Ten Ways To Stay (Happily!) Married

Kapu bride and groom
Image via Wikipedia

Like I’m an expert — having been married (for the second time) an entire month. But I did live with Jose for 11 years before we married, long outlasting many official marriages along the way.

Here’s a smart blog post with tips from a few American couples who’ve been married a long time.

Argue when necessary. I don’t believe marriages whose motto is: “We never fight.” Hmmm. So, you never, ever, ever have a difference of opinion on anything? If so, cool. If not, and someone is perpetually squelching their feelings for fear of conflict, look out. Jose and I are passionate, stubborn perfectionists. It’s gonna happen.

Apologize — and really mean it. Not the “I’m sorry you feel hurt” which is BS, an insult and so not an apology! Forgive quickly, and mean it. Grudges are poison.

Flowers are a very good idea, any time. Women who adore them cannot get enough of them. Find out your spouse’s absolute favorites — buy big and often. Every time she looks at them, she sees your love.

Never stop saying “please” and “thank you.” About three years ago, we went out for dinner with an older woman who had never met us, and who had no idea how long we’d been a couple. Watching our behavior, (still respectful, even a bit formal), she guessed a few months. The late Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue, in her fab 1997 autobiography DV, said she always stood up a little straighter when her husband walked into the room. I like that.

Your spouse comes first. It took a long time for Jose to understand that work is key to his happiness and our income, but he must put it aside to connect with me, certainly at day and week’s end. I’m a driven, ambitious and passionate person, and all for someone who loves their work, but not at the expense of their marriage. I’ve had to stop obsessing about my own issues, especially my mother, who lives very far away, whose life is forever full of demanding and emotionally draining complications.

Laugh long, loud and as often as possible. My Dad has stayed with us a few times in our one-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the sofa. He says he was struck by how much Jose and I laugh in bed together. We do laugh a lot. Life in your 40s and beyond gets crazy stressful as friends and parents sicken and die. Laughter heals.

Never abandon seduction. I don’t mean sex, per se, but effort. I really appreciate it when Jose puts on a coat and tie, whether for church or a party or a meal out. I, too, make a point of shedding my sloppy at-home clothes, which I live in because I work alone at home all day. Perfume, cologne, a fresh shave, a pedicure. Having a wonderful meal prepared for you, offered at a lovely table. Jose brings me coffee in bed each morning,  It all helps.

Cultivate close friendships with people who share your spiritual values. I stay far away from whiners and emotional vampires, especially from those clinging to abusive mates or contemplating, or having, an affair. Every marriage needs all the strengthening it can get, and none of the weakening. Surround yourself with healthy role models.

Vacations! Every relationship needs some fresh air and new perspectives, on the world and on each other. Jose and I had a doozy of a fight at 6:00 a.m. in Paris after I chose the wrong bus to get us into the city. But when we arrived at Notre Dame just in time for the sunrise, he quickly forgave me. We’ve also taken separate vacations and thrived. One of my favorite memories was when I was in Tunis, in June 2003, and he was in San Francisco, and we spoke by phone across that impossible distance, my coins clanging through the pay phone like hailstones.

When we can afford it, we come here, (five times so far!) to this idyllic Canadian resort, and look forward to more shared memories there. I love having “our place”, where they know us well and remember our previous visits over the past 10 years.

Totally separate interests. Yes. Jose is passionate about Buddhism and golf. Not I. I love antiques, design, museums, dance. We both need to recharge our batteries, make space and time alone to enjoy ourselves, share our loves with friends and strangers — so we can come home with fresh material. Every marriage needs new material!

Here’s a new book that offers some of the same ideas, and others…

What keeps your marriage thriving?

15 thoughts on “Ten Ways To Stay (Happily!) Married

  1. crgardenjoe

    Nice post. Audrey and I are approaching 29 years this December. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head on virtually all points–and might add that doing silly things together that you enjoy helps. Among other things, we visit a local farm supply store, though we aren’t farmers, just to enjoy the free popcorn. And I think we treat life as a partnership–making major decisions together, both taking part in household work.

  2. I’m not married but I agree with crgardenjoe: there’s nothing better than being silly together. And being able to laugh, at first reluctantly and then uncontrollably in the moments after an argument. And I agree with making an effort too: my boyfriend and I always “treat” each other: of course in essence that means we split all spending down the middle, but every coffee we get together, every play we go to – one of us treats the other. It makes you feel both special and like you’re taking care of the other person. I like when he wears his suit jacket too..

  3. I think being very clear that you’re taking care of someone else is a really good feeling. I like it, and I never really enjoyed being single and dating. I love nesting and being domestic, and luckily so does Jose.

    I keep a lovely photo of Jose as a tiny baby — maybe six months? — with his Mom (then 50!) on my computer and both look so joyful. I try to give him what she did.

  4. I think that you need to spend at least 30 min. or so disconnected from your lap top, phone, toy, whatever it is, and talk to each other about your day. That can help, as well as coming home to each other and always giving each other a hug as a greeting. That’s one of my favorites. And I’m always about laughing too, it definitely reduces stress.

    1. For sure! We usually talk at least an hour or more every day, and no one can be doing anything but listening when we do so. It’s a horrible habit many couples fall into of distracted half-listening. Rude!

      Hugs are key.

  5. Pingback: For Arie « snee made me do it

  6. Great list! I’m sending it to the boy. Think he could use a refreshed hint re flowers 😉

    Shared dreams is a bullet point on my list. I married someone whom i rarely agree with, and we are different in every way possible. But we have a couple of key drivers that keep everything going strong, despite the rockiness that all relationships have.

    PS. I am amazed at couples that never fight. HOW is this possible???

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