Free Marriage Advice

I would like a massage, please. The hot rock kind even though I’ve never had it. I feel like hot rocks might push through the muscle tension keeping me wired like a preteen at a sleepover. Also, I’d like my hot rock massage to be on the cliff of a tropical island, inside a gazebo with loose, gauzy curtains rippling with the warm breeze. There shall be butterflies drunkenly making their way through the usual air mazes invisible to human eyes, and no flies or fleas or stinging bugs. 

I always think “what a weird week” every week. And “what an exhausting season” every month. I’m pretty determined to believe the occurances ‘round us are anomalies, but if I lift my head long enough and look at the accumulation strange things, weird crap appears to be the norm, so IDevenK anymore.

Still, it’s been a weird week. 

I sat on a jury this week — a domestic violence case wherein we the jury found the defendant guilty of a Class C felony, which turned out better for him than the prosecution was hoping and was actually Best Case Scenario according to the defense attorney.

Before we heard the case, though, all we knew was that the charge was assault with a dangerous weapon — a barstool, to be precise. The attorneys started asking prospective jurors questions — you know, figuring out which of us would be all “LIGHT HIS ASS ON FIRE” vs. “poor baby, he’s just misunderstood” — and the defense attorney opened with, “What marriage advice would you give newlyweds?”

To recap:

It’s a domestic violence case.

All we know is it’s alleged assault with a barstool. 

And the defense attorney wants to know what words of marriage wisdom we have. In general. For the freshly married. 

Literally all that came to mind was maybe don’t hit your partner with a barstool?

I mean, I don’t know exactly how many Adulting Points I get for not saying that out loud, but I’m pretty sure it’s A Lot. Like, definitely enough Adulting Points to level up, yes? 

So I kept my mouth shut. Sealed. No marriage advice from me, even though I had that perfectly good nugget of truth right there. Instead, I’m sharing it with you. You’re welcome, friends

I didn’t, however, manage to zip my lips when the attorney followed up with, “Do you think people give up on marriage too soon these days?” While every other potential juror around me sagely nodded their heads “yes” and murmured agreeable noises, I blurted, “NOPE. No, I DO NOT think people give up on marriage too soon these days. That is UNTRUE.”  It just fell out of mouth, and sat there. I was clearly riding too high from my previous silent success. I got cocky and forgot to keep a leash on my mouth. My mouth, y’all; IT’S MY KRYPTONITE. 

“How long have you been married?” the defense attorney asked as he zeroed in on me. Ha HA, I’m sure he was thinking, SUCKER.  

“Twenty four years,” I said, and he looked confused. 

“But you’ve stuck it out that long…” he said, implying, of course, that my long marriage = success which must mean we Didn’t Give Up.

“USUALLY, WHEN IT’S OVER, IT DOES NOT MEAN THEY GAVE UP,” I said, with feeling. 🙄 “It usually means they already tried really hard to save it, you know? Or it means getting out of the marriage was what it took to save themselves. It’s just pure silliness to paint a huge swath of people with the If Only They’d Tried Harder/Tsk Tsk/Shame on People These Days brush. The fact that *I* am still married or that *others* are should in no way suggest that “hard work” is the cause for that outcome, or that its lack is the cause for divorce.” Not gonna lie; I was just warming up. “This is not an Either/Or proposition, folks,” I said using my Public Speaking/Projection/Righteous Indignation voice. “And I’m So Tired of hearing it. There are miserable people who are married and who stay that way — miserable and married — for myriad reasons; kids, fear, trauma, complacency, finances, health insurance, more. There are wildly happy people still married, too. Marriage does not equal “didn’t give up.” Marriage does not equal “success.” Divorce does not equal “didn’t take marriage seriously.” Divorce does not equal “failure.” The human condition is complicated. And sweeping statements about who tried and who didn’t aren’t helpful. By and large, we’re all trying, and we’re all succeeding and failing at All the Things, All the Time.”

