Remember, when you were a kid and the people who raised you always had plenty to say? Parents 1 always seem to have loads of advice, right?

You need shoes before you go out!
    Don’t sit so close to the screen!
     Eat your green beans!
      Make sure to brush your teeth!
       Watch where you’re putting your hand!
        Shut the door so you don't heat the outdoors!
         Button up your jacket!

(was it just us or as a kid, did a lot of that parental ‘advice’
seem like relentlessly telling us what to do?)

Of course, in spite of all the instruction parents offer their kids as they grow, most of that advice was more relevant to the present than the future.

That makes sense, since parents are trying first to keep kids alive, breathing, and physically unhurt. Parenting isn’t the easiest thing to do well, so we shouldn’t beat up on ol’ Mom and Dad for having blinders on at times when it comes to teaching today’s essential lesson and neglecting tomorrow’s need-to-know info. 

And yeah, we’d agree that it’s universal and timeless advice to keep warm as a general rule, always protect your eyes, teeth, hands and feet, to save money as and when you can, and to eat healthy throughout your life…

But what about teaching kids valuable knowledge about things they won’t deal with so much until adulthood?

For example, what about marriage?

If you’re anything like we are, your parents did a shitty
job preparing you for marriage.

Let’s not blame our parents 1 too much, though (after all, their parents probably didn’t prepare them either)..

Yes, parents who are married to each other can and do model what a marriage relationship should look like for their children (good examples… and… bad examples). 

And kids DO learn what marriage is supposed to be like from observation of marriage (good AND bad).

But did your parents teach and talk to you about marriage?

   Or love alone?

      Or just lust?

Did you learn about the birds and bees, plus hear all about love…but the “for better or worse” sacred institution of marriage got short shrift?

Our guess is not so much time was spent teaching you what to expect about marriage-- based on our own family experiences and those of friends with whom we’ve discussed these things. 

It seems like parents don’t often explain the massive differences among this interrelated relationship trio of lust, love and marriage-- or prepare the next generation for the likelihood that the powerful grind of time and plenty of situations faced together as a couple can sometimes sand down your sanity and blur the proverbial thin line between love and hate.

After all, most parents aren’t gonna sit a young child down in her beanbag chair and explain how committed couples can claim to be happily married-- and be honest when they say that they love each other-- and yet still not wanna be in the same freaking room some days.

I mean, do you remember as a child a parent saying:

  • “Kiddo, I don’t know whether we’ll all go together later for ice cream. Your Dad and I aren’t talking today. Probably not, though. Go ask him if he’s finished being an asshole, will you?”


  • “Kiddo, I was here for dinner tonight because I loved your Mommy more today than yesterday…yesterday she really ticked me off and I came home after you were in bed.”


  • “Kiddo, one day you’re gonna grow up and decide that nothing gives you more pleasure some days than withholding something they want from a spouse who’s making you furious.” 

You, too, probably don’t have those memories of what men and women battling the stressors of living together, raising a family together, married and committed to each other might at times think to themselves when having a tough day in the relationship. 

And if those things were said, it was probably a moment of pique-- and never was turned into a complete ‘lesson’ for that kid about what marriage can be like-- the good, the great, the bad and the ugly all put out equally on display and for discussion and learning.

That’s a real shame.

And as a couple, frankly, Mrs. and Mr. Cubic Zirconia are committed to our children learning that real life isn’t perfect, that marriage takes work, compromise and sacrifice…but that with the right person, it can be so worth it.

In our experience, most parents don't ‘talk real’ with their kids about marriage

When you’ve been married and divorced three times and your best relationship advice is “please don’t hit your wife”...there’s something missing from that picture.

When you’ve raised a great kid together, living 30 years in the same house, but arranged life so you only had to spend fewer than 1000 hours per year awake in the same room together…do you not think that arrangement is worthy of discussion? 

Unfortunately, whether they married or didn’t marry, divorced, grew closer together or managed to create a life as a couple despite falling out of love…many parents with marriage experience are surprisingly quiet as they wave their grown children off on their wedding days-- leaving them to find their own safe path through the confusing and sometimes treacherous minefield of married life. 

IOHO, that’s like sending kids charging forward into combat, bursting with hormones and heads filled with fairy tale movie expectations about love, only to be knocked repeatedly on the head because Mom and Dad armed their kid for the battle that follows wedding bells with a water pistol and a plastic helmet.

No doubt there’s a newlywed or two-- or *GASP* some not-yet-married ladies and gentlemen-- who will blow up our DMs telling us how our characterization of marriage is BS and their marriage will be friggin’ fantastic, without flaw, frustration or fighting.

