Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Making Love Last

A friend of mine is getting married soon.  She's in her late 30's, and this is her first (and hopefully last) marriage.

It's not that she put her career first, or that she had a long unreasonable list of traits that she insisted a prospective mate should have.  She's always been looking for "Mr. Right" and never wanted to settle for "Mr. Right Now".  Her parents have been married for over 40 years, and she's longed to find a partner she could spend her entire life with.  She's finally found the man who fits the bill.

We were talking a couple of weeks ago about the upcoming nuptials, and out of the blue she said, "You know, Atilla, you're the only friend I have who is still married and crazy in love with her husband after a zillion years together.  Got any tips?"

First I was flabbergasted.  That has got to be one of the very nicest things anybody has ever said to me.  I told her I'd think about it and get back to her.

Hubby and I went out of town last week for a few days to a conference he had to attend (more on that in another post) and on the drive we talked about it.  He was also very flattered to hear my friend's opinion about our relationship.  We've been together for 21 years---most of my adult life!----and he wanted to hear what I came up with.  I discarded all the trite advice, like "never go to bed mad at each other" (What BS.  Quite a few times over the years I've gone to bed wanting to rip his face off). 

This is what I narrowed it down to:

1.  No matter how mad you get, never EVER call each other names.  It's one thing to say I'm being bitchy, it's another to call me a bitch.  Over the years, Hubby and I have been the unfortunate witnesses to a few spats between partners, most notably the Aspiring Adult and his last long-term girlfriend.  You would not believe the things they called each other when arguing! Gah!

This is supposed to be the person you love more than anyone else in the world.  Yeah, we all get mad at each other from time to time, but how can you look tenderly into the eyes of a person who called you a piece of sh*t?  Seriously?  How do you do that?

2.  Never make your beloved look stupid in public or make jokes at his/her expense.  Too many times we've been at functions where spouses have "jokingly" said unkind things about their mates.  One guy, when asked about his wife's recent serious illness made a snarky comment about her being too sick to bathe and how her body funk put a hurting on his nose.  He thought he was being funny and making light of a truly scary situation, but really, how humiliating for his wife.

We are a united front against the world.  My husband is my haven, my safe place.  He would no more share about the time I was having painful stomach issues and accidentally farted a couple of corn kernels in my panties (shrapnel!) then I would share about...well, I'm not telling.  That's private.

Last, but not least....

3.  Never let him see you poop (or any other bathroom functions).  Yes, I know he is your soul mate, but you gotta maintain a little mystique there to keep the relationship alive.  That's why Barbie is still a multigenerational sexy sex icon.  She doesn't poop.  Witnessing you doing it or changing a tampon will wreck your mystique.  Trust me.

I'm thinking about putting a list together and sending it to my friend with her gift for her bridal shower.  Unfortunately I won't be able to attend as she is out of state.

Do any of you who have been in long-term relationships have more advice?





Michele said...

I've been married 15 years. I agree with everything you've said.

Unfortunately - while I agree with the bathroom mystique, that's been a bit hard with one bathroom, but I try.

I would say, further to the no name calling, treating each other with respect, even when mad.

On the homefront, we learned early on - If I'm doing it, I'm doing it my way, and you have no say. And vice versa. This came out early in marriage when I wasn't folding his t-shirts the way he wanted. I said OK. Laundry duty is now yours. He quickly backpedaled and our new rule was born. (I despise the way he loads the dishwasher, but I don't criticize or redo it because it's getting done. He hates the way I load it too.)

We also don't hide when we have arguments. We argue in front of the kids. They sometimes look like they're watching a tennis match. But we want them to see real people in a real relationship work it out and come to some sort of compromise or conclusion (while being respectful and not calling names). It's possible to do and we want that example for them. The caveat is we don't fight ABOUT the kids in front of them - that's done privately, because we also feel they need a united parental front in regards to their needs.

Finally - I think you need to be willing to fight for your relationship, and work at it, despite the ebbs and flows. In our relationship, not giving up has been a factor too.

