Monday, December 14, 2009

From the Date Night Archives: Horseback Picnic, Part One

Tanner and I have two horses, Stetson and Pepper. They live on the 2 or so acres that surround our rental home.

This is Stetson. He spends most of his time eating, chasing Pepper away from his food (Stetson considers all food to be his food), rolling in the dirt, ignoring the curious neighboring horses who hang their heads over the fence, sticking his head through the gate into our back yard to eat our lawn, coughing up phlegm and spiting it on my shoes (he's allergic to dust, pollen, bugs, other horses, air, exercise, and happiness), grumbling and neighing at me every time I come out of the house (day or night) to try and get me to feed him, and figuring out how to open gates and jump over barriers to get into the feed room.
He grumpy. He's cantankerous. He's middle-aged. But he's also incredibly smart. He's the kind of grumbly old guy who you shake your head at, and pretend to be mad at -- but secretly, you kind of like that he's an ole grouch.

Photo by Alana Harrison

This is Pepper. He spends most of his time trying to eat Stetson's left over scraps, chewing with his mouth open and spewing grain in a 10 foot radius, sniffing and nibbling your clothes, trying to play over the fence with the curious neighbor horses, sticking his head through the gate to try and sniff and nibble the dogs, running away from us when we come out of the barn on a cold night with his blanket, coming up to the fence for a pat every time I come out of the house (day or night), and figuring out the most circuitous route to his hay in avoidance of Stetson.
He's sweet, curious, and jumpy. He's a silly teenager. He spends a lot of time trying to decide, "Am I afraid of that? Or interested in it?" He makes me laugh as one minute he's snuggling, and the next he's running away kicking up dust.

Every once and while, we'll interrupt the glamorous every day lives of these horses, and put a saddle on them. That was our plan when we dreamed-up a romantic horseback ride and picnic. I was pretty excited. I mean, MAN, this was going to be roMANtic! I was already story-boarding in my head the Harlequin romance I was going to pen based on our sunset ride and horderves. The original plot involved the aforementioned sunset, a leisurely horseback stroll during which Tanner and I intertwined fingers and blew kisses, cheese and crackers and other goodies fed to each other on a cozy blanket as our horses munched grass and our dogs gazed at butterflies looping through the air, and a bunch of other mooshy "chocolate-bearing-cowboy take me away" scenarios.

The finialized, post-reality-edited story line... yeah, a leetle different.

More to come.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Deep, Dark Confessions

You date someone for four years, and you think you know them well. And then, you get married, and then, then, they reveal things about themselves you could have never imagined. Things, that if you had known before you got married, would have changed it all.

Today Tanner told me one of those things. One of those truths that makes you question everything.

"Sometimes, when mom would buy Oreos, but we would run out of milk, I would dunk them in water."


You think you know someone, but you really don't.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things Girls Do: Pillow Talk

Girls like pillows. And lots of 'em. I'm no exception. I love a bed full of plush pillows. I'll stack those suckers half-way down the length of the bed. Why? HELLO! They look pretty. Even though I only get to enjoy their beauty for the 5-10 minutes I spend standing in my room while I change clothes before bed, that's reason enough. And, the few times I have the luxury of extra time to read for pleasure (GASP!), or on the rare occasion when Tanner refuses to forfeit the living room TV (cuz they only play Waterworld every 5 hours), those pillows are the perfect cushion and back-prop while reading or vegging-- how I love cuddling in a cocoon of pillows.

I finally got the European-sized pillows to go inside the remaining shams, fulfilling our darling decorative pillow family that came with our comforter set.The morning after Pillowpalooza 2009, something shocking happened. I discovered it when I came home from work. Tanner, who gets up after I've already left the house, had made the bed, excessive pillows and all. He didn't even make a comment about the new additions to the family. And then......

it never happened again.

Those pillows, as light and fluffy as they are, quickly broke his will to bed-make. I'm obsessive about a made bed -- if makes me feel at peace and complete. I don't like getting into an unmade bed. So, I politely informed Tanner, "It would mean a lot to me if you would make the bed before you left. I'll start feeding the horses in the morning (a chore he doesn't like) if it would help." [Tanner:] "Ummm, how about I just get up and out of bed before you leave so you can make the bed. I'll keep feeding the horses." [Me:] "But you'd have to get up, like, a hour earlier than you do now!" [Tanner:] "Yeahhh, that's fine."

Pillows? Yea, well, now Tanner thinks they're kinda dumb, "We just take them off every night." Sigh.

Should We Lie To Our Spouse?

Should you manipulate the truth for the "betterment" of your marriage?

Semi-recently, a newsletter from one of the newlywed forums I'm a member of (The Nest) send me an interesting article (sometimes it takes me a while to read all those newletters, but for some reason I save them OCD-style in little folders until I find the time). This article from The Wall Street Journal suggests that "fibs and feints and little white lies that serve as a social salve and help a relationship run smoothly" might help the survival of our marriage.

