Wednesday
Mar052008

Newly Wed

This dishy bride is Jess of See Hear Speak No Evil. Isn't she lovely? Jess asks:

Mrs. G,

As you know, I'm getting married in less than two weeks. Id really like to know the three most important things that have kept your marriage strong.

Love,

Jess

Mrs. G. has been thinking about this question all week. She is reluctant to give anyone marital advice, because it is a serious subject and she has not one whit of professional training other than reading a Dr. Phil book years ago relationships are a tricky business. She and Mr. G. have been married for eighteen years, but, Jess, all Mrs. G. can say with any certainty is:

Peaks...

and Valleys. Peaks and valleys. Some deeper and higher than others. Some fixed by a king sized bag of peanut M&M's. Some not.

With this in mind, here are a few of Mrs. G's March 5th, 2008, tips for Keeping a Marriage Strong. She specifies the exact date because, and this is the tricky part Mrs. G. alluded to earlier, answers change depending on the day, month or year.

In an attempt to be unbiased and even-handed, Mrs. G. asked Mr. G. what he thought were the three most important things in keeping a marriage strong .

Mrs. G: What do think are the three most important things in keeping a marriage strong?
Mr G: What kind of question is that?
Mrs. G: I'm just curious. What do you think?
Mr. G: Love, trust and friendship.
Mrs. G: And?
Mr G: What do you mean?
Mrs. G: What do you mean what do I mean? Can you dig a little deeper and give me some specifics? That's what I mean
Mr. G: I'm not sure I know what you mean. That's my answer. It's simple. Can I stop talking now?

This conversation speaks to Mrs. G. Marriage Rule #1: Don't always look for deeper meaning. It is entirely possible that you will never find it. Sometimes a wet towel left on the bedroom floor is just a wet towel left on the bedroom floor. It doesn't symbolize oppression or disrespect or pent up rage or unfulfilled dreams. Most often, it symbolizes a wet towel left on the bedroom floor. If you can't accept this simple truth and you must explore the wet towel left on the bedroom floor and, say, its role in empowering the patriarchy, Mrs. G. suggests you buy a journal and, for the health of your relationship, work it out on paper. Silently. Sometimes it is what it is. In this case, a wet towel left on the bedroom floor. So, Jess, if it's not a bona-fide big-ass deal...

let it slide. And then let it slide some more.
Mrs. G's Marriage Rule #2 is the classic but still relevant: The Only Person You Can Change Is Yourself. Mrs. G. truly believes that the most positive ingredient in her marriage is her and Mr. G's ability to live and let live. She accepts that he will never be able to locate baking powder at the grocery store without a map, and he deals with her inability to cope with the strangulating nature of a top sheet. She knows that if she asks him a question regarding any subject and he doesn't know the answer, he will make it up. Without pausing or batting an eye. He accepts that she can't handle raw chicken and has an unexplainable need to buy at least seven new calendars a year. He snores. She smacks her gum.

Jess, if you find yourself in a position where you are sure that your new husband is, perhaps, the least attractive and most unpleasant person you have ever agreed to spend the rest of your life with and that you would like to stab him with a pencil, put the pencil down, lock yourself in the bathroom and take your own inventory. Mrs. G. often approaches her relationship mathematically, like in the following equation:

his ego+my moodiness+his refusal to clean the shower+my lack of organization skills+his idiot friend+my idiot friend+his inability to wrap up cheese properly so that it doesn't get those repulsive hard and discolored edges+my obsession with hair and Secret Boyfriends - everyday bullshit and a long day's work=just fine x i love you
And, finally, Jess, Mrs. G's Marriage Rule #3: Above all else, be nice. Hug and kiss each other, rub each other's feet, and work really hard not to bring up, on a fairly regular basis, the time that he didn't empty the dishwasher on your birthday nine years ago. Even if it was right after he forgot to notice your new haircut and fix the cord on the freakin' vacuum cleaner for the 27th day in a row despite the fact that it was his mother coming over that night to eat the dinner you cooked on your birthday. It was nine years ago. Peaks and valleys, Jess, let it slide. Just walk right over that wet towel on the bedroom floor and let it slide.

