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Love » After-marriage » Jenna-mc-carthy--050109
 
Jenna McCarthy's Take on Marriage  
 
Jenna Mc Carthy's Novel 'Marriage' – if this term scares you or if you think partners often change after marriage, etc, let us tell you – you can relax! Author Yashodhara Lal gets chatty with Jenna McCarthy, author of 'If It Was Easy, They’d Call The Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon' – that tells you what it's like to live with someone 24/7, providing keen insights into human nature and gender differences. She writes on love, relationships and marriage and is the author of five popular books. Read on to find out what's her take on marriage...

  1. Yashodhara: Your book is titled ‘If It Was Easy, They’d Call The Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon' This means marriage is tough! But what are some of the best things about marriage according to you? 
    Jenna:
    I could get all technical and list the scientific and socioeconomic benefits of marriage (married people live longer, make more money, have stable children, are less likely to commit a violent crime or be the victim of one, enjoy greater health and even have more sex than their single friends), but that’s not why any of us choose this crazy, unnatural path. In my opinion, marriage is great because it’s so hard. It challenges you to become a better person, to cultivate patience and kindness and understanding. It gives you the space and the permission to be yourself with someone who has already promised to love you anyway. And marriage means there’s somebody else in the house who will capture and remove the spider over your bed, or cook the pork roast you have no idea what to do with.  
     
  2. Yashodhara: What are those things you wish you had known before you got married? 
    Jenna: That movies and books are not reality! We’re raised on a steady diet (at least in the US) of fiction and romantic comedies that give us impossible notions of what till-death-do-us-part looks like. We think marriage is going to be all candlelit dinners and rose petal-strewn beds and sexy beach strolls in matching white outfits. And then we get married and we’re shocked and horrified by the daily parade of laundry and shopping and bill-paying and snoring. (Good grief, the snoring!) We spend our dating days looking for someone who 'completes us' — thank you, Jerry McGuire — when we should be looking for someone we think we can put up with—and who will put up with us—for the long haul. I think people have unrealistic notions of what it will be like to be half of a married couple. The reality is, you’re still you, and marriage only amplifies whatever that is. I think people who are looking for a mate to make them happy are doomed. You have to be happy first.
     
  3. Yashodhara: There’s a lot that’s said about ‘how everything changes after marriage’. How true is this, in your opinion?
    Jenna: Actually, in America, I believe the saying is, “Women marry men hoping that they’ll change; men marry women hoping that they won’t”. The reality is that everyone changes over time—sometimes in ways we wish they wouldn’t, and sometimes in ways we’re glad they do. Marriage is dynamic, just like the people in it. There will be good days and weeks and miserable ones too. There will be stretches where you feel in love, in sync, and in harmony with each other and the world, and periods where you’d very much like to get in your car and drive away. The idea, of course, is to continue to love one another through and despite all of those crazy ups and downs.   
     
  4. Yashodhara: What does the term 'Compatibility' mean to you? And can a marriage to someone with no common interests work ? Or is it really about ‘opposites’ attracting?
    Jenna: It’s a balancing act, in my opinion. I think you have to marry someone who shares certain core, fundamental beliefs and sensibilities. In my marriage, I am the outgoing (okay, loud!) city slicker; my husband Joe is quiet, conservative and loves the country. If I had married another bigmouth, we’d always be fighting for the microphone. If Joe had married someone as quiet as him, nothing would ever be discussed. In our case, 'opposites attracted' in a successful way. Yet, we are very much alike in other critical areas—we agree on politics, faith, finances, integrity, honesty and the importance of family.

    I’m not saying that every couple needs to have those same things in common, but I believe shared values are key. I have an aunt and uncle who have been married for nearly fifty years, and when I ask them their secret they always say, “You have to have fun together”. I think that’s a really important part of marriage that often gets overlooked, especially when you have kids. If you’re not working to keep the fun in your marriage, you run the risk of becoming co-parenting roommates who manage this 'business' that is your family together.
     
  5. Yashodhara: Fights are inevitable in any relationship, especially in a marriage. What are the most effective ‘rules of engagement’ when it comes to fighting?
    Jenna: It depends on your background and upbringing, honestly! I grew up in a loud, door-slamming, name-calling family. 'Fighting' was a normal part of everyday life, and the one who yelled the loudest or slammed the door the hardest was the one who was considered to have 'won' the fight. My husband Joe grew up in a very quiet family without a mom and his dad was stern and stable. You can imagine some of the fights Joe and I had when we first got married! I’d get mad and he would remain silent, which would infuriate me further. I wanted him to engage, and he wanted me to calm-the-hell-down.

    The madder I got, the louder I got. We knew that our fighting wasn’t productive, but it took a long time for us to actually change. Fifteen years later, I can’t even remember the last time I slammed a door, and Joe rarely shuts down when we argue. And for the record, arguing is healthy and normal and if you never do it, I can assure you that resentment is building inside of you—possibly to toxic levels. As long as you do it respectfully (no name-calling, no door slamming, no threats of divorce because s/he left the milk on the counter overnight), the occasional argument helps you clear the air—not to mention lets you enjoy the epic make-up sex that usually follows a good spat.

    (Jenna McCarthy is the author of five books including 'If It Was Easy They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married.' (Please note it says the blah-blah-blah man you married, not the one she married. Her husband likes it when she points that out.) For more on Jenna, watch the hilarious trailer of her latest book on her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and check out her TED talk.)  

    (Yashodhara Lal is a graduate from IIM-Bangalore, with over a decade of marketing experience. She is also the author of the book ‘Just Married, Please Excuse’: www.justmarriedpleaseexcuse.com )
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