So this week I thought I would post a few thoughts about activities one should embark upon before they take the ol' trip to Ball-And-Chain-Ville. I was cleaning the Casa de Big E (no, that's not a joke, I really was in the mood to clean it) the other day and I came across a book that an ex got me that was one of those "99 things a woman should do before she dies" jobs and it got me thinking. I don't know how many people I've come across, both male and female, who just haul off and get married without really getting the chance to live a little. Maybe it's just me, but I just think there's something to be said for taking a step out there. So here's my suggestions for pre-nuptial discovery.
1. Live on your own. And I mean, really truly on your own, no roommates, no shacking up, no whatever, but in a place where only your name is on the lease. I know so many people who have gone from Mom and Daddy's to co-habitation with their Cuddlebug and have no idea how to make it on their own. I honestly think this lack of independent homeostasis is the main reason people get all co-dependent with their significant others and subsequently keep the psychology industry in full swing. I mean, sure it's great to have the one you love nearby, but what happens when things don't work out? You end up going back to Mom and Daddy's at an age where it's wildly inappropriate to say you still live at home, or you end up sleeping in your friend's basement on their mildewed hand me down college couch that probably still has bodily fluids on it from college. So take it from your old pal The Big E--get out there and live on your own. I'd say do it for at least a year. Not only do you learn how to take care of yourself better, but you learn a valuable lesson--how to be a person that is wholly you, not part of "You and Your Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Whatever" or "The Smith's Kid Who Still Lives At Home." It's called independence, people, and it is sorely underrated in this day and age. Big E has been in her own little domicile for the past 8 or 9 years now, and I can't tell you how much I enjoy it. I have the freedom to come and go as I please, the freedom to leave my underwear laying in the bathroom floor, and the freedom of knowing that I can take care of myself without having to depend on anyone else financially or emotionally. Sometimes I even paint my face up like William Wallace in Braveheart and yell "FREEDOOOOOOOOM!" from the window of my condo. Then my next door neighbor's dogs start barking like wicked Banshees and I shut it down and go wash my face. But hey, it feels great to know there's nobody to tell me it's past my curfew or to go get them a beer. Because you can't take care of other people without first taking care of Y-O-U.
2. Figure out who in the hell you are. This is sort of an addendum to #1 because I find that usually figuring out who you are comes most easily when you are on your own, simply because you have time to think about it without your mom asking you if you did your laundry or your significant other pestering you to "flip it over to the game already!" or whatever. Seriously, this is vitally important to success in life and in relationships, because figuring out what you want from life and for yourself is the best way to make sure you get it. Nobody says to themselves, "hey, I think I'll be a miserable hunk of shit for the next 30 years and let someone else run my life," but that's exactly what happens when you don't know what you want in the first place. It's like the old saying goes, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." And failure to figure that out is the reason why shows like Tool Academy make it on the air. So do yourself a favor and get to know your likes, dislikes, dealbreakers, wants, needs, and secret career fantasies. You'll thank me when your sitting behind the CEO's desk in the highrise that is your super awesome life with a super awesome (and probably hot) spouse on their way to pick you up for lunch.
3. Learn from your mistakes. There are so many people in this world who get sucked into the same bad relationships over and over again, and then finally end up marrying one of them because they think "this time it'll be different." In the words of Tom Cruise in Rainman: let me let you in on a little secret, Ray. K-Mart sucks. So does going from one loser who didn't have their shit together to another loser with a whole other set of problems but still no visibly gathered shit. If your friends and everyone else you know keep telling you, "this is just like when you dated so-and-so" or "you seem to fall for the same type of guy/girl all the time" and that guy/girl makes Courtney Love look like the voice of reason, then take a little cue from your gut instinct and abandon ship. Figure out what it is that keeps attracting you to this type of sucktitude and get on the path to change. You'll be a lot better off, and your friends won't have to put up with another lame night out on the town with you and whats-his-nuts fighting the whole time.
4. Don't limit yourself. Now, I'm not saying that people don't meet the love of their lives at age 5, but I am saying you're probably not that person. So there is no reason for you to get yourself tied down really early in life. When I was in high school, my parents used to tell me not to get too serious with one guy, and I thought they were complete and total fuddy duddies. These days, I thank my lucky stars that I subconsciously took their advice and didn't get hot and heavy at 16. Sure, I had a boyfriend or two who broke my heart, but I never in a million years thought I would marry them. I had too much ambition and too many things to do and see to get married. And lets face it, no matter how smart you think you are at 16, 20, hell, even 25, YOU ARE AN IDIOT. I still have so much more to learn and do and become in this life, but I think at 30 I've at least got a handle on the aforementioned 1-3. So what I'm saying is, go out there and date. I mean really date. As in, go out with a wide variety of types and personalities. I've gone out with tall, short, funny, boring, blondes, brunettes, younger, older, etc etc. And I've learned so much more about myself and what I want, and especially what I don't want, to safely say I am confident in my list of items that are necessary for marriage. Limiting yourself to one or two long term relationships that weren't that productive in the first place is only going to limit your ability to be a good spouse, in my humble opinion. So seize the cheeseburger! Say yes! At least you'll get a free meal or a movie. At worst, you'll have a story to post in your very own blog someday.
Alrighty folks, that's all I got this week. Let me know your rants, raves, comments, and queries!