Monday Bacon: My Marriage Sucks

Well, now I have your attention.


Happy Day

I’ve been watching some British movies lately. Gawds, I love hearing the Brits cuss, it’s so regal. There was one (I never remember the names of movies, I don’t movie well) with that painfully skinny actress in the Pirates of the Caribbean series before they decided to get someone with a personality and inserted Penelope Cruz. The husband was played by a guy who was in a Terminator movie but the ones with Christian Bale, not the newest guy. (Yes, this is mostly as close as I come to knowing who actors are.)

Anyways, it was depressing. A seemingly happy marriage derailed in one evening by a work trip cheat by him and a flirtatious non-cheat encounter by her. Yuck. The next movie was far more lighthearted following a couples journey from wedding to eventual divorce by the end of the first year. Minnie Driver played a small role and I like her (if I know an actor’s name I either like them or have vowed never to watch a stupid movie of theirs again-Julia Roberts.) Minnie’s marriage seems like a train wreck with the insults going back and forth but when her sister asked why she stays with the husband when they hate each other, Minnie’s character comes back with:

Of course we do (hate each other), but that’s marriage. To embrace the hatred. Marriage is about living with the imperfections, isn’t it?

And then she did something British and funny again.

I like that, living with the imperfections. I should have seen more British comedy movies about marriage, it would have given me a far more realistic view of it all than what my parents gave me.

See, my parents have a marriage that is 50+ years strong. And it was always portrayed as strong. While there were tiffs here and there, there was always respect. Not only in the obvious ways, but respect for what was important to the other person. Dad had his garden and would get lost in it on his one day off a week. Yes, he had chores to do around the house and probably got to them all eventually-I don’t remember our home ever being run down or things that broke staying broke so he obviously was on the motherfu…well, you know. But Mom knew that garden time was important to Dad’s winding down and never once complained (at least around us kids) about the hours he would spend out there. I always thought that was cool. I wanted that for my someday marriage (truth be told, I never thought I would get married. I didn’t have that whole Disney princess wedding dream. I wanted to live in a Penthouse apartment in downtown Chicago and live my own little version of Alexis Carrington’s life. True story.)

My parents always seemed to be on the same page. I liked that, well, except when I didn’t. Complaining to one that the other was unreasonable was futile and would probably incur an even larger piece of wrath pie than what you started with. You learned that pretty early in the Peterson house. My parents always had cool friends. I liked that. I loved the Bible Studies they would host because it meant fun people were in the house and those wafer cookies that actually taste like sugared cardboard for treats afterwards. Back in those days, my bedroom was almost always a chaotic storm that was organized in such a way that I knew exactly how many days left I had to wear a semi-smelly t-shirt or which book was okay to read at night to avoid nightmares (mom actually stole a book from me once after telling me that I was waking up the house with horrific screams at night.) Bascially, it was a mess. The problem was that it was right across from the bathroom so I had to keep my door shut (fine by me) when company came. Well, in order to get me to clean my room to avoid embarrassement, my mom had my dad remove my door. Still fine by me. Don’t care. Mom finally caved 5 minutes before the first doorbell rang and had dad put the door back on. A rare victory for teenage Jules.

My parents had pretty specific roles in the house on some things but complete flexibility in others. I liked that. Dad packed the car for road trips. He was the master packer. Mom would pack everything in the house and it would be laid out just so on the lawn so dad could tetris that shit before Tetris was even a thing. I do that now. So does Zandra, makes a Ma proud. Dad did dishes too. Cooked and cleaned up and was always good at asking Lynda what needed to be done around the house. I like that. I perceived that to be another form of respect. Which means NOT doing that is a form of disrespect.

But ya know what? Their marriage sucked.

And don’t even get me started on the “Married” role models my grandparent’s were. I’ve already written about how my grandpa nearly worshipped my grandma. At the very least he cherished her and showed it in so many ways.

Guess what? Their marriage sucked too.

Oh sure, not always. See, when I look back at life, it’s easy for me to remember fondly all this good stuff. The positives. Grandpa always wanting to hold Grandma’s hand. Dad lovingly teasing Mom and making her smile to herself. That’s my Disney experience. Only it was real which made it so much more important to expect in my own marriage.

But it wasn’t. Grandpa, at times, was tough. Self-absorbed and for lack of a more appropriate word, an outright asshole. He once sold a home that my Grandma loved to buy a crappy duplex a few blocks away. It made Grandma sad. It’s not nice to make your wife sad. I also know my parent’s 50+ years together has not been without fires to walk through of their own (like, non stupid kid related where our actions ramped up the crazy in the house a billionfold.) At times, their marriages sucked.

