"I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ten Ways to Stay Married That Don't Involve Dieting or Dressing Up

My swimming coach said something today that made me think. “What we’re doing here is The Impossible and making it Fun!”

I got what she was saying because sometime this month (I’m being coy here), my husband and I will celebrate our 45th Anniversary. Hard to believe! Up to this point I thought this particular wedding anniversary was celebrated by people with white hair and character marks on their wrinkled little faces.  

But, apparently not, because here the two of us, barely out of college and certainly not old enough to have a daughter who is technically a baby boomer herself (tail end), are celebrating forty-five years together—and a lot of those were quite good, indeed.

So what has kept us together—Love? Yeah, that’s part of it. But, we all know it’s more than that. In honor of the occasion, I’ve made a list of the TEN things I think are most important.

ONE—Inexpensive wedding. When he gave it to me I had to hold my engagement ring up to the light to see my diamond. Our wedding budget caused no drama, no wedding debt, no fights or hard feelings. No spoiled bride here. No queen-for a day, either, but that’s another story. (For the record, I think brides have gone over the top!)  

TWO—We talk nice to each other. In the first years we might have walked away and hit the wall, taken a walk, made a phone call to a sister or best friend, but we rarely said anything that jiggled the infrastructure of our marriage. IMHO, marriages fail because two members fail to honor and respect each other. No big, dramatic fights in our house. No broken dishes (although, once I threw his cell phone at him and broke the flip-top, but it wasn’t technically an anger-pitch. He wasn’t listening and I wanted him to pay attention—right now!) We give each other compliments every single day. Cute is a word we use a lot—Cute butt! Don’t you look cute! Cheesy? Maybe, but worth a try.    

We sent each other a lot of cards—cards with funny sayings when we weren’t feeling all that in love with each other, romantic ones when we were. I have a box of cards he’s written to me with such tender sentiments that I once said to him, “And I’m supposed to be the writer?”

 Here’s a fun link about marriage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceArY2DU2Zo

THREE —I kept my power. I made him promise that when I finished working him through college he’d do the same for me—and he did. Later on, I took a tax course so I would know what was up. I pay most of the bills. I know how to access our financial records. (You’d be surprised how many women are clueless about their family finances.) I check over everything before I sign it. I know he’s a good guy, but everyone needs someone to keep them on their toes, even me.  

I’ve had a little savings account from the time I was married, and I added to it even when we couldn’t afford to. Even having $100 made me feel like I had choices.

FOUR—get a life. He had a group of friends from before we met who rode motorcycles, hunted and backpacked. I started doing all of those things with him. That has been a lot of fun, but he also likes doing these things with his buddies, so I started to plan my own excursions. One year it was a trip to France with my daughter. Another year it was to Zihuatanejo with another daughter. Once it was to Santa Fe with a girlfriend. Writers conferences, weekends away. In forty-five years, they’ve added up to a lot of great memories for me—and no regrets over being a motorcycle or hunting widow.  

Oh yeah, a FIFTH thing—make work feel like play. We are happiest when we have projects we do together. Right now we’re fencing three acres for a cow and calf operation we’re starting. (Literally a cow and a calf (as in mama and baby make two.) My granddaughters named them Fifi and Poo-poo. I don’t know what’s going to happen when we have to eat Poo-Poo, but that’s a long way off. She’s a girl cow. Maybe we’ll just have a lot of calves.
Oh, I thought of another thing—SIX—Laugh a lot together. We’re not sophisticated. We’re not glamorous.  We’re just two people who find the bright spot in every situation. He boosts me up when I sag, and visa versa. It seems to get easier as we get older, so we’re getting more practice.  

The SEVENTH thing I know about staying married is –just don’t get divorced. You’d be surprised how that works. Weather one storm, another comes along. Weather that one, you start to get a rhythm. You start to know what to look out for—your trigger points.

EIGHT—Unless he’s a neat freak, don’t keep a spotless house. There’s no point in fighting about housekeeping standards. If it comes to that, drop yours. As I’m typing this, my husband came in with an inch of caked mud on his boots that dropped on the floor under his chair. He jiggled the recycling bin on the way out the door and spilled milk on the tile. He left three cabinet doors open. No problem. They’ll be there when he gets in later. To paraphrase the old adage, “A manic attack on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.”      

NINE- Let him know early that getting fat is a hereditary thing. Who worries about a few pounds if you’re a good cook? Then stick to your resolve. There’s nothing wrong with a size 12 or even 14.

TEN- Have a spiritual component to your lives together. Play a Christian radio station, sing hymns while you vacuum, go to church, leave a Bible laying around. Say grace. Baby steps. Someone gave me a crucifix as a wedding gift and when I went to hang it in the bedroom, he complained. Not negotiable, I told him. My faith isn’t either. And the funny thing is, he rose to my level.

Bonus—In the great scheme of things, Ten Years is nothing. Have patience. Cultivate a happy attitude. Relax.   

How about it--any tips, regrets, comments?