You know that saying “Happy wife, happy life”? Well, mine is a little different. It’s “Happy spouse, happy house.” I truly believe that and I’ll tell you why.
The DH and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary just a bit ago (we met when I was nineteen, married at twenty, so I have spent two thirds of my life with this man). There’s been a lot of learning and growing and arguing in those years, but here we are.
Anyway, several people have asked me what my secret to a long, happy marriage is. My response never fails to disappoint them – there is no secret. Not really. However, there are some key ingredients that I will share (in no particular order):
Tolerance (this is a big one). There will be many things that will pop up that you will learn to tolerate (and maybe even celebrate). The DH and I are as different as night and day. He’s a night owl, while I’m a morning person. I dislike clutter (it makes me anxious) while he is a pack rat (my house is very neat and uncluttered...I won’t tell you what his workshop looks like). He has a tendency to lash out when upset whereas I will take a step back and gain control of myself (because things said in the heat of anger cannot be taken back or unheard—learned that from hearing my parents argue).
Respect. This is a must. Gotta respect the other person – their ideas, their thoughts, their feelings (this goes for children, too). Everyone has the right to have their emotions validated, to be heard (even if you don’t want to hear it).
Humor: Oh my gosh! You have to have humor. I’m fortunate that my DH can make me laugh (sometimes, when I don’t want to). There has been a lot of laughter in our years together and I’ve found that we can face anything (no matter how bad), by finding the humor (or the positive side) even when there is none. It takes work, but it can be done.
Trust. ‘Nuf said.
Communication: You have to talk, even if the subject is painful. In the beginning of our lives together, my DH avoided tough subjects like they were the plague. He was taught (and he still struggles with this), if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all BUT by doing so, resentment and other feelings can grow, destroying that fragile foundation you’re trying to build. That’s not to say we haven’t cried together while discussing difficult topics. We have. Argued over them, too. Our biggest fight was over (believe it or not) how the toilet paper should be placed on the holder (over or under). Truthfully, I was just happy there was toilet paper on the spindle – I didn’t care which way it went but apparently, he did. Really, though, it wasn’t about toilet paper at all...it was the fact that he didn’t think I was listening to him (and I wasn’t).
Commitment. On the day we got married, I made a promise. I committed to NOT have a marriage like my parents had, that I wanted something better. Something more. And I wasn’t afraid to work for it; however, all that work cannot be done by just one person. There is another person in this with you and he/she has to be equally committed. I was lucky enough to find someone who was.
Which brings me to why I love to read romance novels. Because it’s not real. Romance novels don’t discuss or bring in the nitty-gritty of everyday life. There are no problems with what bills need to be paid when and who’s going to pay them, what to make for dinner for your 80 thousandth meal together, who’s responsibility is it to clean up after the kids or the family pet. As unromantic as the DH is (his idea of romance is doing an oil change on my car), he has never denigrated the fact that I can escape into a fantasy world by reading a romance or by writing my own. And this is important, too. And that’s it. Well, actually, there are a whole lot more, but that's for another time.
Stay well! Stay safe! And remember to spread kindness wherever you go!