The Only Piece Of Marriage Advice You’ll Ever Need
So I watched 'How To Stay Married'. All eight episodes.
I know it’s fiction, but I treated it as a doco. Because I’ve been married for a long time. And, you know, HELP ME PLEASE.
I have a pretty great husband. I met him 20 years ago during a camping trip to Byron Bay. It was New Year’s, 1999. The Y2K bug was about to destroy the world. I wasn’t thinking about the bug, though. I was thinking: Oh that bloke looks nice.
Anyway, we got together three years later, because who was brave enough to make the first move? Almost no one.
Now we have a mortgage and two kids and NO ROMANCE.
Look, this is actually fine. I’m not the kind of lady who wants flowers and anniversary presents and compliments. Do not ever give me jewellery because I will take it to the op shop. I don’t need Bridget-Jones-Love-Actually-The-Notebook-style passion. No thank you. But I would like to stay married, and so I’m always on the lookout for tips, advice, ideas. The phone numbers of good marriage counsellors.
READ MORE: How To Find Your Perfect Partner
I have lots of married friends, which is why I know that although spouses are generally terrific, marriage is hard and not always great and can go wrong in so many ways:
- Financial differences
- Parenting differences
- Libido differences
- Television viewing differences
When you first meet someone, it’s difficult to keep these things in mind, because at this point you both a) have your own money, b) don’t have any children, c) want sex all the time and d) pretend to be into stuff you don’t really like.
A decade (or two or three) later, being a couple is a whole different kettle of fish.
So, how DO you stay married?
I read somewhere about the bread rule: give your significant other the best slice of sourdough and take the crust for yourself. This is literally a nice idea, and also works well as a metaphor. If everyone puts their spouse first, OMG marital bliss.
Here’s another gem: it’s not about how much you fight, it’s about how many thoughtful things you do for each other. Or, alternatively, it’s not about how much you fight, it’s about the WAY you fight (I prefer bare knuckle, personally).
Other tips I’ve come across: Make time for dates! Don’t let yourself go! No phones in bed! Keep some mystery! Don’t keep secrets! Flirt more! Flirt less!
All good points, I suppose. But the other night, during an episode of How To Stay Married, I had an epiphany:
REALISE HOW ANNOYING YOU ARE.
My husband’s annoying. He watches football. He buys the kids vanilla slices and donuts. He invites people over for dinner. He likes Christmas. He sometimes writes “your” when he means “you’re”. He bought two dogs. He likes Radio National. He drops crumbs everywhere. He spends at least five hours every day looking for his phone and keys.
But this is nothing compared to HOW ANNOYING I AM.
I watch rom coms and dating shows. I don’t let the kids eat sugar. I can’t stand it when people come over for dinner. I hate Christmas. I point out and correct all grammatical errors. I named one of our dogs Denise. I like Power FM. Crumbs make me tense. If people leave things lying around I put them neatly away.
I could go on -- this list is merely the tip of my annoying iceberg -- but you get the idea. I’m pretty bloody annoying. The thing is, EVERYONE is annoying. It’s not just your partner who doesn’t load the dishwasher properly or is constantly late. YOU DO ANNOYING THINGS TOO.
Anybody who thinks their own behaviour is perfect is a deluded idiot. The truth is, you do a hundred things every day that get on your spouse’s nerves. You never get petrol. You won’t throw out your high-school assignments. You defrost meat on the bench instead of in the fridge. You bite your fingernails. You talk about Sam from Accounts way too much. You can’t make decisions. You seem cocky at trivia nights. You hog the remote. You laugh at your own jokes.
See how annoying you are? Good. Acknowledgement is important. As soon as you accept the fact that you’re not the best housemate, spouse or lover, your marriage will instantly improve. Proof in dot-point form:
- You will start trying to be a bit less annoying.
- You will lower your spousal expectations.
- You will stop nagging your partner about petty things.
- You and your partner will argue less.
- Boom, ROMANCE.
If this doesn’t work, you can always tune in to How To Stay Married to get some other ideas.
Just don’t bite your fingernails or hog the remote while you’re watching.