Friday, July 17, 2015

What 24 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me

Before you being reading, know this:  If you are expecting a feel-good typical-standard advice on how to make YOUR marriage last as long as mine (and my husband's, I guess) then STOP READING.  Are you kidding me, I don't have that kind of advice.  I have my own knowledge, my own set of standards and rules (rules, that's funny).

Okay.  You're still here.  To establish my degree of yes-I-know-what-I'm-talking-about, I was married in 1991 at the age of 21 (hey, I was legal drinking age).  My guy was (and, I guess, still is) nine years older than me.  That sort of balanced out the maturity level (although I've slipped a tad).  Through those 24 years we have faced infertility, financial troubles, loss of a business, lawsuits, family crap (loads and loads of that stuff) and then the birth of one child who is now a teenager.  (Good God, and I'm still here?!).  This is MY take on what it took to make it this far and stay married.

1.  Get in the biggest fight to date on a Friday afternoon.  Seriously.  Nothings open on Saturday.  No divorce attorneys work on Saturdays, the courthouse and their divorce filings aren't open on Saturday, most apartment managers aren't answering calls on Saturdays.  It's really hard to make any permanent decisions on a weekend.  It really does give you a chance to cool down.

2.  Ask for power tools, appliances, furniture and vehicles for your birthday, Mothers Day, Valentines Day, Christmas, Cino de Mayo, whatever.  That way if you do end up toward the divorce path, you will have gotten all these "gifts" that can start your life over.  I was smart enough to ask for a cordless screwdriver, table saw, chop saw, circular saw, socket set and loaded tool box for every holiday for the first five years of our marriage.  I knew he'd never divorce me because I had all the tools.  I also brought the only good stereo into the marriage which would leave with me if he pissed me off.

Not the cheap Flip Flop - the more expensive
$6.47 Chateau St Michelle because it was
Mother's Day.
3.  Alcohol - or the Gym.  There are some days (okay, fine, most days) that the root of whatever issue I'm pissed off at him about, has nothing to do with him, but my own stress level.   Sometimes a beer or a glass of wine or a trip to the gym (before the alcohol!) is all it takes to loosen me up, get the monkey-stress off my back and make me into a human being again.  The $20 I spend a month on the gym is a hell of a lot cheaper than an attorney.  I drink cheap Flip Flop wine and expensive Corona beer, but both are cheaper than a therapist.  Just don't drink the entire bottle of Flip Flop or the case of Corona.  That leads to it's own set of problems.

4.  Make sure you each have your own ipod.  In all transparency here, sometimes I put in the earbuds to my ipod Shuffle and crank that sucker up so I can't hear anything The Guy I Let Live With Me has to say.  $50 for the Shuffle and a $50 iTunes card are cheaper than an apartment deposit.

5.  You don't have to be in each other's pocket.  I have no problem going to one of the high school girls basketball games without The Guy I Let Live With Me .  Just because he doesn't want to go, doesn't mean I need to stay at home and sulk and be ticked off.  I paid for the Season's Pass, I'm gonna use it.  He goes off and does stuff with his brother that I don't want anything to do with.  If you don't do your own thing on occasion (without the snarky fine-be-that-way attitude) you are going to end up bitter.  Both our parents have been married 45 and 55 years (that's like a hundred years, cumulative - wow).

6.  Know you are going to have to do stuff you don't like.  Just do it.  Know you aren't going to like it all the time.  I seem to be the only one in the family who notices you can't fit a string cheese wrapper in the remarkably full garbage can.  This sends me over the edge at least twice a month.  The other eight times a month, I just take it out and realize that I'm just that much smarter than everyone else in the family that I can recognize the sign of a full garbage can.  The Guy I Let Live With Me has this talent in determining when it's time to go to the dump.  Me, I just buy a new garbage can.  Know your talents.

7.  Give in.  I suck at this one so I can't go into too much detail, but I do know that we will end up with grey cabinets in the kitchen because The Guy I Let Live With Me likes them.  Me, I love the color of wood.  The problem is, I like ALL the wood; dark, light, maple, espresso, birch...  It will take me thirty years to pick one and I will change my mind every seven minutes.  I also love the shaker look.  I have yet to find a wood grain and stain that is consistent throughout.  Every time we go to the cabinet manufacturers, we find the shaker and The Guy I Let Live With Me points out that the stile on this cabinet is a different color than that one.  Uggg.  This doesn't happen with grey.  We're getting grey just so I don't have to hear about it for the rest of my life.

8.  Demand when you need too.  Two things off the top of my head; 1) He is not allowed to TOUCH my garden.  Not plant it or weed it (he can harvest it - ironically, I hate that part).  2.  He is not allowed to paint ANYTHING.  The deck needs a fresh coat of paint, I'm all over it.  He so much as lifts a paint brush, even to hand to me, and he will have his intestines ripped through his throat.  That's a wee bit of an exaggeration.   Remember that part about 'know your strength'.  He knows I can run faster.  And hold a grudge longer.  

9.  Go to bed pissed.  Hell, some days I wouldn't get any sleep at all if I lived by that "don't go to bed mad" rule (and that would make me even more intolerable).  Sleep on the couch.  Make him sleep on the couch.  Whatever.  The next morning leads to a whole different day and a whole different mindset.

There are some days you won't want to stay married.  The single life is not just whispering sweet nothings in your ear, it has a bullhorn.  There is nothing your darling spouse can do to make you want to stay and you start checking out the rates of apartments near your workplace.  Having been there more than once (sometimes in the same day), it can be pushed through.  With faith, love, Jack Daniels and a walk around the block.  Alone.

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