This Thursday was my tenth anniversary. Since my parents have been married 45 years and most of my friends from high school are getting close to 20 years, I did not think it was a huge deal. Apparently, it is.
So without any actual knowledge of what makes a successful marriage, no professional training in this arena, and only an open internet audience, I offer my tips.
1. Marry the Right Person
Mr. Bean is the key to my successful marriage. I like him. I even love him. This makes it very easy to stay married to him. I had quite a few other options, believe it or not, but being stuck with the wrong person for all eternity frightened me considerably more than being alone.
2. Don't Date Others After You Are Married
I always joke about this because it really does seem to be an issue for some folks. We both assumed once we got married that we wouldn't be dating others. In fact, it was even a bit of a plus. We both were a bit tired of it.
3. Don't Have Sex with Others After You Are Married
Again, seems obvious and somewhat outlined to #2, but we've seen it enough to note that it probably should be more clearly defined. It doesn't matter if it's Republican or Democrat sex.
4. You Can Always Leave
WHAT? Shouldn't divorce be off the table? Maybe for some folks, but for me, what works is knowing that there is no gun to my head making me stay. I am there voluntarily. If it sucks, I should probably do something about it. I happily and willingly married my husband. Every day I chose to be happily married. Most of the time. Some times I need a nap. See #5.
5. Go to Bed Angry
I get really pissy if I'm tired. Why make it worse by trying to resolve every little stinking thing? You never will. Sleep on the couch if you must, but my guess is, 8 hours later, after some sleep, you'll forget whatever it was that had you so uptight the night before.
6. Give your Spouse a Break
Not physically (since everyone in our family seems a bit breakable...). I honestly don't think my husband snores as a secret plot to make me nuts. He also doesn't run the dishwasher in the morning, after he leaves, to piss me off. Although it makes cleaning up after breakfast with the kids a pain (he leaves at 6 am), wakes up the dog and I can't use the garbage disposal, I don't think it's intentional. I think he's simply trying to have clean dishes. I also don't forget my clothes in the dryer to destroy his day. Okay, maybe sometimes... Anyhow, you probably aren't a bag of sunshine either, so lighten up.
7. Have a your own Life
I hate when people disappear into couples. Have a life. Have a hobby. Have friends. It helps keep the conversation going. Expecting your spouse to be your BFF, your entertainment coordinator, your business partner is a bit of a tall task for anyone.
8. Kiss in Front of your Kids
Yes, they find it totally disgusting, but it's really your only opportunity some days. We're not business partners, we're spouses. The kids should know we like each other.
9. Be Willing to Compromise
My husband came up with this one. I told him I think what he really meant was "Do What Your Wife Wants." He agreed.
10. Date Night isn't Optional
Since you won't be dating other people, you might as well date your spouse. Otherwise, it's a roommate with whom you share a closet, some kids and some debt. Sexy, huh? I really enjoy hanging out with my husband. I would probably forget that if we didn't hang out.
Anyhow, take it for what it's worth. Not every day has been sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, but I have to say, I'm pretty darn happy. And not to be completely nerdy, but I can honestly say, I love my husband more now that I did 10 years ago. It makes me sad that marriage is becoming less trendy-- it's by far the best decision I've ever made. It's nice to have someone who knows me better than anyone and yet still loves me. Very cool.