Monday, October 25, 2010

Something to make you laugh on a Monday morning. Marriage -- A Survival Guide

As many of you know, I work here at Yarnmarket with my beloved, Alex. This is maybe the fifth time in our careers we've worked together, and we've been married 29 years now...which means we've pretty much become immune to one another.

I wrote this piece when we'd been married 25 years. My intent was to give it to the kids, but for some reason I tucked it away and never pulled it out again until last week.

So, here's something that should make you laugh. And maybe it'll help put it all into perspective. (Someday I should get Alex to write his advice.) might not agree with some of this stuff, but it's worked for me.

How to Stay Married for 25 Years Without Killing One Another

Never pay attention to what your husband says. If you do, you’ll have to kill him.

Don’t worry if he says something that you didn’t hear. There are only two things he could say that would make a difference in your life. “I’m leaving you.” Or, “I just won the lottery.” So, if your ears don’t catch either “lottery” or “leaving” just go about your business and don’t worry about it.

Don’t say anything about his mother. Ever. Okay, maybe you can say, “Gee, I do wish your mother wouldn’t nag you so much.” But don’t even say that very often or else he’ll accuse you of calling his mother a nag.

Never fight with him when he’s angry. You’ll only make it worse. Fight with him nicely, when he’s in a good mood.

Never say anything really bad. Sure, you can think it. But don’t ever say it. Because once you do, it’s there for life and you’ll never be able to get rid of it. They might not be able to remember your favourite colour or perfume, but men have remarkably long memories for some things.

Get over yourself. You aren’t so hot that he won’t leave you for someone else. Hot lasts seven years maximum (proved by science!). Try being a hot, sexy bitch in that eighth year, and you might as well make your home page.

Also, get over him. Not every woman in the world wants to jump him. If you think he’s going to cheat on you every time he leaves the house, find someone you trust. And if you don’t trust anyone, see a shrink. You need one.

Cook him food he likes even if it makes you barf. You don’t have to eat it.

Don’t get fatter than he gets. Or, if you do, always be on a diet but have lots of the food he likes to eat around the house. When he doesn’t want to eat alone, he’ll give you special dispensation for being a lard-butt.

Give him a lot of candy and sweet things until he develops a craving for them. Then, when you want to eat some, you can offer them to him and he won’t be able to resist…and as long as he’s eating them with you, they don’t count.

Don’t keep secrets. If he finds out you’ve kept a secret from him, he’ll start to wonder what other secrets he doesn’t know about. And what he can imagine is probably a whole lot worse than anything you’ve ever wanted to keep secret.

Don’t nag. If he’s not going to do whatever it is you’re nagging about, just do it yourself. Sure…he’s supposed to do it. But if it’s so important to you that you’re going to make your lives a living hell over it, get up off your own bum and get it done!

Don’t expect him to tell you that you’re pretty all the time. He married you, didn’t he?

Don’t expect him to tell you that he loves you all the time. He married you, didn’t he?

Have separate bathrooms.

Make one another laugh. If you don’t, find someone else. In the course of your life, you’ll want to spend a lot more time laughing than kissing.

Don’t expect him to gaze longingly into your eyes -- unless he’s longing to find the ripped contact lens you’ve asked for his help to remove.

Don’t tell everyone that he’s stupid or inept. Remember, most of the people you know will judge him only by what you’ve said about him. If you tell them he’s stupid, they’ll believe you. And then they’ll wonder why you want to be with an idiot. They’ll assume it’s because nobody else wanted you.

If you have a big fight, don’t get everyone involved. You’ll convince them of what a dirty rat he is. Then, when you forgive him and have returned to thinking he’s wonderful, they’ll be wondering why you want to be with such a loser.

If you get him drunk enough to let you put make-up on him, don’t take a photo.

If you get him drunk enough to let you put bright pink temporary hair colour on him, don’t take a photo.

If you get him drunk enough to put on one of your negligees, don’t take a photo.

If he’s really drunk and wants to fight that pi equals 2.783, don’t bother correcting him. Say, “Yes, that’s right, sweety.”

