I’d come home from “work.” My wife was nowhere to be found. I came in. Chris, our roommate was (again) parked on the couch watching The Fast & The Furious (again) eating a salami sandwich (again) and drinking a beer (again). I asked him if he knew where Tash was.
“‘Cross the street, brah. She’s in the parkin’ lot.”
The parking lot? I stepped outside and peered, as Chris so eloquently put it, ‘cross the street. Yep, there she was. Pacing. In the middle of the parking lot. She looked a little frantic. Kind of like she might be crying, or laughing hysterically. Now, my wife was strange (at least, that’s what I’d been able to glean from these first few months of marriage) but I didn’t realize she was crying-in-an-empty-parking-lot-at-quitting-time strange.
We were a couple months into our marriage. I was an emigrant from the United States, therefore my “work” was limited to cash-in-hand stuff. Guess what cash-in-hand job I’d taken? Selling karate memberships, door-to-door. “No, Danny! Don’t tell us this on the internet! The ATO (Australia’s equally devious IRS counterpart) will come crashing down on you and you’ll be done for!”
No, not really. I was so incredibly horrible at selling door-to-door karate memberships, that I literally sold nothing. Not one membership. Not. One. I was handed plenty of attitude. I was shown a lot of fierce dogs that were “all the protection they needed.” I was told by burly men that they already knew how to fight, and they’d give me a demonstration if I didn’t get off their property. But, I was never given any money. By anyone. No one. Not. One.
Chris, who was hopelessly obsessed with Vin Diesel, was our roommate because we needed help with the mortgage. (Clearly. Because, I was no help, whatsoever.) Tash, before my arrival in Australia, during a time of high optimism on the banks’ part, got herself a two-bedroom unit that she really couldn’t afford. And, after going over and speaking with my Baby in the parking lot, we determined that we were going to vamoose Chris, and his routine, tearful watchings of Paul Walker. He wasn’t a bad guy, she just couldn’t bear him being in the house anymore. She’s too much of an introvert. So, there went that source of income.
Also, she’d taken a cut in hours at her illustrious and high-paying job at the video store.
So, let’s see…
- I had nothing and no one as I’d moved internationally. (Even if I didn’t have nothing and no one within arm’s reach, I’d been led to believe that we were basically just-above broke my whole life. So, it’s not like I’d have ever expected any help, anyway.)
- She’d bought this apartment deliberately across town from her family, to get a bit of space. There was probably an hour’s drive between us with traffic, but that was enough.
- I had a “job” that well and truly kept me busy (and fit as I hustled up and down the hilly streets of Brisbane) but didn’t keep me paid.
- Tash had taken a pay cut by way of reduced hours at Blockbuster. (Her choice.) (LOL I say that like it matters. Like it’s a pride thing to be the one reducing your own hours at a video store.)
- We were eliminating a solid source of income by kicking Chris out. (His mother paid his bills, while he spent his own income on car mods for his Skyline.)
We were newlyweds, broke, in a totally new environment, and barely out of our teenage years, with nothing and no one to lean on except each other in a time of extremely high stress as we learned to live with one another with no money and plenty of bills to pay.
Thus the foundation for our (going on) 12 years of blissful marriage was laid.
In the bible, it talks about newlyweds “cleaving” to one another. Growing up in the church, I’d always heard it but had very little knowledge about it. (I honestly don’t think the preachers knew much about it either. They just wanted me to do it, by God. Literally.) It sounded much more like something a butcher would do to a stubborn piece of steak than the grounds for a successful relationship. However, if you look at the word, to cleave has two meanings.
- The more common being to split, or sever.
- The less common being to stick fast to, like glue.
Sounds to me like someone got confused during translation. But, what if we applied both to this situation? Tash and I had to split, or sever from everything we knew and previously relied upon (including income) to see each other as the only possible source of support, whereupon we stuck fast to each other, like we’d been painted with some metaphysical glue that could never be unbound. (Totes cray cray, right?)
In The Happy Marriage Hot Sex Handbook, the very first item on the list is to cleave to one another, because I know the value of it. (And folks, when I say “happy” marriage, I’m talking blissfully happy. I am telling you flat out that I am so incredibly happy in my marriage. (PS – “Happy Marriage” could just as easily be “Happy Long-Term Romantic Relationship.” It just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily.) She’s my best friend, and the hottest thing on two legs, as far as I’m concerned. No one, and nothing, can tell me that I’m not wiggling-toes-when-I-think-about-her/curling-my-toes-when-I’m-with-her happy with my situation.)
But, how do you set yourself up to cleave to one another? It seems that our scenario kind of arose by accident. If you weren’t looking deep enough, I can understand how that might occur to you. To disagree with that statement is currently beyond the scope of this blog post. I’m just here to give you a recipe, a hack, to either set up a new marriage for success, or reboot one that’s in a slump, by organizing to Leave & Cleave.
Leave & Cleave
These are the basic elements you need to “fly the coop” as it were, and learn, or re-learn, to solely rely on your partner (not their money; them) as your only source of support. Why is this important? Because they are (ideally) you lifetime partner. They are so important to your success in everything. My wife is everything. There’s no other word. I’m not being sacrilegious here. She is my everything. My all. My one and only. I’m the horse, she’s the guy sitting in the cart driving me. I’m the power, she’s the steering. So, in my mind, it’s the easiest thing in the world to say, “Yep, I’m gonna take six months off and go live remotely in Kansas on a 120 acre monarch butterfly migration waypoint, with my wife and son.” (Doing it as we speak.)
