Like everyone else these days, I am infatuated with Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple from HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ show. Now, those who know me, are probably gasping at this harsh reality–their cute, affectionate and Disney-rated wholesomeness towards each other would normally make me break out in hives and nausea. This is true. I stumbled upon the show back in 2015 when essentially, it seemed another renovate and flip show that I can’t stand to watch…but the aesthetic of the homes they created sucked me in.
Next thing I know, I am a ‘fan’. I absolutely adore the fact that these two are, for lack of better words, NICE to each other. Yep, a marriage where they not only get along, but seem to genuinely like each other. Who knew?! Of course, when I watched episodes here and there, I confidently stated that it can’t be ‘real’ and that something will come out in the media they are nasty or controlling or cheaters…something to make them resemble the rest of us. That sounds harsh, but let’s be real, here. How many of us were nodding smugly when Taylor Swift was exposed as just another fake, lying celebrity who was not as wholesome and sweet as she portrayed? You may not like “Kimye”, but they sure did put that blonde thing on notice. Funny thing happened with the Gaines’s, though. I went from having my doubts about this ‘cheesy couple’ to actually looking forward to watching their banter and their work ethic that included all four of their kids (and goats! Did I mention they had goats? Sold). Over the past couple of years something so subtle happend to me -I became nicer. When you look at it that way, it seems a bit weird. Who ‘becomes nice’ these days?
Maybe it has to do with getting older, but hitting the famed 40’s has found me changing on many fronts. Becoming nice was not one I expected. This sarcastic, biting, honest but bitchy woman scoffed at ‘nice people’. Hell, ‘shy people’ gave me the creeps and I couldn’t even like birds because you just can’t trust those shifty fuckers. To cement this fact about myself, I married a man who radiates sarcasm and silent treatments (these are often unintentional as he just doesn’t like to talk), and who is emotionally bankrupt. Together, we have mastered the art of biting remarks, sarcasm bordering on insult and the ability to ignore each other, both emotionally and physically. To hear me say this was the ideal relationship you would probably think I border on insanity. Reading it put so simply, I think I might be ready for the psych ward myself…but knowing what I do now, I am also ready to admit that during the last few, heart wrenching years of our marriage we have stumbled upon many aspects of our relationship that just don’t work anymore. I stumbled upon the fact that I truly want to be just be nicer to each other. Sounds simple. It isn’t.
Watching Chip and Joanna on Fixer Upper, and reading their blog, I have realized the key to a strong marriage is genuine friendship. I have always stated that successful relationships are not built on love, but rather, respect. You cannot love someone without respecting them. These two mutually work together. When we respect someone, our behavior towards them is kind and generous. Love is a loose word used to describe actions that are not always kind. Love is also mistaken for emotions we feel at different times and towards different people. Love is fickle and can fade. But respect and friendship, true companionship, weathers the storms with mutual understanding, patience and graciousness. Perhaps, because life (ultimately, social media) has become so chaotic and ugly, and we see far too much hate and violence, we just want to get back to the simple feeling of being cared for. The feeling of being loved and mutually respected. Maybe we just want to reach out and show our loved ones we care about them. Slowly, the dynamics of my marriage have begun to change, and although the quick wit and sarcasm will always be there (shoot me if it goes away!), I have noticed that my husband and I are actually nicer to each other. The surprising gift that has been brought to our home, is that we seem to talk more, do more, and even help each other more.
It is great to have a twisted sense of humour and to be able to rely on quick sarcasm to get through dark times, but it is also comforting, I have learned, to have someone beside you who will rub your back if you’re sore, and to hold your hand if you need it.
I wish nothing but great things for the Gaines’ and their new ventures, and I will always be a fan. I would like to thank them for allowing me the possibility of learning something new about myself. Thank you for teaching me that it is okay to be ‘nice’.