Mastering Marriage as an Imperfect Human

Mastering Marriage as an Imperfect Human

I was just thinking about marriage and why so many people I know are divorced or getting a divorce?

Did you know that 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce (Marriage and divorce, APA)? 40-50%…that’s a high percentage!

And, that gets me pondering, why am I still married?

No, really, why? Why, am I still married???


I do believe that if you are completely honest, and if you have been married to someone for longer than a year, you too ponder why you are still married!

I’ve been married for nearly 30 years.

How did that happen?

What makes me and my significant other different from people whose marriages don’t last?


Did I marry Mr. Right?

  • No! He is more Mr. Left of Center.

Am I an idiot?

  • No, at least not ALL the time!

In thinking back on the conversations I have had with divorced friends from the suburbs, there is a common theme.

The theme isn’t that they chose the wrong gender. I know of marriages that have ended as a result of one spouse making a change in gender preference. Of course, you should be with who you love.

The theme isn’t about abuse. I know of marriages that have ended because of abuse, and rightfully so. No one should put up with any kind of abuse. There is no negotiating on that point. If someone abuses you, you leave the relationship.

The theme isn’t about addictive behavior. I’m sure there are divorces because one person goes out and spends every cent the family has on something crazy, like gambling, or the shopping network, or a person with an addiction becomes hooked on drugs. Addiction can destroy relationships.

But, that wasn’t what I was hearing from the people of the suburbs.



The common theme was about a lack of humanity.

One person, or both, stopped treating the other person like a human being, and that destroyed the marriage.


Here’s the thing, for a marriage to last BOTH people in the marriage have to treat each other like human beings.

If you want your marriage to work, the most important way to keep your marriage alive is to treat your spouse like a human and expect him to do the same for you.

Now let’s take it one step farther: treat your significant other like you would like to be treated.

Easy enough, right?

What does it mean to treat someone like a human being?

Well, how do you like to be treated?

I’m going to generalize here, but I bet the majority of the world would like:



Don’t lie to your spouse. If you ate the last of the Oreos, just admit it. Don’t blame it on the cat. You don’t want him to lie to you, so you shouldn’t lie either.

Good Sportsmanship


Don’t be passive-aggressive or manipulative. If your husband asks you if you’d like to cook dinner or eat out, don’t reply, “Of course I’d like to cook for you after working a 10-hour day and staying up all night with the baby.”

If you’ve got something to say, say it. Don’t play games with words. Don’t try to confuse your partner. You don’t want him purposefully confusing you. You’re in this marriage, so play with fairness.



Don’t cheat. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is. You married someone. No one forced you into it. You married one person, not one person and whoever looks good at the neighborhood cook-out. You don’t want to be cheated on, so don’t cheat on your spouse.



Don’t be mean. Kindness is important to us all. It’s a small world we live in, which is why we’ve got to be nice to everyone, including significant others. Treat that person who shares your bed with kindness.



Don’t hold grudges. Humans aren’t perfect. If your significant other falters and wrecks the car, forgive him, and let it go.



Don’t ignore the inevitable. You are going to make mistakes. Not just one. Many. You were supposed to pick up toilet paper on the way home from work, which you now remember as your significant other calls out to you from the bathroom, “Honey, can you hand me a roll of toilet paper from the closet.” Apologize as you grab your keys and head for the Mini-Mart to pick up some toilet paper. Learn to be accountable for those blunders and apologize so you both can move on.

Realistic Expectations


Don’t expect your significant other to always appear attractive or get everything right. He is human. You are going to see his bed-head, butt-scratching ugly side. You married a human, not a fictional character. He’s not perfect. Expect imperfections, and move on.



Don’t give your partner the silent treatment. As humans, we need to talk to other people. Generally speaking, your significant other falls into the “people” category, so talk.



