The terms and conditions of marriage.

You know how when you sign up for an online service or activate a new phone or credit card, or basically any time you buy anything ever, you have to sign an endless, detailed, coma-inducing document known as the terms and conditions? No one ever reads it, but next thing you know, you’ve agreed to plant 100 trees, karate chop the elderly, and let Apple/Verizon/Walmart tattoo its logo on your face.

Marriage is kind of like that.

The basic agreement covers the general stuff:

to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

But here’s the fine print.

#1) You are now your spouse’s primary physician.
You are now required to analyze your spouse’s intimate health concerns with them. When your spouse comes home and confesses to you that they haven’t had a normal bowel movement in 3 weeks (usually it’s the husband,  amiright ladies?)  or they’ve discovered a mole/lump/growth in a deep crevice somewhere on their body, your first reaction may be, “Why are you telling me this? I’m not a doctor!”. But there you are 20 minutes later, flashlight in hand, squinting as you google pictures of cancerous moles or asking questions about color and consistency. Word of advice: stay away from WebMD.

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#2) Bodily functions happen and you must deal with them.
Your alarm goes off at 6:30 AM. You hit snooze and roll over to snuggle your still sleeping spouse, stealing some peaceful moments while the world is quiet and the sun has just started to peek through the blinds. Your spouse snuggles a little closer to you, lets out a quiet, contented sigh and then…farts on your leg. Now, I’m not saying this scenario happened in my marriage last week, and I’m not saying that the guilty party texted her best friend and sister-in-law to tell them all about it later that day, all while stifling giggles in an effort not to wake the sleeping baby in her arms, but I’m not NOT saying any of that happened, if you know what I mean. Look, bodily functions are a normal part of life and you can’t spend the rest of your marriage sneaking into the bathroom to pass some gas or shifting in your seat to let out a silent one. And your husband is living in a fool’s paradise if he thinks you don’t fart.

 

#3) The silent stand off over the dishes (or some other, equally unpleasant chore).
I hate doing the dishes. So does Christopher. The first house we lived in after we got married did not have a dishwasher. Which meant every few days, the dishes would pile up in the sink and we would begin our own Cold War. We’ve never admitted this officially, but we both knew we were just waiting until the other one cracked. More often than not, I was the one to give in, because I would need a certain dish to cook and there were too many dishes in the sink to wash just one. Christopher had the upper hand however, having lived with roommates for a year and a a half before we got married.

#4) The struggle of the snacks.
One of the simple pleasures of life is having a special snack that only you enjoy. That way, you can keep it in the house and not worry about coming home to an empty bag or box one day. But that dream is shattered when your spouse decides to try it, after months of saying how gross it is, and discovers what they’ve been missing out on. Then, you feel guilty for over-indulging, especially if you eat the last of your tasty treats. Until your spouse shamelessly admits to taking more than their fair share. Then the gloves are off.

These are just a few of things about marriage that you didn’t (knowingly) sign up for. What are the terms and conditions of your marriage?

 

Killing Regina George: Confronting Your Inner Mean Girl

How do I begin to explain Regina George?

reginageorgeisflawless

We all know Regina George. That girl who comes to school every day with perfect hair and the cutest outfits, the woman at the gym who sweats in the most beautiful way, the mom in Target with well-behaved children in adorably coordinated outfits, the lady at the office who brings delicious snacks to the break room each week. Everyone has a Regina George in her life.

I can guarantee that every girl and woman can think of at least one girl or woman who has made her feel bad about herself at some point in her life, whether it was intentionally or unintentionally. Many times, it has been intentionally. In fact, most of us can think of more than one Regina George who victimized us at more than one time in our lives. These incidents leave deep scars on us, down in the hidden parts of our hearts that we don’t want anyone to see. And we do a lot of unhealthy things to try to heal that hurt.

liferuiner

But what we learned about Regina George is that she is just as broken as the rest of us. She doesn’t have a good relationship with her mom and dad. She’s been with a lot of guys. She’s insecure about her appearance. She covered up her issues with a cocktail of manipulation, gossip, false compliments, nice cars, and pretty handbags, and created a cold, shiny, hard, plastic veneer to keep the world at bay.

Now, we could all get together and sit in a circle and share our stories and cry and hug and talk about baking a cake of rainbows and smiles and we could all be happy.But if we were honest for one second, we’d realize that it’s only a temporary fix, a small Dollar Store Hello Kitty band-aid over a gaping, festering wound.

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I think we need to approach the problem from a different angle.

All too easily, women play the comparison game. I teach middle school and high school students, and I hear it every day.

“Today, I weighed…”

“Okay, did you hear what she….”

“Oh my god, what was she…”

This greatly distresses me.

Not just because I know how physically, emotionally, and spiritually dangerous this game can be, but also because I know that this is only the beginning for them. Today it’s their bodies and the number of followers they have on Instagram. Then it will shift to boyfriends, colleges, weddings, husbands, careers, income, homes, cars, pregnancies, post-pregnancy bodies, children, parenting skills, and on and on and on. And they will continue to play this game for the rest of their lives.

But the only way we are going to begin to fix this problem is to face the pure, sweet, difficult truth.

There is a Regina George in all of us. And she thinks that she should be better than everyone else.

We know this because our natural reaction when we feel the “injustice” of another woman’s success is not the celebrate but to tear her down. We scoff at the first time mom’s decision to use cloth diapers, calling her “naive” and “idealistic” despite her thorough research and careful decisions. We downplay our neighbor’s healthy weight loss by crediting good genes or an excess of free time instead of recognizing the hard work and dedication it took to get there. We ignore our own unique beauty and the beauty of other women around us because we’re too caught up in measuring beauty by unrealistic magazines and Pinterest boards. We keep our own personal “burn books” in our hearts and visit the pages whenever we’re feeling sad, angry, disappointed, or inadequate.

burnbook

It’s time to kill Regina George.

