Happier Marriages


Last night Keith was cranky and said something that I could have argued with.
He seemed to be trying to pick a fight, I could have thought. I would have thought so, when I was younger.

I don't think he was, but I think he misunderstood something, and was tired, and embarrassed, and said something sharp.

We've been together for over 30 years. Things like that have happened 60 or 100 times, but most of those in the earlier years.

Last night, I could have pushed back, insulted back, brought up other examples, threatened, made an ultimatum. I could have insulted his intelligence or his manhood. I could have compared him to other people his age, or younger. I could have stormed off (wet into the snow, it would've been, because we were in the hot tub). I could have slept elsewhere.

But it wasn't that bad. And it will pass and he will feel better and we can discuss it more rationally later, or maybe never.

The discussion was sbout whether we will stay in the house we're in now, or downsize and move to a smaller house with a bigger yard (room to park old trucks and such) and without any stairs (for when we're older and might not be able to get up and down stairs). I favor stalling. Keith kind of favors moving, but we both go back and forth about it.

In the early 1980's, we both went back and forth about whether to have children or not. Each of us wanted children sometimes, but never at the same time. The first pregnancy was unexpected. We LIKED being parents, and had three children intentionally. (#2 and #3 intentionally)

We will either stay in this house or we will move. Arguing about it can only lead to the call for TWO houses, and I would have a harder time paying for a place to live than Keith would. And I like Keith and would rather be with him somewhere else than by myself here or anywhere else. So the arguing was not productive. Yet in the moment, I could have felt hurt, and could have nursed that hurt, and I could **easily** have caused that moment to flare up into a real argument. I know how to argue. That's simple.

I grew up with a mom who insulted. I watched my parents' marriage fall apart after 23 years. My mom had been 17 when they married. She would rather be married (to the first guy who asked) than stay in her family of origin. Because my parents were separated and I had no family to stay with, I was out on my own early-ish, too. These things aren't true of my own children. The stability of having a home to stay in has seen Kirby move out to Austin (to a job that paid for his move) at 21; Marty taking classes and working while living at home, and moving out to our old house, to rent from us in a few months, at 24; Holly, at 21, still home. That is a luxury, but it's not an accident.

I have another couple of things to share in response posts.
Stand by. :-)



This was posted on Facebook this morning. It's not someone I know personally, but it was in my newsfeed, so there it was, right in my face. It's beautiful.

8 Years ago today I married the love of my life. It took Jorge 3 times & 3-Years of asking me to marry him before I said yes. I was so terrified of marriage because I had never seen a good one. I saw people miserably married and I never wanted that. I am grateful to his persistence because I now know Marriage is beautiful it is not like the notebook, it’s messy and takes lots of work but so worth it.

Thanks to Retrouvaille Jorge and I learned how to have a health marriage because that is not what we grew up as our normal. We have both changed so much since being 21yr old kids in love.Our marriage has taught me that:

Love is giving more than you get,
The importance of Truth and the damage lies can cause,
Communication does not have to be verbal –written dialogue works better for us to communicate because we see the world so different,
Love is being kind to each other when you don’t really like each other,
Staying connected through the routine of life by taking the time to make each other a priority,
Respecting each other because without that all you have is toxicity,
The irreversible damage hurtful words can cause.
Consistency –Trust- Fun- Autonomy-Respect- Being Present—Honesty with Compassion-Allowing Change have made our marriage stronger.

Thank you babe for being strong when I couldn’t, being supportive with all my unconventional ideas, giving our kids freedom- unconditional love and support , doing what you believe is right even when it’s not the popular idea, and most of all working at this marriage with me.

I love you!

Of that whole thing, what stands out to me is "The irreversible damage hurtful words can cause."

We know harsh words hurt children.
Harsh words hurt husbands and wives, too.

Retrouvaille is a marriage retreat weekend thing some people go to when their marriages are in danger. I know a couple (not homeschoolers) who had a GREAT marriage in lots of ways, but the husband got a crush on another woman and said so. They could have worked through it. I recommended Retrouvaille to them immediately (through a friend to whom they were confiding; he told them it was my suggestion, and they know that Keith and I have weathered some challenges and stayed together a long time; they know and like our kids). They said they would have gone to that, if it were nearer in time. It's not that they couldn't afford the money, but they didn't have time to go to one in another state, and the next local one was several months away.