That’s fine.

We wrote today’s blog post for the newlyweds-- and those planning soon to be married-- who are firmly in the real world. 

Not for the committed and happily married, yet admittedly long-suffering couples who haven’t killed each other, gotten divorced or gone insane because they already figured this shit out years ago. 

And certainly not for the know-it-all 20-somethings who twitter all day, measure relationships in weeks, and can count on 1 hand the number of people they’ve “dated” who’ve:

  • actually seen their unfiltered photos 
  • spent time with them in real life
  • met their friends and family

Still reading? 


Because we’re about to get real real with you and share a few secrets we think anyone oughtta know as he or she enters the sometimes de-militarized, sometimes quite-militarized zone known as the state of marriage.

Here follows 3 things your parents 1
probably didn’t tell you about marriage, either

(don’t blame them too much though; it’s unlikely your parents learned these things from their parents either. maybe they didn’t get married; maybe they never learned these lessons and thus marriage was a mistake for them; or maybe they were the minority of perfect married pairs who room-mate without occasional rage, raise a family without the occasional feud and fuck but never ever fight).

Thing 1: Diplomacy or Divorce (Get Ready to Negotiate)

Plenty of parents teach their children how to cook a pot roast or to look both ways before crossing the street. 

Yet they tend to avoid instruction on the sexual + cohabitation relationship essential we’ll call the ‘art of diplomacy'. 

Sure, young couples might hear it said that marriage involves some give and take, but where's the instruction about HOW to negotiate?

Like, what’s up for negotiation? (answer: everything)

How do we compromise? (hint: together)

Where and how and how often should we talk about things? (clue: daily)

What decisions should be personal and which should we make together? (opinion: that’s up for negotiation with each couple)

Who should apologize first after an argument? (tip: you should-- because when you’re really in the wrong you’ll actually do it)

What do you do when you learn about what you’d have considered a dating deal breaker he/she presents only after marrying him or her? (answer: give… and then take)

Is it a good idea to give my spouse a “do it or divorce” ultimatum? (waffle: it depends)

And what to do when conflict breaks out to bring your spouse back to the kitchen table to talk things through for everyone to benefit? (advice: come bearing gifts, depending on his/her individual likes: lemonade, chocolate, cookies, wine, coffee-- slap down a tempting gift on that kitchen table of whatever is too tempting to see without him/her wanting some of it)

People who’ve never been married hear or read this stuff
and sometimes they think we’re making it up. 

‘It can’t be that tough’, they think. 

It IS that tough, buttercup.

50+% of all marriages were between people who said “for better or worse, we’re together forever” and when the shit hit, they split.

Some conflict is inevitable in ANY close relationship between just about ANY 2 people with defined roles and who spend a lot of time rubbing against one another in close proximity: boss and worker, athlete and coach, parent and child, business partners, roommates, or two lovers. 

You can’t ‘don’t worry, be happy’ all day and completely avoid all arguments within these relationships.

And for that reason marriage is at least one part war.

If you thought Cold War negotiations were rough, try a few years of marriage! 

We would argue that marriage is pretty much the same thing as that 46 year indirect conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

There’s no open battle most days, weeks or months… but plenty of maneuvering for advantage, and a mutual fear that hostilities could break out at any given moment.

And unless you want your world to be destroyed forever, the efforts of both parties must be focused on maintaining a delicate balance where each side feels powerful, respected, understood, and safe.

Otherwise, mutual destruction in the atomic annihilation of divorce is inevitable.

Don’t believe us?

We wouldn’t have believed it either early on. 

But we’ve been married ourselves through some crazy ups and downs. 

And we’ve since spoken to too many couples married 20, 30, 40, 50 years to sugarcoat this for newly married couples:


Marriage is a war of affection.

      A war of attention.
           And a war of attrition.

And that marriage will not survive without negotiation. 

Negotiating together is how you both get what you want and need short of the bloodshed of open warfare.

We call it “cooperative conflict”. 

In the clash of ideas and opinions, in an environment of love and respect, a couple can decide what’s best for themselves…TOGETHER.

Yet many young married partners find it difficult to enter into negotiations without firing from an arsenal of verbal missiles and dropping demand bombs.

How could they not? 

Their parents probably left them to learn this stuff on their own (if the parents ever knew this stuff to begin with).

Here’s the truth…

  • Most weeks in a marriage will involve a need to compromise. 
  • How well couples compromise will determine the success of their marriage 
  • One’s ability to communicate his or her wants, needs and desires will determine each partner's own personal wellbeing. 