May your lives be filled with peace, love, health and happiness. Congratulations!

 
OK, Derfwads, now it's your turn. Help a new bride out. Remember when you and yours were just starting out? Can you offer Jess any thoughts on how to keep a marriage strong? What has worked for you? And, equally important, what hasn't worked for you?

 


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Reader Comments (110)

hmmm. I would have to say the key to our marriage lasting 18 years is.....beer. and not taking ourselves too seriously. But mostly it is the beer.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersozzled

Been married 12 years, cohabitating for almost 18. No advice, as I think we just lucked out when we ran into each other way back when. I think it's important to choose well, but I have no idea how to do that. Choose someone who makes you laugh, who is interested in who you really are, and with whom the sex is really, really good.

After that, I think Mrs. G's advice is comprehensively right on.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLizabeth

If he doesn't knock your sox's off, he aint the one.
Sex is important.
Beer (or in our case Capt'n) is equally important.
Communication and Trust.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBunny Bunster

Beer and Sex are fine,not necessarily in that order,and making you laugh is a must...But if he can put up with your crap without as much as a eye twitch..Ya got a keeper.

Oh yea...and what mrs. g. said ;p

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sez..

Jess~

What Mrs. G. said, it's all how you look at it. Glass half full, grass isn't greener, stuff like that. And time outs. I highly recommend them when the wet towel on the floor gets to you. Do I mean to take a time out to cool off for a moment? Of course not. Put him in the time-out chair.

Great post, Mrs. G. Better than Dr. Phil could ever hope to be.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheri

Never forget to kiss each other goodnight, even when you're pissed off, or exhausted or hacking from the flu, and remember to keep your sense of humor handy at all times.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

You are so wise.

I'd add that it helps to have similar senses of humor and to exercise that humor often.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShe She

Wellllll,
Being 18 years married, I would say that the law of attraction comes into big play, here. Especially when he gets old and starts to get that second puberty going- you know, the ear, eyebrow and nose hairs--eeeww. Then because you are so nice, you want him to look better, so you can have a good romp, you trim said hairs for your man. now thats love.
oh, and lots of laughter at him, I mean with him. Thats fun, too.
Congratulations and best wishes from the coastal nest
Lisa

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Stay friends, be nice to each other. Don't say anything you will regret later. Cool down first. Try not to keep a file drawer in your brain of all the little things he did that annoyed you. You will be a happier person if that drawer is empty.

Kiss often, joke with each other everyday, and thank each other for the little things that make your life nicer.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette

I like what Mrs. G. wrote in an earlier post: everyone needs to feel valued. If I can focus on that, making my husband feel appreciated, whole, it comes back to me.
This is our 25th year of marriage.Whew.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Brava, Mrs. G - this has to be my favorite post.

(Dr. Phil has nothing on you.)

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Milton

Dr. Phil sucks. Don't pay any attention to him. Hey, I can say that. I'm from Oklahoma.

For Jess:

Give in first. Even when he's wrong. Especially when you're wrong. Pride is a marriage killer.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaycie

I have been married for 18 years, and I couldn't agree more with your reply.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterso NOT cool

Mrs. G is a wise, wise woman. Oprah's got nothing on her.

I, too, have been trying to let go of my inner control freak. Most of it just isn't worth fighting about. I agree with She She and the rest that being able to laugh is important, too-- when you can't laugh at something because you're so mad, writing in your journal in the bathtub is the best first course-- not yelling.

Because I am a vicious, screaming, throwing-things harridan when I get mad (hey, at least I have the excuse of being crazy) I try to impose a 24 hour inner ceaase fire on something if I am still mad about it after I write it out in the bathtub. Then, if I am still mad, 24 hours later, I go back, re-read my journal entry, and then bring it up. 98% of the time I am no longer mad enough to fight about it. 90% of the time it's no longer worth bringing up at all, even in a "you made me mad when you did this" way.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBipolarLawyerCook

Jess listen to Mrs. G because she speaks the truth. Peaks, valleys, wet towels and the calender are all perfect advice.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWho asked you?

