The Hubbinator and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary this week. We’ve been pretty happily shuffling through the
mundane glamorous days of marriage for seventeen years now. 17 years of wedded bliss. 6,210 days of living together without killing each other going crazy. 149,016 hours of successful cohabitation. Of course we’ve had a rough patch or two. (Every real marriage has its ups and downs … and if someone says their marriage hasn’t, either A) they got married yesterday, B) they’re married to a bobblehead, C) they are a bobblehead, D) they’re high, E) they’ve been in a coma since their wedding day, or F) they’re lying.) There have been a handful of arguments–numbers may be grossly underrepresented–but we’ve had a pretty good go of things. We’re solid. We love each other … and, a really good sign that things are going well after 17 years: we like each other. Throughout this time, we’ve learned some pretty important things. I thought I’d share our “secrets” to making it work, year after ever-loving year.
Rules for a Happy Marriage
The most important part in a marriage is always talking to each other. Except when it’s better to not talk to one another. Then you shouldn’t. Example: You’re having a “discussion” on a topic where you can’t find middle ground and things are getting heated. What you want to say is “I can’t stand the sound of your voice and I want to pull your bottom lip up over your head so I don’t have to look at your face.” Don’t say that. That is a time when you should stop talking. Just walk away and come back later. Trust me on this one.
Nothing is more important in a solid marriage than intimacy and affection, but also giving each other space and room to breathe so neither one of you feels like the other person is up in your junk all the time. Seriously, holding hands is nice. Holding hands while trying to make dinner, change a light bulb or do laundry is not. Putting your arms around each other is sweet. Doing that while driving is stupid … and not safe. Sitting on his lap is fine. But not while he’s having his “sit down time” in the bathroom. That’s just gross. Making out is awesome. At the family table during Christmas dinner is creepy. There’s a time and place, people. Time. And. Place.
A critical tenet of marital bliss is always being honest, unless it’s the kind of honesty that’s not really necessary and will just cause a fight. Example: “Those pants really make your butt look big.” That’s just unnecessary and will only bring trouble. Also, “Wow! This is the worst (insert food item that one of you spent a good bit of time and effort preparing here) I’ve ever had.” Unless of course you were hoping to be the only person cooking for the next year–give or take a few months. Then I suppose it’s ok to say what you want about the cooking.
At the top of the list of ways to
survive enjoy marriage is sharing hobbies and / or activities. A great way to build a lasting relationship is with common interests. Unless your spouse likes something stupid. Then you don’t have to like or support that. Example: Your bride / groom thinks that decorating bowling balls to look like past Presidents of the United States is a fun way to spend time. You don’t need to do that. Actually that would probably end up with you being too honest. (“This is the most ridiculous waste of time, money, space and energy that I have ever seen! It would be more interesting to collect and arrange fingernail clippings into a self-portrait!” Don’t say that. Because, honestly, if your spouse thinks that Presidential Bowling Ball Dolls are cool, he / she would probably think Fingernail Self-Portraits are fun too … and then there would be another dumb hobby to annoy you.)
The key to a successful marriage is to spend time together. And also, don’t spend time together. Go on dates. Take a just-the-two-of-you-vacation. Work in the yard together and plant things or dig stuff up or whatever. Do the grocery shopping and make dinner with each other. But also go out with your own friends. Take a Brocation or go on a Girls’ Trip. Take a walk by yourself. Have some friends who are just yours, not couples friends. Spending every minute of every day together doesn’t give you time to appreciate the other person. Also, it doesn’t give you the opportunity to fart and / or poop in peace. Which brings me to the next item.
If there’s one thing to know about making marriage work, it’s that you should share everything and be open with each other, but also, be sure keep some things private and personal. Like pooping. And tending to the monthly female necessities. I mean, there’s nothing romantic about hearing someone else’s plop. So in an effort to keep a little of the mystique going, shut the door when you drop a deuce. Your marriage and your spouse–not to mention your nose–will thank you.
Most importantly, always joke, laugh and keep things fun; also be sure to have serious conversations about important topics, but mostly keep things light-hearted. Hubbinator has this one down pat. When he knows that he has really annoyed me or peeved me off about something, he seems to know what is about the appropriate amount of time to wait and then he cracks a joke of some sort. At first it pisses me off more because I’m not ready to get over being ticked at him, but then I can’t help but move on and let the anger subside. I mean, who can stay mad when you’re laughing?
Obviously each one of these Rules for a Happy Marriage is the most important one. It’s tricky to know which part of the rules to use at any particular time … I guess that after a bunch of years of trial and error and arguments and happy times, we’re getting better at picking the ideal strategies in any particular moment. I feel pretty sure that after another 17 years, we’ll have this down to a science!
Marriage is hard work. It’s not like the movies. There’s no soundtrack and sometimes the lighting is really unflattering. And in real life there’s morning breath. And eye boogers. And farts. And toenail clippings. And slurping the milk from the bowl of cereal. And stinky sweat. And snoring. And sexy night guards because you grind your teeth. But there’s also a really wonderful feeling knowing that you don’t have to learn about anyone else’s quirks and oddities. It’s all about yin and yang. Give and take. This and that. His and hers. Mine and yours. And ours.