Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying

Relationship experts report that too many couples fail to ask each other critical questions before marrying. Here are a few key ones that couples should consider asking:
  1. Have we discussed whether or not to have children, and if the answer is yes, who is going to be the primary care giver?

  2. Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do our ideas about spending and saving mesh?

  3. Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement on who will manage the chores?

  4. Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental?

  5. Is my partner affectionate to the degree that I expect?

  6. Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears?

  7. Will there be a television in the bedroom?

  8. Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints?

  9. Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education?

  10. Do we like and respect each other’s friends?

  11. Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship?

  12. What does my family do that annoys you?

  13. Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage?

  14. If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the other’s family, are we prepared to move?

  15. Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we may face?

What questions do you think are important to ask before marriage?

Source: New York Times


Not a Kid Table Was Stirring

As I climbed the ladder into the attic yesterday, I felt an unexpected connection with my dad. How many times did he crawl up tentatively to get lights, old wrapping paper, wreathes, or other Christmas things that someone needed? I used to climb trees, sit on the roof, and scale walls like a monkey. Now, just getting past the fourth step fills me with images of lying on the concrete, waiting for someone to discover me and call 911. He warned me that this would happen. Putting up the outside lights brought memories back as well and I wondered how I got to be the elder in the family?

I was not blessed with a close extended family. We were very close-knit when I was a kid, but I think the last time we got together like we used to do was in 1972. I have an aunt and uncle, four cousins and no telling how many nieces and nephews, because at some point they decided family was about their family. I heard from my aunt when my mom died in 2004, and that was perfunctory at best. My parents are both gone and my only brother has never been about family and he doesn’t even know yet that his mother died. He only showed up to get his presents and ask my parents for money anyway. Good riddance. There’s a kind of abandonment issue that I feel every year at this time, so my new immediate family, which includes Lynette, Joel, Micah, Lauren, Heather and Nathan, means everything to me. They have given me the closeness I’ve always craved and, outside of missing my dad, I’m as happy as can be. But it’s weird being “The Old One”.

Other things–small things–bring happy memories. I bought a bag of nuts and put them in a bowl on the coffee table, along with my parents’ little pine box that houses nutcrackers and picks, and I immediately remembered the wooden bowl that my grandfather had. Sure wish I had one of those! We received a gift box of pears from Harry & David and I was reminded of the fruit and date packs we used to get when I was a child. Making fudge yesterday brought back memories of half-a-dozen sheets of the stuff sitting to cool on the washer and dryer in my aunt’s back porch, which always made coming into the house an exercise in self-control.

And now I find myself wishing there was a grandchild or two–but not yet. Not until I can afford to spoil them rotten! Christmas without children just doesn’t make sense. I mean, what’s the point? There’s not even a “Kid Table”.


Concerts, Commissions & Cookies

Looks like I have a permanent assignment as the program notes researcher/writer for the Stillwater Chamber Singers. Not only that, but I have been invited to compose something for next year’s Christmas concert, something that will spotlight Nettl’s gorgeous voice. I am already flooded with ideas!

After the concert yesterday afternoon, Jacey came over bearing beer, and we had a great time drinking, eating a bratwurst dinner, listening to holiday music, and just generally having a great time. Today, I have to go to the store, then set into making mountains of fudge and cut-out Christmas cookies. But first, I need another cup of coffee.


Concert Today

Today is the holiday concert by the Stillwater Chamber Singers. Nettl will be singing a solo, I wrote the program notes, and it’s a really good line-up of pieces. For you Stillwater denizens, here are the details:

DATE: Sunday, 17 December
TIME: 2:30 pm
PLACE: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (across the street from Hide-Away Pizza)
COST: Free
DRESS: Casual


Come Uppance

I awoke in a funk today when I realized there are only nine shopping days left until Christmas. Our family isn’t into high ticket gifts, not only because we can’t afford them, but because the holidays aren’t about topping yourself each year. Of the six Christmases we’ve shared, we had only one when we could spend what we wanted, and even then we set our limit to $100 per person. Those were the days! We thought this year would be better than last, but due to trying to catch up from my recent illness (and no new jobs coming in to boot), we’ll just be able to cover our bills and buy Christmas dinner. I think our overall gift budget is about $300 for the entire family, but that’s more than some people have. Good god! It was only two years ago that my mother died unexpectedly at Christmas time. Now, that was a hard and frightening Christmas!

