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Advice About Marriage For Unmarried People

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Next Wednesday my wife and I will be celebrating our first anniversary as a married couple; and as I’ve reflected on the past year as a married man I’ve come to realize just how much I’ve learned and grown as an individual in this relatively short amount of time. It also made me realize just how ignorant I was beforehand. As I write this, my little sister is planning her own wedding in December, which I will be officiating. My future brother-in-law proposed on Christmas day, and they’ve already booked the location for the ceremony, the reception, the bartender, the D.J., and have gone shopping for the dress. When I hear how much money this will all end up costing them, not to mention how much they’ve already spent, it just makes me glad that my wife and I chose to elope.  That’s the thing about marriage- so much emphasis is put on the day, that more often than not you don’t really think about what comes after (beyond the honeymoon).  Well, dear reader, allow me to share a few nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gleaned about marriage over the past year. I’m far from an expert, but these are just a few things that I’ve learned.

  1. Don’t Wait for Perfection.
    Movies, television, and music have done a really great job of painting a picture of what they think love and marriage should look like. Unfortunately that picture is, like the models in magazines, a doctored up fabrication. Love and marriage isn’t a perfect fairytale. There are only two perfect things in this world- God and The Empire Strikes Back, so if you’re holding out for that perfect love as described in a  Marvin Gaye song you’ll end up a lonely, bitter old man/woman whose gone nose deaf to the stench of your hundred cats.
  2. Wait for the Perfect Person for You.
    No, this isn’t a contradiction. We’ve been so indoctrinated by media by what we think love should be that sometimes it can cause us to miss that perfect person for us. My wife is not “perfect”.  She doesn’t look like a supermodel. She doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight or fart rainbows. She has her faults just like everyone else. That said, she’s perfect for me. To me, she’s the most beautiful person on the planet.  She puts up with my crap with saintly compassion and patience and loves me for who I am, faults and all. She’s my best friend. Do we love all of the same things? No. We certainly share common interests, but she has things that she enjoys that I don’t care for and vice-versa. We compliment each other. Trust me, you don’t want to marry a carbon copy of yourself. You want to find someone that brings balance to your life, and that means that there has to be some differences. Those differences help you to stretch your boundaries and grow as a person. So do yourself a favor and check your expectations at the door. Had I measured my wife up against the expectations of those love songs, television shows, and romantic comedies I might have missed out on the best thing that ever happened to me.
  3. Marriage Doesn’t Solve Problems, It Compounds Them.
    For some reason people think that once you get married all of those problems that you faced as a single person will magically disappear. They don’t. There’s a reason that the phrase “and they lived happily ever after” only shows up in fairytales. When you get married not only do you still have a lot of the same problems that you did when you were single, you now have all of your partner’s problems to face as well. That’s not even counting all the new ones that you’ll acquire as couple (and trust me, problems don’t wait for the honeymoon to be over). The bright side is you no longer have to face that stuff alone. When you’re with the right person, you’ll find that you’ve always got someone to help share the load, and that can make a world of difference.
  4.  In the Hierarchy of Family, Your Spouse Comes First. Always.
    If you’re very lucky you’ll have in-laws that are awesome people that welcome you to the family with open arms and a hug. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Maybe your parents don’t like the person you’ve chosen for whatever reason. That can be a really difficult and awkward situation (especially during the holidays); but ultimately that’s not your problem, it’s theirs. Your spouse should always come first. They are your partner in life and they outrank everyone else- even mom and dad. Yes, that includes the kids as well. This may not be a popular opinion, but hear me out. Your children will (eventually) grow up, leave the house, and hopefully start a life and family of their own. Your spouse (ideally) is going to be there for the rest of your life. As I’ve already said, you’re partners, and that means you always support your spouse (especially in front of the kids). If you disagree, you do so in private. Of course, this is predicated by the assumption that you and your spouse are both doing what’s right by the children. If abuse is involved, in any form, all bets are off. You have to protect your kids (and yourself).
  5. Don’t Fight Angry
    Conflict is inevitable. It happens no matter how well you get along or how lovey-dovey and starry-eyed in love you are. It. Will. Happen. Any time you live with another person things are going to end up annoying you. You’re going to eventually disagree. You’re going to eventually do something stupid to piss each other off. You can’t always prevent it from happening, but you can control how you react when it happens.  In my experience, the absolute best thing you can do whenever it happens, if at all possible, is to take a time out.  Go for a walk. Take a drive. Run an errand. Even just go lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes. Do whatever you need to do to get some distance from the situation,  cool off and really look at why you’re upset. In the heat of the moment it’s very easy to turn something that is relatively not a big deal into something huge where things might be said that you’ll regret. If you take the time to cool off and really look at why you’re angry, I’ve found that you’ll often be surprised at what you’ll find. My wife and I rarely fight at all, but a majority of the time when she’s done something to upset me my reaction has been more about me- either my hang ups, or because I was frustrated by other things and what she did just added tipped the scale- than it had to do with what actually happened. By taking a little time to calm down and then talk to her in a more rational manner, we’ve managed to avoid a lot of grief.
  6. Give More Than You Take
    That old saying that “it’s better to give than to receive,” I’ve found, is very true in a marriage. I enjoy taking care of my wife. I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that I’ve made her happy. I try to go out of my way to do things that I know might make her life easier, and she reciprocates. It’s not about doing something knowing that you’ll get something in return. It has everything to do with showing how much you love them as opposed to just saying the words. When everyone is trying to be loving and thoughtful, everyone is happy, feels loved and appreciated.
  7. “Me” Time is Okay
    Having time to yourself, or with friends, is important. While my wife is my best friend and I love spending time with her, I also need time to myself (away from the house and the kid) every once in a while. She enjoys having “girl’s night” out with her friends a couple times a month.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other. What it does mean is that we’re individual people who occasionally have different interests and don’t want to always be joined at the hip.  Remember, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and nothing will expedite getting on each others nerves more than to spending every waking moment with each other 24/7.   We all need a little space sometimes.