I don't really think me, as the divorced lady should give marital advice, BUT I'd have to say dittodittoditto to what Mrs. G. said.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKeetha

Stangely enough, NOT speaking the same language has been great at times for us!!

But seriously...a sense of humor is a MUST...and being completely comfortable with that person, in any situation.
Oh, yeah...and beer and sex, too!

I think that you covered it all quite nicely....well done, Mrs. G.
DrPhilDrSchmil...you are so much better!!!

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdkuroiwa

I think you nailed every single bit of it. Great work! (Your post should be required reading for all people applying for a marriage license)

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

First of all, congrats on your marriage, Jess. I got married 4.5 years ago at the age of 44... and I asked a few people the same question that you posed and some of their replies really struck me and I used them and now I"m passing them on to you...

1. Be kind (So simple, right???)
2. Be careful about how you talk to your partner... LISTEN to your words and ask yourself how you would feel if someone said those things to you...
3. Keep sex alive. It's not the bricks but it's the mortar of the relationship.

And then everything Mrs. G said too.

Best wishes,
Kim

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPearl C. Pritchard

Time out for grown ups. It works. If things start getting too tense, one of us claims "time out" and leaves the room until they calm down. :)

Jess - Good luck on your wedding and marriage. Mrs G - love the post, it had me ROFLMAOABCDEFG

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarketing Mama

Though not being a very good example I ,of course. still have an opinion. My theory is this; only marry someone who adores you. We need to be adored, then all else is tolerable.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVallen

You've pretty much said it all. Pretty simple, actually. I would just add that you should have lots of girlfriends to talk to, so you don't drive your husband crazy rehashing what you should do about So-and-so who isn't holding up her end of the carpool and what a lousy job the drywall guy did in the bathroom and...on and on and on...guys just hear it all as complaining.

Also, don't read any marriage advice books. They (almost) all boil down to "How to Get Him to Do What You Want," which is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. As Mrs. G. said, live and let live. You're not perfect either.

Simple, but hard. Really hard.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuburbanCorrespondent

Excellent advice Mrs. G and all the commenters. I've been married 12 years and the things mentioned here work for us. I'd add that we're both really good about saying, "Sorry, I was a jerk," when we've been acting like a jerk. And we're both the type to stomp off in a flurry of slammed doors when we're mad but we come back and talk about it as soon as possible once we've cooled off. We don't go to work or go to bed mad.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

Mrs G !!!!!!

I wish you were my friend three marriages ago!

Yea thrice wasn't the charm for me, but then again, I never was good at finding Prince Charming.

The first and last ... were jerks.

I was the jerk in the 2nd one.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I think you summed it up quite well, actually. (Except for the feet-rubbing thing. There is just no way I'm touching them. No matter what.)

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMadMad

Dr. Phil ain't got a thing on you, Mrs. G. Not a thing! I recommend a Mrs. G. weekly advice column.

My advice for marriage success: a keen ability to tune each other out when the time is right without the other knowing it. My husband and I are great at it, I think.

KEEP BELIEVING

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

Oh, CRAP! I missed the book giveaway!
I totally agree with all of your marriage musts, Mrs. G. My hubbie does the cheese half-ass wrap thing too. Aaaaaaaargggghh. I get him back by doing all the laundry and then letting it sit folded in baskets around the house for days.
Muuuwaahaahaaahaaaa!

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkalurah

16 years.

Respect.

Respect his family, even if you don't like them.

Respect his opinions, even if you don't agree with them.

Respect his need to be alone, even if you need to talk.

Respect his hobbies, even if you aren't interested.

In turn, he should have respect for you.

I feel like I need to explain my comment. I mean the ability to tune out when the time is right as times like these:

Him: bla bla bla, car tune up, bla bla bla new drill bla bla bla fertilize the lawn bla bla bla (this is where I tune out, unbeknownst to him)

Me: bla bla bla, new shoes, bla bla bla, she never calls me back, bla bla bla, grocery store tomorrow, bla bla bla (this is where he tunes me out unbeknownst to me)
KEEP BELIEVING

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

At 52, after 12 years of being single, I am 4 months into a cohabitation with a man of 58 who I "met" a year ago in the chat room of an rv group we both belong to. Between us we have 6 marriages ...so I think I am uniquely qualified to say what NOT to do :)!!