Don’t shack up with your honey and sit in the Lazy Boy chair for the rest of your days. Get out and do something with your significant other. Go on a walk, or try whitewater rafting. Live fully with that person you love since, let’s face it, you want to live fully!

It’s not always easy to treat someone like you would like to be treated, you know, like a human. Sometimes, you just don’t want to be nice, especially when he or she has the flu and just threw up on your new couch.


Those are the times (and there will be many because we are all imperfect) when you will need to take a breath, step back and remind yourself that the person you are with is human and not a character on TV. Your significant other is a flawed human who may occasionally have bad breath, or fart, or snore, or have a long nose hair that hangs down out of his nose. That person is not perfect, and that’s OK because no one is.

If the two of you, both of you, not just one, but both, no not just your husband, you too, together, if the two of you can treat each other like human beings, I believe your marriage has a chance to survive.

I think that’s why my husband and I have remained married for as long as we have because we act and treat each other like humans, and we both know life is way too short to be human and not act like one.


Lizard Jed and the Fallen Egg

Lizard Jed and the Fallen Egg

Life is not only about finding one egg on your path and trying to save it. We are all interconnected, and whenever we aspire to do our best for the world around us, it matters.

A few years ago, my mother-in-law began her painful journey fighting against ovarian cancer. The Fallen Egg, The Fallen Egg’s New Family, and the following article were written during the beginning of her journey.

Sometimes when we desperately try to help someone we love, and we feel there is nothing we can do to make that person’s life better, the universe places circumstances before us giving us the opportunity to make the world a little better if we choose.

Please read about what happens to the fallen egg and my buddy Jed, a Carolina Anole lizard.



Several weeks ago, Jed, the Carolina Anole lizard that sits on the front porch rail and stares at me as I drink my coffee every morning, ended up on my welcome mat looking awfully dead.

I knelt down near him and blew on him, and he wiggled and flipped. Did I mention he was a dark brown color as well? He is usually bright green.

I yelled for my husband Byron.

“Did you step on Jed?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t step on Jed,” he replied indignantly.

“Well, there is something wrong with Jed, and we can’t just leave him here to get eaten.”

So, my very analytical, very intelligent husband sighed and disappeared into the house for several minutes as I stared wide-eyed at Jed.

Jed was on my welcome mat after all.

Jed has spent morning after morning with me staring at me while I eyed him over my coffee mug.

Most people would have walked away, but I couldn’t. I knelt over Jed and waited.

Byron came back outside with my youngest daughter’s bug container. He pulled off some leaves from the camellia bush by the porch, picked up wiggly, pitiful Jed, placed him in the container, handed me the container, and disappeared back in the house.

I sat with the container held up to my face, my eye inches away from poor Jed.

The container was placed on the dining room table, on the same spot the box with the fallen blue bird’s egg sat before the egg was moved to its new home outside.

I had some mealworms for the bluebirds that frequent my bird feeders. I thought Jed might eat mealworms, so I sprinkled some of the dried worms in the container after calling my animal-lover neighbor to see if she just so happened to have any moths on her porch she could gather for Jed. In the past, I had watched Jed snag some moths on the porch while I drank my morning coffee. He’d eat the moth. I’d drink my coffee.

I knew Jed liked moths.

My neighbor Karen didn’t have any moths on her porch, unfortunately for Jed.

You would think she would think I was crazy, but Karen has known me for decades, so she doesn’t think I am crazy.

With many heavy sighs, I sat at the dining room table that night staring at Jed. First, I had to worry about the fallen egg, and now Jed.

At one point, as I stared into the container, Jed fell on his back, legs straight up.

Things just didn’t look good for Jed.

When my mother-in-law first was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, we offered our home to her so she could seek treatment at Duke Cancer Center. She refused. Now, I wondered if she feared I’d place her on my dining room table and sing to her.

The next morning, I opened all the blinds in the house, and in between writing, and chores, I moved Jed’s container from window to window so he would get optimal sun. He began to lie in the cap of water I put in the container, and he began to green-up a bit.