    What about you? If you’re married, what would you add to the list? Feel free to comment below.

    J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novels The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

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Down With the Thickness: Writing, Family Life, and Dealing with Depression

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It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and actually wrote something. My last blog post was in September. Before that I’d only done one other post for the entire year, which makes me incredibly ashamed of myself. I’ve toyed with edits on my new novel off and on, but I haven’t sat down and really tried to write since I got married. I’ve been telling myself it’s because I’ve been adjusting to my new life as a stay-at-home dad. It’s been an experience and my kid can be a handful. That’s true, but it’s not the real reason that I haven’t been writing. It’s taken me months to really nail down exactly what my problem has been, but for the past few days I’ve come to the realization that I haven’t been writing because I’ve been struggling with depression and thus have been actively avoiding writing, or really anything that requires motivation and a sense of self worth outside of the things that I HAVE to do.

That realization surprised me.

Struggling with depression is nothing new for me. I’ve battled it my entire life. For years I couldn’t go more than a month or two without depression rearing it’s ugly head, and a few times a year those funks would dip low enough where suicidal thoughts would come and go as well. The thing is I haven’t had a bout of depression that bad in over a year. I had honestly thought that I may have finally slayed the beast once and for all once I got married. For as long as I can remember the one thing that I’ve wanted more than anything was to get married and have a kid. I always felt like that achievement would be the crown jewel in my life. It’d be the key to my happiness and once it happened all the feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and all that other junk that depression likes to torment me with would all be rendered moot.

In a lot of ways I was right.

I’m happier now than I’ve ever really been in my life. I don’t feel lonely anymore. I don’t feel completely worthless or like I’m unlovable. My wife is the most loving, supportive, and understanding woman I could ever hope to find. My kid is an adorable, smart, hyperactive, spoiled pain in the arse and I love him more than I thought it was possible to love another human being. The fact that he isn’t my “blood” doesn’t factor into it at all for me. He is my son in every way that matters and both he and his mother are the answers to decades worth of prayers, wishes, and hopes. I couldn’t ask for a better family.

Which is why this current bout of depression has caught me by surprise. The depression has evolved. This time it didn’t attack me in the way it used to. Before, depression would come on hard and fast and put me on my ass for days. The world would go dark; I’d be a moody pain in the ass; and after a few days I’d emerge exhausted mentally and emotionally, but generally intact. But all of the old stuff that it used to use against me doesn’t work too well anymore, so it’s found new avenues to attack that are more subtle. In fact, I think it’s been something that I’ve been struggling with for months and I just didn’t fully recognize it for what it was until now.

Getting married hasn’t eradicated my insecurities or made the world a perfect place. My wife and I have had several very stressful things we’ve had to struggle with already. That’s just life. We’ve gotten through them together and we haven’t let those things affect our relationship. In fact, it’s only made our relationship stronger. That’s how marriage is supposed to work. That said, while the old insecurities may have been hammered down by the love of my new family, new ones have taken root and sprouted to take their place.