SImple as this: It's not fair for one partner to always have their way. 

The elders who told us that ‘marriage is a give and take’ were right (just not very detailed what the hell that meant).

What do we believe is the kind of granular detail most parents don’t teach their kids about the ‘give and take’ in marriage marriage?

A happy and successful couple in 2023 

  • regularly assigns the chore of who should clean the bathroom when (we vote for couples to a hire a housekeeper
  • discusses when or if kids are welcome in their love story -- premature to any ejaculation that might result in a “ready or not” love child 
  • decides together how to spend money (and how much)-- and holds each other accountable to keeping those decisions mutual
  • negotiates about where they’ll live and talks to the other the same day they consider living somewhere else
  • compromises on where and with whom the family will spend the holidays (the “rotating families plan” you might call it)
  • and much more.

There are a lot of great parents out there who model good marriage behavior for their kids…and Mom and Dad hope they “get it”. 

Kids don’t always get it, though. 

We think they need to hear about some of the conversations, conflicts and decisions that happen behind closed doors

Not everything. 

But enough to know that conflict in a marriage is NORMAL.



If more parents passed along that knowledge, there’d be more successful marriages in each successive generation-- instead of the frequent case of there actually being fewer. 

If you have kids, we implore you to be real with them about the good, the bad and the ugly in marriage-- and how love and conflict can be opposite sides to the same coin (today’s thought for us as parents of young children: surely we can find an age-appropriate way to do that as our kids get older?).

Thing 2: Sex Is Fun…Usually

Many parents are mute with children on the subject of sex. 

It's a basic human function, but unfortunately in many families it’s much more taboo to talk about sex than hear all about bowel movements and their size, color and frequency (we’re especially talking to you, Great Aunt Louise). 

Too often, young adults come of age with a lifetime of knowledge about poop and good bathroom hygiene habits… but these potty prodigies become sex-ready, sex-crazed teenagers who don’t know shit about their own sexuality

And that’s a damn shame, considering pretty much every human being on the planet was created through this process our parents don’t talk much about.

The result is generations of kids that have to learn as they go-- often learning from less-than-positive, less-than-accurate sources about sex-- getting all the fun “facts” of a friendly frick frack from television shows, magazines, older cousins, siblings and friends first experiencing their own fledgling sexual episodes...and of course the woefully inadequate sex education classes you probably remember from school.

That was scary when there were three channels on television and certain magazines had to be purchased by someone showing an adult identification card.

We don’t know about the other parents out there, but the idea of our daughters learning about sex primarily from typing stuff into the yawning chasm of the infinite internet is distressing to say the least.

While parents often offer the obligatory “this is where babies come from” conversation with their kids, our conversations with friends about their own experiences growing up seem to indicate that our parents mostly stopped well short of explaining the real dynamics of sex to their offspring.

     Mom or Dad might have things to say about sex without marriage.

               But not so much to say about marriage without sex.

Yet in our opinion both can be equally risky to health and happiness.

The truth your parents probably didn’t tell you, either? 

Most married couples will experience ups and downs in the bedroom. 

Expect hot, sexy streaks and dry spells with little to no mating magic.

You won’t always want, need or desire the same things from your sex life as your marriage partner.

Quantity squabbles may occur and your mount-me mileage may vary.

Is once per month enough?
  Once per week?
      Once per day?

A lover may find a particular sexual act enjoyable that the other does not. 

She might want a nooner, while it only feels natural at the end of the day for him.

Lights on?
Lights off?

Only slow and passionate on the marriage bed…
or should we try a quickie on the kitchen table?

Speaking of what’s on the table…does wake-up sex light our couple’s candle?

Wax on? Wax off?

Is that intimate-area piercing I’m thinking about a mutual decision or mine alone?

To porn or not to porn?

Whack off alone? Or Jill off with Jack?

Do you want sex toys with that?

Once you get beyond sex solely for the procreation of your species, there’s a lot of variety spicing up some people’s sex lives

What might taste good to you?
    What wouldn’t be your first choice, but it’ll be fun to try?
       What might make you gag?

 What are you gonna do but it’s gotta be understood it’s a rare treat for him or her?

Without those compromise, negotiation and diplomacy skills we mentioned above, marriage partners can find it tricky and fraught with stress to even discuss their bedroom etiquette. 

What can young couples do? 

Talk. Talk. Talk. No secrets.

Don't wait until you're already naked and in bed to put a proposal out there involving a riding crop and handcuffs (disappointment is much easier to discuss dispassionately when you’re not, you know, in the throes of passion). 