But those are the opposites of Mrs. G's "rules" - WELL SAID Mrs. G!! I wish I had those insights years ago - I hope they stand me in good stead now because I truly believe and hope I've found my "keeper".

Congrats and best wishes Jess!

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnn from Montana

Everything Mrs. G said.

Her calendar is exactly the way marriage is.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer h

Oh Mrs. G. I just loved this post. I will save it in case I ever get married again.

First off, whoever up-comments said choose well was right on the money. You need two people willing to work on a marriage and keep it running. We'll assume Jess has chosen well.

I'm not really the poster girl for successful marriage, but as one learns from one's mistakes, I guess I'm entitled to give advice from the "here's what we did, don't do that" school of thought.

Don't speak to your spouse in a way that you wouldn't want to be spoken to yourself.

Don't always insist on being right, even when you are.

Don't say hurtful things in the heat of the moment.

Don't lie to each other.

Above all, be kind.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteralison

Wow. I don't think I can add anything. These are wonderful bits of advice. You are SO much better than Dr. Phil.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScout

>>She knows that if she asks him a question regarding any subject and he doesn't know the answer, he will make it up. Without pausing or batting an eye.>>

OMG! We call this M.A.S.- Male Answer Syndrome. My husband has it BIG TIME!

Mrs. G knows her stuff. Great advice! We'll be celebrating our 24th this year.It's all about remembering to like each other as well as love each other. And don't sweat the small stuff.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZenmomma

We have two houses, sometimes we are both in the same one. Need I say more?

Darla

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersee you there!

We've been together for a l-o-n-g time. What works for me: always remember that it is Good Luck To Be Nice; also be friends---long after the initial passions shifts, if you have a strong foundation, you'll be ok. I try to remember when I start feeling nit-picky that "the Universe continues." My issue general has no impact on world peace or cures for cancer. "Let it be."

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdebra

did anyone just hear a loud THUNK? If so, it was Mrs. G. falling off the pedestal I placed her on. The heinous act that made her fall? Gum snapping! Say you don't Mrs. G.!

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

1. have a sense of humor
2. laugh
3. remember s _ _ t happens but you survive
4. forgive one another

Mrs. G.'s advice much better than Dr. Gas Bag's
35 years and still loving one another

Mrs. G is so awesome! GREAT advice! My contibution: When the honeymoon phase of your marriage subsides it doesn't mean the marriage is over. And unfortunately, the couple doesn't often reach this phase at the same time, so one is left feeling slighted. Take it for what it is. Your relationship is evolving.

You will both change over the years. No one is the same exact person they were on their wedding day a decade or two before.

And when arguing, stick to the disagreement at hand. Don't bring up past issues or throw in other current issues. It puts the other person on the defensive and the argument will not be a productive one.

Also, try to never say anything that is meant to hurt the other person when arguing. You might feel justified at that exact moment but you will later regret it and it can never be unsaid.

Good luck!!!!

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTootsie Farklepants

My husband would probably say that it's his refusal to play gin rummy with me - because I ALWAYS WIN.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMagpie

I don't know if anyone reads down as far as comment # 41, but here goes anyway.

Respect - No matter how angry we are, my husband and I would never think of calling the other a name or being rude for the sake of it.

Communication - You have to feel safe talking about everything with each other, no topic is taboo.

All the best luck to the new bride!!

And Mrs. G, I like Mr. G.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShelby

laugh together... a lot... be silly.. walk in the rain ... get a puppy if you really want to test your marriage...always say I love you before you part ways...and when you want to scream or throw something - take abreak walk away and then come back and talk about it.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterladybug12

Once a year sit down with pen and paper and compose a list of fifty reasons why you love him. (Yes fifty--it makes you dig deep.)