Why? Because she (and subsequently he) are everything. My top priorities. Nothing else exists if they don’t exist. Are you at that point? Because you need to be. Otherwise, this whole “relationship thing” is probably just going to end, like most other people’s. If you’re cool with that, then fine. But, I’m sure as hell not. I know the power inherent in my relationship to this one person, and that it gets bigger and better and more potent every day we’re together. (Can you say #powercouple? )
Who wants some of that? A solid, blissful relationship like this is totally doable. Here are the steps, followed by a few real-world examples so you can choose your own adventure:
Step 1: GTFO
Remember that first definition of cleave? Sever. Split. That’s what we need. We need to unburden you from the many yokes of the world. Your job. Your family. Your friends. All of that crap. This isn’t forever. I see my family and family-in-law often. I now live reasonably close to my family-in-law and return to the States to visit my blood family once a year. This “GTFO” is a temporary action giving a permanent result.
Step 2: Go for Broke
The point here is to leave behind your ability to make sure “everything’s going to be okay.” Money? If you got it, you can “fix it,” nice and quick. So, what I recommend is whatever you have, take a percentage of it. Whatever you’re used to using, only use a fraction. Preload a Visa travel card and do not touch whatever you have in the bank. Better yet, transfer your extra to a term deposit roughly equaling that of your Leave & Cleave excursion. If your excursion isn’t long enough for the shortest term deposit, fine. Put it into a high yield saver that has penalties if you withdraw. Open an account at a different bank and put it there. You just need to make it less available than it currently is. The point is to make yourself uncomfortable. Like you’re teenagers again. Teenagers need to be really resourceful when it comes to getting by when they don’t have money.
Step 3: Go Remote
Take a trip someplace. You’ve already organized with your work that you’re taking your vacation time. Or, you’re in between jobs, which is a great excuse to travel on the cheap, BTW. It could be one hour’s travel, or two day’s travel. Just make sure you’re going someplace where the amenities are less advanced than you’re used to. “Wander someplace where the scents are strong and WiFi is weak.”
You don’t want to be able to call for backup at a moment’s notice. You need to bring out your resilience, resourcefulness and reliance upon one another. Go someplace with weak cell coverage. Only take one phone. (Shock!) Make sure that you only ever use the internet in dirty internet cafes. (Or Starbucks. Whatever. Just make it less available than it currently is.) This is your lovers’ adventure. You want to come home transformed as a person and as a couple.
Three steps; easy right? These steps are a little vague (due to the vast nature of the world in which we live and the options and opportunities available – Hello! Butterfly ranch on 120 acres in Kansas.) I’m going to give you some real-world examples of Leave & Cleave excursions that definitely resulted in a strengthened bond between lovers.
Me & Baby
So, just a refresher here. This wasn’t a trip. This was just life, and it’s the basis for the Leave & Cleave movement. We were broke. (Go for Broke) Basically unemployed. Living at least an hour away from her family and 12 hours away from mine. (GTFO) We had no internet. Not even 3G on our phones – which were so basic, by the way. (This was 12 odd years ago.) We had no Netflix. Only a small collection of DVDs, books and CDs. (Go Remote) We had one car, but we couldn’t really drive anywhere special because of the high fuel cost and the fact that we had no money. Comfortable? Hell no. Worth it? Well, let me put it this way: I would live that way for literally a thousand years in order to have what I have now.
Adam & Becky
Shout out to my sis- and bro-in-law! These young whipper-snappers took a trip (GTFO) of their own prior to their marriage a year after mine. As a matter of fact, they were on this trip when we got married, and we called them home, cutting it short. (Something for which my sister-in-law has never forgiven me.) So, they were broke. (Seeing a trend?) They were also backpacking through Europe for at least three months. They were so poor, they slept in bus stops. (Go for Broke) They ate rice, basically three times per day. They lived in a hovel (when they were lucky) and worked for pittance as tour guides and servers in a Mexican restaurant owned by a brash American. One phone. No internet. (Go Remote) They’ve been married nearly as long as we have, with four kids. (And, from the conversation she has with her sister (my wife) that are meant to be private (ha!), they have hot sex, too.)
John & Megan
Who says this Leave & Cleave excursion has to be of purely selfish intent? John & Megan organized in the first year of their marriage to travel around Mexico, living and working in orphanages as they went. (GTFO & Go Remote) I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten the food in a Mexican orphanage, but it ain’t expensive. They had one phone. They were mugged four times. (Go for Broke) And (get this) their family was so paranoid they’d be kidnapped that after one of these muggings, when they attempted to get their family to wire them some money via email, they refused because they were so suspicious. Now? Marriage bliss. Hot sex.
Taylor & Sam
Taylor and Sam decided to make their Leave & Cleave a little more permanent. They were pretty low on funds. (Go for Broke) Taylor worked from home, but not for much money. Sam stayed at home with their new child. They wanted to get away, and get away for good to someplace beautiful. So, they moved an hour and a half (again, it doesn’t have to be a huge jump) away from their families to a small coastal town in Australia. (GTFO) They knew practically no one; had little money; no TV; slow internet, and were completely out of their element. (Go Remote) At least five years later, they’re still happily married, and still bouncing from place to place because they love the lifestyle. Hot sex? By their own admission, “Yes!”
Your Leave & Cleave excursion is going to be completely your own. Just make sure you get the elements right:
- Go for Broke
- Go Remote
Do that, and you’re on your way to romantic relationship bliss. Do it over and over again, and you’re among the elite. Have fun!