adjust when necessary

My niece is getting married in March, and I get to be co-marrier with my dad.  He’s an ordained minister, spent several years in seminary to achieve that status.  I went online, filled out a form, and got a certificate saying I’m ordained!  I don’t know why he spent all that time and money.  I also married my friends Stan and Charlotte.  To be honest, I’m not sure they are really married.  Like who online has the authority to ordain me?  Probably some dude sitting in his boxers on his couch who has enough smarts to build a self-ordain web site for gullible people like Charlotte, Stan and me.

At any rate, I’m trying to figure out what to say to my niece and soon to be nephew at the alter.  I think most of my advice should occur BEFORE they get to the church.

The older I get, the more I realize that a lot of married people don’t really like each other.  What the heck?  Most folks spend a great deal of time with their spouse.  You should like him!  I’m guessing you did at one point.  And if you don’t, you should do something about it.

I am a huge believer in counseling.  When things get tough, work on it.  Communicate.  Get some help.

I guess I’ll tell my niece to enjoy every minute with her guy, and when things get tough, and they will, do something about it.

Kobe Bryant died his week.  It could have been you or me.  Life is too short to spend time mad.  Life is too short to spend time with someone you don’t like.  Choose well, adjust as necessary.

The Dowry

img_0669

She’s the one in white!

Two weeks ago, DJ “came out” to society.  She was a North Carolina Debutante – WHOOP WHOOP!  And now, it is time for her to get married.  I mean, she IS 19, and she has officially been presented.  Time is a wastin’.

To my knowledge, she has not had one proposal since the Ball which was on September 9.  What the heck fellas?  Her date was worthless.  They’re “just friends,” and I don’t even think he wants to get married right now.  What’s up with that?

Get the lead out men!  We can’t wait forever!

To encourage some movement from the male species, I thought I’d list a few things that come with her.  Her dowry.

Of course, me, which I would think should be enough.  Who would not care for Danny Tanner in his aging days?  I’m like a barrel of monkeys.

In addition, I’d like to offer a few other items of enticement.  Spread the word readers!

  • An inordinate amount of plasticware. Every time I have a party, I buy a HUGE box of forks, spoons and knives.  I have a fear of running out of plastic eating utensils.  I don’t have the same number of each, but am particularly heavy on the spoons.
  • A full set of tan towels. OK, they’re old, from my college days, and won’t go but one shower without emitting a cooked in sour smell, but they are BROKEN IN and feel great on the bod.
  • A box of handwritten AP Biology notebooks…just in case there’s a future surgeon interested…
  • An octopus cake pan – not sure where it came from but I bet you’d struggle to find another one like it.
  • DJ’s car (and the insurance payment).
  • A slightly worn picnic table, an old lawn mower (I’m sure it would crank with a little TLC), and a weed eater with only one wire. I’m assuming you’d buy a house near me with a yard for my grandkids.
  • A large box of number 2 pencils (in various stages of sharpening).
  • Her college tuition bill.
  • And… a green frog butter holder (great for rubbing down a cob of corn).

In addition, if you decide to elope, I’ll toss in an additional $500.

All inquiries should be sent either to DJ directly or to my email (I’ll forward them):  therealfullhouse@gmail.com.

We’re ready to go (well, I’m ready and am sure I can persuade the eldest)!

Sunday Post 152: Too Soon?

Last Sunday DJ announced that Stephanie was my favorite child, “You clearly love her more.” She didn’t seem that upset, she was just sharing fact – or at least her perception at that place and time.

Michelle was appalled. She clearly thought I loved her the most.

Stephanie just cheesed, happy as a lark.

I dispute DJ’s claims. My heart is huge. When I think there can’t possibly be room for anymore love, sometimes I just make more.

Not too long ago a friend of mine got married. His wife passed away like Lisa.

Some have criticized him. Said he tied the knot way too soon. I’m guessing those who are critical have never sat at home on a Saturday night alone. I bet they didn’t get left out of the dinner party because it was a couples thing. They probably had someone to sit with on Sunday morning at church; someone to go out to lunch with after the service.

I’ve waited four years and am nowhere near married again. But I surely wouldn’t criticize someone who happened to find someone who they loved and who could help fill those voids.

It’s easy to question other’s actions when you haven’t walked in their shoes. Finding new love isn’t necessarily a sign that one has forgotten or fully moved on. It might even be a sign that their first marriage was really very good!

I have a big heart – plenty of room to love. My friend did too.

Sunday Post 58: Fight For It

Posted by Danny

I hear about more and more folks who are struggling with marriage.  There is no doubt, it is hard.  But it’s a good, good thing – if you put the time and effort into it.

Most of us get married early.  We aren’t grown – we’re not mature.  We don’t know what we want.  And yet, we establish our communication pattern with our spouse and it never seems to change. 

It’s sort of like your parents.  I’m 46, and I still like to call my mom when I’m sick.  Like it was in grade school, I  know the conversation – it’s been the same for more than four decades.  She’ll empathize, encourage me to go to the doctor, tell me how I need to take better care of myself and remind me that I’m handsome.  I’ll exaggerate my symptoms, assume I have cancer, and complain about the cost of medical care.