So you can get an idea of the types of lies considered "helpful," here are the fibs mentioned in the article:
  • A wife who brings newly-bought clothes into the house in a dry cleaner's garment bag
  • A wife who dumps take-out into pots on the stove before the hubby arrives home
  • A wife who pockets the $ her hubby gives her for a house cleaner and cleans the house herself
  • A wife who dropped a diamond earring her hubby gave her down the drain, but said the earrings just hurt her ears to much too wear
  • A hubby who promised he wouldn't trim the trees, did anyway, and colored over the white stump with a brown marker
  • A wife who hid her husband's unsightly t-shirts with cut-off sleeves
  • Hubbies who fibbed about how much they drank at a party, how fast they drive, whether they find their wife's female friends attractive, how much they like their significant other's cooking or outfits, etc.
So why lie? The main reasons mentioned in the article are (1) to avoid conflict and (2) to protect your spouse/be kind. Other reasons include to save face and to gain approval.

(1) My wife asked if I would walk the dogs but I played X-Box all day instead so to avoid an argument, I'll cover the dogs legs in mud and give them a tranquilizer so they look tired.
(2) My wife's lima bean stir fry makes me throw up in my mouth, but I'll tell her it's the best thing I've ever eaten because I don't want to hurt her feelings.
(1&2) I hate the way my husband dresses, so instead of telling him and arguing about it and hurting his feelings, I'll hide all his clothing in a hole in the backyard.

Maybe I'm naive because I'm so early into the game, but I'm not sure I see the benefit of the above white lies, or ones like them. Many may act as quick conflict diffusers and are even amusing at times, but from my perspective (duh, this is my blog), they can also mask a deeper issue at hand. I don't like fighting or sharing difficult truths, but I'm under the impression that addressing conflicts big and small, and being honest in love and with good intentions will do more good for the survival of my marriage. Also, I'm horrible at lying, even when I'm trying to do it as a joke, so if my marriage's survival depends on it, then I'm dead and buried.

Instead of dumping take-out in pots, deceiving my husband into believing I cooked it in order to gain his approval, I'd like to be in a relationship where I can be secure enough to tell my husband I suck at cooking. Sometimes I won't feel like doing it, so we'll eat TV dinners. I'll also try my best to get better at it -- hey, lets cook together to make it more fun, even if it turns out tasting like a glucosamine dog tablet (I recently tasted one of these by accident, so I know how disgusting they are). If my husband makes me feel insignificant because I'm not good at something, or if I'm insecure and feel the need to earn his love by impressing him, or if we have spousal role expectations that we don't see eye to eye on, those are issues that I'm not sure a white lie band aid will heal very well.

And the whole lying so you don't hurt someone's feelings thing, the flag that's always flown to prove that sometimes it's OK to lie,
not sure I can solute those shorts. "I can't tell my wife she looks fat in those jeans, so I just say she looks nice." Hey wife, instead of trapping your husband in an akward situation, why don't you get to what's really on your mind. You feel insecure because you've gained weight. You're not happy with your body. You're not sure if your husband is still attracted to you. You husband doesn't complement you as much as you'd like. You are looking for significance in the wrong places.

If so, work out and eat healthy, pray, tell your spouse you need him to show you affection more often, whatever. But don't force him into a situation where he has to lie to you so you can get a temporary band aid on a deeper issue. What if you don't have alterior motives, and you're really sincerely asking your husband how you look in a certain outfit, because it matters to you -- then, I'm guessing you want an honest answer! Upon my asking, Tanner's honestly told me before that skinny jeans and flats isn't his favorite look, but that I always look beautiful to him, no matter what I'm wearing. And you know what, I believed him on both accounts. And, I still wear my skinny jeans anyways, because I like them. But now I tuck them into boots, because honestly, he was right, they look better that way.

I guess my point is, there's usually a deeper issue at hand requiring a lie. And often times, it's because we're being selfish or prideful in some way, because we have unhealthy insecurities, or because we're ashamed. And besides, getting in the habit of being untruthful in small ways, sounds like a gateway drug to bigger lies (I've been watching too much of the TV show Intervention).

Obviously, I'm sinner with the best of them and far from perfect. One time, when we were dating, I told Tanner that I had cut my dad's hair before, because I really wanted to cut Tanner's hair, and was afraid he wouldn't let me if I confessed I'd never done it. He let me, and luckily it turned out well. I confessed, a year or so later. Even though I'm terrible at it, I still catch myself lying at times. Usually pulling the "Nope, nothing," when Tanner asks if something's wrong. I've learned, at least for us, that it's better to just answer truthfully. And I think it's made our marriage better.

I'm curious to know you're thoughts, even if you disagree with me -- don't you lie and tell me I'm right so you won't hurt my feelings now.


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