I have medical issues. They’re issues that are genetic and thus they are issues I’ll have to deal with for my entire life. They’ve caused a lot of physical problems, problems that have gotten progressively worse in the last couple of years.  As a result I’m unable to do much in the way of physical activity, I’m in constant pain, and I’m unable to work.  The dynamic in our house is my wife works full time and I stay home and take care of our little Tasmanian devil. I try to do things around the house: take care of the dishes, keep the house from being a complete disaster area, cook on the days my wife works, etc. I can’t do everything I want to do. I get tired and my body rebels on me after only short bouts of activity, so something that normally would take maybe ten minutes might take me half an hour or better. In a given day if I’m able to empty and load the dish washer, make dinner, and keep our kid from doing something that might hurt himself or others I call it a win. I’m not writing all this to throw myself a pity party or to garner sympathy. I’m just providing a bit of perspective.

I know that times have progressed. Gender roles aren’t what they used to be. I know that it is just as okay for me to be a househusband and stay at home dad as it was for wives to be housewives and stay at home moms. I know that having my wife bringing home the majority of our income doesn’t make me less of a man. I know that my wife understands my physical limitations and that she knows that I do the best I can with what I’ve got to work with, and that I work hard to provide for her in other areas to make up for what I lack in being able to help in the physical ones.

I KNOW all of this. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still bother me. That doesn’t mean that depression can’t use it as ammunition to assault me, and it has, because I was wrong.

The “war” with depression that I thought I won wasn’t the real war at all.  I’ve realized what anyone who has battled depression all their lives can tell you- it’s what Superman would describe as a “neverending battle”. Once you win one skirmish the enemy will find something new and attack again. It’s a war that you only win when you’re on your deathbed surrounded by your family and other people who love you and you realize that despite it you still lived a full and mostly happy life. It’s a war that you win by refusing to let IT win. Now I’m in a new battle with depression, but now that I’m aware of how it’s attacking, with the help of my loved ones, I’ll win this one too. Then it’ll be something else, but that’s okay. I have a family and friends that love me. I have a dream of becoming a published author.

I have things worth fighting for.

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re struggling in the neverending battle yourself. Maybe you’re in the thick of it and it’s hard to see around you. Maybe it’s hard to focus on what you have to fight for. Just know that you aren’t alone and that the only way you lose the battle is if you give up and let it win. Don’t give it the satisfaction.

Carry on.

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Independance Day Sale: All Kindle Editions of Books $0.99!

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From Tuesday 7/02/13 until Monday 7/08/13 all of the Kindle editions of our novels will be just $0.99! Now is the time to pick up any that you might have missed!Just click on the covers or links below to purchase!

1. Down With The Thickness: Viewing The World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective

Genre: Non-Fiction Autobiography

Description: Regardless of body type, there are experiences that we all, as human beings, share and sometimes the key to overcoming the more difficult of those experiences is to look at things from a fresh point of view, with humor, or even to realize that there are other people out there that have been there and survived. I’ve dealt with depression, suicide, and being a morbidly obese guy living in a world about two or three sizes smaller than me. The following book is my perspective and opinions on things like life, relationships, and religion. I don’t profess to have all the answers, I just hope that someone somewhere out there might read this and be touched in some way.

Preview: Sample Chapter

Purchase: Click here for Paperback, Click here for Kindle.

2. You Only Die Twice (An Authentic Clay Colt Adventure#1)

Genre: Urban Sci-Fi/Detective

Description: Clay Colt and his partner Evelyn Wood are private investigators that sometimes have to do less-than-legal things to make ends meet. All that changes the day they see Clay’s dead Kharta’an friend tearing apart downtown Buenos Aries on the news. That dead friend was the son of the Executor of the Kharta’an Empire, the greatest warriors in the galaxy, and to the Kharta’an desecration of the dead is considered an act of war. Someone is using technology to reanimate the dead and Clay, as the the Kharta’an’s chosen agent, has just 48 hours to uncover the truth and find those responsible in order to prevent an intergalactic war where Earth will be ground zero.

Preview: Sample Chapter

Purchase: Click here for Paperback; Click here for Kindle

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3. The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 (The Chronicles of Enoch #1)

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Description: There has been a war raging between Heaven and Hell for the fate of all creation, and the forces of Heaven are losing ground. The Enemy has discovered something that may tip the balance of the war in their favor, and now it’s up to Jude, the absentee leader of the warrior-priesthood known as the Chosen, and his new trainee Paul, to rally the disjointed forces of Heaven on Earth and find the source of this new threat. If they fail, it will mean that the forces of Hell will be free to run rampant across the Earth, ultimately leading to Armageddon and the end of all things. In the war between Heaven and Hell heroes are not made… they’re Chosen.

