Today is our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I thought about putting up a picture from our wedding but my husband is a private person and wouldn't want that so you will just have to imagine it. If you picture me with a perm and wearing a gown with a big bow in the back you will be right on target. In my defense, everyone had perms in 1990 and all wedding gowns had huge bows.
So, how have we stayed married for twenty-five years, you ask? (Let's just pretend you want to know, because I want to talk about it. That is how this blogging thing works.) So here are my tips for a happy marriage. (And just to be clear, I don't think I have it all figured out. These are just the things I have learned over the last twenty-five years.)
The wedding isn't the end, it is the beginning. Don't get so caught up in planning the wedding that you forget you are planning a marriage.
Communicate. I feel like an advice columnist but honestly, talk to each other. Listen to each other too. Maybe I am not particularly interested in exactly how the engine on his motorcycle works (welcome to my world) but I can bet he also isn't particularly interested in the plot of the latest novel I read. But we are interested in each other. And who knows, maybe someday a knowledge of motorcycle engines will come in handy.
Pick your battles. Do you really want to have a big fight about the socks left on the bathroom floor? I didn't think so. Save it for the things that matter.
If you have to argue about something, take your time. Don't hold a grudge and refuse to talk but also don't jump right in when you are emotional and angry. Give yourself time to cool down. Go mow the lawn, scrub the tub, bake fifteen batches of cookies, whatever calms you down, and then go back and talk about it a little more rationally.
He will never be able to find anything in the fridge, even if it is right in front of him. Get used to it.
Give your kids away occasionally. Seriously, that is why grandparents were invented. Whether it is for an hour, a day, a weekend, spend some time just the two of you.
To go along with that, don't make your kids the center of your marriage. Of course, they are important. Of course, you devote a lot of time to them. However, your goal with kids is to get them to grow up and move out. Your goal with your husband is to get him to grow old with you and never move out. Don't forget that. If you give all your time and attention to your kids, what is left when they are gone?
Find romance in the little things. When you are first married you want flowers and chocolate. Honestly, I don't get those very often anymore and that is okay. Because now he fills my car with gas when he notices it is empty and he orders the books I leave in the Amazon shopping cart. That is romance right there.
Sometimes life is boring because it just is. It can't be fun and games all the time. Don't mistake a dull patch in your life for boredom in your marriage.
Marriage can be work. We are willing to work for our careers, work to make successes of our children, work at our friendships, but sometimes we expect our marriage to just fall into place. Sometimes it does, sometimes you have to work at it. Having to work at it doesn't mean you are doing it wrong.
Have a sense of humor. Men are strange creatures. I am sure they say the same about us.
Pay attention to autocorrect. Yesterday, when I was texting my husband, it changed "I didn't hear" to "I didn't cheat." Good thing I caught that one or he might have really wondered.
A wise man will never ask you if your period is due when you are upset about something. A wise woman will consider whether he has a point when he asks that question. Resign yourself to the fact that neither of you is likely to be wise in those circumstances.
Respect each other's pet peeves. Sometimes it doesn't matter except for the fact that it matters to him. Is it going to kill you to go along with it?
Be loyal in every sense of the word. Be loyal physically, emotionally, verbally. A marriage is built on loyalty. On love too, of course, but you can have love without loyalty and then the marriage falls apart. If you have love and are loyal, your marriage will be strong.
You will want to kill him occasionally. A truly successful marriage is one where you don't get beyond the planning stages.
He will want to kill you occasionally. Don't take it too personally. After all, didn't you just want to kill him?
Be affectionate, and not just in bed. Hold hands, hug hello and goodbye, kiss. It will keep you close and it will gross out your kids. That is a double win in my book.
If there is something bothering you and it needs to be addressed, speak up. Men are not mind readers. They also are not always good at picking up on those subtle clues you think you are giving them. Give the guy a break and tell him what is going on.
Be appreciative. Don't get so caught up in what you are doing for the family and your relationship that you forget to thank him for what he does. You don't want to be taken for granted and neither does he.
Marry someone you enjoy talking to.
Compromise. You don't always have to get your way even on the big things. Sometimes there are two right ways. It doesn't always have to be your way.
Be forgiving. That means don't bring it up the next time you are angry. No one needs to be reminded of all their past mistakes.
Agree to disagree. Just because you are married doesn't mean you will think the same. That is what keeps life, and conversation, interesting.
Make plans for the future. Have things to look forward to together.
So there you have it. My tips for a happy marriage. I just counted and I came up with twenty-five, one for each year we have been married. That seems appropriate. What suggestions do you have?
And one final thought, I wrote this whole thing including the part about being okay with not getting flowers much anymore. Then my husband walked in the door holding flowers. That is what keeps marriage interesting. Just as you think you know exactly what your husband is going to do, he surprises you. The flowers are beautiful, roses and lilies. But I still think books are romantic too.