put time and care and attention into it for a long time.

I’m a firm believer that when two people get divorced, it’s most likely because one or both people failed to put the marriage first. Boil down the most complicated divorces, and that’s often at the root of it all.

Many of the divorces that have happened around me have very complex issues (addiction, for one). About a year ago, Isaiah’s parents decided to get divorced. It was the strangest thing. After being together 27 years, they couldn’t stand to be around each other any more. It blew my mind. A divorce that didn’t involve addiction or abuse was something I had never experienced. To me, they were getting divorced for “no reason.”

Isaiah’s mom explained something to me that I had never seen…but lately, have seen more and more. It’s the idea that people have the capability to turn each other into monsters. In Isaiah’s parents’ case, one of them has a tendency to be pushier and the other has a tendency to be lazier. The lazier one is, the pushier the other gets. The cycle continues until you hear yourself say something out loud that makes you sick.

People can become entirely different people in the wrong marriage.

Someone who loves to have fun and be laid-back that has to push and push another person to get something done ends up giving away tiny pieces of themselves and is forced into a position they don’t want to be in.

Anyways, this is all just background to tell you this.

Isaiah and I decide on a daily basis to talk, to improve and to be conscious of our relationship. This isn’t as dull or draining as it sounds. Sometimes it’s less deliberate than others and comes up if one of us is feeling pressured to change in a negative way. Others it’s in conversations about the future and who we want to be. The point of it all, if I haven’t lost you already, is to keep in mind the dangers of being complacent in a relationship.

Even just knowing that those things are out there is enough, sometimes, to keep you from falling into common potholes. Although there’s no guaranteed way to “beat” divorce, in my opinion, all you can do is be sure to know the person you’re marrying as well as we can, be deliberate in our relationships so their pitfalls don’t sneak up below us and be thoughtful of the other person’s needs and goals.

The waters are rough out there…but we can do plenty of things to be prepared to face them.