I know what makes him tick. I can read every single expression on his face. I don't even let him finish his sentences most of the time. This comes after thirty nine years of slogging along in a relationship that has weathered mothers-in-law, poverty, children, careers, sickness, health--and those are just the LITTLE THINGS.
Both of my kids are nearing marriage, and I would like to give them some advice. They never listen to me, however. Since neither of them would be caught dead reading my blog, this is the perfect place to put it!
In every relationship, there are things that cause conflict. Learn to choose your battles. I spent about twenty years nagging Charlie about that toilet seat, and finally it ocurred to me to check before I sit. My God, it was a Eureka moment in the marriage! Jokes? He tells, them, and even though I have heard that same one about the short guy going into the bar hundreds of times, I still chuckle. Grooming? Man oh man, nose hair is so disgusting! And this one is a true bone of contention: why do husbands just automatically assume that their wives can read maps? How can anyone read a map? Especially while zooming along an interstate highway at 60 plus miles an hour? HOW DO I KNOW WHAT EXIT THAT WAS?
Another challenge to many marriages? HOBBIES. Therapists will tell you that a happy person is a fulfilled person. Everyone needs to follow that bliss. Scrapbooking, photography, needlepoint, golf, line dancing, Sudoku. All of these are excellent hobbies. But PLAYING THE ACCORDION? I thought the last accordion player in the world had died. But my husband is single handedly (well, actually, he uses both hands) trying to resurrect this lost art. He is devoted, and spends countless hours in the basement practicing. He has a BAND. He has GIGS, for heaven's sakes. He and thirty or so of his cronies entertain at nursing homes and adult day care centers sprinkled throughout the tri state area. He actually GETS PAID for this. For a guy with no talent, he has parlayed this into a second career!
MY hobbies? Well, I am in a book club.
SEX? It's important. Yucking it up? ESSENTIAL. Anyone that has been in love has been in lust. About three or four years into the relationship, the lust just seems to evaporate, leaving behind a void. Couples who believe that sex is everything usually break up at this point. SUCCESSFUL couples fill the void with laughter. One of the pivotal points in our marriage came when Charlie and I discovered that cramming grapes under one's upper lip is ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. Boredom? We solve that problem by leafing through the phone book looking for people with funny names. Sex is fleeting; the phone book yields at least one good hour of solid entertainment every time!
Friends are the key to survival in a marriage. Without sympathetic ears, I might have stewed and fretted myself into "the bad place" more times than I care to contemplate. My best girlfriends consist of a psychotherapist (thank the Lord), a comedian (she thinks she sells jewelry), a sister, a lawyer, and a world traveling tennis enthusiast. They know who they are! In the darkest days of my marriage, when no humor could be found, and I thought that the world might end that day, my friends saved me.
BUT HERE IS THE THING: After putting in the thirty nine years, rolling with the punches, enduring the absolutely horrible and exalting in the good, I find myself right back where I started in this relationship: I AM IN LOVE WITH MY HUSBAND. So girls, if you were to read my blog, this is what I would tell you:
STICK WITH IT.