I said that out loud in a court of law after taking an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Bless my sweet little heart. I was like a runaway train. 

The defense attorney looked bemused — entertained and confused. And he moved swiftly on to another question about British monarchs, the Tower of London, and death by beheading, which was a little dramatic, but effective, given the environment. 

During jury deliberations, I came down with a poison oak rash. I assume it’s a pox visited upon me for rejecting the standard “they should’ve tried harder” wisdom.




Also, the court case was sad, and there were no winners. I hate that. I really do. 

In conclusion, it’s been a weird week, and I want a massage in a blissful, tropical location, please. And I’d like to take my fellow mamas who’ve taken it in the head with a barstool. Also, the ones who haven’t. We can talk about real life, and how things are complicated, and how we wish we were all better right now while we rest by the ocean.  Reasonable, yes?  Yes. I think so, too. Let’s go. 

The End

Waving, as always,






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12 responses to “Free Marriage Advice”

  1. AMEN to all of it!! And of COURSE you were chosen to be on the jury after that, because no one would be able to doubt your ability to look at the big picture AND the little picture… the forest AND the trees…the drop of water AND the ocean.
    I’m headed to Hawaii in a week. There won’t be a massage but there will be sunshine (hopefully) and warmth, and that’s nearly the same thing, right?

  2. “Marriage does not equal “success.” Divorce does not equal “didn’t take marriage seriously.” Divorce does not equal “failure.” The human condition is complicated.” Oh Beth. Thank you so much. I did NOT want to get divorced. It nearly destroyed me. But now I also think it saved me. It has been such a tumultuous path. And one I definitely didn’t want my young daughter to have to navigate.

  3. Is it weird that I love being on juries? I mean, it’s a PITA to miss work, but if I get called, I damn well want to watch a trial. The ones I’ve been on have all been less painful to the soul than yours though.

    I would never in a million years be able to summon words of wisdom like that on the spot in a room full of strangers. I am so glad you use your gift as you do!

  4. Oh Lordy. I feel ya. I too once sat & tried to keep my mouth shut at a jury picking. I was a sucker for answering questions truthfully. And what an accurate picture of marriage/divorce you painted. Who sold us this other crap?

  5. Beth, what a gift to have the opportunity and the strength to speak real truth when asked – really, when it was demanded from you. I am so impressed.

    My mother once yelled at my sister (who was an adult, standing in her own kitchen) for saying something negative, but 100% true. My sister said “I will speak truth in my own house!” And you did the same, in the people’s house.

  6. I’ve totally got a house in a tropical location (I live in the Dominican Republica) with a masseuse’s number in my phone (her name is Ramona and she does make house calls). I’m just saying.

  7. OMG YES. My marriage was not a failure because it ended. I got 5 beautiful children and so many lessons out of it, and a friend who stands beside me to parent our kids. But we’re not married. And it’s better off that way. I get to be me – gay, out, somewhat-church-going, and he gets to be him – pastor, workaholic, with a servant pastor’s wife beside him. I say that’s a success.

  8. As someone who has been called for jury duty three (or is it four) times and was improbably chosen for a murder trial (I couldn’t keep my mouth shut during voir dire either.) I think it would be amazing if we could offer jurors a free message. A show of gratitude for their participation in society and the being willing to confront the ugliest parts of it. At the very least we should give them a sticker, like we give at the voting booth. Something to mark an important contribution.

    And what should we do for the public defenders? One of those impossible jobs that I can’t believe people have the courage to do. How about we build a world class spa and therapy center where they can go to be taken care of. Membership would be free for them and social workers and all the other people out who are giving more than their fair share everyday. How great would that be!

  9. I know exactly where that massage hut is, up on the cliff at a beautiful small resort on Taveuni Island. Overlooking the Pacific, expert masseuse on hand to do their magic.
    That court case sounded horrible, you deserve that massage. Get one nearby, and just imagine the ideal location as you feel your muscles melting x

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