Preview: Sample Chapters

Purchase: Click here for a Kindle; Click here for Paperback

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4. The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 2 (The Chronicles of Enoch #2)

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

There is a traitor in the ranks, and unless Jude, leader of the Chosen, can find and stop them, they could tear the already-fractured forces of Heaven apart from the inside. Meanwhile, Paul has accepted Jude’s training but he quickly comes to question whether he’ll survive it. His concern is only magnified by Mary’s prophetic dreams, which are growing more intense and seem to focus on Paul, but could they hold the key to stopping the cultists? Armageddon is at hand, and if Jude and Paul don’t learn to work together and stop the cultist rituals from taking place it could mean the end for us all. In the war between Heaven and Hell heroes are not made…they’re Chosen.

Purchase: Click here for Kindle; Click here for Paperback

justsuperfont4. Just Super

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Description: There is something very different and very special about Keith Green- he has “super powers.” Keith Green also has only six months to live because those powers are slowly killing him. This is the story that reporter Sam Daylin is hired to chronicle, as Keith spends the last six months of his life trying to use his powers to help people and change the world as the its first “superhero”. However, the more that  his illness begins to affect him, the more erratic Keith begins to act. The world’s first superhero could become the world’s greatest threat, and Sam Daylin may be the only person who is in a position to stop him.

Preview: Sample: Chapter 1, Sample: Chapter 5

Purchase: Click here for Kindle;  Click here for a paperback.

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The Chosen Rebirthing- A Dream Realized & A Promise Fulfilled

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I was going back through my old files and notes the other day and I found notes for Chosen that dates back as far as 2004. I started on the first draft of The Chosen in late 2003 while Mark Ruelius and I were working on what we thought would be our first novel, Reaper (very original, I know). It was supposed to be  a sprawling sci-fi epic that would span multiple novels. We’d spent over a year just on background info, fleshing out the characters, coming up with the various worlds and aliens, and at that point we were about 30,000 words into a rough draft. I had just been through an ordeal with a church I had worked for followed very closely by the church I grew up in splitting, so I was in a pretty unhappy place as far as religion was concerned. I was frustrated, and as I usually do when I’m frustrated, I started writing. I didn’t have a plan or an outline. I just wrote. I kept on writing for three days, not once stopping to actually think about what I was writing or where it was going. All I knew was it was therapeutic for me and I was having fun, so I didn’t really care. At the end of those three days I had something resembling a very rough draft for a story.

I didn’t think Mark would like it. We’d had plenty of conversations about religion. At the time I was a minister so, given how closely we were working together, discussing the topic was inevitable. Mark was not a fan of religion in general due to what he’d described as “bad experiences” growing up. Given that the topic of Chosen was religion, I figured he’d scoff at me and tell me to get back to work on our real project. Imagine my surprise when the next day I got a message from him saying that not only did he love the concept, he thought we should abandon the book we’d spent well over a year working on and focus on writing Chosen instead.

For those first few years Chosen, like the previous project, was planned out and written entirely by way of e-mail and instant messaging. Mark and I had met in an online forum, originally, and through consequent conversations over instant message we’d discovered that we both wanted to be writers. We’d known each other online for a few years before we started writing together, and at the time neither of us has had regular access to a phone where we could talk privately. Yes kids, back in the day not all of us had cell phones with unlimited minutes, a web browser, and a freaking GPS system. After a while it become sort of a challenge to see if we could write a whole novel without having actually met in person or spoken on the phone. We thought it’d make a fun anecdote once the book was finished. It wasn’t until I broke my ankle in 2007 and had to spend two weeks in the hospital that Mark and I finally talked to each other on the phone. Once that dam had been broken we spoke every day for hours, not counting the random texts throughout the day. We’d grown very close, and helped each other through quite a few rough times. We weren’t just business and creative partners anymore; we’d become best friends, and in the last few years of Mark’s all-too-short life, like brothers.

mark3(Mark Ruelius, 2008)

The entire time, through life throwing us curve ball after curve ball, through medical problems, family problems, unemployment, & depression we worked on The Chosen and we kept each other going. “Carry on”, which you’ve seen mentioned in just about all of my novels, became our mantra, taken from the Kansas song Carry On My Wayward Son.  It was a daily reminder to each other that we weren’t alone, that we had each other for support, and that we would get through all the crap that was going on and we’d realize our dream of becoming published authors. The Chosen had become more than just a fun side-project, it became a symbol of hope for us both that our lives could, and would, get better.

Mark didn’t get to see that dream realized. Mark had been battling diabetes since the year we “met.” On January 7th, 2010, he lost that battle.

