Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Monday, January 28, 2013

The "Happily" in the "Ever After"

The other night I read an article about things that make a marriage work.  It was interesting, and while I did see some of what keeps our own marriage running like a well oiled Studebaker, I thought, "Wait, there's more!".  Now, I realize here, that 18 years of marriage is just pre-school compared to some 50 and 60 year stints, but I'd like to believe I have learned a couple of things in between wiping butts, noses and dishes over nearly two (choke) decades.

So here are some grains of wisdom I have swept up off the kitchen floor with the Legos and bulk-bin, generic Lucky Charms.  Take 'em... or leave 'em on my kitchen floor (I'll get to them later).


Get the heck out of the house WITHOUT your children before they suck your brains out, fill your heads with jello and call the mother ship to have you abducted for alien probing.  Children need time away from you to plot their next uprising, and you and your spouse need to reload your bazookas and fill your canteens.  I won't tell you not to spend your precious time away from the beasties talking about them.  We all know you have nothing left to talk about than who wiped boogers on the wall by the toilet, but at least pick the fruit snack out of your hair and put on a vomit-free shirt before you go out.

When you are upset at your "other", think about what that other person needs.  Shift your focus.  I think most upsets happen when someone needs something and isn't getting it.  This really works, primarily because with all the kid noise in the house, it is hard to focus on staying mad and on the needs of the other person at the same time without some Ritalin.

Shave your legs. I don't know if it really helps my marriage, but I like to believe that in the dark of the night he won't think the dog crawled in beside him. Besides, a good make-up job lasts, at best, 4 hours. A good leg shave lasts a day and a half (if there are any men out there who actually read this, you can skip this last one, but I ask you, men, am I wrong?).

Give tokens.  "I got ya somethin'..." Guy will say in a sing-song.  Some fresh mint leaves, my favorite cheese, moss.  Yes, moss.  I used to have a rock garden, and one day Guy brought home some really cool moss for me to add to my garden.  I love that he did that, and though I no longer have the garden, I'll always have the memory. 

Flirt (With each other, I mean.  Kinda counter-productive otherwise).  You are married, so goosing is totally legal. 

Don't "fill the empty space" when he gives you a short answer to a question about his day.  The "space" is the wind up to the swing.  Give him a minute, he might ...actually... say ... something ..................................................eventually.

Don't ask him what he's thinking.  You won't believe him when he says "Nothing", and after you badger him to tell you, what he will now be thinking is something that you. should. not. hear.

Sleep in on Saturday (wink, wink).  Invest in a door lock that cannot be opened with a penny from the outside.  Have a pre-fabricated list of... well, fabrications, for what you are doing in there.  "We are sorting socks" and "We are discussing the Cuban Missile Crisis" are good stand-bys.

As an addendum to the above tidbit, put the cereal bowls where little ones can reach them, and make sure the milk jug isn't too full to be lifted by a 5 year old.  Nothing spoils the mood like the resonating thud- glub-glub of a new gallon of milk hitting the floor.  Train the big kids to help with this one, and reward them later with at least an hour of mind-numbing Japanese cartoons for "letting you sleep".

Thank him.  A lot.  Be specific.  He deserves it. 

No tears after 9PM.  This one took me a while to figure out (I cry.  It's part of my process sometimes.  It's the lubricant that lets my words slide out more easily).  But after 9PM he is winding down, and it takes a lot of energy to deal with a wet conversation.  Wait til daylight (preferably with some sleep in between).  "It" will usually keep, and by then the tears may have dried up all on their own.

When you are mad at each other, stick out your tongue and say "Nyah!"  I don't know why, but for some reason this little exchange lightens the mood.  Don't let the kids see. Major backfire there.

Hold her hand.  For gosh sakes, man, it's right there.  Just pick the thing up, and do that little thumb-on-the-back-of-the-hand rubby maneuver.  When you were dating she wanted a ring on her hand... this is way cheaper and still very desirable.

Don't let the kids sit between you.  Your place is by each other's side, at church, on the couch, at the movies, at dinner.  Once those cretins weasel their way in, you'll never get your spot back.

Find out their love languages, and learn to "speak" them.  (take the Love Languages test here  (Mine are "Affection" and "Words of Affirmation" - just in case any of my husbands are reading.  Guy's is "Time Together", for sure.)

Fuss over special days. Not "fuss" as in complain and make each other miserable. Make a fuss. Go to some trouble. Do it up right. Sparkling cider is available year round for a buck ninety-nine, and a candle will make any crappy day into a cozy evening. Guy and I do a $5 valentines. It is more work, actually, than getting a gift that would cost more, because it still has to be meaningful. But I love that he can find some cool old thing at a thrift store that he knows I will love.  There are 4 days that you MUST acknowledge: Birthday, Valentines, Christmas and Anniversary.  You can be lazy the other 361.

Work together.  It takes one person 2 minutes to make a bed, and two people about 20 seconds. Really, I have never had so much appreciation for my husband as I do when he works at my side, no matter what we are doing.  Especially diapers.  With a two year old poopy-runner, that's a two person job fo' sho'.


Get over yourself.  Everything that comes into your head does not automatically need to come out of your mouth. In fact, I'm gonna shut up right now.