Karen called to check on Jed.

That afternoon, I walked by the container and gasped. Jed was standing straight up, all nice and bright green.

I carried the container out to the front porch and opened it near the camellia bush, and out he quickly scurried.


Jed is back to sitting with me in the mornings while I drink my coffee. I noticed a notch near his tail. Maybe his trauma was caused by someone stepping on his tail, and he just needed some time to heal.

Later in the day, neighbor Dave came over to give us news on the fallen egg.

The birds have hatched in my neighbor’s nest on his porch.

All five!

I can’t tell which bird is from the fallen egg, but I am going to believe that it is the happy one.


After many courageous years of fighting ovarian cancer, my mother-in-law’s life ended.

We were all by her side feeling devastated and helpless as we watched her leave this life.

We brought home a hydrangea, a funeral gift. My husband and I planted the hydrangea in our front yard.

You’ll never guess what we discovered in the hydrangea while we were planting it – three small speckled cardinal eggs.

Neighbor Karen just happened to have a bird’s nest on her front porch and carefully placed the eggs in the nest.

That was years ago.

Before my mother-in-law died, we rarely saw cardinals in our yard. Now, we daily have five to seven cardinals at our bird feeders.


I’m fairly certain those cardinals are the offspring of those three eggs from my mother-in-law.

The cardinals are a constant reminder that sometimes all we have to do is the best we can do for others, and it all matters.



Check out my new eBook on how to manage the complexities of sitting by the bedside of someone you love.

Ipad with Coffee



The Fallen Egg’s New Family

The Fallen Egg’s New Family


Sometimes, hope is found in the darndest places. Please take a moment and read what becomes of the fallen egg. The beginning of the fallen egg starts here and continues below.

Day 2:

The fallen egg still sits nestled in my daughter’s scarf in a box on our dining room table with a halogen lamp to warm him.

I keep turning him from time to time.

I played the piano to help him come out of his shell. I chose to play “What I Did for Love,” because who doesn’t love a good show tune, and “Claire de Lune,” because everyone loves Debussy.

Still, the egg sits.

Day 3:

The fallen egg is still resting comfortably.

My youngest daughter got out my guitar amp and my husband’s microphone and stand and set up a performance area in the dining room. She sang “We Are the World,” to the little fella with all the enthusiasm of a budding star on the TV show American Idol.

I think it helped.

It must have helped because every act of kindness helps in its own way.

Day 4, The Weekend:

We spent the weekend with my husband’s mother who is fighting her battle with ovarian cancer. It is difficult to see the early effects of chemo on her, but her spirit is strong.

I entrusted the care of our Great Dane Petunia and the baby egg to our neighbor to babysit while we were at my mother-in-law’s.

I brought neighbor Dave into the dining room and showed him the little egg, and he immediately mentioned seeing the same type of egg in a nest on the roof of his front porch. He asked if I thought it would be OK if he put my little egg in the nest with the other egg.

How could I say no?

It seemed like the best chance of survival for the little fella.


I handed him the box from the table and looked away. I couldn’t watch the process of him being moved.


Over the weekend, my neighbor sent me pictures of the egg with its new adopted family.

First, the nest held two eggs; then, it held three, four, and five. The mama bird watches the nest from a short distance during the day and then sits on them at night.

2eggs                   3eggs


4eggs                   5eggs

My egg is the one that is a bit bluer, maybe because I held it so much, maybe because it is really a snake egg, maybe because it is a leftover piece of Easter candy.

The mama bird accepts the egg regardless of who created it, and I find that heartwarming!

Check back with me tomorrow to find out what becomes of the newly adopted fallen egg! Does it hatch? Does it melt? Come back tomorrow!

The Fallen Egg

The Fallen Egg

Hope appears in the strangest places.

Please read what happened a few years back when I found a fallen egg in my backyard.


