Nowadays, it seems that it is easier to break a marital contract than it is a contract for a cellular phone.
A marriage can be over mere months after it began. A cell phone locks you into a commitment for at least two years.
The deep end. Unfortunately, some people shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable in and allow room to grow. Marriage requires untold depths of emotion, commitment, and ability to live with another person “until death do you part” without overly wishing to hasten your partner’s arrival at that juncture.
Having recently celebrated my sixth wedding anniversary, I feel qualified to cast my own two cents into the marital advice mix. I acknowledge that while six years is hardly a silver anniversary milestone, these days it should qualify for a ticker tape parade based on the fact that we still like each other and haven’t appeared in the police blotter.
We have also craftily surrounded ourselves with happily married couples who graciously shared their success stories. Whether they wanted to or not (so I eavesdrop, sue me.)
True like. It turns out that a great marriage takes more than the fireworks of love. It is as much about “like.” If you do not fundamentally like the person you are partnering with for life my friends, your next 60 or so years together are going to seem like a really, really, long time.
Marriage done right means you are in it for the long haul. Pick someone you want to make the trip with and be fully committed to reaching your final destination together. Don’t count on grabbing an exit halfway there. That’s cheating.
Small stuff. Pledge to yourself, even before you cut the cake, not to sweat the small stuff. So your spouse doesn’t put the cap back on the toothpaste? Did you marry to ensure your Colgate would never go cap less again? Face it, no one ever said after a first date “I think I’m in love! He seems like someone who always puts the toilet lid down!”
But somehow, not long after the “I do’s,” such petty problems take on the utmost importance. As you are muttering about leaving your spouse for a Molly Maid, imagine never having to deal with these annoyances again.
I used to have tantrums over my husband’s tendency to leave his wallet and other sundries on the dining room mantel. Then he was out of town for a week, my mantel stayed spotless, and by Tuesday I missed him so badly that I would’ve given a kidney to have his little pile of golf tees and loose change back where they belonged.
It might help to remember that anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one would give anything to have them back; uncapped toothpaste, shoes by the door, empty milk jug in the refrigerator, and all.
Talk. Unless you married Dionne Warwick, your spouse is not your psychic friend. Communication is key. You must ask for what you need be it emotional, practical or otherwise. Tell him in year one that a vacuum cleaner is not a good anniversary gift. Don’t wait 13 years to tell her in front of your mother that you hate her tuna cheese surprise.
Of course, we don’t have to get crazy with this communication thing. Men, she is always as pretty as the day you married her. Always. Even when she says she wants your “honest” opinion about some aspect of her appearance. She doesn’t really. I promise.
And ladies, never ever ask a man what he is thinking at crucial romantic moments. Because the only thing you want to hear is how empty and unfulfilled he would be if he had never met you, and what he is really thinking is, “Do we have any onion dip?”
Sparks. Successful marriage requires the ability to fall in love many times – always with the same person. If you can only be fulfilled via endless sparks and fireworks in your relationship, I would suggest you hang out at more fourth of July parades.
For a good marriage, you are going to have to work a little harder and cultivate a healthy sense of humor. If successful, the next 60 years or so spent together should just fly right by and your marriage can indeed outlast your auto loan.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is very happily married to a very nice guy who accepts his personal life being column fodder without complaint. She welcomes reader comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)