Hell, I don’t like to drink in front of my parents.  I couldn’t when I was 17, and I don’t want to now.  They might put me on restriction or something.

We get like that with our spouse.  We each grow up, but our relationship stays the same.  Why is that?  Why is it so hard to communicate?  Yeah, it’s uncomfortable to tell someone things need to change and grow, but it’s also uncomfortable to live in a miserable relationship. 

Lisa and I developed some stale communication habits that we really had to muscle through.  But when we found the courage to express our thoughts, frustrations and needs, and when the other was willing to listen, WOW! 

When she died, our marriage was at its strongest.  Not because we didn’t have issues; there were times we wanted to pummel each other.  But we refused to live with that uncomfortable silence.  We both knew when things weren’t right – so we manned up and dealt with them.

I lost my spouse, but not until she died.  Boy am I grateful we continually worked on our marriage.  It was worth every minute we put into it.

Sunday Post 47: Putting the House Back Together Again

Posted by Danny

In 1994, we purchased our dream house here in Raleigh.  It was built in 1955 and needed some updates.  But it had character – a high priority for us. 

It was also about triple the size of our first house , a 900 square footer.  That house had one bathroom and the ceiling slanted down behind the toilet.  If I peed standing up, I had to lean backward or I’d bump my head.  I can’t count how many mornings I woke up with facial bruising.

We settled in our house after ripping up the carpet, replacing the kitchen floor and painting every wall.  Although it could have used more work, that’s all we could afford at the time.  And we elated with our purchase.

About four years later, we were ready to update the original structure and added a bathroom, laundry room and renovated the kitchen.  Boy, were we happy!  We now had the perfect house for a growing family.

But…two  years later, we added a large front porch that wrapped around the side of the house – our outdoor haven.  Was that all?

Nah.  In 2007, we added an addition on the back with a family room, master suite and an outdoor fireplace on the new back deck.  Our vision of a dream house had expanded.

After living in our home for several years in its completed state, we grew accustom to the space and the amenities it brought.  The 2,500 square foot, 1955 home, with chopped up rooms, was merely a pleasant memory.  It served it’s purpose then, but it wouldn’t do now.

Marriage is sort of like that.  At one point in life, I was comfortable by myself.  I liked me and wasn’t reliant on any one person for my happiness.  As I fell in love with Lisa, our lives became intertwined – our identities were built on our connection to each other.  We were one.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to become comfortable with the life that used to be enough.  It’s like a hurricane came through and blew off the back addition and our grand front porch, leaving the original  structure to live in.  But not only is the structure now too small, the hurricane blew the roof off, ripped a hole in the kitchen floor and left debris all over the yard.

It’s going to take a lot of work to get the house back in order.  It’s painful to figure out how to be comfortable back in a house that’s 1,000 square feet smaller.  And I really liked the front porch!  It made the house quaint and cozy.  It was my favorite place to hang out.

I think I’ve patched the roof.  Now I’ve got to clean up the debris so I can begin to get comfortable again in a house that used to be enough.

I Can’t Even Imagine

Posted by Uncle Jesse

I almost wrote this post in February (hence the attempt at an avant-garde photo of the Tanner house Valentine’s wreath). It recently became relevant again.

Danny says he could take all the posts I’ve “almost written” and we’d have two blogs: The Real Full House blog and The Posts That Almost Made It Out Of Jesse’s Head And Onto The Real Full House blog. He’s a funny guy. But point taken–I’m not quite as good as Danny with the consistency piece.

Another thing I’m not as good as Danny at is listening. The guy is a human sounding board. I can’t imagine what it’s like for him having to feign interest in all the inane sports stuff I throw at him. Not that I think he’s a phony–he tells me his general interest in sports has grown (and I can attest that his knowledge has), and I believe him. Perhaps I just find it impossible for anyone else to care about the difference between the NBA and college basketball traveling rule. But you know what I’m good at? Talking. So I prattle on. And, even while cooking dinner, he plays the role of the engaged listener well, maintaining eye contact (glancing down briefly to empty the trash) and asking follow-up questions.

The same goes with stories about my weekends, my triumphs and frustrations with trying to start and grow and small business with my good friend, and the stupid MTV shows I watch. I don’t mean to suggest he gets nothing out of it–I do enjoy sharing music with him and I know he likes adding to his collection of tunes. I can’t yet tell if he’s sold on Chapelle’s Show, which I’ve been making him watch as Comedy Central replays them in summer, but he takes my word for it when I tell him the show was seminal, and thus puts up with the episodes I make him watch.

Some of my favorite conversations with him are about God. We talk about things we’ve read, or heard in church, or had explained to us but disagreed with. We both approach the subject with curiosity and humility. As Danny will attest, when I am certain I am right about something I will plow through any argument to the contrary (and enjoy the challenge along the way–perhaps a little too much). But most times these conversations involve phrases, “I think what makes the most sense in my head,” and “what I try to do is…”. The discussions always have the feel of two people trying to help each other learn more about a vastly complex subject, and I like that.

