The Secret To A Happy Marriage

There’s no secret.

People might try to tell you there are secrets to a happy marriage, but they are lying to you.

The things we do for a happy marriage aren’t secrets.

Why would they be secrets? You don’t have to join a club and know a secret handshake and sacrifice a justice of the peace or anything.

I think it boils down to finding another human you enjoy being with, accepting their flaws, admitting your flaws, and finding boundaries which accommodate those flaws. And try to have as much fun as you can.

Randy and I have not found the the perfect rhythm that allows us to dance through life fight-free or anything, but we don’t fight often. Also, I just now had to call into Randy’s office to ask him how to spell rhythm. I never ever ever get that one right. I even had to look at how I spelled rhythm the first time before spelling it the second time. 

But I digress.

One thing Randy and I have rarely fought over who will perform household chores.

Not going to lie, I am very pleased about that. I have to expend a lot of emotional energy feeding and caring for my anxiety and depression. I couldn’t handle being pissed off over dishes all the goddamn time. I would say we haven’t argued over household chores more than a dozen times in all our years together. Now, arguing over how to do household chores is probably higher in number. Although arguing might be too strong a word. But there have been some good solid bickers over chore completion technique.

Randy enjoys re-loading a dishwasher I just loaded. It makes no difference how annoying I find the re-load. I mean, I just fucking loaded the fucking dishes and they would get just as clean, but no. He finds it necessary to load them a specific way. He also has rules about the order you unload groceries from the cart to the grocery belt thingy.

He is also a stickler for things always being in the same place.

Before you go all batshit on me, yes, I understand life is easier when you can find shit and the key to finding shit is to keep it in the same place. But c’mon, there can be a little wiggle room, right?

Apparently, not at my house.

So, I am unloading the dishwasher and the cabinet which houses plastic bowls was full, so I turned and put a plastic bowl on a shelf under the coffee maker.

Me: This goes here now.

Randy: No. No it does not.

Me: I’m cleaning the kitchen, you are cleaning the cat boxes. Go away.

Then, Randy re-arranged the cabinet where the plastic bowl usually goes and moved it from where I put it.

Randy: Where’s the cheese grater?

Me: Where it belongs.

Randy:…

Me: In the silverware drawer.

I have no idea why I call our utensil drawer the silverware drawer. If I had silverware, it would have been pawned years ago.

Randy: No. No, that is not where it goes.

Me:…

Randy: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been trying really hard to make sure everything has a place. When you need something, I always know where it is.

I didn’t want to call him on his bullshit, but I can promise you, no one who lives in this house knows where everything is. We aren’t “knows where everything is” kind of people. I live in fear of those moments when we find out we need a copy of our birth certificates. Do you know how many times I have ordered new copies? Literally every time we’ve ever needed a copy. I have no idea what happens to them. I suspect there are socks where ever the lost birth certificates are. 

Me: Should I congratulate you on being able to find some things recently? I mean, I’ve been doing that job for 23 years now with no recognition at all, but congratulations, I guess.

Randy:…

I took a casserole dish that I know goes in the pantry in the living room, but I wasn’t ready to make that long trip, so I put it on the kitchen table.

Me: That goes there now.

Randy:…

Randy: No it doesn’t.

I wish he was this dedicated when it comes to socks. I get to wear a pair of socks once, maybe twice, before they are no longer a pair of socks. I nearly always wear mismatched socks. I guess one way to fix that would be to take over the laundry chore.

I’ll probably stick with the mismatched socks.

So, there is my secret for a happy marriage.

Find a human you enjoy being with. Have fun. Make up after you fight. Take responsibility when you are being a dick. Bickering is easier to recover from than fighting. Any time you can inject humor into an argument, take the shot. At least 30% of the time, it ends the argument. Totally worth the effort.

You know, or not. I’m not a marriage counselor. Y’all probably shouldn’t listen to anything I say.

 

Photo courtesy of Melissa Wilt

 

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58 comments

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  • Excellent post. Ken and I function in pretty much the same way, only he reloads the dishwasher and I make him put things in specific spots. Like he insists on hanging the dog towel on the telescope as if it’s a fucking towel rack, so I put it in its proper spot, which is as far as I can throw it into the vegetable garden. That’ll teach him:-)

  • Yes – this. Find someone who can deal with your shit and who’s shit you can deal with too. Be with someone who you hums on your same level.

