5 Ways to Stay Married for 80 years (or less)
On the eve of my seventeenth wedding anniversary, I recall our best man’s speech at our wedding reception, in which he wished us happiness for eighty years. EIGHTY YEARS. You have got to be kidding me. There’s a man who clearly didn’t excel in math or held a mistaken belief that bacon cheeseburgers increase longevity. Okay, so we’re not hitting numbers quite that impressive yet, we are getting up there. Generally, it’s fair to say that if people’s mouths drop open when you tell them how long you’ve been married, it’s a damn long time. And still, I would do it all over again. I adore my husband and I love all the things that my marriage has become and I feel that I would be remiss if I did not share some tips on maintaining a marriage for five hundred years over a decade.
Forgive, but remember forever.
Whoever came up with that “Forgive and forget” nonsense was clearly never losing an argument with a spouse. Use this technique sparingly, but know that one day that memory of the time someone failed to notice your new shoes or that you mowed the lawn will win your argument and maybe net you a nice dinner out, or at least another apology. You must absolutely forgive with all sincerity, but you still need to be able to call out your spouse on the stupid things that they have done, for the rest of all time. That’s called “having a shared history.” A word of warning: This goes both ways. Try to avoid doing stupid things. I’ve been hearing about one damn pan of burned brownies for going on seven years now. Dude cannot let.it.go.
Honesty is a dangerous policy.
I can’t stress enough how vital complete honesty is in a marriage. However, it can be a minefield of hurt feelings and grudges if you aren’t careful with it. For instance, I rely on my husband to be totally honest with me about which clothes make me look fat and which don’t. He has, sadly, taken a completely ridiculous amount of time to learn the difference between “completely honest” and “completely blunt.” A little diplomacy, please! You can’t say, “oh no, you look like a cow in that.” You should say, “That one looks better. This one doesn’t flatter your curves.” Also, no matter what ridiculous thing your spouse might be trying out with his facial hair, the appropriate response is: It’s your face, do what you want. Believe me, this, too, shall pass. Not many men will actually go the distance with mutton chops.
Don’t go to bed angry.
This is a classic gem that still holds true. I think the idea is that you should not let unresolved conflicts linger. In reality, it’s just a safety issue. Why in the world would you think it’s a good idea to piss someone off, then lie down beside them and go to sleep, completely defenseless? Do you have no sense of self-preservation?! This is just insanity. Do you have any idea how easy it is would be to smother someone in their sleep? Personally, I employ a guard cat at night, just in case, but I do my level best to make sure that I’m still on Hubs’ good side when we go to sleep, regardless of what level of crazy I have introduced to his life that day.
For each other, that is, not ever from each other! Look, you don’t want anyone to know about the time you pooted so loud it scared the dog, right? You’re relying on your spouse to keep that secret, even though it’s probably the funniest story he has and it’s killing him not to share it on Facebook. Return the favor. When you made that vow about better or worse, you also vowed to bear witness to some of the most embarrassing and hilarious events of your spouse’s life. And you must never speak of them. Ever. It’s a special kind of torture, to be sure, but it must be done. Or everyone will know about your digestive issues, forevermore.
Love is Patient
Any woman who has ever needed five more minutes to blow dry her hair or find the right pair of shoes knows how true this statement is. (Not at all, is how true.) Love isn’t always patient, there are moments when it’s not kind and it is sometimes stricken with a fierce jealousy but it will endure all things, if you help it along. Marriage is not always fun and it’s not usually easy, but if you’re with the right person, it is always worth it. As long as you can still lean on each other in the hard times, forgive the bad moments and laugh at the same jokes, you’re doing it right.
To my husband, (who will never read this, because he hears quite enough of my babbling in real life, thankyouverymuch), I love you more today than I did on our wedding day. And I really love you more than that day you deleted Grey’s Anatomy without asking if I had watched it yet. But I forgive you. Thank you for being my person.