But there’s one thing that–though as we’ve talked about life and love and Lord, it has come up–I have trouble dumping on the guy:

How do you turn to a guy who lost his wife, best friend, lover, and mother to his three beautiful daughters….and complain about a broken heart?

Sunday Post 20: Would you do it again?

Tonight as I was putting Stephanie to bed, and with tears in her eyes, she asked me, “Dad, if you had known that mom would get cancer and die, would you  have still married her?”

It’s interesting what the kids think about – especially at bedtime.  I wonder if she’s pondered that question before or if it just came to her tonight.

“That’s easy,” I replied – my eyes beginning to fill like hers.

“I would absolutely have married her even if I’d known she as going to die from cancer.  There are two reasons why.

First, your mom gave me the best 18 years of my life.  I would not trade those years for anything.  We laughed and had so much fun together.  And loved each other so much.  I’d never experienced that sort of love before.

Second, your mom and I had three amazing girls and you wouldn’t be our Stephanie if you weren’t made up of half me and half your mom.  You’re special because of the parts of us that make you up.  I wouldn’t trade you for anything.”

And my answer is true.  If given a choice – turn in the happy memories and be pain-free or keep the memories and suffer – I’d pick the latter any day.

A Gift For Us

Posted by Danny

Today would have been Lisa’s 41st birthday.  I’m on a cruise – I just can’t face these days at home.

But I think that she has given me a gift on this, her birthday.

On February 14, 2010, Lisa wrote me a Valentine’s Day card.  It was ten days before she died. 

For some reason, I did not open it that night.  She was sick and I just never got around to it.  In fact, I didn’t decide to open it until the day after her funeral.

When I sat in my chair in the den and opened the red envelope, I was scared that I was going to be disappointed.  That perhaps she would have just signed her name.

I was not. 

It wasn’t a long card, but it was the most beautiful, selfless thing I’ve ever read.

I have written that I have very little guilt associated with Lisa’s death.  I think I did all that I could – and perhaps I have that clear conscience because she wrote that in this card. 

It was a message from the one I loved who told me not to worry, not to feel responsibility for the outcome of her disease – that I had done all that I could do.

It was a  get out of jail card from the only person who could issue such freedom. 

Although I was totally unprepared for Lisa’s death, my wife knew she was going to die and wasn’t about to let that keep the rest of us from living.  Instead of resentment toward those who were able to stay behind, she showered them with love and offered us an invitation to move forward without her. 

She gave us the gift of a clear conscience; she gave us the gift of a guilt free future.

Happy Birthday Baby.  And thank you.

Sunday Post 13: Where IS the Dang Mop?

Posted by Danny

I think I’m a pretty selfish person.  In fact, “think” is not really the right word.

I remember early on in our marriage when Lisa and I found the thing that was going to be our issue.  On Saturdays, I would wake up at 9 ready to tackle the world!  I’d drink my coffee, make my list and get to work.  I would even include “Make a list” on my to do list just so I’d have one more thing to cross off.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Lisa, on the other hand, did not enjoy spending her Saturdays marking things off my list.  Quite the contrary.  She wanted to watch Beverly Hills 90210  reruns.  She’d curl up on the couch with a diet Dr. Pepper and watch Kelly, Donna, Brandon and Dylan play out the same old tired scenes week after week. 

I’d come in the house, slam a few doors, leave the list on the table (with a marker just in case SOMEONE wanted to wash the car or something) and ask Lisa a question to try to stir her.  “Have you seen the lawn mower?”

“I haven’t.  Have you checked the garage?  That’s where it usually is.”

“What about the mop?  When I finish mowing I guess I’m going to mop the kitchen –  since it’s on the list.”

“Suit yourself.  I think it’s on the back porch where you left it after you mopped last weekend.  You sure do mop a lot.”

“Errr.”

Finally, after a year or two of brewing up frustration with my wife because I was carrying the full Saturday load, I exploded!

“I do ALL the work around here!  How can you just sit there on a Saturday while I work my behind off keeping this place up and running?  I’m sick of it.  And I don’t appreciate it.”

Oh – I really told her. 

“Well, I don’t appreciate you getting me up early on Saturday and planning my entire weekend with stuff that I have absolutely no interest in doing.  I do not like yard work.  I do not want to clean all day.  I work hard Monday through Friday and I plan to chill on Saturdays.  I need some down time.  Why don’t we get a maid and spend more time together?”

“Well, that’s just fine.”

I told her again!  We’ll see what happens now.  I was skeptical about finding one, paying for one and her ability to be REALLY committed to the cleanliness of our house.

But my wife found a maid. 

And… we spent more time together on Saturdays.  And I learned to enjoy savoring my coffee and reading the paper with my wife in the bed – which is why I can remember all of the characters’ names in 90210.

I wish I had learned those lessons two years earlier – the lessons of compromise, listening and realizing that my wife just attacked Saturdays (and some other things in life) differently from me and that was ok.  I didn’t have to have it MY way.  There was a way for both of us to win.

Just think of all my wasted hash marks on my pointless to do lists.

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