I've heard it said that the strongest human instinct is not survival, but denial. Think about it a moment – there are many people that would rather die than change. Suicide victims, for example. They deny their relevance to the world and others, and escape their pain through tragedy.
Wow – I just read that back. That's super-depressing.
Since this is a humor site, I have a pretty big hill to climb to take you from that place of darkness to levity. I'm up for the challenge. And I'll do it using a classic.
I actually only know three jokes (two are about Helen Keller), but this one is my absolute favorite joke of all time.
And it's even safe to tell children, so gather the kids around mom's netbook.
D.J.'s Greatest Joke He Knows (But Didn't Write)
How did the mathematician solve his constipation problem?
He worked it out with a pencil.
I know – it's great. I must have read that (yes, read) over 20 years ago, and it still holds up.
Feel better? I thought so.
Now, back to denial.
In divorce, I've found that the most rampant use of denial is when I find myself obsessing over judgment of my ex-wife's behavior. Since she continue to puzzle me with decisions that are seemingly inconsistent with rationality, I can spend a LOT of time thinking about how screwed up that is.
What's the payoff for me? I feel better about myself! â€At least I'm not that big of a bozo!â€ I shout at the dog.
I'm not trying to be purposely cruel speaking about my ex. I'm certain if you asked her, she could create a laundry list of my crazy. But this isn't her blog.
When I'm busy obsessing about the insanity of her actions, what am I really doing? Well, I'm sure my therapist would agree that I'm using judgment as a distraction from dealing with my own stuff. I have grown to understand that my feelings are always true, but the thoughts and judgments about my feelings are often defense mechanisms to protect my own dysfunction.
Denial – plain and simple.
So, when I find out that my wife is still keeping my last name, despite how angry that makes me, spending three days barking about it is probably unhealthy. Why do I obsess? Because I take it as an attack – which it's not. It's just weird ex behavior, and apparently that sort of thing is common in divorce.
So, for me, it's important to identify my own stuff which I'm denying. Like the fact that the reason I get so angry is because I think this is something being done TO me.
The truth is, when I strip away my own ego, I don't really give a shit if she keeps my last name. I mean, at least we still have a doctor with the last name Paris. My best guess is she probably just likes the name. Seems like a stupid reason to me, but whatever. I ate a gigantic pickle last night for fun at 10:30pm. We all do dumb stuff.
Okay, enough bashing my ex-wife, who, truth be told, is mostly a lovely person. I spoke to her the other day we found ourselves crying together thinking about a pleasant memory. It was a nice way to go out, and it very well may be the last real conversation we ever have.
Since I will eventually re-enter the dating world and start pursuing relationships and intimate connections, it's important to take a look back and see what was learned, and what needs to be changed.
Here's a short list of poor decisions I made during the courtship and marriage which may have caused its downfall.
Let's get started.
5 Things That May Have Contributed To My Divorce
- Using Up All Romance In The Engagement – We were in Bali for a vacation, and I scheduled a helicopter to take us a remote beach, set up one of those picnics in the sand things where we were totally alone for an hour. Plus, I told my then-girlfriend that this was just a “small fun activityâ€ that I had planned over a month ago, and that I didn't even really remember what it was. Then, I waited until minute 59 to actually pull the ring out of my shorts and propose. The problem is that I only had maybe one of those romantic gestures in me. You can't go up from there. It's all downhill. Once I think I washed her hair when we took a shower together a few years later, but that was about as romantic as I got.
Lesson Learned? Build UP the romance – next proposal, I'm going to just hide the ring in her birth control clamshell case (one of the sugar days, obviously). I will be able to consistently best that one.
- Bathing Too Much – I am a bath junkie. When I met my wife, I was putting in a good three baths a week. I'm such a bath whore, I don't even use them as a way to get clean. It's pure recreation. I still shower every morning, but nighttime is bathtime. I load up with some food and a beverage, bring a book and my laptop, and slip into awesomeness. One time my wife came home and saw that I was eating peel and eat shrimp and reading the latest Dean Koontz novel. She became concerned for my sanity, especially when I tried to flush the shrimp shells down the toilet (I mean, it's right there!).
Lesson Learned? If you're going to do stuff in the bath, let's limit it to washing, conditioning, and rinsing. If you absolutely have to read, buy a copy of “How To Be Super Present With Your Galâ€ and show her what you're bringing into the bath. Then pull out your copy of Penthouse you have stashed in the toilet tank after the door is locked.
- Never Cooking – This one is about managing expectation. I love to cook – it's super easy. You just hit up an online recipe, read the reviews, and follow instruction. That's all there is to it. And I made the mistake of telling my wife before our first date, that this was a passion of mine. In fact, it WAS our first date. I prepared a meal and had her over. The problem is, I'm insanely lazy once I've seen you naked. I live alone now, and if I cook something impressive for myself once a month, that's a lot. It's a ton of frozen pizzas and rotisserie chickens from the grocery. So, it's not like I didn't cook for her – I just didn't cook much. But a wife feels that you must not care enough about her if you're not cooking once in awhile.
Lesson Learned? Pretend that you're interested in the idea of cooking, but that you're all thumbs, and really screw up a meal. Douse a chicken and mushroom dish with tons of paprika. Tell her you're sorry if it's not good. It won't be. Then, you won't be asked again to cook.
- Not Reigning In The Farting – 'Nuff Said
Lesson Learned? Go see the gastroenterologist and sign up for their experimental treatment program. Even if it involves a partial lobe lobotomy, it could be worth it. Your marriage is at stake.
- Eating A Skin Tag – I have this running joke that whenever a woman I know gives birth, I tell them to eat the placenta because I hear it gives you super-powers. I'm not sure why, but that is funny to me. Anyway, one day I was sitting naked at my wife's computer (which is totally normal behavior for a well-adjusted man, by the way), and she noticed something on my back. She told me I had a “skin tagâ€ and she would cut it off for me. Since I was busy looking at the latest Cats That Look Like Hitler photo, I grunted, “Okay.â€ My wife grabbed the kitchen shears, and cut the thing off. As she is a pet surgeon, I was not worried. However, I noticed she didn't scrub in and I received no anesthetic or stitches. Just a quick snip. So, then she presented the removed skin tag to me – it was the size of a pencil eraser. I played with it for a moment and rolled it around my fingers. Then, for a laugh, I plopped it in my mouth and swallowed. I thought this was hilarious. She was appalled. I mean, she seriously freaked out. Again, this was just skin, and I was probably fresh off a bath, so what's the big deal? I can't just throw it down the garbage disposal! That's not cool.
Lesson Learned? Next time, just throw away all skin tags that are cut off my body. When you eat things that are severed from your skin, as funny as you think it is, other people will believe that you're nuts. Plus, from a taste level, it was maybe only a 3.
So this is a start. Ladies, if you're reading and had any sort of attraction for me prior to reading this, I'm sure that has doubled. I read recently in Seventeen that what girls want most in a man is honesty. Well, there's some honestly. Oh, here's some more honesty, now that I'm thinking about it – I have an En Vogue song on my iPod. Actually, two.