Matt and I were with my cousin and her husband one evening, talking about marriage in general and the hubs (not mine) said something along the lines that he didn’t understand why people think marriage isn’t easy. His view (good on you dude) is that marriage is one of the easiest things he does. Like I said, good on you. Unfortunately, I don’t agree. When I said so, it was obvious that I struck a nerve. What do you mean marriage is tough? Whoa Matt, look out. What’s going on? Whoa.

Hokay poncho, take it down a notch. I have no clue why my words elicited such a reaction, but I stand by them.

Marriage is tough. Some days it sucks. My Disney dream of respectful sharing doesn’t happen some days. Some days one of us can get a bit “me-centric.” If both of us do on the same day, well, look out. Past relationship pain can cloud what is actually happening in our moment. That sucks. Sometimes, the suck doesn’t even mean to suck.


Doin’ our thang.

When I first moved here, Matt and I were so happy to finally be in one place after more than a year of long distance. Now, I’m a horrible sleeper on a good day (I’m actually better now thanks to Magnesium and better food) and Matt sleeps like a rock. Well, at some point, Matt started waking up in the middle of the night, would rub my arm lovingly and give me sweet, love you baby. He’d then roll over and go back to sleep. Guess what I’d do? Be up for the rest of the night. Pissed off and stressed on how I’m going to function the next day.

Mother. Fuck. The time finally came where I said if you do that one more time, I will beat you in the head with my Asp. (By the way, to this day I don’t know where my Asp is. I guess I scared him enough;) The problem was, Matt didn’t even know he was doing it. His subconscious was just so sweet. But I was sleep deprived and stressed about even going to bed for fear that he would wake me up to tell me he loved me. Who’s fucked up in that scenario??

So you see? Even whispering sweet nothings can make my marriage suck. Heh.

There have been lots of Highland Games weddings this year. No, not actual Games weddings I guess but some of our fellow throwers whom are much adored have tied the knot. I love weddings, or, I should say I love good weddings. Last spring, one of my clients got married. I love this client (I appreciate all of my lifters but this guy is special.) He’s good and takes care of himself and walks through life with so much appreciation that I just really enjoy him. Now, I’m not going to lie, Matt and I have walked through some pretty significant lava flowing fires this year. Maybe we’re the only one’s in the world going through things but I don’t think so. I’m not even afraid to admit it. One thing you’ll never get from me is a bullshit persona that is afraid to hashtag thestruggleisreal. Some days, it’s real as shit.

Anyways, while we had plans to celebrate our own anniversary that weekend, I needed to go to my clients wedding. I needed to participate and view something good. Something new. Something sweet. See, while I see Matt and I as strong, we’re rarely sweet. And I guess I really need sweet sometimes. So we went to the wedding together. And it was perfect. I imagine that so many of our fellow throwers wedding days were similar. So bright. Beautiful. Full of love and promise. Smiles. Dancing. Everything about a “non-sucky” relationship overflowing.

There are sneaky ways that marriage sucks. For instance, when neither of you speak up to change a destructive habit. It could be as easy as food. I’ve seen a lot of marriages where a lot of weight is gained. Cookies, cakes, candy are an everyday occurrence. If both sides are deep in the belief that this isn’t actually destroying their health and reducing years of functional life, your marriage sucks. We  had dinner with Matt’s sister and new fiance a couple of years ago. He stated that he never wants to make his almost wife do anything she doesn’t want to. Ummmmmm, okay. Yowzer.

At times, it’s good that our marriage sucks. With every fire we’ve walked through, we’ve come out stronger. A little singed, yes. I guess those little burns remind us how precious and fragile this marriage thing can be. Living with imperfections takes precedent over feelings of love, or at least, I believe they do. Love can be forgotten; diminished; or all out destroyed. America’s current divorce rate of 50% indicates that love isn’t as patient or as kind as we profess it to be on that wedding day.

At some point this past summer, I thought again about my parents and my grandparents. That they set this impossible standard of “happy” marriages that go 50+ years so seamlessly and easily. And I think I finally got it. See, their marriages sucked. At least, in ways important to them in terms known only to them. But they didn’t let it deter them from being married.

Huh. You mean my marriage can suck but I can stay married? I can Minnie Driver my way to embracing the hatred and just living with all of the imperfections of our relationship? Wait. That’s an option? (Yes, there are times marriages should end. First and foremost if someone isn’t safe. That isn’t the point of today.)

Today is about the lesson of my parents and my grandparents. Embrace the imperfections and thrive in spite of them. Admit that the suck is just another day of it and keep stepping to tomorrow. Matt and I have done that, so far anyway. Some days are tough. Some days are easy. We just keep stepping. Through the suck. And ya know what? I’m pretty glad we do. He’s pretty cute. He’s pretty worth it. And if I had one bit of advice to give so many happy new couples it would be this, your marriage will suck. At times. It’s okay. Just keep stepping and you’ll come out of it. Better. Stronger.

Your wife is a rose. Love her with all her thorns.

Matshona Dhliwayo


About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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