Last week I took a call from a couple whom I had married three years ago regarding marriage counseling. Apparently they were considering a divorce due to stepchildren and a stale, predictable life they were both unhappy with. Marriage is a partnership of good, bad and boring! Keeping things “fresh” isn’t easy but, if both partners are willing to put forth the effort- a marriage can be saved and stronger for overcoming the roadblocks of life. After all, you made a commitment to one another and “being bored” was not part of the “deal.”Folks ask me all the time how my twin and I smile so much after surviving so many setbacks and struggles. My answer is simple- I work at not “harping” on something and finding the positive aspects of how something that hurt me in the past can empower me in the future. My husband went broke during the real estate crash and struggled with depression after three years of unemployment. This crisis was difficult for both of us to overcome as we watched everything we had worked for say goodbye. We were forced to sell everything we had in order to save our home and sacrifice builds character! That’s right, you learn that material things are minor in the overall scheme of your marriage. Many couples divorce over money- I had no plans on joining the ranks of folks who effectively threw in the towel and threw away their marriage do to something unexpected happening. No one plans to be unemployed or even, sick with a long term illness that affects income into the household. But, the reality of something unexpected happening during the course of your marriage is very real and how you deal with it is in your hands. Steve Daniel was retired by Albertsons after 23 years. This was the first time he had ever been unemployed and at the same time as my own husband which further caused a financial strain on our families because it was the first time that my twin and I were struggling at the same time. You see, we had always had the other to rely upon and with both of our older husbands unemployed- it would take everything we had to save both of our homes from foreclosure while raising our children and in Cindy’s case, her twin grandchildren. Yes, our struggle was very real and with poverty knocking on both of our doors at the same time- we beat every bush to flip, swap or trade to make a buck and pay the bills while keeping the Little Pawners in school clothes and supplies which is why we are always smiling to keep from crying because we never wanted any of our children to realize how close to being homeless we actually were while seeking employment for both of our husbands. Steve Daniel eventually took a job with KBR in Iraq for 8 years to save the farm and 3 years after losing his real estate development business, my husband is now Vice President of McBee Homes. We made it through the storm together as a team with each other and our husbands because Cindy and I had actually been poor and homeless as teens we were survivors who pinched pennies and could squeeze “a diamond out of a piece of coal” to survive. If you’ve never been poor, it’s horrifying. Both of our husbands were terrified of how they would provide for their families and us. Cindy and I are both fairly independent but, we rely heavily on each other as well. When my son, Robert Hafele married, I gave him all the advice of marriage that I had learned with my “it’s not all wine and roses speech.” Cindy did the same with Leigh Ann prior to her marriage because we believed that unless there were inconceivable reasons of infidelity or domestic violence- they should be wholly committed to their marriages with the good, the bad and the boring.
When my son called me upset about his new inlaws and outlaws or my niece called my sister to tell her how “so and so is a back stabbed or two faced.” Yes, holidays with your “new” extended family can be a pain in the ass my friends but, suck it up because when you marry your spouse, you also marry their family!
What if there are children from a previous marriage that “just don’t listen” or cause strife with the new step parent? Well, it is your responsibility to find a way to pave a path of being their friend first and the step patent second. As an example, let’s say you were promoted at work and suddenly realize that everyone isn’t as happy about this promotion as you are. That’s right, you are now in somewhat of a position of authority regarding the step children but, that doesn’t mean they are going to be ecstatic about this change to their household. Work on your patience and understand that changing the dynamics of your household isn’t easy- it requires commitment.