And if you're having difficulties, talk and commit to working through them together.

Most parents who managed to be married for long enough to have and raise kids together could probably tell us these things.

Why don’t they?

Probably because the adults in their family didn’t tell them these things either.

We don’t personally know anyone whose parents talked about what a clitoris is and how to effectively stimulate that lil’ flesh flap.

Or mutual masturbation, vaginal dryness, or for that matter that kinky Cold War themed cosplay fantasy where he dresses up as the American spy and she’s the devious, blonde, Soviet bombshell whose mission is to suck out all his state secrets.

Did your parents talk with you about that stuff?

As parents, we aren’t really sure yet how far we’ll go with our own kids-- but there’s a growing body of knowledge and research that suggests parents whom are open with their kids about sex help their children make better decisions around the traditionally taboo topic:

  • Placing sex into a healthy relationship context
  • Improving self-image and body autonomy
  • Establishing self-worth independent of the opposite sex’s opinions
  • Earning peer approval where it matters, and resisting unwanted peer pressure 
  • Delaying sexual activity until emotional maturity matches physical maturity
  • Avoiding intercourse without protection
  • Decreasing chances for early and unwanted pregnancies

When we talk with each other about how we’ll introduce our kids to the twin topics of conflict and sex in marriage, we aren’t yet sure how we’ll do it. There’s got to be age-appropriate ways to do it. And we’re determined as parents to do a better job on these learning opportunities than our parents did.

When you consider those above-listed benefits to an open and frank discussion about sex with kids, though, isn’t it worth a little embarrassment talking about ménage à moi with your mom and/or your dad?

Or was just reading that sentence where we deliberately placed the words “with kids” and “ménage” + “with your mom” so triggering to ya that it’s just better to let the next generation keep fucking up their lives with bad choices around sex rather than talk about what makes us uncomfortable…yet is nonetheless important…like, you know…fucking?

Thing 3: Everything Changes (So Will You, So Will Your Spouse, So Will Your Marriage)

As a newlywed couple peruses their wedding advice cards, they’re bound to read one that says not much more than "life is a journey." 

It’s a pretty boring platitude for the advice one married person would give another coming into that most mystifying of relationships for the first time. 

I mean, aren’t you supposed to be the expert after decades of being a wife or husband? My husband would never content himself with 4 words. I think he cramped his writing hand for a week when writing marriage advice for hours to his younger sister on the day before her wedding.

But for pithy 4-word advice to newlyweds, we couldn’t agree more with anything than that “life is a journey”-- except maybe to go into marriage knowing the indisputable truth that no matter what…

“She is always right” 2

Yes, life is a journey.

And married couples must make that journey together.

I mean, Mr. Cubic Zirconia was supposed to be on the same page here with Mrs. Cubic Zirconia while writing this dual-author article. 

He was off wandering the neighborhood and look-- now thousands of people are reading “his” advice that marriage boils down to simply admitting:


LOL, I kill myself. 

The things we do to make one another laugh!

Is this normal in marriage?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I suspect that most couples don’t have their flirting, inside jokes and good-hearted his-and-her ribbing played out in front of thousands of strangers on the internet like my husband and I sometimes do in our blog posts and email newsletters.

But yeah, the principle of showing love by giving each other a bit of shit oughtta be “normal” (in my admittedly opinionated opinion).

Sometimes humor is the fastest way to thaw the coldest days of the Cold War that is marriage-- when you’re mad at each other and not talking the way you should be.

But seriously…

I will say this: humor has been our map, our guide and our compass many times when we seemed a bit lost in our marriage.

  • When the overwhelm of just adulting was enough.
  • When things were changing too quickly for either of us to adjust.
  • When we weren’t quite sure where we were going.

If you can make each other laugh every day, wherever your journey ends up…I bet you’ll be getting there together.

It’s just that people like me who love to have a map and a planned destination chosen from all the possible locations on that map all rolled into one big road trip plan sometimes marry people who would prefer to just get in the car and wander along aimlessly on a journey of friggin’ discovery until he (or she? could it be?) finds something that makes him (or her? As it were) say “ooohh, look at that! Let’s stop and spend the day here and maybe stay the night, too!” (even if it’s obvious to anyone who thinks that there’s probably not a clean bathroom anywhere near, much less a clean bed).

That was a metaphor, sure, but it was real talk too.

Part of the journey in a marriage together is likely to include learning some things you don’t really enjoy or like about your spouse.

For example, I’m telling you that before we got together, my husband used to travel like a 5-year old with a credit card.