I won’t be a hypocrite and say I hate all the gift-giving at Christmas time, because when I have the money I love shopping for other people and giving gifts. I love Christmas and if I had extra money, I’d spend it. But it’s hard to get over the hype and guilt that comes to call every December when television and radio ads market diamonds, iPods, game systems, computers and even cars. Funny how we modern humans are. When we can’t afford Christmas, we talk about blessings and family and thanksgiving. When we can afford it, we spend as if the spending itself is a form of gratitude. But Nettl and I don’t have credit cards because we don’t believe in spending money we don’t have and in our society there is a price one pays for practicing that radical idea. I can’t tell you how many times we’re treated like crap by chain store merchants, creditors and even some friends when we’re put in the position of having to explain this.

I can well sympathize with those who have less than we have. Following the law that misery loves company, I Googled, “can’t afford christmas” and was moved by what I found. Divorces, cancer, lost jobs, hungry children, deaths; the stories abound. Our family has so much, really. We are happy and well-adjusted and every one of us is just crazy about and respects the other. Lynette and I have what we believe is about as perfect a marriage as can be found, despite all the challenges and prejudices we experience living as an out, same-sex couple in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Our kids don’t drink or smoke, or do drugs. Okay, we allow them to have a glass of wine on special occasions and that’s probably partly why they choose to live a substance-free adolescence. They don’t, by their own decision, dress like hoochie mamas and ganstas, and they don’t sleep around. They’re wonderful people; educated, articulate, cultured, polite and responsible. We have great friends, a lovely home, usually enough work and goals we’re building toward for the future. We are neither hopeless nor helpless.

As I read all of the hard luck stories this morning, I realized that not being able to afford expensive gifts was not the problem I initially thought it was. Gifts are a WANT, not a NEED. Yes, it will be a very lean Christmas and I’m feeling a bit Bob Cratchety here, because what we don’t have in material gifts we certainly make up for in blessings, not the least of which is that all of the kids will be home for the first time in six years!

So I will neither worry nor complain about not being able to afford Christmas this year. Instead, I’ll be grateful for all the things we do have–things that I believe most people would gladly trade all of their expensive gifts for, if they could.

Christmas Tangle

I just spent the past four hours putting up the outside lights. I’m not as young as I used to be. Next year I’ll have the money to hire someone to do that chore. I will!

P.S. We’ve been invited to the Stillwater Chamber Singers’ Christmas party tonight. Looking forward to that–they’re a fun group!


Balls, Borg & Squeaky Shoes

I guess I should get out more. Last night Nettl and I went to dinner at Eskimo Joe’s and I saw two things that I knew I would have to write about...


I Got Rhythm

A morning trip to Dustbury got me off to a good start today. Well, that and hanging some Christmas lights in the kitchen windows and pouring myself a big-ass cup of coffee.

Since we were speaking of drumming and rhythms (and we were, weren’t we?), I was taken by his entry about the BTO, or, Boston Typewriter Orchestra.

Humans make music. It is in my estimation the best thing we have going for us, and I am constantly amazed by the limitless ways we discover to give voice to the music in us. My only problem with the BTO is that I didn’t think of it first, and that’s a great litmus test for what ideas are really good.

If, like me, you have spent too much of your life in a cubicle number-crunching or letter-writing (especially if the names Smith-Corona, Brother and Selectric are as familiar to you as those of college or high school friends), you should pay the BTO’s site a visit and watch the interview video.

I admit that sometimes I miss typing on a typewriter. I didn’t know that all along I was making music.


Fer Schitz & Goggles

< UL > (Unordered List)

Why should I bore you with yet another blog entry about the sociological impact that blogging is having on people? Too many think that philosophizing about blogging is cool, but it seems to be a common topic when a case of Blogger’s Block sets in.

Instead, I’ll just say that I think blogging just may save the world (especially America) from illiteracy. Suddenly, people who normally wouldn’t crack a book or put pen to paper (“I gradgiated from hi-skool and I ain’t never readin’ 'r writin’ nothin’ ever 'gin.”) are keeping blogs, reading blogs, and exercising their literary skills, fallow as some of those might be. It gives me a strange sensation of hope.
  • Am I the only person on the planet who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Britney Spears exposing her shaved muff while getting out of a car in a too-short mini skirt? Or that Paris Hilton can’t make a three-point turn in a driveway? Am I uncool because I really don’t care about Tom Cruise’s wedding, or Kirstie Alley’s weight loss, or Angelina Jolie’s tattoos, or who’s poking whom? What is it with celebrity obsession? What the hell’s going on here?
  • And speaking of fame gone awry, have you noticed that reality TV has become the elephant graveyard for celebrities who are on their way out? I mean, who really wants to watch Life With Ed? Following Ed Bagley, Jr. around must be about as exciting as watching the proverbial paint dry. Or Hogan Knows Best. Great. A steroid-bulging Neanderthal is the model of American fatherhood. I admit The Osbournes had its pathetic fascination at first, but watching Chasing Farrah and The Anna Nicole Show was painful. And Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels… gads… Do you think collecting bull sperm for $20,000 a pop is good television? Give it up, people. Go out with a little dignity. Didn't The Love Boat teach you anything?
  • Please don’t ruin things for me. I don’t want to know about a killer hurricane hitting the east coast and wiping out New York City, or a mega-tornado taking out Dallas, or a tsunami destroying Seattle while a volcano destroys Portland. This whole fear campaign that the Discovery and Weather channels are waging ("It Could Happen Tomorrow", "Mega-Disasters") is, I suspect, funded by the government to keep us from thinking about the very real problems going on right now, today. Like North Korea, the Middle East, and the White House.
  • Lastly, does anyone really need $23 billion and if so, how do I get mine? And on this final note, if someone were to give you a million, what are the first 5 things you would do with it?