I was devastated. We had just been discussing us meeting in person for the first time, and coming up with a game plan to make that happen. Instead that trip to see him was under the worst possible circumstances. I took a week off from work and my cousin and I drove up to PA from Memphis, TN to attend his memorial service. It was there that I finally got to meet all the people that I’d heard so much about for over a decade. I got to meet his very sweet older sister, Emily, whom Mark adored. I got to meet Mark’s childhood best friend, Josh, who is just as great a person as Mark always described him. I got to meet “the guys”, the group of friends that Mark regularly geeked out with over comics, nerdy TV series, and movies. One of those guys was Shawn Skvarna, the talented artist who has done the covers for all of my books, and with whom I’m creating a comic, Failsafe. Shawn and I have since become close friends ourselves, in much the same way that Mark and I had all those years ago.

the guys(“The Guys”. From the left: Jeremy, Shawn, Mark, Matt, & Kevin)

Given the nature of our partnership, being as long distance as it was, Mark and I had actually talked about what we’d do if something ever happened to the other before the book was done. We’d promised each other that the surviving writer would finish the book and get it published, whatever it takes. Thankfully, when Mark passed the book itself was pretty much done. Mark had been in the process of doing his editing pass over the final few chapters that I’d worked on, and then we were going to get a friend to edit. It took me about a year after his death before I could even look at the manuscript. When I finally was able to face looking at the project again, my cousin, Cathy Holder, volunteered to edit it for me, with Shawn pitching in by agreeing to design the cover. The Chosen is a long book. Very long. Over 700 pages long, so when it came time to publish it was decided it’d be best to split the book into two parts so that the paperback versions wouldn’t be the size of a Buick and cost about as much. Cathy edited the first half and I published it last October. Now, after a few life issues caused a delay, the second, final part of that story that we started over ten years ago is finally available.

I can’t overstate how important this is to me. I’ve published three other books, not counting the first part of Chosen, but this has been the most important, because this is not just another book for you to read, but it’s a symbol of a dream accomplished and me keeping a promise I made to one of the most important people in my life. It may not become a best seller and skyrocket us to fame and fortune like we’d always hoped/dreamed, but it is a testament to the life we’ve lived and the tenacity we had to keep carrying on, no matter what was thrown at us. It’s a product of something that Mark and I did together. It’s the only completed work that Mark, who really was a brilliant writer, was able to do. It has been a cornerstone for almost my entire adult life.

When my own time comes and I look back on what I hope is a long career as a writer The Chosen: Rebirthing may not be the best book I’ve worked on/will work on, but it will always be the most special, the most important  to me. I sincerely hope that you’ll read it and that you’ll share it with those that may be important to you. I hope that you come to see, as I did, just how talented and special a man Mark was. Most of all, I really hope you enjoy this product of our creative efforts.

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To purchase the Kindle version of The Chosen Rebirthing Part 1 please click here. For a paperback copy please click here.

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To purchase a Kindle version of The Chosen Rebirthing Part 2 please click here. For a paperback copy please click here.

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So Many Feels!

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Moments ago I hit the save button for the final time on part 2 of The Chosen Rebirthing. It is the second half of the novel that Mark Ruelius and I wrote together over the course of ten years, the first half of which I published last fall. As I did so the Man of Steel theme kicked in on my iTunes- epic win. I hope to have Part II available, finally, on Monday. A huge thanks to Cathy Johnson Holder for editing this beast for me, and for Shawn Skvarna for once again helping me with getting the cover done even though he’s got 40 million other things he’s trying to do right now. To put this into perspective (as to why it has taken so long)  the length of this second half is almost as long as my last two published novels combined. Yep, we really swing for the fences the first time out. No wonder it took us a decade. Keep an eye out here and I’ll let you know officially when it’s available.

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Announcement: The “Holy Crap, We Need Exposure” Sale! All Digital Books $0.99!

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Yes that’s right! We need to get our name out there! Starting Monday (4/15/13) through Sunday (4/21/13) all digital copies of our books will be $0.99! So for all you procrastinators out there (and judging by our books sales, that means most of you) now is the perfect time to try out a book or three…or four. Please help spread the word! Tell your friends! Tell your enemies! Tell that weird guy giving you the stink-eye on the metro! This sale will last for this week only!

Don’t forget, those who purchase Just Super have a chance to participate in our Just Super Sweepstakes! Entries are due by May 3rd!

You can read descriptions, preview chapters, and find links for all of our books here.

Don’t own a Kindle? No problem! The Kindle App is a free download for all smartphones, tablets, and computers (PC and Apple).

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UPDATE: Thickness and You Only Die Twice Paperbacks Are Available

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Just a quick update. Both Down with the Thickness and You Only Die Twice paperbacks are once again available and actually have page numbers!

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