36 Years ago, after exchanging vows and rings in front of God and witnesses, I changed out of my wedding gown into my purple knit suit from Montgomery Ward’s, and the hubs and I excitedly drove into our future in our ‘78 Mercury Cougar. Our wedding was a sweet affair, the best we could afford, complete with rainbow bridesmaid dresses, silk flowers and a wedding cake gloriously embellished with a working water fountain. Mama made my wedding dress, modeled after Princess Di’s, and I felt like a poor girl’s princess. But I was oh so happy! Later, we washed the shaving cream and vaseline off the Cougar, being careful to remove the lovely condoms from the antenna. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We only knew that we were happy and in love and free to have legal and blessed “marital relations” (I was, after all, a good girl). And here we are 36 years later…how in the world did we manage to actually make it work?
We talk about it often, why we work, and what our secret is, and we both have our own ideas. We are not life coaches, relationship coaches, psychologists or counselors. What works for us is what works for US. So here goes…
- We have fun together! We laugh. We tease each other. We flirt. We joke around, and we don’t take it all so seriously. We remember that love is joy and marriage should be joy filled. This is my hubs’ favorite marriage tip. It drives him crazy when he observes couples not enjoying each other’s company, staring at their phones and not talking and laughing.
- We respect each other. Marriage should be a respectful partnership. No one should ever feel demeaned or humiliated in a marriage. We respect each other’s ideas and opinions – whether it’s house paint and decorating or politics and religion. We don’t always agree, but we value each other’s opinions, and love to share.
- We show appreciation for each other. We both tackle the chore of unloading the dishwasher, and we both thank each other when it’s been taken care of. (and if he ‘did it wrong’, I don’t say anything, I just put things back where they belong when he isn’t looking, he’ll never know…and I’m thrilled the dishwasher is empty!) Sometimes he surprises me with flowers when he knows I’m down, and let me tell you, it makes my day! One of our favorite little surprise treats is a random Starbucks coffee. Sometimes it really is the little things that mean the most. And there is absolutely nothing like a big ole’ bear hug. Just because.
- Our marriage is a partnership. Our marriage is pretty traditional, and we’ve both assumed the typical husband/wife roles. Cool thing is, as we’ve gotten older we find ourselves partnering up to tackle many of our domestic chores. We both do laundry, and we love to go grocery shopping together! He does most of the outdoor stuff – mowing, gardening etc., but I tend the flower beds. We share the load, which brings me to my next tip –
- Don’t keep score! Marriage is NOT a competition! Don’t count the number of times you’ve mowed, or the number of time he’s emptied the dishwasher, or emptied the trash. Do NOT even let that devil in your home. Just take care of business with a joyful heart. Both of you. (again with the whole partnership thing)
And here’s a few things I’ve learned:
Marriage isn’t always a cruise, sometimes it’s a train wreck.
Job changes, job losses, moves, kids, school, college, empty nest, loss of loved ones, Trust me y’all, you won’t believe how many times we’ve needed and depended on each other. We are each other’s safe place.
The empty nest is highly underrated.
And it’s fun! I know, I know, you’re busy raising kids and stuff, and the thought of your little precious ones flying the coop strikes abject fear into your heart. I was you once. I get it. It’s awful when they leave. It’s one of the greatest adjustments you will ever make. I wrote about it here. But these years are sweet ones, and we both feel it’s our reward for the sacrifices we made through the years. Read here about one of our favorite ways to enjoy our empty nest.
There is no such thing as a perfect marriage!
There’s only OUR marriage. And it’s up to BOTH of us to make it work. I wouldn’t change a thing! There are times when he makes me crazy. But his positives far outweigh is crazy, and that’s when I realize that I am one lucky girl. I would however, like to go back in time and rethink that whole ‘rainbow’ wedding theme.
What are some of your favorite marriage tips? What do you think the secret is to a happy marriage? Share with me how long you’ve been married and your favorite successful marriage secrets!