Also--when you throw something at him, aim slightly to the right of his head. It doesn't actually do any harm and still scares the crap out of him.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

20 years today! Mrs. G pretty much hit it on the head, esp. with the wet towel on the floor...with men, it's usually just a wet towel on the floor.
Personally, God is an important part of our marriage. Additionally, we agreed from the beginning that divorce is not an option so that could not be used in an argument. And arguments? We rarely have those. When we do, we try to use humor. My kids laughed at us when we "argued" over my wanting to replace dh's dresser...and they got to see us compromise as the outcome.
We do stuff together. We go on walks so we can talk. We play...playing is important...we play boggle & scrabble & Wii & backgammon (and make up "handicaps" for when one person is so much better than the other). Laughter is important. Treasure one another.

I recommend the book "His Needs, Her Needs" (sorry, I forgot the author). Excellent ideas on how to find ways to play together, and on understanding the male/female differences in what we see as "important." Because of this book, I'm not afraid to "play" tennis with my dh (trust me, we're both bad but we laugh and have fun) AND I've learned to compliment him often. I might not have otherwise.

And if something works well for the 2 of you, don't let others make you think it's wrong.
Example: I make my husband's lunch. Sure he could make his own, but it is a nicety. I do it even when I am mad at him over something!

Sex is great, of course, but kindness and laughter and ignoring those wet towels often make the sex possible.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkcinnova

"...the strangulating top sheet..." Have you been hanging around my home without my knowledge?!? I thought I was the only one!

As for keeping a marriage strong, I say this: Never go to bed angry, drink a glass of wine every night and take at LEAST two weekend getaways with a girlfriend EVERY YEAR.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteraaryn b.

OH! And one other thing: Don't freakin' settle!

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteraaryn b.

mrs. g - thank you SO MUCH! i absolutely LOVE this post. i'm going to print it out and read it often. and especially if i ever feel like i need a reminder.

the calendar - ROFLMAO. so true! so funny!

and to everyone else who has commented on here so far..i've read your comments. i laughed (sozzled!!) and i appreciate your insight and advice. kaycie, your comment on pride being a marriage killer resonates with me. i have pride and i hate to be the one to compromise all the time. but he's worth it, so i will. :)

he left a wet towel ON THE BED one time. but this was before we were married and i still said "i do" so i know what i signed up for.

thanks again, mrs. g. you are super!

xoxo

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjess

Love the part about "Be Nice." I'm afraid so many people forget that part, and it's the easiest part of the whole shebang. If you're nice to each other, then you'll be much more forgiving and easygoing about the little things that are annoying and sometimes turn into big things for no good reason.
Things are shaping up nicely with the Norwegian, and if they go the way I think they're going to, this post (or huge excerpts) are going to be part of the service.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRedblur63

LOVE THIS POST!

Honestly? Figure out your attitudes about money and raising children (if you're planning on having kids, that is) RIGHT NOW.

Mr. Chili and I agreed that we'd never purchase anything over 100 bucks without consulting each other (groceries and car repairs don't count). I manage the checkbook, he manages the stocks and investments. There are arguments about money and very few surprises. This is important.

Also important is the fact that we agree to back each other up where the kids are concerned. If I say "no" he thinks "yes," he keeps his mouth shut and backs up my no and, if necessary, we discuss it later (and, of course, I've got HIS back). We agreed on important values and routines early, before we ever got pregnant, and we have frequent conversations about how we're doing in the process as the girls get older.

These things, I think, are the most important (well, those, and the things YOU mentioned, Mrs. G). I'm perhaps the happiest married person I know, and I attribute a lot of that to the fact that my husband and I communicate.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Chili

i have been wondering about this exact thing for a few years now.
hubby and i met when i was sixteen and we're still together 22 years later, against all the statistical odds an' all that.

maybe it's that he's so easy to live with? he makes me laugh, we both encourage each other to http://katekiwi.blogspot.com/2007/08/let-our-worlds-collide.html" REL="nofollow">Do Our Thing.

but how have a lot of our friends fared differently? i have no idea.

love how you describe it, Mrs. G.
yes, many peaks and valleys. and you know that whenever there's a valley, you just KNOW there's gonna be a peak just around the corner.

peace and love especially to jess and her newlywed X

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkate5kiwis

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