So the wife ragged and ragged about how he should NOT have an interest in someone else, and demanded he take it back or move out (or some such). Their child was more or less 8. That was less than two years ago. They're divorced, both regret it, and it's too late, because too many really cruel things were said that cannot be taken back. The son is angry and wild and sneaky and so the divorced couple has something to argue about for years to come. Each is dating someone (also both people I've known for many, many years), neither as nice as the original other partner. The boy is surrounded by drama, rather than love.



In a discussion on facebook in which I am not involved, I've been misrepresented. My name wasn't used for a long time, and then it was, but it was about me early on.

Someone I know and like wrote this: "There are some unschooling folks who don't think that divorced people can or maybe even ought to unschool. "

I like her a little less for that, because it's damaging to truth and logic.

I'm going to bring another couple of quotes from there, for the record, for people who do care about the potential of peaceful parenting and radical unschooling, and for people who are analytical enough and patient enough to want to consider why it's worth helping others live more happily, too.

-=-There are some unschooling folks who don't think that divorced people can or maybe even ought to unschool.-=-

I don't think ANYONE "ought" to unschool just for the hell of it. It's quite a big deal and a nearly-lifelong commitment. One commits a child to a life of having not gone to school, so in that way, more than a life long. I think those who come to understand unschooling very well ought to do it if they want to.

I could, in the face of pressure from people who are complaining without naming or quoting me, take it back. I could go into that discussion and say "I'm sorry. I DO think that divorced people can unschool."

I could say that, so that half a dozen people would "like me."
I could say that, because I thought those half a dozen people were important.

I can't say that and be honest, because it's not about my opinion one way or the other. If five unschoolers band together and decide that yes, divorced people CAN unschool," would it change any facts?

If FIVE THOUSAND unschooling mothers from all over the world created a petition, website, organization or human chain and said "By All We Hold HOLY, YES, divorced peopel CAN unschool!" would that help?

And by "help," I mean sway an ex spouse who might be divorcing because of unschooling in the first place?
Or by "help," I mean would it persuade a judge who went to school for twenty years and sees horrible examples of neglect and abuse Every Single Day, and puts them in jail thinking that if they had had better parents, maybe, or more education, maybe, they would not be back in court, again, for drugs or petty theft or violence or probation violation or whatever all it is.

When a child lives with his biological parents, the family has a lot of options.
When there is a divorce, many options are gone forever. Gone. Unschooling can be one of them, and has proven to be, many times in the past and very recently. It will prove not to be an option in cases in the future.

When there is a divorce, there is a court. When there is a court, someone else is either approving decisons made by people who don't trust or love each other, who are separating forever (except for the connection they have for sharing a child, or two, or many, so they can't really even separate forever, but are likely to continue to be antagonistic for years after).... either approving the compromises those two have proposed, or rejecting those compromises and coming up with something the judge thinks would be a better idea. And what a judge says a parent "should" do equals what a parent MUST do, to keep custody of the child.

Having a divorce go to court is like being on probation, as a parent, until the children are of such an age that they can decide which parent to go with. Still, they probably won't have the option to choose whether or not to go to school, if the judge has said "school."

That doesn't happen in every case. That COULD happen in any case, even with an intact family, if they're not circumspect and responsible.

I have chosen to spend my volunteer time helping people live lives as strong and peaceful as possible, if they're interested in unschooling. Without that, the unschooling doesn't work very well. But the side effect of many years of these discussions (with others who have contributed THEIR volunteer time) is that marriages can be strengthened, too, by the same ideas that make learning at home work well.

Those criticizing me are not people who have successfully stayed in these discussions a long time, and some are people who have never been in discussions where radical unschooling is examined, and where people are encouraged to care more about their children's comfort and happiness than about their own selfish feelings.



That discussion and the clear way people were talking about you and misinterpreting your words had me shaking my head. 

They bitch and complain about  perceived ideas that were not really hwat has been said here and it sounds like they want to feel they are better . It is like critizicing someone to make them feel like they are doing better.

I has bothered me immensily. 

I am sorry some people like to go on about someone who has made such a difference in so many people's life for the best and make it sound like you are to blame for people being turned off of unschooling.

All I can say is that there is not anywhere online that there is so much clarity like this list.  Unschooling basics is also a good place for people new to unschooling.

This is a place for deep and clear discussion of unschooling ideas and what will help or hinder your unschooling jorney. To treat marriage as something that would not  affect unschooling or even homeschooling does do help  families create a better unschooling nest/home/life.