Unknown said...

I've been married for 11 years and with my husband for a total of 18 years. The best advice I can think of is to be friends. The friend at the end of the day is the one you want to share your news with, the one you think first to call. And it has to be both of you who do this.

Jeanie said...

I'm not sure I am qualified to offer advice on making relationships last, but if I made a list separate bathrooms would be right at the top of the list.

Tracie Nall said...

These are great points!

Especially that second one. My husband and I are a united front against the world as well.

Anonymous said...

That's good advice.
Mine would be "Don't expect someone else to make you happy."

Rootietoot said...

I'd say "give in once in a while, you don't always have to be right."
Your list is spot on!

mary mahoo said...

I (we, really) have been married 36 years this year, and like you two, we are still crazy in love. I agree with all your tips, and would add only one or two more.
Laugh with your mate as often as possible.
And the biggest tip of all? Agree to disagree! My husband & I are both very passionate in our beliefs, and they don't always jive. We learned years ago, that I'm not going to change his mind any more than he is going to change mine, But there is always a compromise to be made.
(And don't ever believe marriage is a 50/50 deal. It is some days, but others it's an 80/20, and yet others it could be a 10/90. Trust in your love & commitment, and it will all work out in the end!)

Jennifer Leeland said...

I've been married to the Redneck for 13 1/2 years and I'd say that the one concept EVERY married person has to learn to be successful is acceptance: of myself, of my husband and of the reality of the moment you're in.
Couples I worry about are the ones that hark back to the past constantly talking about their courtship (the variation of "He doesn't bring me flowers anymore"). And couples that don't enjoy each other's company.
Not that I don't need to get away from my husband regularly to keep me out of prison orange, but you know what I mean. LOL!

Mrs. Hall said...

been married 12 amazing years over here!

there is a crude saying that really, when it comes down to it, lists everything a wife needs to do to keep her husband happy and a marriage thriving. and I apologize in advance.

'keep his balls empty and belly full'.

everything after that falls right in line :)

Attila the Mom said...

Hahahaha! You guys are great!

Kim Ayres said...

Maggie and I have been together for over 22 years, and I firmly agree with your list. But the biggest thing, I've always said when asked about the longevity of our relationship, is communication.

Don't let things build up. Don't stop talking to your partner because you don't want to "burden" them. Don't carry things on your own. It's a partnership - we're in it together.

Without doubt, the times when our relationship has been in most danger has been when we've been holding back from each other.

The other one always knows something's wrong - but if you don't tell them what it actually is, they will imagine something far worse.

Communication, communication, communication - it's the biggest, most important, most powerful tool in the box.

Joanna Jenkins said...

we're coming up on 20 years this August! Hard to believe, it went by so fast.

The one piece of advice I have is for "second wives of husbands with children"... KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT when it comes to kids and ex-wives. Seriously-- zip-it! Life is so much easier when you take the high road.

That and give up on EVER thinking the toilet seat will be down.

xoxo jj

Warner said...

Lots move above

Privacy. In almost 33 years of living together (married over 32), I don't think I have ever opened a drawer on her bureau, read e-mail, etc.

There may be good reason to do the same with money.

Anonymous said...

Well all you youngsters, my guy and I were married on my 19th birthday 45 years ago. I get a little smug sometimes that our marriage has outlasted so many of our family and friend's marriages. The truth is that we have been lucky. Every couple has to find their own path together. Like so many things on this earth, marriages are unique and need to be treated that way.

We have pooped in front of one another, and vomited and he has watched me give birth, but that hasn't stopped our love. We don't call each other names, but we have each embarrassed the other from time to time and I do tell him how to drive.

The real key to our success is that I got an amazing guy who puts up with me and takes care of me. (I take care of him too.) Since no one else can have him, I guess that isn't a tip then.

Marty said...

Finally some realistic insights on marriage. Forget the ladies' magazine platitudes. And 43 years here, some chasms, some illnesses and many moments of quiet bliss.