Tuesday, January 15, 2013

10 Tips for a Happy Marriage

Marisa Tomei Bette Midler and Billy Crystal in Parental Guidance

(Excerpt from 'Parental Guidance' movie trailer:)

Marisa Tomei's character, speaking about her father (Billy Crystal), to her mother (Bette Midler):
"You always take his side!"

Bette Middler's character, in response:
" And for good reason.  Because after your kids grow up, your husband is the one who stays!" 

That cracked me up!  Because it is SO TRUE!

Thirty years on, our children have grown up and left.  My husband stayed. I am so glad!

(And yes, I know you can read that two ways.  I meant it the second way :)  These are some of my best tips for making it happen:

1.    Have a date night once a week.  Because even though babysitting can be a headache/difficult/expensive - there is a completely different feel between having the children with you, (even if they are all asleep!) and having it be just the two of you, on your own.  The way it was when you started.  The way it will be at the finish.  Think of it as practice for your ever after :)

2.    Touch base several times a day, every day, if at all possible.  My husband used to leave for work at about 6.30am, then call me at home every day at about 9am, after the school run, just to see how my morning had gone.  He would call again at lunchtime, then always again before he left to come home, to tell me he was on his way and to ask if I needed him to pick up anything on the way.  That was at least 3 phone calls every day, and often several more.  (Me: "I need you to talk me out of killing your children".  Him: "Oh-K...  What's happening? .. ")  I added up the cost of those calls once, and wondered if our tight budget at the time could afford the dollars we spent each year.  Fortunately, my husband was wiser than me and told me not to penny-pinch on this.  He was right.  Mostly it was me talking, but he got to share a bit of his day with me too.  I like to know that he lived through a lot of it all right there with me, and me with him :)  We still talk on the phone at least 3 times a day while he is at work.  (Ok, he is in his own business, which makes this easier.  But even when he was an employee, he checked with his boss to ask if it was ok for him to call  me during his breaks and they never minded.)

 Bette Midler in Parental Guidance Movie  Image #11

3.    Be polite.  It's such a simple thing:  Please...  Thank you...  Would you mind if..?  Would you prefer..?   After you..  I'm sorry..   Courtesy indicates consideration for one another.  It's a more pleasing, enjoyable way to live.  Thirty years together could seem a very long time without it!  This would include not shouting at one another.

4.    Be cheerful!  Smile :)  Make it a habit to be happy together.  Sometimes there will be reasons to be worried/sad/frustrated/unhappy - but save a smile for each other, even when you can't raise one for the rest of the world.

5.    Be affectionate.  Life gets busy.  But if you are in the same room together, or even passing each other, there will be opportunity and time for a light hand touch, a quick smile and wink, a bottom pat, touch on the face, or lean on his shoulder.   Feelings of love lead to affection, and it works back the other way too.  Flirt with each other a little.

6.    Forget the whole '50/50' deal, (ie  I'll speak nicely to you if you speak nicely to me, etc. ).  I don't think that works, and I think it's kind of an awful way to live: always bargaining and compromising. Better if both partners aim to give 100% all the time, no matter what the other person is managing.  Of course you'll have up and down times, but this way the bases are pretty well covered, even if only one or neither manages 100% on occasion.  I guess what I am really saying is: aim to be as completely unselfish as possible.

7.    'Never go to bed angry', is something we were advised before we got married.   And we never have.  But we have had some awfully, awfully late nights!  Still, I know that if I did go to bed angry I'd be the type to wake up even worse in the morning, having stewed in my own 'upset' juices all night.  A side benefit to making sure you sort things out before you go to bed, is that the later it gets and the more tired you become, the easier it is to say sorry and be forgiving, if only so you can go to sleep at last!  Good advice :)

8.    Sleep in the same bed.  We've had snoring issues, I've-got-the flu-and-you-might-catch-it issues, insomnia issues, etc., but we've always chosen to sleep in the same bed together.  I know that a lot of couples end up camping in a child's bedroom or on the lounge occasionally, but I'm glad that we never have.  For better or snoring/flu/insomnia: we are in this together!  (I know this isn't necessarily a huge deal, but I like the symbolism of it.)

9.    In our church we are taught to be wise with our money - but of course it's ultra-sensible advice for all couples.  We pay tithing; we are advised to avoid debt like the plague; (only borrowing money for a house, sometimes a car, and sometimes education); we're encouraged to devise a budget and stick to it; and learn to judge between wants and needs.  It's so true that if you spend $5 more than your income each week you will always be in trouble; if you spend $5 less than your income each week you will be ok - no matter what your income is, small or large.  Looking after your money wisely is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.  We've always done this.  Saves a LOT of worry and arguments.

10.    Liberally sprinkle your marriage all through with humour.  We argue sometimes - and sometimes it is even my fault. (Sorry, should have warned you to sit down for that one.)   But I usually get to the stage where I finally relent enough to tell him, (whether the argument is his fault or mine), that I am willing to accept his apology now.  He is nice enough to say that he is sorry then.  And I say sorry too.  And then we laugh at ourselves a bit.  Because we really are quite silly a lot of the time.  But we like it like that.  It keeps things fun.

Bette Milder and Billy Crystal

I asked my husband what tips he would give for a happy marriage.  He said, "I hate questions like that!"  I said, "I know, but what is your answer?"  "Play games, " he said.  "Games?  That's your tip for a happy marriage?"  "Yes.  Games are fun.  But it's better if we play something like Boggle or Yahtzee, because then you just always win, instead of when we play something like Monopoly, when you destroy me until I am ground into the dirt and have nothing left."    And that's how we roll :)

(You can see the whole movie trailer here.)


  1. Hahaha, I love these tips! And I like Dad's tips too. Maybe that's why Robbie't not too keen on the board games front - I always crush him to dust!! Mwhaha :D We do play other, made-up-on-the-spot games though so I guess that makes up for it :P

    Sometimes I don't mind going to bed angry because I know I'm the sort of person who wakes up all happy and with feelings of humility or forgiveness and the argument is completely forgotten. But Robbie is like you Mum, so going to bed cranky is not so much fun for him come morning :P

    I try to sprinkle with humour but no one seems to get anything I say *sigh*

    Thanks Ma!! xo

    1. Hmmn, good point Bethy.. But I'm not sure how many people there are around as nice as you! :) I love your humour sprinkles! :)

  2. LOVED this post Mum. And if I can one day pull of the kind of marriage you and dad have, I'll be thrilled :)

    (PS. you're making me want to see that movie now... lol!)

    xo Tammy

    1. I haven't seen it. I just really love that line the trailer! :) xo