Monday, August 25, 2008

The Secret to A Successful Relationship

With the onslaught of people in my life breaking up or getting divorced (the legal term for breaking up), I started thinking about my long track record of relationships.

Last Monday, the two Dons (my brother and Mr. Hall) and I had lunch and the conversation shifted to the necessity of marriage. It ain't. We don't need marriage to make the world turn. In fact, like organized religion, one could argue it causes more harm than good. Especially when kids are involved.

So, if it's not necessary, what's the point of marriage, or any significant relationship, for that matter?

I remembered what a friend told me in college during a rather difficult break up. I didn't get it then. I get it now.

The point of a relationship is recreation.

Nothing fancy going on with the word "recreation." This isn't any personal growth mumbo-jumbo about re-creating each other. I mean recreation.


1. an activity that diverts or amuses or stimulates; "scuba diving is provided as a diversion for tourists"; "for recreation he wrote poetry and solved crossword puzzles" [syn: diversion]
2. activity that refreshes and recreates; activity that renews your health and spirits by enjoyment and relaxation; "time for rest and refreshment by the pool"; "days of joyous recreation with his friends" [syn: refreshment]

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
Relationships are playtime. When I think about some of my more important adult relationships, they worked well when we played well together. They didn't work well whenever I was trying to get the other person to do something I thought was fun and they did not.

There's the day-to-day stuff of relationships that need to work well, but isn't that playing, too? Like playing house. Bad stuff happens to people and that's not fun. That's when you take care of one another so that you can get back to playing.

Dreamy physical movie romance attraction isn't enough. I am no longer searching for a soul mate. I'm searching for a play mate.

(I hate Blogger, sometimes. I am now writing in italics and can't make it stop!)



This is a bench I bought at Cost Plus World Market. I love that place. I could live there. It's a sturdy thang. It's four feet wide, two-and-a-half feet high, sixteen-and-a-half inches deep. I think it's made out of pine. Like I said, sturdy. I have had it eight years and never had a problem with it. It's not comfortable, but functional. I bought it initially to keep in a foyer to make it easier to take off shoes and boots.

It has a storage bench that you can use to store shoes, extra blankets, whatever. There's a lot of room in there. When I emptied it out, it was full of framed pictures that we never got around to hanging.

I paid $150 for it. I'm asking for $75. Interested? Shoot me an e-mail.


On Friday, I asked...

"Maxim magazine recently named the worst professional comedians of all time. Coming in at number one was who?"

47% said "Carrot Top"
- Carrot Top? Not funny? Oh, you saw Chairman of the Board, too.

47% also said "Pauly Shore"
-Hey, now. The Weasel has had his moments. Just not many of them.

6% said "John McCain"
-I'd think he was funnier of the polls weren't so close.

No one got the right answer, "Sinbad"

According to Maxim, the number one Worst Professional Comedian of All Time is Sinbad.

We're not sure what we hate most about Sinbad. Is it the neon pants, the annoying dangly earring, the oversized Reeboks, or the fact that he doesn't drink? Oh, wait, now we know. It's the shitty jokes that he always tells. That's what we hate most about Sinbad.

Lists like this are, of course, bullshit. For crying out loud, their list included Paula Poundstone who is one of the most brilliant comedic minds out there. Their list did also include Kathy Griffin and Sandra Bernhard, both of whom make my scrotum squinch up when they speak. And their list did NOT include Pauly Shore or Carrot Top!

I agree with them on Sinbad, though. In stand-up, there are guys who carefully craft their material (Shandling, Gaffigan, Carlin) and then there are guys who are just the life of the party. Their whole gig is just working the crowd, making sure everyone's having a good time. It's a skill, but it's more like a host than a comedian. I can quote those other guys. I can't quote Sinbad.

I wonder if they took his film career in to account?


mark krause said...

heres the thing about marriage, today it is to simple to get a divorce, people are always looking to take the easy way out. there have been times in my 23 years of marriage that i could have taken the easy way out, but thats not me, marriage is work, compromise,and dedication. recreation? i'm old school joe, one girl for life, sure i like to look but i got lucky with tricia ain't gonna ruin that. if you met her you'd get it. sorry for preaching

Joe Janes said...

Hey, Mark - I'm not knocking long term commitment and I agree that relationships take work and dedication. But if one works through those road bumps and still doesn't enjoy being with his or her mate, then what's the point?

I also think many couples put more work into planning their weddings than in planning their lives together. And you're right, it's too easy to opt out.

mark krause said...

true the wedding ceremony is over rated. i would think working through the road bumps would bring you closer. being happy is important, but you know what you were getting before you got married, people live together now before marriage and they still get divorced. i knew tricia was the one we got engaged in only a mont of dating but then got married 1and a half years later. i knew what she was like and she knew what i was like, we could have ended it before the ceremony, maybe people should have a longer engagement to find out about eachother.

Don Hall said...

Jen and I lived together for four years, were engaged for one year and were married for five.

I'd say we knew each other pretty well.

The difficulty comes when one spouse is looking for the life commitment and is prepared for the bumps and trials and the other decides that the end result isn't worth it in the long run.

And don't get me wrong, but divorce is NEVER the easy way out. It sucks worse than anything I've ever experienced. Nothin' easy about this, gents.

mark krause said...

point taken,every relationship is different, butt you shouldn't get married if your not ready for a lifetime committment. i guess the mormons knew what they were doing, when 1 wife starts bitching you just move to the next wife and so on.

Joe Janes said...

Yah. I don't think divorce is an easy decision to make. Although, for people nearing double digits for the number of marriages they've accrued, maybe it is. I do think it has become an easier option to take.

mark krause said...

damn should we go on oprah? this would have been a good subject for the man show, the original show, miss that trampoline.

Pete Best said...

The one thing I learned about all relationships is that you can't generalize:)

But seriously, there is no one way to do things. There is no one way men and women behave. We all react differently to who we're with and where we are at that point in our lives.

I've known people who said they'd never get married and then a year later they're hitched. Why? Because they didn't know how they would feel when they met that next person, who somehow turned out to be the "right" one. Maybe that next person was the one that changed everything for them. We never know how we'll react or what choices we make till we're with someone. I didn't imagine getting married until I met someone and I thought, wow, marrying this person would be really cool!

The other important thing is to walk away from any relationship where the other person doesn't "get" you or approve of what you do for work or fun. I'm happily married because my wife lets me do the stupid shit I like to do. She thinks my weird shit is endearing. She knew and approved of who she was marrying and vice versa. She wants me to be happy as I am, and she doesn't try to change me. Good luck with that, if she did:) Granted, it took me to age 41 to find that person, but they are out there.

Joe Janes said...

"The other important thing is to walk away from any relationship where the other person doesn't "get" you or approve of what you do for work or fun."

True dat, Pete. And I agree that you really don't know what you'll do until you're with the right person.

- Joe

Lisa said...

heir list did also include Kathy Griffin and Sandra Bernhard, both of whom make my scrotum squinch up when they speak. And their list did NOT include Pauly Shore or Carrot Top!