I have been married to Steve, my current husband for 31 years. I like to joke that he’s been married for 31, while for me it’s been 41. My first marriage of ten years ended in divorce. We were too young, and incompatible in many ways, but that’s another story.
In my second, happier marriage, I have discovered a few tips I’d like to share.
First, marry a 40-year-old bachelor. He already knows how to do everything. Steve loves to grocery shop. He’s a pretty good cook, but his apple pies are to die for. He does his own laundry, and sometimes mine. In other words, whatever happens to be in the hamper on the day he decides to do the wash, it goes in the machine. He loads and unloads the dishwasher, and scrubs the dirty pans.
But: he already knows how to do everything. If you go this route, you may have to re-educate him. And yourself. His way, your way – which is best? It doesn’t help if both of you are only or oldest children in your family of origin. You are both used to being “the boss.”
Second, pick your battles. How important is it to load the dishwasher “your way?” This has been hard for both of us. We now ask ourselves “What’s the worst that can happen if we do it differently?” If nobody dies, and the dishwasher still runs, we take a deep breath and walk away. No lectures on why it needs to be different. See how grownup that feels?
Third, don’t invest your self-esteem in how others see your spouse. As long as he’s not wearing clothes with food stains down the front, let it go. Steve likes to wear white tube socks. With everything. The only time he doesn’t is to a wedding or other formal occasion. Winter, summer, spring and fall – white tube socks. I used to hint. Look at that guy with the nice dark socks, and the short ones in his sneakers. No dice. If you know us, you’re probably surprised by this. After 31 years, I finally realized – nobody notices Steve’s socks but me.
Fourth, marriage is a commitment to another person. The whole person, not your childhood idealized version of your perfect mate. I don’t believe there is only one soul mate for each of us. There are probably many people we could be happy with. When you find one that you can’t bear the thought of living without, get it legalized. When they annoy you, or accidentally hurt you, or fail to remember something important to you, take a breath and think of living without them. If that’s unthinkable, talk it out, then let it go.
Those are my four top tips for a happy marriage. Not happy every minute. Nobody is. But contentment and security in one another’s love and support, that’s everything to me.
Do you have any marriage tips to share? Let’s hear!