To commemorate our fifth wedding anniversary, I thought I’d compile a list of what I’ve learned over the years. But, “he doesn’t like blue cheese” seemed like kind of a short list. So, I grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and glass of iced tea, plunked down on the couch and scribbled the following collection of marital advice.
Spoiler alert: My list reveals the secret to a lasting marriage, which, as it turns out, involves a handheld battery-operated device. You’ve been warned.
1) Never pass up a chance to say “I told you so.”
The bigger his or her mistake, the more your spouse will appreciate hearing you say these four little words. For long-time couples, the same effect can be achieved with a simple eyebrow raise. If time allows, launch into a lengthy monologue detailing the events that led up to your spouse’s being wrong and your being right. The more details, the better. If you find your spouse is no longer in the room, don’t be deterred. Continue lecturing, and they will eventually have to hear you out, especially if you strategically placed yourself in front of the bathroom door.
2) Pray for each other.
At first, you will likely lift up sweet sentiments like “God, please protect my husband while he is at work today and bring him safely back home to me,” or “Lord, thank You so much for my wife. She means everything to me.” As the years, children and facial wrinkles accumulate with alarming rapidity, it’s perfectly normal for those prayers to evolve into “Dear Lord, please help me to not pick up that shovel and use it to test the hardness of my dearly beloved’s skull,” or “If You would only grant me the patience to sit through another lecture on the pros and cons of rubber frogs as they apply to bass fishing, I won’t even complain about the children’s fighting tomorrow. Well, I won’t complain until lunch. How about an hour after breakfast?”
3) Learn how to fight fairly.
Then contact me with details ASAP. While you’re at, what’s the secret to ensuring that every wet towel is picked off of the bathroom floor? What’s the status on that house with the self-cleaning kitchen? Did Porky Pig ever get his jet pack figured out and off the ground?
4) Smile, dammit.
Jim looked at me one evening while I was washing dishes on a July day in a house with no air conditioning and a baby strapped to my back and asked “Why do you have that smirk on your face?”
“I’m not smirking,” I replied. “I’m making myself smile, because I find it makes unpleasant situations better.”
“It’s kinda creepy. Could you stop?”
“So, you’d rather start seeing my real expression every morning while I clean the floor, my own feet and the bottom of a child who didn’t make it to the bathroom in time before I’ve even had a sip of coffee?”
“Point taken. I like the smirk.”
5) Insist on a picture-perfect proposal and wedding.
An over-the-top proposal followed by the most romantic, fairytale-esque wedding that your friends and have family have ever attended is an absolute MUST for a happy, long-lived marriage.
If he isn’t down on one knee offering a diamond ring that seriously jeopardized his ability to feed and house himself for the better part of eight months and she isn’t having heart palpitations as her shaky left-hand ring finger and soon-to-be-married brain connect the dots, then….it doesn’t really matter.
Shhhhh! Don’t tell the diamond companies!
A wedding and the subsequent marriage are about so much more than the perfect dress, fresh flowers and a five-piece band. Marriage is about exploring the deepest parts of your innermost selves together, like discovering that he stops breathing when the TV remote dies, and she plots a course around a grocery store like a drunken primate. The secret to a lasting marriage? Learn to administer CPR while changing AA batteries and practice deep-breathing exercises in preparation for your fourth trip through the produce section.