Marriage is a tricky thing. As a young girl, I imagined that marriage would include roses and unicorns, picnics and adoration. As a teenager, I believed an ongoing infatuation infused with passion and drama would sustain a relationship. Now, as a woman who has been married almost 18 years, I recognize the folly of my youth. Unicorns, picnics, drama? Who needs them? I just want to take a nap on the weekends without feeling guilt.
Over the years, I’ve shrugged off the romance-saturated fantasies of my past. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’ve compiled a few more reasonable thoughts on what works in my marriage. I have no idea what works or doesn’t work in yours. Frankly, I don’t care, because I have no intention of going after your husband.
1. I don’t have affairs. I know, I know. This seems obvious. But I’m pointing it out because many don’t follow this rule. Want a happy marriage? Don’t jump in bed with someone else. If I really want to get sweaty and out-of-breath outside of my marriage bed, I run up and down the stairs with a basket of dirty laundry.
2. I don’t hum “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” while arranging the roses I purchased for myself at the grocery store. Actually, I do. But only because I think it’s funny—not to procure guilt. If I want roses, I buy them. I don’t wait for him to guess that I want them.
3. I remind myself that everyone is crazy. Everyone. Including me. I attempt to recognize the crazy quirks that I have so that I won’t go crazy noticing the quirks that he has. If he wants to cram into a van with six other guys and run the levee between Baton Rouge and New Orleans overnight, so be it. I’ll Chalk Paint a piece of furniture I bought on Craig’s List and obsess about it for hours. See? No crazy finger pointing.
4. When there’s a crisis, I go for a run. Or get a massage. Or read a book. Or have a glass of wine. I have taught myself ways to decompress, and I try to not blame my spouse for every last thing that goes wrong. And things go wrong every day.
5. I put on a good show. I don’t mean that I slip on a new dress, get the children tidied and sit in the parlor awaiting his arrival every evening. I mean I don’t show my hand at every turn. In these days of social media, everyone shares everything. Don’t share everything. Save the drama for your girlfriends, save the yeast infection discussion for your doctor. And don’t tell him that you paid at the drive-thru but drove off before you got the hamburgers. You will make him afraid.
6. I don’t worship my kids. I absolutely adore my kids, and I think that they are cuter and smarter than yours. But I also know that they are kids, who will grow to be teenagers, who will grow up to be adults. And, if all goes as planned, they will move out. In addition, if all goes as planned, my husband will not move out. My relationship with him takes top billing.
For me the proposal is simple: Date night is mandatory and humor is a must. I don’t sweat the lone sock with no mate. I buy more socks, run more laps and arrange more flowers. And if I want a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, I buy it for myself. I schedule dinner at a restaurant with my husband, and I save the picnic plans for the youngsters who think it sounds romantic to sit on the hard ground and eat a soggy sandwich.