And if he’s really drunk but still sober enough to realize you’re patronizing him, correct him and tell him it’s 2.784. Then divert his attention with a shiny object.

Don’t be boring.

Don’t use his razor.

Share your money. If you have “your” bank account and he has “his” bank account, it’s pretty obvious that you don’t trust one another with the finances. In that case, you should probably be with someone else.

Don’t be selfish. You’re a couple. If you only care about you, and he’s supposed to care only about you, there’s no one to care for him. Chances are, someone will eventually come along and fill that gap. Remember, nature abhors a vacuum.

If a pork chop falls onto the floor, put it on your own plate after you pick it up.

Let him let you eat the last chocolate cream puff. (In other words, offer to let him have it, and then squeal with delight when he says it’s yours.)

Don’t be lazy. If you see he needs help with something, get up off your bum and help him.

Don’t be ready for a fight all the time. You don’t always have to have the last word. You don’t have to always get your own way. Relationships are about compromise. If you aren’t ready to compromise, you aren’t ready for an adult relationship. Grow up a bit and then give it another try. (This is often the lesson learned during your “Starter marriage.”)

Do things together. Go places. Take courses. Read the same books. Have things you can talk about and memories you can share as you get older. If you’re doing your things and he’s doing his, you won’t have those memories to share.

Be kind to one another. It can be a mean, rotten world out there. And the one person who’s supposed to be your friend is your spouse. If your spouse isn’t the one you run to when you’re feeling desolate – surprise! -- you’ve got one more thing to feel desolate about.

Accept that you’re going to be blamed for anything that’s broken or missing. Your job is to fix it or find it.

Don’t expect him to agree with everything you say. You aren’t infallible. Well, unless you’re the Pope. And if you are the Pope, good going! We didn’t even know you were Catholic.

If you’re not happy when you’re with him, he’s probably not happy when he’s with you. Breaking up is hard to do…but sometimes not as hard as staying together.

If he’s dressing like a dork, tell him. But not when he’s dressed like a dork. All you’ll do then is make him embarrassed. And when he’s embarrassed, he’s mad. Wait until he’s dressed nicely and then mention that one of his outfits isn’t quite as flattering as the one he’s currently wearing.

Make sure he has a drawer full of clean underwear. Yeah…I know…I know…fem lib and all that stuff. Go on out, earn as much as a man --or, preferably, more! -- and be the bread winner. But still make sure your husband has a drawer full of clean underwear.

It’s not his fault that life isn’t fair. So don’t punish him for it.

Appreciate that he’s letting you keep your cats even though they’re causing him respiratory failure. It’s not your fault he developed allergies…and it’s not his fault, either. Be thankful he’s making the sacrifice.

Never hate each other at the same time.

Don’t expect him to think your family is normal.

If he comes home from work really grouchy and upset, try to be pleasant. Something is upsetting him, and he may not want to talk about it. Maybe he screwed something up. Maybe somebody blamed him for something he didn’t do. Whatever it was, don’t add to it by being bitchy. And don’t expect him to want to talk about it. Women talk about their problems. Men get grouchy and/or drunk.

Lighten up. Don’t take everything so seriously. If he calls you a dumb name, laugh about it.

Don’t spend your life trying to be cool. It’s more fun to have your husband pretend he’s Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent while you ride him around the pool than it is to make him fake coolness at some stupid pretentious bar.

Share the same values. If you don’t have the same underlying foundation you’re going to have problems. Find a partner who agrees with you politically, ethically and religiously.

Don’t believe that money will solve your problems. If you’re not happy together when you’re poor, you won’t be happy together when you’re not poor.

Don’t think having children will solve your problems, either. Or buying a new house. Or taking a vacation. The only thing that will solve your problems is – well – solving your problems! Figure out what they are and fix them.

Accept that you’re middle-middle class Canadian/American. You’re not poor. You’re not rich. You’re average…and in the course of civilization you’re doing better than 99.999% of all the people who ever lived on this planet. Be happy about it.

Don’t compare yourself to the rich people or you’ll end up feeling unaccomplished or cheated. Those people have problems, too. They have marriage break-ups, illness, tragedy. Their friends use them. The media trashes them. Most of them would give up a lot to have the anonymous peace and quiet you take for granted.