I never saw Sandra say to anyone to stay in a marriage that is  unsafe and abusive. I have  seen her point out what can help change , strenghten, heal, help your marriage .

I know that going to school would be less damaging for my children that if I divorced my husband Brian.
That does not mean I would stay married to him if he beat me up or abused the kids or our home was unsafe.  It means I should nurture my marriage, that i can used the same principles of partnership towards him that I learned in unschooling my children.

Alex Polikowsky

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


-=-I know that going to school would be less damaging for my children tha[n] if I divorced my husband Brian.-=-

The idea of unschooling should never be more important than the reality of marriage.

If I divorce Keith because I don't have a yacht, I still won't have a yacht.

I'm quoting myself already, to go a different direction:

The idea of unschooling should never be more important than the reality of marriage.

Maybe part of the reason some people seem shocked by my saying things like that is that they see homeschooling as a political action, as an identity, as one of many interests or "causes" that come together as a set. I was asked to help in a situation (by a third party) because someone was an attachment parent, breastfeeding advocate, homeschooler, CSA leader (I had to look up CSA: Community Sustainable Agriculture) and feminist.

None of it was "unschooler." But even if it had been, I'm not running a charity, nor a clearinghouse for charity. That's not to be mean. That's to keep a focus. I spend time every single day on this hobby/work. Sometimes MANY, many hours. Sometimes "only" a couple. If someone gets a divorce or is hospitalized or a cat runs away, that's for their in-person friends to help with, and it shouldn't be a factor here outside of the discussion of how things can be deal with so that learning and peace are taken into consideration (IF the person comes and asks a question here).

So some people could probably read this very quickly and say I don't care whether people are wounded or dying, or whether animals live or die. Some people want to find the "that really pisses me off" in every situation. Some people are involved in politics, and saving wolves/bears, and hating walmart/nestle, and loving or hating religion, and reviling people who eat or don't eat meat/flour/sugar/eggs, and they can't tell that those are separate issues. And they get used to being indignant. The constant in their lives is that they're mad as hell and they're not gonna take it. They go from one topic to another, but the indignation remains.

That degree of anger and negativity can't lead to joy. If all the problems of the world were suddenly solved, that person would find something else to justify their negativity.

If someone sees unschooling as one small part of a big reactive political life, they're probably not going to be interested in subtleties that can improve radical unschooling. They will check the box that they kept their children out of the welfare school, the government lockup, and not consider whether there were transformative ways to deal with learning and parenting. And so it will be easy for them to think that I'm wasting my time, because (to them) not having my kids in school was all that was required for me to be as politically "cool" as they are.

It's not about politics for me. It's about children and learning and parenting.



I read that some people are also promoting leaving their kids alone,  freedom, kids bringing up themselves, abandoned and even neglecting your children.

I would not be reading here if that was what was promoted in  this list.
Is divorce good for unschooling because then you are going to leave your kids alone?

That sounds nothing like what is promoted here which is to create a safe, joyful, happy, peaceful home where unschooling can flourish and with the support and partnership between kids and their parents.

Alex Polikowsky


I'm bringing this, which I posted on my facebook page, because not everyone reads that (good for you; it's way too much), and because it's hard to find things later, on facebook, and easier here. ;-)

Also, there were two typos before and now it can exist in a cleaner, clearer form.

I was being discussed on someone else's page, without being named, but now someone's named me, so I want to clarify a few things.

-=- I do remember seeing something about divorce and unschooling not working a few years ago on Always Learning and it was one of the threads that turned me off of forums. However I know personally a few single parents by choice or who have lost a partner to death and they make unschooling work beautifully. I wonder if the same attitudes are toward them?-=-

Single parents can make unschooling work. Sometimes divorced parents can make unschooling work. Widowed parents very often can make unschooling work, and if they were unschooling before, it can be one of their greatest comforts.

Sometimes a divorce happens because of unschooling.
Sometimes in a divorce, from spite, one parent will prevent the other parent from homeschooling in ANY way. If the parents can't find a workable compromise, then a judge gets to say what will happen with the children. All the positive regard of all the unschoolers in the world isn't going to keep a judge from making the decision he wants to make. Once the courts get involved, unschooling is not as likely to be an option.

That's what I've seen many times. I have seen it work a few times (unschooling after divorce). I have seen it fail to remain an option many more times.

