Life Is Not a Reality Show (8 page)

BOOK: Life Is Not a Reality Show
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Then he came upstairs and said, “I love you; good night.” And just like that, we were okay. And so was the house, thank God!

I know some couples who just cannot let things go. They have to be right, or they can’t get past their anger, or they feel like they have to make sure the other person feels bad for a certain amount of time. I want to say to them, “Get over it already!” Mauricio and I get over things quickly because we both want to be happy. I mean, at this point, after you’ve been through thick and thin and sickness and health, what is there to fight about, really? As you get older and understand all you’ve created together, and fully appreciate the blessings you have together, smaller things that once set you off no longer seem so important.

What Makes Me Happiest

   » Barbecuing with family and friends

   » Going to amusement parks

   » Decorating for Halloween

   » Cooking with the kids on holidays

   » Watching the girls play basketball with my husband

   » Being with my family in the mountains in the snow, happily kidnapped in a log cabin, just us, away from the world

And besides, who has the energy anymore?

Believe me, there is so much wisdom, so much peace in these four words: don’t hold a grudge. I don’t hold grudges with anyone in my life. I usually don’t even remember what I’m supposed to be holding a grudge about. Neither Mauricio nor I hold grudges against each other, and it is so valuable in our marriage.

I won’t lie. There are times when we go to bed mad at each other. But no matter how angry we are, we never go to sleep without saying, “I love you; good night,” and giving each other a kiss. Sometimes I’ve done it through gritted teeth, let me tell you, but I’ve done it! It’s a rule we agreed to when we were first married, and we respect it at all times. Sometimes one of us will start going to sleep before we’ve completed our ritual, and the other one will say, “Excuse me! You’re slipping!”

We’re not the only husband and wife who insist on closing their day the same way, and you’ve probably heard the advice before. But that’s because it’s so powerful! It’s amazing how those words and that one little gesture can transform you overnight and make you wake up feeling different. It’s the first step toward letting go of your anger, and in the morning, you’re not holding on to that animosity anymore. It’s like a little bit of magic.

I have learned so much about dealing with marital conflict from my sister Kathy and her husband, Rick. They met each other when she was fifteen, so they’ve been together since I was five years old. They have a truly incredible marriage. I’ve always looked to them as the positive role model in my life, since my parents were divorced.

Both Kathy and Rick have always been excellent at picking and choosing their battles. I know now that’s what was going on, but I didn’t entirely understand it when I was younger. Rick would get upset about something and my sister would say, “Oh, you’re right, honey!” And then I’d think,
How did she do that? I wouldn’t have said that!
Or she would get upset and he would say, “Okay, honey, don’t get yourself upset.” How did they just let things roll off their backs like that? Were they just biting their tongues? I didn’t know how they did it, but I could tell they avoided a lot of fights that way.

As I got older I realized it was a way of dealing with each other that they had perfected over the years. They probably did have to bite their tongues at first! But then it seemed to become second nature to them.

And now I know that my marriage would have ended long ago if I hadn’t been able to accept my husband as he is! Neither of us is perfect. I know that Mauricio is really never going to be this way or that about a particular thing. For example, the other night there was a spider in the kitchen and I asked Mauricio to kill it. He didn’t want to. He just would not get up out of bed to go do it. So I said, “All right, I’ll be the man, I’ll go kill the spider!”

Then I added, “Just like I have to be the one to lock up at night and make sure the family is safe!” He did not like that comment, but I have to be the one to go around locking all the doors. If I tell him to do it, he always misses one. Sometimes I’ll check and even find a door wide open! This used to really bother me, but you know, really, in the greater scheme of things, is it all that important? Mauricio is an incredible dad and a wonderful provider for his family. He’s my friend and supporter. He’s a good person. He loves his family and treats us like gold. He’s an incredible human being.

Everyone has flaws, but instead of focusing on them, look at the big things that really count.

