There are quite a few people who have come to know me as the guy behind Marty’s Marriage Tips. These are very unofficial, sloppily put together memes, meant to bring humor to our relationship struggles. My experience in this area, together with an understanding and determined partner in my wife Teri, we have worked through the bump and grind that is a marital relationship, successfully, for 30+ years. (Ha, ha, ha, I said “bump and grind”.) It hasn’t always been pretty, as you will find out if you keep checking in, it has been a little tough sledding at times, and I am guilty of making some of the most obvious bonehead moves a married partner can make. However, I do have a good sense of humor, a fairly strong ability to communicate even in the worst of situations, and somehow despite my missteps we have been able to land on our feet through every difficulty.
I also worked for almost 20 years as a relationship manager working with Wisconsin Public School Districts bringing financial education to staff members. This during the tumultuous time of “Act 10” in Wisconsin. If you are just hearing about this, Act 10 removed Collective Bargaining for all public employees and brought in some extreme changes to the employment rules and retirement benefits. I was at the forefront of trying to help those whose world had been turned upside down overnight. But more notable, I had to approach District Administrators and local school boards for permission to bring this education to their staff’s, when they had been given the keys to “get even” for 30 years of collective bargaining in which they feel they had been regularly punched in the throat by the same union I worked with.
I was also a high school football coach, almost 20 years, 11 as an assistant and 9 as a head coach. While this in itself isn’t particularly notable, it might be how I spent those head coaching years. Along with some great supporting folks, (more on those guys later) as a head coach we took over two different teams during those 9 years who had not won a game the previous year and within 3 seasons we had them either in the playoffs or on the brink of a playoff game. Even more noteworthy, at one of those stops I was the head coach at Weston School District. During my time there we experienced something I hope no one ever has to go through again. 7 Minutes before the start of the school day, a Homecoming Friday, one of our Senior football players Erik Fichtel, died in a car crash on the way to school, and then as the school day started another student came in with two firearms and ultimately took the life of a great man, high school Principal John Klang. At some point you will learn more about these experiences from this blog, but they taught me many things about empathy, the value of time together, and making the best of every opportunity.
You are finding this in the Ridge and Valley Tours Blog because we are all about “Telling Our Local Story”. If you have also been following along you will have noticed we are all about the people. We are believers that we are all in this together to tell each other’s story and make this an experiential relationship between our farm and business partners and our participating clients. We want to get to know you and we want you to meet and relate with all of us.
If you are still reading this solely for the humor, you might be disappointed, I will share moments of very tragic and intense sincerity. If you are reading this for only serious marital, or relationship guidance, you might get annoyed by the moments of humor. However, I argue one of the important characteristics of a person who can commit to, and successfully navigate, a long-term relationship is they have a strong self-deprecating sense of humor. Don’t take yourself so serious that you can’t make fun of yourself or you run the risk of not being vulnerable or approachable and setting up a situation in which your business/marital/or other relationship partner will also be afraid to be real with you.
So as you read this, and I hope in the future, we have to agree to a couple of things:
#1. I am not an expert, I just have a ton of relationship experience in marriage, in business, and in friendships. I can tell you exactly what not to do and sometimes I can even tell you what you should do. But this is all through experience, I don’t have a degree, I don’t have a certification, but I have some interesting personal experience in dealing through stressful situations and building positive relationships.
#2. Relationships are fluid, I don’t think this will happen, (Marty’s Note: I am an insurance/investment guy so everything to me is “what is the probability of this happening” and I give this a less than 1% chance of coming to pass) but it is possible that by the time you read this my wife of 30+ years may have dumped me. All relationships are constantly changing, evolving, growing wether we like it or not. I will address the importance for us to change and evolve together later on, because much like death and taxes…..change among us will happen.
#3. You need to agree to be vulnerable in your relationships. This doesn’t mean you lay down and let your partner run over you, it means you have to be comfortable with yourself and do not attempt to hide your flaws by aggressive overcompensation through talk or actions. One example, If you are a poor day-to-day money manager, admit it, don’t try to take excessive control of the day-to-day finances to hide the weakness from your partner. That will only exacerbate the problem when it is found out,,,,and trust me from experience, it will be found out. (Or so a friend told me? 🙂
#4. Respect your partner’s admitted weakness and their trust in you when they are vulnerable. This is the old Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. All of the work we do to build a relationship, to improve that relationship and to build trust, can be totally thrown in the garbage with a few ill thought-out comments. Be sensitive to a partner’s vulnerabilities and their process of admitting they exist.
I hope you continue to follow, I also hope you read these particular entries and at some point say, “Dang, that just spoke to me and helped me understand where I am struggling.” I also hope at some point I bring that laugh you needed, just at the right time you needed it. I would also love to see you join us in person on a tour and meet some pretty awesome people.