JYP’s Guide To Marriage & Relationships [NSFW]

In honor of my upcoming wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day, and in the longstanding tradition of random people on the internet giving advice they are wholly unqualified to give (especially if you’ve read my blog recently), I present The JYP Guide To Marriage & Relationships*

*Advice may be inappropriate for certain situations. Some content below may be NSFW for your workplace.

If marriage and relationships were as easy as this extremely basic math problem, there would be no way that I could justify writing this post. Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
  1. Let’s get this out of the way first before anyone takes me too seriously and starts making poor decisions based on my advice. 99% of marriage advice is full of context/situation-specific assumptions (which they never tell you) and is not meant to be taken literally for all situations. I found that advice promoted as “This is hands-down the absolute best thing you can do for your Jewish marriage”, gems like “Make challah every week for your husband” or “Go to the mikvah as soon as possible” were really extremely situation-specific to the advice-giver and they had no positive benefit on my marriage whatsoever.
  2. When considering marriage advice, the intent is more important than the specifics. Everyone gets riled up about how “Never Go To Bed Angry” is bad advice when taken literally, but the intent isn’t that you and your spouse should stay up late arguing. The intent is that you shouldn’t hold a grudge.
  3. By the way, here’s my take on The Great Go To Bed Angry / Not Go To Bed Angry Controversy: You can go to bed angry as long as you go to bed naked. Be open to the possibility of reconciliation / makeup sex.
  4. Living Together and Dating are really not the same thing. Living together means physically living in the same domicile. Dating means making plans to spend quality time together, aka dates. Do not confuse sharing a bathroom with going on an actual date.
  5. Marriage and Living Together are really not the same thing. I know this in part because at one point during our marriage, Husband and I lived in different countries and our marriage was a million times better an ocean apart than it is now in the current situation of trapped in the same space 24/7. In fairness, there were other variables that made the living in different countries period better, namely, the ability to go out with friends and family, the fact that Husband and I did interesting things during our respective days which made for enjoyable (if annoying to schedule across multiple time zones) conversations, and there was a future to feel optimistic about. Anyway, the moral of the story is that even we hear a lot about how marriage and building a home together go hand in hand, the chuppah (marriage canopy) symbolizes the Jewish home, etc. they really aren’t synonymous.
  6. “Partner for life” does not mean “Partner for everywhere I go” (That is what a handbag is for). Your spouse is not a fashion accessory. It is often not necessary or desirable to do absolutely everything or go absolutely everywhere with your spouse. I admit I am biased. I lean more towards the “Live in another country without your spouse” end of the spectrum and that the “My spouse accompanies me to absolutely everything, including activities they have no interest in and routine grocery store trips” makes little sense to me. And I have nothing against grocery stores. I’ve been on grocery store dates with three different guys! (Does that make me a grocery whore?)
  7. Don’t badger your spouse about things that are between Spouse and G-d and not Spouse and You. If you are reading this, I’m going to assume you aren’t G-d, not because I don’t believe in G-d (I do, actually), but because I believe G-d has better things to do than read my stupid post. (G-d, if you are reading this, Hi! Sorry in advance for the sex tips!) For example, if your spouse sleeps through Shabbat services, you might not be thrilled about it, but ultimately, this is an issue between Spouse and G-d. You do not really get to decide how/when/if your spouse communicates with G-d. Now, if your spouse sleeps through Shabbat services and there is an impact on you e.g. you had to spend all morning prepping for Shabbat guests solo, you can absolutely badger your spouse about the things that impact you. Tell your spouse they need to do a better job co-hosting the Shabbat guests! But you don’t get to tell your spouse what relationship to have with G-d.
  8. Sharing your spouse’s secrets with your friend will not make your friendship closer nor will it help you vent. It just makes you a shitty spouse.
  9. Sharing your friend’s secrets with your spouse will not make you and your spouse closer. It just makes you a shitty friend.
  10. Here is the real reason why you shouldn’t cheat: Don’t cheat because it is pointless. Look, I’m not going to tell you that cheating is immoral or hurtful, because you already know that and if you really want to do it, you’ll find a way to rationalize it to yourself. But I will tell you that the new lover you are about to cheat with is just as human and flawed as your partner, and just as likely to disappoint you. Former cheater speaking from experience here.
  11. Well, I think it’s time for some sex tips. The entire body (including the brain) can be a sex organ. Don’t just focus on the naughty bits. I mean, don’t completely ignore the naughty bits. But don’t only focus on the naughty bits. It’s uncreative.
  12. Don’t just lie there in bed and expect your partner to do all the work. There’s no excuse for that. Well, unless you’ve been consensually handcuffed to the headboard. That would be a pretty good excuse, actually.
  13. Don’t go along with your partner’s sex fantasy that you aren’t into and aren’t comfortable with just to please them. It will lead to resentment.
  14. Don’t pressure your partner to fulfill your sex fantasy if your partner isn’t into it. The reality will fall short of expectations. Some fantasies are better off remaining fantasies.
  15. Watching porn is a bad idea because it gives you unrealistic expectations. Reading erotic fiction is a worse idea because it gives you even more unrealistic expectations. Porn is unrealistic for sure, but it does feature actual living humans which gives it at least some limited grounding in reality (albeit reality that has been filmed to look good on camera, shot multiple times, and edited heavily). Erotic fiction is based purely on the imagination of a horny fiction writer and does not necessarily have any basis in reality whatsoever. Really, porn is not much better.
  16. Don’t compare your relationship to others. I know that is particularly ridiculous coming from me because my precarious and largely non-existent self-esteem is based entirely on comparisons to other people, and I know that is terrible. It is even more terrible to drag your loved ones down this rabbit hole. Also, everyone on social media is lying. Don’t you think that if the couple posting those pics and sappy love notes actually loved each other they would, I don’t know, actually tell each other face to face and actually spend quality time together instead of spending time telling Facebook and Instagram?
  17. Do take time to write your spouse a nice card. Everyone enjoys reading a nice card. Hopefully you will enjoy writing it, and hopefully your spouse will write you a nice card. Actually, if you don’t enjoy writing the card / if your spouse does not want to write you a nice card, that can be good to know.
  18. Don’t assume you can change your spouse for the better. You probably can’t. But don’t forget to recognize when your spouse does change for the better. To be honest, in my marriage, I think we both changed for the worse. Much worse. But there are bright spots.