Suddenly you realize that your sex life has become “routine” and blame your spouse for being “predictable” and need some excitement in the bedroom? Well friend, my twin and I are facing our 51st birthday next week and with menopause and thyroid disease medication “packing on the pounds” don’t exactly “feel sexy” either! In fact, when you’re overweight you feel anything but sexy so what do you do? Honey, you fake it! Put on a trade show girl smile and pretend to be confident about yourself even if you can find a million things you don’t like about you standing in a mirror. I was a clothing model for some 15 years and quickly understood that if I didn’t feel good in something, I had a difficult time selling it to buyers. To overcome this barrier, I turned into “Trade Show Girl.” I made myself love whatever the dresser put me in while “pulling the rack” and could quickly tell a buyer what I loved about the piece (even when I was hard pressed to find something positive to say). Feeling “sexy” is all in your mind baby and I know from experience that if you convince yourself you look good and smile- others will believe you too and that includes your husband. Cindy and I secretly went to a lap band surgeons office yesterday after three years of continued weight gain from our menopause medications. Being overweight has impacted our self confidence to such an extent that we’ve decided to do something about it rather than allowing it to “rule us.” Do our husbands know? No, the reason is that we both know they will say the usual “I love you just the way you are” BS that we don’t want to hear. We’ve fought our weight as long as we can remember and if surgery is the only way we can combat this 5-10 lb weight gain every year- we are willing to do it as a team and get back the self esteem we’ve lost due to age and health issues requiring medications. Our video that documents how and why I decided to help struggling consumers by flipping, swapping and trading also shows my twin commenting about my dressing up and why I believe that “when you get to be my age- you’ve got to spice things up! My husband isn’t going anywhere.”Meet The Pawning Planners Wendy Wortham and Cindy Daniel you see, I’ve been a clothing model and know that if I feel good in something like a hot pink corset that puts everything in a “pretty package” that I don’t worry about my expanding waist that’s been “reined in” or breasts that no longer stand at attention because my “outfit” fixes these minor defects. A corset is a girls best friend baby!Stephaney may never marry but, if she does, you can bet that both Cindy and I will give her the “suck it up speech” because once the honeymoon is over, it’s no longer the exhilarating ride you thought marriage would be. Throw laughter into your marriage to keep it fresh and remember that being friends first will add to the longevity of your marriage. Cindy and I laugh with our husbands daily because we think they are actually fairly hilarious and in turn, our husbands think we are exciting because “something is always going on with you girls!” They are right of course, from refurbishing items to meeting new clients and referring our married children to ways to cope with their spouses “annoying behaviors” and everything inbetween- we hear it all and call each other to discuss how we think they can overcome something and move on. Cindy and I often laugh at the “serious” tone our older children give us about what happened to cause the argument in the first place. Oh, you wanted dinner ready when you got home and it wasn’t? Hey are you afraid of pulling out a pan and cooking? Don’t get mad- get cooking. Cooking relaxes my husband and I we do it as a team like everything else in my life and are blessed that we no longer have beans and rice 5 times a week because we had to count pennies in order to keep food on the table! Yes, during the “dark days” of Ramen Noodles and Spam our families remember the “rough times” of no meat with a meal unless it came from a can!
You see, “family” can be your friends and your inlaws and outlaws whether you like them or not- they are a part of your life after marriage and only you can learn to “cope” with their idiosyncratic behavior. My daughter in law, Stephanie Hafele loses things all the time and it drives my son crazy. Over the past 5 years ages lost at least 3 smart phones, her checkbook, her wallet and locked herself out of her vehicle at least 30 times. My son is organized and order driven after growing up with an OCD mother that taught him to put everything in one place.Will Stephanie change her habits? Probably not but can my son overlook these irritating and chaotic personality disorders without “blowing a gasket?” Yes, because his mother has taught him to accept the often irresponsible behavior of his wife and, he married her. The “suck it up” talk isn’t only for clients ya all and after speaking with Heather on ways to cope with annoying behavior as well as dealing with “playing favorites” with the stepchildren, we found a viable way of dealing with things that irritate and annoy her. Getting your marriage back on track after a derailment isn’t easy but it is possible and its up to you. You are either in it for the “long haul” or you aren’t and it’s something that only you and your spouse can work through together as a team to accomplish the longevity you committed to at your wedding ceremony. I often wonder if anyone is
paying attention when I tell them “in sickness and in health, in richness or poor” because the reality is that sickness and poverty are facts of life. My goal of giving a beautiful cetemony to struggling consumers addressed the very real needs of families who couldn’t afford an “extravagant affair” but, I will give them the same advice that we give our own children and that is that commitment isn’t disposable it’s a lifelong term when you are talking about marriage. You are partners and you are both in this together so learn to laugh together, rejoice together and even play dress up together if the opportunity presents itself. Live, laugh and rejoice…
Wendy M Wortham