I've never asked someone to shush for saying "I'm divorced." I have asked people not to encourage divorce, and not to shush *me* on my own forum when I'm stating that it is in the possible-to-likely range than an antagonistic divorce will not lead to peaceful unschooling.

People don't need encouragement to endanger their marriages. They can use encouragement to find ways to make their families more peaceful in all kinds of ways.



I think this might be related to the "my parents did X and I came out okay"
line of (faulty) reasoning that people so frequently use to justify hurting
their kids. It might be worth asking whether people who are advancing this
rationalization are children of divorce.


Sandra Dodd <Sandra@...> wrote:
People don't need encouragement to endanger their marriages. They can use encouragement to find ways to make their families more peaceful in all kinds of ways.

And that includes families where there's a divorce - the more you can do to make the whole situation more peaceful, the better it is for everyone involved. That's not easy! But it makes an enormous difference



Meredith wrote this in another topic, and I wanted to repeat the marriage-improving part:

-=-Once, when Ray had first moved back in after a few years of living with his mom and going to school, he asked George why he and I don't yell very often. George said something about talking and working toward solving problems together and Ray noted that was what he liked best about our home - we worked to fix things, rather than complaining and then turning on each other. Home or work or internet, it makes for more peace and warmth and security. -=-

Her original is here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AlwaysLearning/message/70650


Deb Lewis

***And I like Keith and would rather be with him somewhere else than by myself here or anywhere else.***

I have said I’d live in a box under a bridge with David.

I don’t like it here, in Deer Lodge, as much as David does. I didn’t want to move here, but we came for good reasons, including helping my father who was ill. When I start to feel like I’m suffering for living here I imagine what it would be like to be somewhere else without David and I have a new appreciation for my good luck.

Sometimes I get cranky about our house. We bought a fixer up and we haven’t fixed it up. I can focus on the appalling state of our tub and shower or I can think about what we did instead of buying a new shower stall. My mom got a new woodstove when she needed one, firewood for the winter, repairs to her car. I can get grumpy about the old toilets or I can enjoy the music from Dylan’s organs and synthesizers and piano. That’s better than a shiny toilet any day! I hope I never care more about the place I crap than I care about the joyful sound of Take Five, or Chopin’s Funeral March. : )

I have a friend maybe on the brink of divorce. Her husband can do nothing right. She can only see his mistakes and shortcomings. I have reminded her that you see what you look for, but she’s stuck there, looking at the things she doesn’t like. I really like David and I remember that when I’m feeling grumpy about something I think ought to be different. And liking him like I do, I’m happy to make a peaceful life more important than nice furniture or new floors. I really would live in a box under a bridge with him, and how lucky for us we have this little, cozy house instead.

Deb Lewis

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Laurie Wolfrum

--- In AlwaysLearning@..., "Deb Lewis" <d.lewis@...> wrote:
I have reminded her that you see what you look for, ..
I'm reading a book called "enjoy every sandwich" by Lee Lipsenthal and I just read this morning a section on gratitude. Lee writes that "...what you look for is what you find."

To help find more gratitude in life, Lee suggests to keep a bedside notebook and in it each night make a list of three things you feel grateful for that happened that day. The ideas can be simple like "a great meal, a good joke, or just being happy that you ran into someone you liked."

The idea is that after you start doing this, you'll be more inclined to notice the good things because you will be thinking about what you might include in your gratitude list.

Doing that exercise daily is eventually supposed to help people become more optimistic and grateful because they will be focusing on what is right rather than what is wrong.

Another exercise to help relax and think more optimistically that Lee writes about is called "Quick Coherence" (developed by an organization called Heartmath).

1. Breathe very deeply and slowly and think of a positive emotion

(ie. something you are grateful for, people you love, things you love to do, etc. I might think of how I feel when I hold and snuggle one of my children with my face buried into the top of their head just before they fall asleep or when Jim and I hug and feel a deep connection..a deep peaceful love and contentment. Many years ago, my husband used to say he never felt more at peace and at one with the world as when he was surfing. It was almost a religious experience for him. Maybe that could be another example of what kinds of things to think about.)

2. As the long, slow breath is coming in, think of that positive emotion coming in and around your heart.

3. Hold your good thoughts and keep doing your long, slow breaths for about a minute, especially when learning the practice.

According to the book, this exercise is supposed to help retrain your brain to think optimistically and can be used to help stay calm in challenging moments.