32 comments

  1. Why is this society so obsessed with romantic love and marriage? Why do people keep telling me that I “need a boo/beau/person to date” when the fact is, as my great grandma Marie used to say, that “cookin’ lasts, kissin’ don’t” and that the essence of a relationship is the ability to empathize and sit with the other’s pain? Why do we keep going back to sex and all of that instead of dealing with the selfishness in our society? Why do you have to be sleeping with someone to talk with that person every day and sit and watch movies together? This outlook makes me wish that I could live on a space station. Why do people have to be romantically involved to care about taking care of each other?

    Liked by 2 people

    • You know, I’m in a relationship and I agree with you that relationships are overrated. I don’t like the way society focuses only on romantic (monogamous, living in the same domicile) relationship and ignores other relationships like sibling, friendship, community involvement.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly, since even the word “relationship” has been co-opted by the romantic notion, rather than remebering that there are many types of relationships (personal and mathematical, but probably not vegetable?).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, good point! I’d forgotten about that, thank you for reminding me. Mine either, normally, but it just seeemed to go in the rythm of a song that popped into my head suddenly! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great advice! I especially liked #3!! Everything you say about marriage is true. Plus, there will need to be a lot of forgiveness passed back and forth over the years. And lastly, if you are just in it until you are not happy with the relationship any more, you might as well not enter into it as all! Marriage takes commitment and lots of hard work.
    Congratulations on you up coming marriage. I wish you many years of happiness together.
    We just celebrated 51… and counting!
    Dwight

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 3: Make-up sex is good. Being open to making up is the biggest part of that.
    7: I don’t think you need to apologise to G-d for sex tips. Not everyone knows how to have good sex, and not everyone who isn’t knows how to get good at sex, so if you’re helping people find their Friday night mitzvahs less arduous, I reckon G-d would give you brownie points for that.
    13: Going along with your partners fantasies if you’re not into them is fine. It’s giving. If it’s a particular turn-off for you, that’s different. Indulging your partner with something that does nothing for you, will make them feel more valued, and that will strengthen your relationship, whereas denying your partner may wekaen it. Enjoy their pleasure, even if it is not yours.
    15: Watching porn is no more a bad idea than watching rom-coms or actions movies: none of them give realsitic expectations and, unlike marriage, sex and life in general, they always have happy endings. Thinking your sex should be like porn sex is where problems lie. As an article on porn on the Psychology Today website observed, try and fire a gun like Bruce Willis and you’re probably gonna get hurt.
    18: If you’re marriage isn’t quite what you think you want, it probably isn’t what your partner wants either. None of us get it right all the time, but if we can step back from our pride and look at how we can make things better, we have a better chance of success than waiting for someone else to make them better. Then, if that doesn’t work, get a good lawyer. 😀
    But most of all … you’re spot on with #1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your thoughtful and thought-provoking response!
      #3 – Yup, the attitude is the key. I just like the catchy phrasing. This is the one I give to my friends during bridal showers games when they ask for marriage advice. It twists the cliche a bit and doesn’t scandalize Grandma too much.
      #7 – Good point. I have heard that sex with your spouse is a double-mitzvah on Shabbat actually.
      #13 – Well noted. There is a considerable difference between “not into it, but wouldn’t mind trying it to please a partner” and “not into it because I’m disgusted / traumatized by it”. I was thinking of the latter category when I wrote this. I agree with you that if the fantasy falls into the former category, it is worth trying to make your partner happy.
      #15 – Good point and good comparison. Porn is no worse than anything else produced by Hollywood in that sense.
      #18 – Yep….

      Like

  4. #6. I’ve been trying to get people to understand #6 FOR YEARS! People frequently suggest that I should be out playing tennis with my husband, when I barely like to exercise. I tell people all the time that we are not bopsy twins. We can have things we like to do separately and still get along just fine 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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