Don’t be sucked into pretentious consumption. It’s foolish and wasteful.

Have goals, but don’t make money your goal. Make accomplishments your goals and the money will come.

Be real.

Be honest. But not so honest that you hurt feelings. There’s never a good reason to hurt anyone’s feelings. If you find it necessary to do so, see a shrink.

Have depth. Beauty is only skin deep. But stupid goes right to the core.

Allow others their differences. Everyone in the world isn’t like you. They don’t even want to be like you. This is another variation of, “Get over yourself!”

Be quiet. Don’t feel it necessary to talk all the time or be surrounded by noise. It won’t hurt you to spend some time quietly thinking.

Do the right thing. It’s not always the easy thing. Or the fast thing. Or the thing that will make you the most popular. Do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Accept blame for your own life. You’re an adult now. You’re making your own decisions. So, if you aren’t happy with your life, it’s your own damned fault.

Think about all the good advice you never listened to. Really think about it. And then think about the advice you’re getting now. And if you aren’t going to take good advice, be sure to kick yourself when things don’t turn out well. It’s your own fault. You were warned.

Also, along the same lines, think about every time you’ve been wrong. If you don’t think you’ve ever been wrong, see a shrink. There’s something wrong with you.

Realize that your parents did the best job they could under the circumstances. Everyone on the planet is convinced their parents didn’t do enough for them. If you think your parents sucked, you need to understand it wasn’t because they didn’t try. They did their best. Prove that you can do a better job when it’s your turn to screw up your kids.


CAT said...

Fantasic Words of Wisdom! I wish I'd had this 21 years ago!

Deborah Knight said...

Thanks CAT. I have to confess that I didn't learn this in my first marriage!

Anonymous said...

True words of wisdom! If I'd have had this list before I got married, I wouldn't be divorced :)

Jenny said...

This is truly great advice Deb. Thankfully my husband has been patient as I've learned a lot of these unspoken rules over the past 10 years. You taught me some new ones here that will hopefully help us conquer the next 10 years together!

Deborah Knight said...

Boy, I've been getting a lot of really nice comments about this post. I'm so glad that you've enjoyed it! (If I had any guts, I'd post some of my essays about my experiences in the corporate world.)

monica said...

I LOVE your list! It is full of great advice and wisdom!!:)

Deborah Knight said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Monica. I've gotten to the age where I can look back on life and write a laundry list for all the things I've thought/done wrong. If I can prevent just one person from making my mistakes I'm happy!

Elaine said...

Am older than dirt and never been married, but I can recognize good advice when I see it. And if you just substitute the word "friend" or "sibling" or "cousin" for "husband" you can actually make the very most of most relationships. Thanks!

Laurie said...

Very wise - and funny! - words. Love it!

Maureen said...

AMEN, Deb ! Been married 40 years and will try to do better and better with your list in hand. It helps alot to have a great partner/friend/husband.

Thanks for the list. And PLEASE do write about your corporate life experiences. Most of us cut our teeth at the workplace without female role models or mothers/aunts who could show us the way.

Deborah Knight said...

Okay...I'll do that. You can read a small sample of my corporate experiences here:

I started in the corporate world in 1974 when I was 18. By the time I was 21 I had a sign in my office indicating how many days to retirement. I didn't leave the corporate work force until 2007.

Sure, I got to do all sorts of interesting things and visit some pretty wonderful places. But was it fun? No! Did I enjoy it? No! Was it worth it? Absolutely not!

Well, maybe it was nice to be able to buy food...but except for that part, I hated it.

I'll have to sort through all my little essays and select the few that won't result in lawsuits.

Katherine said...

Good nuggets of wisdom - thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful "article". This is a second marriage for my husband and I and I have to say that we are VERY happy. We live by most of these pearls but will adopt the remaining few. Thanks so much for this!!

Deborah Knight said...

I especially recommend the one about riding your husband around in the swimming pool as if he's Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent!

Glad to know that your second marriage worked out so well. Those "starter" marriages can be a real disaster!

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