#2. Planning for Death
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I'm not talking about having a will. Let's just get that out of the way right off, because even though it's a smart move, we've all heard it before -- I won't bore you with that. What I'm referring to is more about basic survival.
One day out of nowhere, you get the call you never wanted to hear. Your wife's bear-fighting class has ended in tragedy, and now your team is a player short in the game of Life Rugby ... sorry, I'm running out of metaphors. I'm just saying that your wife is dead -- you get the damn idea. What now? Can you take over her role that she filled when she was alive? Can you play both the right wing and the ... rugby ... polisher? Goddammit, I'm American; why didn't I use football? Too late now, I'm not changing it. The point is, she did a lot of things for the family that you did not, and now you not only have to start doing that, but you have to maintain what you already did yourself.
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"This is our new home. It's much easier to maintain."
So before you go into a marriage, you both have to ask yourselves things like: Can you both cook? Not just frozen heart-clogging bullshit that you throw into the oven on the fly, but actual meals. Can you both operate a washing machine? Do you both know how to pay the bills? Which ones are auto-deducted from your bank account and which ones do you need to physically mail out a check for? If you have to change that, do you both know who to call and how to do it? Do you both know how to grocery shop? What foods only last a few days and which ones can sit in a cabinet for a month without going bad?
It's going to be bad enough if it's just you that she leaves behind, but if you have kids, it is going to be absolutely vital that you know all of this stuff. Not only is it necessary to keep them all alive and healthy, but everything they learn about being an adult is now placed solely on your shoulders. Not to mention a million other things you won't think of until it happens, like does she have relatives who you just straight out hate? If they're not posing harm to your kids, you can't just cut them out of their lives. They're related, and they have a right to see each other. Whether you like it or not, you have a duty to make sure that happens.
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"You ready to go see your whore of a grandmother?"
So keeping all of that in mind, why didn't I use the word "divorced" instead of "dead"? They're going to be somewhat similar experiences, right? One of you is going to be left with the primary custody of the kids and be chopped down to a single-parent household. Well, mainly it's because virtually no one will ever, ever, ever discuss the possibility of divorce with a potential spouse. It's beyond taboo. "You think we're going to get divorced?! Well why even bother marrying me? If you think our love won't last forever, then there's no need to plan for something like that!"
Death is inevitable. It's absolute. And if you can prepare for that, you're prepared for just about anything.
#1. Preparing for Awkward Discussions Before They Happen
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Let's face it: In 10 years, you are not going to look, act, or think the same as you do right now. And it will sound obvious to the point of being insulting, but I'm saying it anyway because it seems to me like no one really understands this: neither will your spouse.
Let's take weight gain for an example, because it's extremely likely that you're going to have to deal with it in one form or another. It's common because we're human, and humans typically gain weight with age, right? Well, what happens if that weight gain happens so dramatically that it changes the shape of your face? Will it turn your wife off? Will it not affect her at all? What if it made your gut protrude and your ass jut way out like Elvis in his final years? If she gains 60 pounds, will it affect you sexually? I don't mean that in a shallow, materialistic way. You can't reprogram your sexual preferences, and we're not talking about love -- we're talking about pure, primal visual attraction.
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"No, honey, I love you, but remember, you're going to be on top of me from time to time."
Nobody likes to talk about that because it's rude. If you say that something like that would negatively affect you in a sexual sense, people look at you like you're a piece of shit. How dare you think that? But the reality is that, yes, it can actually become a problem, even with kind, logical, compassionate human beings.
It's an offensive conversation to have. There's no way around that fact. What kind of self-centered prick can look at another person and say, "You're fat, and it turns me off"? But that's why it's important to talk about it before it becomes an issue.
The beauty of doing it early in the relationship is that you're both most likely still in pretty much the same shape, size, and frame of mind as when you first met. Or at least you haven't changed so much that it's turned you into someone else. And since you both don't have the problem you're discussing, there's nothing to take offense to. Take it a step further by putting the heat onto yourself, and suddenly it's a topic that doesn't become an emotional catastrophe.
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"Personally, I prefer the more direct route. Just burst into the room and start throwing pies at me."
"If I ever change to the point where it affects you emotionally or sexually or even makes you worried about my health, here's how I'd want you to approach it." Letting them know that, yeah, it sucks for someone to call attention to your flaws, but there are ways to go about it that will hurt your feelings the least. Not just about weight, but anything that's changeable: they've let their hygiene go, they've become bossy or preachy, they've stopped helping with chores, they've been ignoring you, they've taken up snake juggling.
It's hard. All of this is -- I won't deny that. All I'm saying is that if you tackle this shit early, it'll be a whole lot less difficult. Consider it an emotional disaster kit.