Day 130: I Know. My Wisdom is Totally Worth Two and a Half Cents.

Drew and I attended a marriage retreat last weekend.

It was a terrible, horrible, no-good experience.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the actual marriage retreat was fine.

We were the awful ones.

If Drew were to read this, he would probably stand up and yell, “Amen, sister!” to profess his agreement.

Seriously.  It was bad.

We both came home completely damaged and in need of a lobotomy and a time-travel machine.


Anyway, all the emotional upheaval caused me to do some serious reflecting.

You know, to remind myself that despite the fact that I appear to have regressed to my 15 year-old self during this separation, I have, in fact, acquired some useful information over the years.   I take a very small amount of comfort in the fact that it did not take the disintegration of my marriage to learn all of this.  Some of it I knew already.

You know, from past personal angst.

1)  Everyone could benefit from therapy.  Everyone.   (Seriously, go now.)

2)  Therapists are like people.  There’s a lot of really good ones out there, but they’re not all good for you.

3)  Despite the fact that I’m a psychologist, I am not immune to being completely oblivious to my own pathology.  In fact, my pathology is probably what attracted me to the profession in the first place.

4)  We tend to pick partners in an attempt to counteract our dysfunction.  This is almost never successful.  A better approach would be to deal with the dysfunction directly and then marry someone else who is well-adjusted.  This may be an argument for why people shouldn’t get married too young.  You need time to address your dysfunction.

5)  You’re not responsible for anyone’s happiness except your own.  Period.

6)  You’ll only be treated as badly as you let yourself be treated.

7)  When people treat you terribly, it’s approximately 90% about them and 10% about you.

8)  If you’re not happy, you will never believe that you’re in a happy marriage.

9)  If you’re comfortable treating yourself poorly, then you’re probably comfortable treating others poorly.

10)  How you cope with your problems today will probably be mirrored by your children 20 years from now.  So get it right.

11)  Not crying at all is as bad as crying all the time.

12)  Everyone needs friends.  If you don’t have any, its likely that you’re the problem, not them.

13)  No problem will ever be fixed if your only strategy is to blame it on everyone else.

14)  People are more likely to hear you if you speak quietly.  People are most likely to care if you’re not always talking about yourself.

15)  You can’t blame everything on your parents.  Sometimes you’re just making some really shitty choices.

16)  You always have choices.  Always.

17)  The concept of “my other half” (as in, “he’s my other half”) is unhealthy.  You are two separate people, with different talents and interests, and each person deserves an equal amount of respect and acceptance.

18)  Once you entertain the idea of divorce, you can’t un-entertain it.  It’s there, its an option, and you may never stop wondering what it would be like until you actually get to experience the pleasure of it for yourself.

19)  A coping strategy that’s effective at one point in your life may no longer be effective at another time in your life.  Unfortunately, you’re probably going to keep using it anyway.

20)  As humans, our default isn’t healthy behavior.  It needs to be a conscious decision.  It needs to be worked toward every day.  Kind of like my abs.


Okay, help me out, folks.  What other truths have you found to be self-evident?


Seriously, I could use some help, as I am clearly a work in progress.

Especially in light of the fact that I’m probably going to go out and get that lobotomy in order to recover from last weekend.


  1. Erin says:

    Tara, this one was marvelous. It is one of those things that one could see passed down and finally end up in several fragments on multiple encouragement cards from Hallmark. Copyright. Seriously.

    • Tara says:

      So you’re saying maybe I’ll make millions of dollars off my wisdom and be able to retire to an island in the Bahamas? Oh. Maybe you didn’t say that. But that’s what I heard.

  2. Ashley Taylor says:

    An amazing post. I immediately forwarded it to my sister, as we have been talking about many of these things lately, and you just put it all so well. I will be re-reading this one for sure.

  3. jen says:

    Great post.
    #19 is a great one.

  4. Theresa says:

    If I can’t blame my parents, then I got nothing. Sucketh.

    One thing I have discovered is that we tend to dislike and look for behaviour in others that we actually don’t like in ourselves. Truth, yo.

  5. Kimberly says:

    This is AWESOME. Really, really good insights. I’m off to forward it to friends…

  6. dani says:

    Amen to numbers 5, 8, and 11. Lessons I’ve only recently learned and am trying to master.

  7. Lisa says:

    Finding your happy is a journey not a destination. Reassess regularly … sometimes we forget that what we thought would make us happy when we are younger is very different then what actually will make us happy today. If this was not the case I would probably be a 5’10″ astronaut-gymnast with a pool on my roof.

    • Tara says:

      Hmm. That would have been cool. I think you and I would be better friends if you had a pool on your roof.

      • Lisa says:

        Yeah, after writing that I was thinking a pool on my roof would actually still make me pretty happy. Maybe I should look into it.

  8. jeg says:

    My husband and I were struggling, and decided to try a marital workshop one Saturday morning. When we showed up at the site, turkey vultures landed next to our car and followed us — inches away — hopping and looking ominously, all the way to the building entrance. Although no marital miracles were performed that day, we laughed pretty hard at the vulture omen, deciding that they had indeed come to pick on the carcass of our near- death marriage.

    • Tara says:

      Wow. That’s a good story.

      Once Drew and I went on a camping trip with our friends, and he was driving a huge van and I was riding shotgun. All of a sudden a turkey vulture flew into the windshield, cracking it. His parents were a little skeptical, I think. “Um, are you sure you didn’t, say, hit a baseball into it? Really? A turkey?”

  9. Meg says:

    I love this. Unfortunately these are often lessons you can only learn the hard way. One I will add is that you should never try to “fix” someone. First, it is impossible. But since impossibility has never stopped lovers, I will add other reasons: it implies that you won’t be happy together until the problem is resolved, it deflects from focusing on your own improvement, and the issue may only be a problem for one partner. To sum up, trying to “fix people” is very bad indeed. Accept or move on.

  10. Pam says:

    I hear ya, sister. My divorce taught me so much about myself and life in general that I’ve never looked at the world quite the same way, and that’s a good thing. One thing I took away from my experience is that if you find yourself making a life decision, the best choice to make is almost always the one that’s the most difficult. Two paths diverged in the woods and I chose the one less traveled, blah blah blah…Frost spoke the truth. Looking back on my life, I’ve always been the most miserable when I’ve chosen the path of least resistance. I’ve also learned that life is only as complicated as you make it.

  11. Christy says:

    This is so funny because I actually got divorced a couple years ago, but while we were separated we went to a marriage retreat as well and it was equally bad. I have learned the same sort of things and I think that we can get stuck in a marriage or state of mind and sometimes it takes something life-altering to shake us up. I think my ex and I could have worked things out if we could have both let go a little more, but I don’t know if I would have learned some of the things I’ve learned had we stayed together… I also believe that sometimes we, as messed up as we are, have to reach rock bottom, then even a little further down beneath that, before we can truly let go/and or change..

  12. Alissa King says:

    I have to resist the urge to stop blogging all together and just put links on my blog to your blog.

  13. christi speights says:

    okay the one that spoke to me was number 10. I don’t always handle situations very well. I want my kids to handle stress better then me. But really how will the learn.
    I just started reading your blog. Thank you , for making me laugh

  14. Kim G. says:

    Amazing post and some concepts everyone should take a moment to consider, regardless of their life situation.

    • Kim G. says:

      Okay, “life situation” sounds odd. What I mean is, regardless of whether you are going through a tough time or not.

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