    The Amazing Bob and I didn’t have a shit-ton in common (he was jazz, I was punk. I was jalapeño’s, he was potatoes. He was poetry, I’m sci fi, etc) but our souls matched up in the same happy warped way. We were happiest just existing together.

    All the other shit’s negotiable.

  • I learned a long time ago…ain’t nobody gonna put up with my shit like the crazy dude I married.
    He gets pissed, I get pissed then we get over it. Afterall, life is short!!

  • Happy New Year! Your advice sounds dead on to me. Tolerance is extra important in a relationship. My version of tolerance does include under the breath mumbling and rolling my eyes though. Sometimes

  • Just last night Coach called out to the kids, ‘There goes Mommy rearranging the dishwasher again.’ It’s true. I just know I can ALWAYS fit more in it. Too bad that skill doesn’t translate into anything marketable on a resume. We just did a kitchen renovation and now we have 2 dishwashers (we have a ton of mouths to feed over here), so the reorganizing of the dishwasher isn’t really necessary anymore. Just toss the overflow in the other washer. Old habits, I guess.

  • I’ve never been married, but in the relationships I’ve had, there weren’t many arguments over domestic chores and the like.
    My friend Jack said something that I’ve always found helpful about any form of co-habitation: The lion’s share of any domestic task will fall to the resident with the lowest gag-factor in that area.
    That’s not to say that there’s anything fair about that, but I’ve found that the sooner that conclusion is arrived at, or an alternative negotiated, the more domestic harmony there is to be had.
    Also, around here, I am the dishwasher, and as I don’t get loaded any more, that is never an issue…
    Happy new year to you and yours!

  • Yup. This. What you said in this post.
    I do the dishes and laundry. He cooks and shops.
    We rarely fight (anymore) after 40 years together we know how to dance through life together.
    We still enjoy each other’s company and laugh at our stupid little in jokes.
    We hold each other through our sorrows and support each other through our successes. We are good good friends.
    Happy New Year to you and Randy and all your family. Peace in 2018. ok? Peace.

  • Seems like pretty solid advice. Also, you do dishes like I do dishes. But, I unload groceries like Randy. Well, kind of. I’m not particular about keeping produce with produce and snacks with snacks or anything, but I do try to unload from heaviest to lightest, so that was bread and eggs and stuff get rung up and bagged last, so they’re not crushed by everything else.

    Actually, until I read this post, I didn’t even realize I did that. I think it’s just something my mother ingrained in me.

  • My Hubby is very nearly perfect EXCEPT for how he wants things in the kitchen. He constantly moves things to the “right” place. He actually studies each dish and computes how long it is going to be before we use it again — a short time, hand wash. If it’s going to be a while, it goes in the dishwasher (we’re empty nesters and don’t run it that often). Yes, he will spend 15 minutes trying to fit in ONE MORE DISH. Shit drives me bonkers. And so…I laugh, which is the perfect advice!

    P.S. – This is Linda, formerly from Half a 1000 Miles blog.

  • Randy, Randy, Randy….
    We have an ubiquitous (fuck yeah. spelled right and used correctly. Credit spellcheck and Google 😉 ) pledge to perfection!!
    I just don’t get how people can load a dishwasher all willy-nilly like that.
    Good grief.
    It’s just like Jenga or Tetris. Fit the pieces and pay particular attention to the angles and degree facing the center water applicator… I can EASILY fit a week or more worth of dishes in there… and since the dishwasher is really just a misnomer for ‘dish sterilizer,’ we ALL know the dishes are already clean when they go in… it’s a simple procedure that gets ‘pooh-poohed’ all the time by people who think dishwashers ACTUALLY wash the dishes and don’t really care about clean food particles permanently affixed by the dry cycle.
    Humph.
    Probably why I resigned the kitchen and stuck with toilets and laundry…
    And, yes. I have a foolproof, time-consuming, perfect procedure for both of those chores, as well.
    I ONLY wish I had time to side with Randy on the ‘Place for everything and everything in it’s place’ dictate from the 1955 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens cook book….
    😀

  • Oh gosh, I’m also weird about unloading the shopping cart onto the thingy, which is strange because once the groceries get home they all get shoved willy-nilly into the pantry/fridge. It’s just my thing.

