Unconventional Tips On How To Survive 35 Years Of Marriage
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a couple celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary and I could see instantly that they were best friends. I could see it, for one thing, because they were celebrating their anniversary in Las Vegas. That tells me several things including 1) They don’t take life or themselves too seriously. They didn’t require some ballroom at the Hyatt to celebrate their anniversary. It’s okay that college kids were drinking out of plastic cups shaped like boobs around them. 2) They don’t struggle with jealousy. Las Vegas is a city of sin…and very small outfits…and can be a tough place for some insecure couples and 3) They love to party together. And I could tell that they genuinely loved being around one another. So I had to ask them if they had any advice for a successful marriage, and I got these quirky tips.
Don’t live near your in-laws
Do you want to avoid half a lifetime of fighting with your spouse because you let your parents give too much input on how you should decorate your house, invest your funds and raise your kids? Do you want to not struggle to find time for a date night, because you don’t fill up half of your weekends having dinner with your family? Then don’t live near your in-laws. Live a two-hour drive away. That way, you can see them when you want, but they won’t be in your business. When you see each other, they’ll be so grateful for the time with you (because it’s rare) that they won’t want to talk too much about mortgages and home décor.
Unless your in-laws make great babysitters
If you happen to be blessed with those amazing parents who don’t stick their noses where they don’t belong, but are actually just really fun hang-out buddies then do live near them. Why? Because you have free, willing babysitters. That is something that you will find is invaluable. You’ll never have to pass on a vacation or a night out because the childcare is too expensive, or unreliable.
Bathrooms can be a big point of tension in a relationship. If one person feels the other hoards the bathroom, making them constantly late for work, or if one thinks the other makes a mess of the bathroom, you will argue every day. You use the bathroom every day, after all. If you have separate bathrooms then you don’t need to fight for the restroom when you’re running late, and you can be as messy or tidy as you want.
First off, if you always have something to look forward to, you’ll be immeasurably happier than if life is just one long line of spreadsheets and tax forms and carpools. Second, going on vacations together lets you reconnect with who you are when you aren’t tending to a screaming child, stressing over a work project or socializing with acquaintances you don’t like that much. Who you are on vacation is who you are—relaxed, playful, adventurous and affectionate. Be that way as often as you can. Vacation as often as you can.
Have sex, even when you don’t want to
It’s amazing how an orgasm makes you completely forget whatever household chore you were just arguing about. Having sex helps your body produce hormones that make you feel closer to your partner. You naturally want to fight less when you have sex more. Don’t just have sex when you’re getting along perfectly—the sex will make you get along.
Go for the spacious home
If you have to choose between the luxury, newly-renovated place that is rather small or the slightly older place that is larger, go for the older place. Granite countertops and five-speed showers do not help you get along; having space helps you get along. His and her closets, his and her bathrooms, and a guest room—these are the things that help make a marriage work.
Cocktails go a long way
Hey—these aren’t my words! They come from the couple celebrating their 35-year anniversary. A nice cocktail suddenly makes that laundry your partner has yet to fold or those dishes your partner always puts in the wrong place seem really unimportant. You can’t drink away significant relationship disputes, but you can drink away frivolous stress over things like putting the toilet seat down.
Vow to hate the people he hates
Be on your partner’s side outwardly, even if you are not on his side inwardly. That means that if your partner needs to hate a coworker, you hate that coworker too. Even if, on the inside, you know that person isn’t that bad and your partner is being critical (perhaps because he’s jealous of the coworker) it’s your job to be on your partner’s side. Sometimes you need to choose between making nice with some acquaintance who really doesn’t matter to you, and getting along with your spouse. It should be an easy choice when you look at it that way.
When in doubt, make the person laugh
If you’re having the same old argument or simply struggling to feel in-sync, make your partner laugh. Get in the shower with him, wearing floaties. Slap some foamy dish soap on his face. Bring up an old inside joke that has no place here. Life should not be all about who will walk the dog and who will stay at home to meet the plumber. Life is about laughing.
Have good walking shoes
Sometimes you need to go for a long walk to blow off steam. Find a bar or coffee shop where you enjoy posting up during a fight and invest in some good walking shoes so you can stroll around the neighborhood for an hour if you need to.
Become fat or fit together
Whatever you need to do to make it work, be in approximately the same shape. If one person is obsessed with working out three hours a day and having a carb-free home while the other lives for pizza and hates the gym, you may drift apart a little bit. Meet each other halfway on the healthy lifestyle thing.
Have fight amnesia
Don’t bring up old stuff. Don’t have every fight you’ve ever had. Stick to this fight, on this day. I know—it’s very hard not to bring up old fights because you have so much evidence that your partner is wrong. But refrain from doing so. Bringing up old fights makes your partner wonder if you ever truly forgive him when you say you do.
Don’t fight sleepy
You don’t know what you’re saying when you’re sleepy and you know it’s true. A lot of couples know not to fight when they’re drunk, but don’t forget that fighting sleepy is just as dangerous. If you keep fighting at 1 in the morning, you won’t get a good night’s rest, and tomorrow, you’ll still be delusional. That means you still won’t be able to handle this fight.
Remove exes if possible
Do you have any feelings left for your ex? No. Does your ex still pine after you? Nope. Do you and your ex enjoy getting a beer from time to time? Yup. Is that worth a lifetime of disputes and jealousy and insecurity in your marriage? Hmmm….Something to think about. Unless you share a child with your ex you don’t really need him in your life. Even if your ex was a close friend before you dated and you want to maintain the friendship, well, you probably shouldn’t have dated. Don’t make your spouse pay for your mistakes. Some friendships need to be let go of in order to let the marriage work.
Keep some things to yourself
If it isn’t positive or productive, don’t say it. For example, if your partner has a terrible business idea but he’s really excited about it, don’t tell him he has a terrible business idea. Let his friend who is a business guru tell him that. Remain his cheerleader. The world will let him know if he has a terrible business idea.