Sometimes a man’s flaws may be a little harder to tolerate. He may make mistakes—even big ones that make you want to strangle him. You may not want to forgive him, and you may even want to leave him. But please, before you do anything rash, take some time to calm down and look at it sensibly, and be honest with yourself about the good parts of your relationship. If there’s a lot at stake, you don’t want to throw it away hastily. Think long-term and big picture. Does he recognize and admit his mistake? Is he sorry? Is he committed to not repeating it? It may be best to try to forgive and move on.

I have never had to deal with infidelity, thank God. Mauricio knows I wouldn’t tolerate that. I’ve told him, “You ever do anything like that, you are done, finished, out the door.” Ha-ha! But seriously, he knows it’s true. I don’t believe he would ever cheat on me anyway. But I know that it happens sometimes in marriages. One friend of mine came to me once very distraught. Her husband had had way too much to drink and he strayed, just that once. He was torn up about it. My friend was so angry and hurt. “Should I leave him?” she asked me.

Put a Wall Around Your Garden

I mentioned before that I’m not wild about guys’ night out or girls’ night out. I figure you can see your friends at lunch. My sister Kathy and her husband, Rick, never did that—every time they went out with their friends they went together. Nights should be reserved for family or for going out with other people as a couple. Oh sure, maybe once a month, now and then, go out with the boys, have a girlfriends’ night, go to the movies… But be careful. I’ve seen couples get in fights with each other that all started when she was out with her friends, or vice versa.

I don’t see the point of purposely tempting fate, introducing risk, flirting with danger—or flirting with other people!

I know some people say that flirting can be totally innocent and harmless. Maybe so, but I believe that a relationship, even after marriage—
especially
after marriage—needs to be protected and sheltered from outside forces that could potentially undermine it. Even the strongest of relationships have a certain fragility that requires respect and TLC.

I confess that one reason I never flirt with people other than my husband is that I just seem to be incapable of it. I’ve been married the majority of my life, and I feel very shy and awkward around that kind of thing. If a man is hitting on me, I get so embarrassed and flustered! I immediately start talking about my husband and my kids. “Okay, I’ve got to go pick up my seventy-five kids at school now, bye-bye!” Ha-ha!

But I also think that because I am so genuinely attracted to my husband and so honestly content in my marriage I couldn’t even fathom seeking the attention of other men. If you’re feeling the need for interaction with or validation from men outside your marriage, I wonder, is it an indication there’s something within your marriage, or your own heart, that needs to be examined?

To each her own. I’m just saying, be careful.

In my marriage? No! Never, never, never, never, never! My friends don’t believe me but it’s the truth. “Not even Tom Cruise?” they’ll say, because when I was younger I had a crush on him. No. If he—or even Mark Ruffalo, who I guess would be my actor crush now if I had to pick—were to ask me to dinner, hand to God I wouldn’t go. I am seriously only interested in Mauricio, who to me is much better looking than anyone, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, anyone. (And by the way, Mauricio cannot say that anyone is pretty but me—except for Michelle Pfeiffer, because he’s had a thing for her since he was a kid. Ha-ha!) I’m
half
joking…

If you want to call it jealousy, fine. I myself am not entirely unfamiliar with the green-eyed monster, though mostly from when I was much younger. Sometimes Mauricio is just too nice, though, like during our White Party that was filmed for season 1 of
Real Housewives
.This woman sidled up to my husband and was hanging all over him, saying really inappropriate, ballsy things. The look on his face was like, “What do I do?” But he’s too nice to be rude. Like I said, too nice!

You may have seen the episode, but what you didn’t see was one of my daughters coming up to me crying, saying, “Mommy, that lady’s scaring me!” So that’s when I said to this woman, “You wanna get a Manolo in your eyeball? You stay away from my family!” I’m definitely like a mama lion when it comes to my family. They’re my cubs and nobody better mess with them.

