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My Married Life: Are You Complaining Your Way through Your Relationship?

I just read this great article on the Huffington Post by Russell Bishop about complaining versus doing. The article struck a nerve (or 20) because I myself am a total complainer. Self-diagnosed. No arguments here. And I’m not just a complainer in my own life -- I’m a complainer in my marriage, too (and if you’ve been reading this blog, you probably already know that).

My theory: I get away with complaining so much because I'm funny. But most of my best "material" is just well-packaged complaints. If you can complain and be funny at the same time, people don’t mind so much (right, Jack?). And I actually do do a lot -- I just don’t do quite as much as I complain. But here’s the deal: Complaining is not doing.

While you marinate in that novel fact, read this excerpt from Bishop’s story:

“That's when I discovered a life-changing awareness: complaints are signs of something preferred, but not being risked.… As long as I hang out in my complaints, I get to keep imaging that not only do I want better, but that I deserve better. And I also get to pretend that I would do better, ‘if only.’ If only they would just get out of my way and let me run things, boy would things be better around here.”

So let’s talk about marriage, shall we? Jack and I complain to each other all the time. Only we don’t call it that. We call it venting. As in, “I don’t need advice, I just need to vent.” Some nights, complaining is the only thing we do together. We get home from work, often around 9:30, and do a quick inventory of how each other’s days went.         
           
                                                              
Jack: It was hard.
Moi: It was long.

Okay, I’m paraphrasing a bit, but you get the picture. Super sexy, right? We may have already eaten separately -- or we may be too tired to care about eating at all. In any case, one of us will often say, as we collapse into bed, “We need way more romance.” The other will say, “I know.” Then, "Zzzzzzzzzz." So right now, as busy as I might be, I am going to step outside and call my husband to ask him out on a date. No word on whether or not I’ll pass out during said date. But it’s baby steps, right?

So here’s my challenge: Do something (right now) about something in your marriage that you usually just complain about. It can be tiny, it can be major -- whatever. Then, tell us what you did below.

-- Holly

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