It’s time each of us recognized that little Regina George in all of us and pushed her in front of a speeding school bus.

“Regina George is an evil dictator. And how do you destroy an evil dictator? You cut off their resources.”

#1) Stop surrounding yourself with women who let their inner Reginas thrive.

#2) Practice thinking about yourself in a realistic way.

#3) Be excited for the women in your life. And not just your friends.

It’s going to be so fetch.

When your wedding is more popular than you are.

I have been a wordpress blogger since September of 2011. Since then, I have had a total of 722 views. It’s safe to assume that at least 100 of these views have been from my mom.

On April 29th of this year, I told a certain young man that I would marry him. I was telling the truth. Several days later I built a wedding website, courtesy of theknot.com.

As of today, that website has had 825 views.

The conclusion? My upcoming wedding is more popular than I am.

As an aspiring writer, I am enormously offended. Just because a handsome and talented young man puts a gloriously radiant ring on my finger, suddenly I am interesting, witty, and charming.

I have always been interesting, witty, and charming.

Perhaps not. More like snarky, biting, and abrasive. In my defense, people seem to like that. That’s why the reanimated corpse of Joan Rivers has her own show on the E! Channel.

So why this sudden surge of popularity? There are several possibilities.

1) People are assuming it will be outrageously tacky and they are pumped to have a good laugh over it. If that is the case, I’m uninviting everyone ever.

2) People think it is a joke and that any day we’ll pull a great big “SIKE!” If this is the case….I’m indignant.

3) People have heard me talk about my “Beyonce sang at my wedding” dream so much that they think it’s real. Well, as of yet, Beyonce has yet to respond to any of my letters, facebook messages, emails, telegrams, tweets, carrier pigeons, or smoke signals. But if anything changes, I’ll let you guys know.

But really, the only obvious answer is that I am marrying the coolest person on earth.

Seriously, the guy that I get to marry (I’m purposely not using his name to appear more mysterious, though I’m pretty sure most of my readership knows him in real life) is the nicest person ever. People love him. He can talk to anyone, and they feel like he really cares about what they have to say, because he does. There’s no phoniness about him at all.

He loves helping people. Helping them move things, helping them do yard work, helping them find jobs.

He makes people and his relationships with them a priority.

He is easy going, kind, funny, fun loving. He is eternally optimistic, one of the things I love most about him.

He is wildly creative and he loves sharing that with people.

He’s the coolest person ever and I couldn’t be happier with anyone on earth, not even Zac Efron. (I can’t believe I said that but it’s true!!)

So if I’m cooler by association because I’m with the most over-the-moon incredible guy, I am perfectly fine with that.

But I would like for all of you to subscribe to my blog. Just sayin’.

PS: Here’s the link to the wedding website. http://SmolenParker.ourwedding.com

PPS: I realize this is a little more sappy than my usual stuff. Cut me some slack! I’m in love!

The Trials and Tribulations of Dating a Musician

Every girl secretly dreams of dating a musician.

Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

How many times have women listened to songs like “Jesse’s Girl”, “Sweet Caroline”, or “Hey There Delilah” and longed to be the inspiration, the girl standing in the wings backstage, exchanging stolen glances with her musician while he plays to thousands of screaming fans and reveling in the knowledge that they knew his true artist’s soul? *SIGH* Butterflies. It’s the stuff of dreams.

I’m here to blow the lid off that fantasy.

There are hazards to dating a musician. I’m talking about more than just the constant threat of some fast-and-loose groupie trying to scoop your man in a frenzied backstage moment. There are very real, physical, mental, and emotional hazards that every women should take into account before getting involved with a musician. And as different as Beethoven’s 5th symphony is from “Stairway to Heaven”, so are the hazards of dating a drummer over a guitarist, a bassist over a songwriter, a tambourine shaker over a keyboardist. I’ve compiled a helpful guide.

If you’re dating a drummer: BEWARE! You’re in the most physical danger. You are not just the drummer’s girlfriend; you are a piece of percussion equipment. Your drummer may discover he loves the sound of his fingertips slapping out a sweet beat on your upper arm, stomach, or head. Protective gear may sound like a good idea, but it will only increase your man’s desire to drum on you. Additionally, you and your man will experience some issues with communication, because you will never be heard the first time, due to extensive inner ear damage. Be prepared to repeat yourself. And work on your enunciation.

If you’re dating a bassist: I hope you’re a good actress, because let’s be honest; it’s hard to be enthusiastic about bass lines. buuuuhhhhhm……buhbuhbuh…..buuuuuhhhhmmmm……..buhbuhbuhbuhbuh…..“Don’t you love it?…..”That’s so awesome, baby! Your part is the best part of the song! It really fills out the sound!”

If you’re dating a singer/songwriter: Brace yourself for an emotional roller coaster. He’s been quiet and pensive all day, staring off into the distance, barely responding to anything you say. He turns to you with anguish in his eyes. You’re expecting those four dreaded words, “We need to talk”, but the four words that come out of his mouth instead are: “Nothing rhymes with ‘orange'”.  Your man’s happiness depends on his ability to melodically express his thoughts, while rhyming and appearing clever. It’s best to carry a pocket thesaurus in your purse.

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list. These are simply a few observations I have made in recent months and I felt it my duty as a woman to offer fair warning to other women, lest you find yourself the inspiration of a chart topping breakup song. God speed to you all in your quest for musically enriched romance.