Mauricio is funny; he deals with the idea of being jealous by pretending that he’s the only man I’ve ever known in my whole life. He jokes around, “Oh, you know, Kyle wasn’t born till I met her!” Ha-ha!

I just look at my husband and see the ideal man. To me he’s flawless, inside and out. Sweet, kind, sensitive, and easygoing. And handsome. I buy all his clothes and I swear everything looks good on him, absolutely everything, because he’s like a fit model.

I especially love when he has a five-o’clock shadow. I always tell him, “I like it when you have that look going on with the scruffy beard.”

Then my kids will say, “He looks a little bit like a terrorist!”

Ha-ha! It’s true, when we’ve been flying Mauricio has been held at security a couple of times. They pat him down, take a little extra time checking him out. So maybe he looks like … a movie star terrorist. If they were casting a movie for a sexy terrorist, he would definitely get the role!

Oops, did I get a little carried away there? I did have a point though! The point is, a big part of nurturing your relationship with your husband is training your eyes on
him
, looking to him for the flirtation and romance and validation that you need, and being careful about letting third parties enter the sacred space that should be reserved for the two of you.

Outsiders can be a little bit like weeds—once they invade your flowerbed, it can be hard to keep them from taking over!

I told her to really look at the good in her marriage and how it stacked up with this horrible mistake her husband had made. Were the major aspects of their relationship and life together positive? And what was his attitude? He happened to be really broken up about the whole thing and had sincerely and repeatedly asked her forgiveness. He promised it would never happen again. He was desperate to save the marriage. “If this is the one that you’re really in love with, and you’ve created a wonderful life together, then maybe you should try to make it work. It will be really hard, but perhaps you can try to forgive him and go forward with your marriage and keep your family intact.”

It’s very hard for me to say anything because each situation is different, and each person has different needs and expectations and levels of tolerance. But I admire couples who can work through betrayal and come out at the end genuinely happy, maybe with a stronger marriage. I know it’s very hard, and there’s a lot of pain involved. But I know it’s possible. I’ve seen it happen.

I’m not telling you to be a doormat, though. If it happens more than once, I would definitely be hightailing it outta there! You don’t want to be an idiot! One incident, a single mistake, is one thing, but I would not tolerate a repeat offender. I don’t think that would be good for you or your family.

Of course it’s not always the guy who cheats. A friend came to me once very upset, a woman friend, and she started crying because she had done something with someone other than her husband. I took her hands and said, “Look at me. It did not happen. Do you understand me?”

She looked at me like I was crazy, and she said, “No, no, but…”

And I said, “Listen! Stop! It didn’t happen. You’re moving on and it didn’t happen. Because otherwise you’re going to ruin your life.”

She knew it was a stupid thing that she did, and she hated herself for it because she loved her husband. She thought she should tell him and beg for forgiveness. But what good would have come from confessing it? Or torturing herself over it so much that it ended up affecting their relationship anyway? I told her, “You’ll be able to learn from this, and maybe your relationship will be better for it. But it did not happen and I never want to hear about it again!”

“But what if—”

“No!” I just cut her off. Ha-ha! We actually ended up laughing a little, after she shed a lot of tears. I’m sorry, but sometimes you have to carry on as if it didn’t happen. I am a very honest person. I cannot stand lying—liars make me insane. But there are times when it doesn’t need to be said. There’s no need to hurt the other person if it really was a mistake, unless you’ve put him at risk and have a responsibility to let him know. Why destroy your whole life? Do what you need to do to acknowledge in yourself and to God what you did. Don’t forget it; just learn from it and try to move on.

When you face conflict in your marriage, look at the bigger picture of what is valuable in your life and what you want to hang on to. You may have to work hard to keep your relationship intact, whether by not stressing the small stuff in order to keep the peace, or by carving out time alone together when it seems impossible to do so, or by forgiving your husband or yourself.

BOOK: Life Is Not a Reality Show
13.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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