Primal Urges

Last Saturday evening a girl from Nettl’s office came over for dinner and wine. We had such a good time. Lauren and Heather were out at the Winter Formal, so Joel and Micah joined us in the living room, where, after the wine loosened us up a bit, Micah and I got our guitars and jammed. At one point, we got into drumming rhythms and everyone joined in. It was almost tribal. I come from a long line of drummers and grew up with this kind of impromptu ritual, but nothing like that has happened for me in well over 15 years.

Drums are so soothing to me, probably because for as long as I can remember there was always at least one set in our house, usually two. I especially love to drum, but not many people know that I’m really accomplished–it’s not something I get an opportunity to exercise anymore. But I sang a few songs, which felt equally as good. I still have a great voice, and I don’t mind saying so.

I want to do it again!


5 Things

Following Ville’s lead (although it was my idea in the first place and I want to have some fun), I have decided to list 5 Things That Make Me Be Weird:

  1. Hair anywhere in the bathroom, but especially in the shower drain.
  2. Accidentally stepping on a snail, even with shoes on.
  3. Okra.
  4. Turning across a station showing a woman giving birth. Do we really need to see that? Is nothing private anymore?
  5. When you get a book from the library and there’s something sticky on one page that might be a booger.

Want to play?


The Best Christmas Ever

Between the snow days and holidays, it has been a regular winter vacation around the Waller/Erwin homestead. Everyone was home from work and school on Thursday and Friday due to the snow, so Nettl made Christmas cookies on Friday evening as we put on the holiday music, poured the Schnogloggers (our name for rum and eggnog) and got to work decorating the house. What a great time! Even the cat got into the holiday spirit.

With the snow still on the ground outside, it feels like a White Christmas–the first we’ve had in a number of years. Until Joel shoveled the front walk, it was as high as 2 feet out there. And it still isn’t melting, except only slowly on the roads and trees.

My plans this week are to send out cards, drum up a little work so that we’ll have gift money, and work on other projects in the hope of raising the old bank account for the holidays. THOUGHTS BECOME THINGS! That’s an immutable law of physics. I have a fake $5000 bill taped to my monitor to remind me that our needs are only a thought away! Of course, we don’t need $5000, but when you throw a ball into the air, the law of gravity doesn’t care how big or small it is, or who threw it; it just makes it happen. Therefore, I’m thinking BIG.
Meantime, we’re all enjoying our family. Lauren is a little sad because this will be her last Christmas in this house, but I want her to know that everything she loves about Christmas here will go with us wherever we go. It’ll be there in Vienna, or wherever we spend the holidays as a family in the future, because all of the things she loves are intangibles; the love, the joy, the laughter. They don’t stay with the house, it’s just a thing. Those things that make a home happy go with each member of the family, only to reunite wherever we get together.

Have a happy Monday!

Our back yard

(Photo by Micah Atwell)


Over Too Soon

We were socked in all day yesterday in the Blizzard That Ate Oklahoma. Expecting from 4 to 6 inches, we were stunned when we opened the patio door around dinner time to see drifts that were nearly as tall as our fence–more like 4 to 5 feet! It was the first blizzard warning the National Weather Service has ever issued for this state; I felt like I was back in Denver.

This morning we have clear, blue skies and sunshine, although it’s only 10 degrees. Don’t think I’ll be going out anytime soon. Nettl and the girls are enjoying their second snow day.

I love snow. I always wait in anticipation of its coming and I’m always sad to see it go. Even in Denver, where I had to commute all the way across the city to go to work, I loved the snow.

That’s it, really. I haven’t had any coffee yet, so that’s all my brain can fire for now.