I have been fortunate to have been married for going on thirty years. Knowing my imperfections, my wife has maintained a good sense of humor and knows when to make “suggestions for my consideration.” The highlighted term is consulting speak for recommending changes. Mind you, she is closer to perfection, but like us all, she falls short of the paragon.
Through almost thirty years, a few things have sunken into my brain that have made me more tolerable as a husband. The title of this post is one such nugget of knowledge. But, here are a few more for the newly married, those couples thinking about it or those couples who have run into a ditch.
Come to Jesus Session – with due respect to all other religions, which likely have a variation of this theme, a “come to Jesus session” is the name given when your wife of six months or a year sits you down and tells you what you need to be doing better in the marriage. The only words you are permitted to say without a resounding a retort are “you are right, I will try to do better.” If you are stupid enough to defend yourself, then you will elongate the discussion to your detriment. Then, you should try to do as many of the things as possible to remain married. This happens in all marriages, so don’t feel like you are isolated.
Just listen don’t try to fix this – it takes a while for this to sink in and sometimes we still don’t get it. There are many occasions when a wife wants to vent about a problem with someone else (first be glad it is not you this time), and you are not to do what a man would normally do – try to fix this. Your role is to listen and insert the appropriates “uh-huhs” when needed. A well placed “that is interesting” or “I can’t believe she did that” will also help.
Take one for the team – this one is for both spouses, but there are several occasions – office holiday parties, for example – where you need to take one for the team. You must be the accompanying spouse. It may be a shopping trip or one of those Holiday ornamental shows that require a partner. So, you have to take an Advil, polish your apple, and go along.
Be able to laugh at yourself – this may be the best advice for staying happily married. There will be many opportunities over the course of thirty years where being able to laugh at your mistakes will diffuse any tension. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Be mindful not to laugh too hard at your wife’s mistakes, but there will be times when that is permissible. My wife invites laughter as she likes to tell on herself. As mentioned in other posts, my wife tends to “hold the world in a paper cup” meaning she does not put on airs.
Massage tired shoulders and feet – this is the only romantic advice I will offer and it is only part romantic. On the latter, women do painful things to their feet to look good in some form of shoes. While watching TV or talking, this effort will be much appreciated. The shoulders part usually occurs when she is standing cooking and you have just come from somewhere. A back scratch or light shoulder massage will smooth any rough waters. And, as Forrest Gump would say “that is all I am going to say about that.”
The best to all of you on your matrimonial endeavors. Marriage to the right partner is worth everything, but you still have to work at it. I have been blessed.