These days, there’s still frequent stops, candy, singing in the car, the occasional pouting and lots of unnecessary purchases…but at least I broke him of the habit, by God, of fueling up the car and packing for a 3-day road trip and I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT STATE WE’RE GOING TO END UP IN. THE STATE OF INSANITY?

Your marriage mileage WILL vary.

Whatever it is, change can be your friend on this journey.

Like the friendly tow truck when it helps you get back on your journey after a breakdown of the family car during a highway drive.

Or change can be your enemy on the same journey.

Like the dastardly tow truck when it hauls your SUV away and leaves your family stranded because the person driving your family car-- who shall remain unnamed-- was too focused on fun to put change in the parking meter.

Not that I’m speaking from experience, at all. :)

As you go along on this journey of marriage together, some miles will be better than others. Better feelings. Better sights. Better tastes. Better sounds and smells, too. 

This year's open road may or may not look similar to next year's cul-de-sac. 

Smooth sailing on the highway of life today and floundering in the gosh-darn mud tomorrow.

Get used to it. 

Marriage is a microcosm for life and not everything is gonna go one person’s way (much less two persons’ ways simultaneously).

If you’re anything like most of our friends and customers at, your marriage will experience BOTH cruising carefree at top speed AND being stubbornly stuck in first gear.

And if you’re not moving in sync, in the same direction and at the same speed, marriage partners are going to end up at different destinations.

Everything about life can change, and it’s good to expect that it WILL change.

Marriage is no exception. 

Sometimes the hardest part is to accept that lots of the changes-- good or bad-- may have little to do with the love and lust that brought two people together to promise a lifetime of oneness in the first place.

Having kids: that definitely changes your marriage. You may or may not choose that. Whether it was intentional and desirable or an unexpected bundle of joy girl or boy…another human being just came between the two of you, and that has ramifications in every area of your life and marriage.

What other scary changes might permanently change the course of a marriage?

  • Job loss.
  • A lied-about past coming back to bite one partner in the ass.
  • Opportunities that require a family to pick up and move.
  • Caring for elders.
  • Risk of foreclosure and bankruptcy.
  • Sexual and gender identity confusion or dis-satisfaction.

These and others could all be circumstances that take your marriage, blindfold it, spin you like a top and where she stops nobody knows

Of course, not all change is bad and we don’t want to imply that it is!

Yes it’s true that some changes lead to great rifts between partners so big, that it’s like you’re on one side of the Grand Canyon looking at the other side and feel like you’re so close…until a helpful park ranger explains that it is a 19 hour drive to get to that spot over there your husband says he has just “got to see, honey, let’s go…please?”

But on the other hand, some changes bring partners closer. 

Your parents may not have told you that even the love you feel for your partner may undergo ups and downs. You may find that you despise your partner one day but can't imagine loving anyone else more the next

Dealing with change is something that couples have to navigate. 

It's not easy to relocate for a spouse's job, to deal with a family illness, or contend with financial roller coasters. There’s stress and conflict and open wounds all over the place. But it can help to reflect on changes together so that you can help one another manage the fears and other emotions that often accompany major changes.

Even trying to go the same speed and get to the same place you’ve decided before that you both want to go, moving along in your journey guided by a map, having double-checked to ask for directions, and triple-checked using a gosh-darn satellite with real-time GPS coordinate tracking…you can still get lost. 

Getting the journey of your marriage back on track will be an act of will, of skill, of compassion…and yes, of negotiation too. 

Sprinkle it all with some good backseat sex and we think you’ll be getting where you wanna go just fine.

In conclusion, let us just say this (in all seriousness)….

Parents have lots of answers, but perhaps not all the answers. 

Maybe they withhold this type of information because they know that each marriage is different. Whether your parents had a good marriage, bad marriage, or even no marriage, their story is not your story. 

As a newlywed, and on into decades of marriage, you have to write your own story. 

We’ve written ours.

We’re still writing ours every day.

Good luck writing your own story together!

Wishing you love and light and plenty of lube,

Mrs. and Mr. Cubic Zirconia

1 Besides, maybe you were raised by a non-parent, family or friend. Maybe your parents didn’t get married. Maybe the man and woman responsible for bringing you into the world never learned these lessons and thus marriage was a mistake for them. Or who knows, maybe you were sired by the minority of perfect married pairs who room-mate without occasional rage, raise a family without the occasional feud and fuck but never, ever fight

2 This sentence was placed by one of us while the other was indisposed. You can guess which one of the two authors of this article snuck in that little gem, right?