    Drummer Boy and I appear to be successfully following your rules for a happy marriage. I just hope we don’t f*ck it all up when we actually get married. :O

  • My secret to a happy marriage is to do the everyday stuff your partner can’t stand doing. And, don’t own a dishwasher. I haven’t had one since 1987.

    • We did without a dishwasher for about 10 years. I am glad to have one now. And yes, always do the thing the other person can stand. When possible. Sometimes we have to suck it up.

  • Humor adds so much to a relationship. My husband makes me laugh. If that stopped I would notice the zillion things that irritate me more and would not find them as easy to brush off.

  • 27 years this year for me and mine! We love each other, but the everything in its place thing drives me crazy! Yes, even the frozen stuff goes in line at the grocery first, then the canned good, womp, womp, womp” Throw it in and let’s get the fuck out of here is my answer! I guess we balance out each other’s crazy!

  • I can so relate to this, Michelle. My husband is a ‘neatnik’, not a clean freak. Get rid of the clutter and ignore the tomato sauce dried on the counter, kind of thing. But, like you, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. He does more than his share and I will not stand in his way!
    Happy New Year!!
    b

  • I’m divorced once and married twice. But marriage #2 is not HAPPY. Nor is it UNHAPPY. We just “are”. We coexist as roommates and furparents in a one-bedroom apartment. Divorce would be hugely inconvenient for either/both of us, because we live/work in Los Angeles. I’m fairly certain I’m more easily annoyed than he is (with each other, not with things/people outside of us).
    .
    I often WISH I could always be the one to load and unload the dishwasher, because he does neither of those tasks “correctly”. I also WISH he would clean up his kitchen spills when he prepares food (we both prepare food, so it’s not like “you cook = I clean” would be equitable). I also often wonder why he doesn’t sweep up the tracked litter when he’s cleaning the litter box (I do BOTH tasks while I’m there). Does he actually ENJOY the feel of litter underfoot? YUCK.
    .
    Your advice is sound. I loved all of the linked posts. My marriage just happens to be based on assumptions based on habits we’d formed when we dated in college, before my first marriage. We never fought back then. Now, we argue or at least get frustrated more than we don’t. And it’s always about the stupid shit. I sometimes wish we’d argue over something important. But not really. I just get tired of only existing. Ya know?
    .
    Happy new year, both of you. If we ever meet, Randy and I will form a mutual admiration society over our dishwashers and “where things go” in the kitchen, and you and my husband can sit in the living room and laugh at us.

  • The Husband and I are both orderly – but he takes it to the next stage of OCD. I can live with that because he puts in the work and I just reap the benefits of a tidy house. That being said, we still drive each other crazy occasionally – that’s married life for you!

  • I’m never going to forget “People might try to tell you there are secrets to a happy marriage, but they are lying to you.” I’ll remember it because the people who tell me there’s a secret are trying to sell me a load of hooey, I should never forget I don’t have to buy hooey when I can get it for free.
    I will, however, forget where the blender goes because in almost twenty-five years of marriage we’ve used that thing maybe three times, and every time we have this conversation:
    Me: Where does this go?
    She: How long have you lived here?
    And then I have to go away and think about it because there is no good answer to that question.

  • Ha ha, this is a good one. I have to tell you though, that when one partner is a little more OCD than the other it’s probably a good thing. Neither my daughter nor her husband of 10 years are the least bit organized or obsessive about how things are done or where things go. And when their old house got too messy and disorganized, they moved to a new one, with more room – read that, more places to put things that neither of them can ever find again. Funny.

  • I’m divorced now, but when I was married we had one rule for fighting – no name calling. Once you put that “asshole!” or “bitch!” out there, there’s no going back. Maybe you don’t mean it at the time (or, maybe you do) but those little wounds fester and can become bigger wounds over time. They also erode respect for your partner.

    Even during and after the divorce, we never went there and our children never felt they had to defend one parent against the other.

  • Second post cuz I love this so much. It’s scary how you get in my head with this one. While I admittedly have ‘systems’ that people don’t always follow but I do get annoyed when hubbie repackages the grocery bag at the register, moves the bags around in the trunk after I put them in, and rearranges the dishwasher. I have lost a birth certificate the day before my son was going to the US and had a total freak out attack. I did finally find it in the same place where I was looking for half a day.

By Michelle

Michelle

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