I was bringing an empty wine bottle to the recycle bin yesterday, and I saw I small blue bird’s egg on a pile of leaves in front of the bin. I threw the bottle into the bin and picked up the egg expecting it to be cracked. It wasn’t.

It was a perfect tiny blue egg.

I held it in the palm of my hand, and I swear I felt an ever so slight movement. So, I sat on the back deck with the egg carefully resting in the palm of my hand.

What to do…what to do…

I could find a random nest and put the egg in it.

No, that wouldn’t work. My scent is all over the egg now, and I vaguely remembered someone telling me at some point in my life that animals really didn’t like the scent of humans.

I could toss it into the woods, and let it be eaten.

No, that wouldn’t work either.

What to do…what to do…

I gave it to my oldest daughter to hold.

“Do you feel movement?” I asked her.

“Yes, but it is probably the beat of my pulse creating the movement,” she answered. She is academically gifted (or as she calls it, accidentally gifted).

“Mom, it is probably a leftover Easter egg candy,” she tells me as she gently places the egg back in the palm of my hand.

“Well, our hands would be sticky then,” was my reply. I thought that was logical.

“I think I should have a glass of wine. Wine induces labor you know.”

She rolled her eyes at me.

A glass of wine would help.

My nerves were still settling from the morning’s church service when the minister asked Byron if he would fill the congregation in on his Mom’s progress. His Mom is strong, but she is not doing all that well, and Byron was not about to give the church a play-by-play of her cancer treatments. “Just pray for her please,” was his answer to the minister.

I thought that was a good answer.

I started to tear up, so I rub my eyes, rubbing my face lotion (that contains wrinkle erasing acid) directly into my eyes making them pour tears. We are sitting in the second to back row.

The congregation is staring.

I keep pushing more lotion into my streaming eyes.

I don’t have a glass of wine, but I do stare at the egg in my hand.

Byron comes out to see what I am doing. He looks at the egg and goes back into the house to do some research. He is an engineer: a problem solver.

What to do…what to do…

He comes back out to tell me the likelihood of there being a viable baby bird in there is slim-to-none; even if it is alive now, it won’t live long after it hatches, and it is illegal to have a bird’s egg in one’s possession, so I am breaking the law.

I tell him to find me a light to warm the little egg. He goes back in the house.

My problem is not solved.

My oldest daughter finds a box and places one of her softest and prettiest scarves in it for the little egg. We put the box on the dining room table and place a halogen lamp over it. Byron moves the light very close to the little egg. I stare at it and move the lamp back a bit. The egg is like a hot coal, and I fear the worst for the little fella, but I keep watch.

It has been 24 hours, and I go in the dining room and turn the little egg from time to time. I sprinkled a tiny bit of water on him to mock dew.

Do you know there are not very many “bird-themed” songs to sing to an egg?

Well, there is “Blackbird,” “Mocking Bird,” “Free Bird.” None of those songs seems encouraging to a little blue egg, but I sing what I can whenever I walk through the dining room.

I know it’s hopeless, but I just can’t give up on this little egg until I give it a fair chance. I read that the incubation period for a bird is 7-14 days. I figure I will wait two weeks and a day. I am considering dissecting the egg if my little friend doesn’t make it.

I will have to know.

My oldest daughter has suggested it might be a snake egg.

I don’t think so.

Now my neighbor, who is one of my closest friends, has suggested this is God placing something before me to nurture.

It’s not God.

God is not cruel. It was just the windy day that blew the egg onto my path.

It’s just life.

Things happen. Good things, bad things, they just happen. What happens to us and around us doesn’t define us; it is what we do with what happens around us that defines us.

I am happy to do my best for this little bird egg, no matter what the odds. You will have to check back with me to find out what happens…does he live? Does he die? Is he really chocolate malt inside after all?



Please check back tomorrow to see what becomes of the little egg!

(Because you are AWESOME, check out what happens next to our little egg HERE!)