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Where I share some insight on making marriage successful

by John on March 21st, 2012

Not too long ago, I got into a conversation with somebody about the fact that most affairs start the day after Valentine’s Day — this seems to be a peculiar bit of data1, but it makes sense, on the surface. Someone at the end of their rope waits and waits and waits for something good to happen, on the day that everyone knows that something good is supposed to happen, but nothing good happens, and then it’s time to do something desperate.

So, I was trying to think of what the rules are for a good marriage — and, because I feel like I need a good bit of reminder, myself, here are my rules.

Don’t bring home flowers on Valentine’s Day unless you bring home flowers, just because, throughout the year. Making your spouse smile should not ever be relegated to certain days.

Don’t do that “special thing” in the bedroom for their birthday unless you’re also doing it for your anniversary. And Christmas. And Flag Day. And to celebrate the full moon. Think of the things that you do once a year — your taxes, turkey dinner for the family, change your underwear, renew your car registration. Nobody likes to be thought of like a chore. Nobody likes to be the recipient of a “pain in the ass” task. I’m not saying that you need to pull out the bondage gear & candles & clothespins & whips & paddles every night2, but nothing should ever be done only on a schedule.

Don’t be afraid to ask for anything. You married this person – you should be able to talk about any topic. If you can’t, step back and figure out why you can’t. Remember, the worst thing that can happen is that you’d hear “no.”

Look for the things that aren’t asked for because, well, sometimes that previous item is just too much. Look for, and react to clues. Always.

Never repay a favor. You should want to do nice things for each other, just because. If you ever feel like you need to do something for your spouse because of something they did for you — take a step back and figure out how it got to be that way.

Now – with those in print . . . how do I go about reminding myself?


1 I’d love to know how this research was done, because I’m picturing a booth set up outside of bars, with some sketchy guy just asking people “are you starting an affair today?”

This reminds me of a joke – Jim’s marriage is failing, and he recruits his friend, Bob, an eternal bachelor, to take him out for the weekend, once his divorce is finalized. Jim & Bob have been friends all of their lives, so Jim was very concerned when Bob announced that they were going to start their weekend journey at the church, giving confession.

It had been years since Jim had even been inside a church, but the rites of confession came naturally. Then Bob entered the confession booth.

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned, it’s been 4 years since my last confession. I’ve had an affair with a married woman.”

“Who did you have this affair with, my son?”

“I’m sorry Father, but I cannot say.”

“Was it Janice Fritz?”

“I’m sorry Father, but I cannot say.”

“Was it Emily Rutherford?”

“I’m sorry Father, but I cannot say.”

“Was it Patty McIntyre?”

“I’m sorry Father, but I cannot say.”

Confession went on for some time, and Jim had no idea what was going on in the booth. Finally, Bob emerged. “What happened?” the newly divorced friend asked his life-long mate.

“I got 20 Hail Mary’s, a severe reprimand, but three great leads for you.”

2 Not that I’d begrudge anyone who does.

From → Family

35 Comments
  1. Excellent advice!

  2. Works for me.

  3. The shady extra-marital affair research table is a great image. I think you should use it for a short story. Just saying.

    • You might have an idea there . . . the next time I release some fiction here 😉

  4. Evanthia of merelymothers permalink

    Great advice, especially not saving special treats/favors for particular days, as if they’re a chore. It’s easier said than done, of course 🙂

    • Yeah – though I find the “asking for stuff” is much harder to do than remembering to not save the special stuff for special days.

  5. That whole quid pro quo thing drives me nuts. I have multiple “friends” who keep tally of how much non-working time their husbands spend away from family and then spend an equal amount of time away to “even it up.” To me this is fraught with danger and one-upping. And there are no winners if you’re keeping score.

    Great list, John. She’s a lucky woman.

    • I have friends who, also, do the tally — and they drive me batty. Glad I’m not alone in seeing that.

  6. I’ve never heard that about affairs and Valentine’s day but I guess it make sense. I would say these are some good marriage tips.

    • Again, I want to know how the research was done – but, on the surface, it makes sense for me, as well.

  7. Perfect: don’t bring home flowers, don’t do that special thing and don’t return the favor. Got it.

    Oh….and don’t just read the stuff in bold.

    And this reminds me of a story….. escapades of a friend of a friend. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. I have to say I love this list and it really is spot-on. Thankfully for Mike and I we stick pretty close to following these rules (but we’ve been married for less than 3 years so that may be why). Either way I plan on keeping to it for the next 30+

    • It’s the long-term that you have to keep focused on in a marriage – and it’s equally important to do the little things, I’d think, at year 50 as it is on day 50.

  9. Does this mean I’m off the hook? Because David’s birthday is next week…

    • Completely – just be sure to mention that I’m the reason why. That ought to work splendidly :-p

  10. Great advice. Easier said than done, though! I am a repeat offender when it comes to saving special things for special days. Yikes.

    • I’m a repeat offender in not asking for things . . . it’s really, really a weakness of mine, and something that I need to work on. A lot.

      But, I think knowing that you need to work on something is the big step.

  11. I am going to sound like a cheeseball.

    I believe that love should be celebrated all the time. Not just on special days. In fact, Hubs and I pretty much laugh over Valentine’s Day. We’re practical(or cheap, whatever) and I threaten his life if he brings me flowers then. I’d rather have them on a random day than the ones that are 10x more expensive, simply b/c the calendar says so.

    The other day that affairs start? The day after Mother’s Day.

    I really would love to know how this research is conducted. LOL

    • Shell – it’s your “cheeseballyness” that we love about you. Seriously, it’s part of you, and it’s endearing. And, yeah – laughing over Valentine’s Day is perfect, for just the reason you mention.

      I’m going to have to do some research to see just how this research is conducted.

  12. *Stands up and Claps* This is excellent advice. Very very excellent advice.

  13. Great post, John. Also, the joke about the eternal bachelor and divorced friend made me LOL – it wasn’t what I was expecting. And you are right – marriage is about risking yourself and giving and receiving with grace. Terrific advice I will try to follow.

    • I love that joke just because the set up takes you one way . . . and then, poof, you’re somewhere else.

  14. The hubs would agree on you 100% with ALL of these.

    Nice going, you.

  15. I like never having to repay a favor… because along with that comes not expecting to be repaid.
    Thank you, oh wise one.

    • I need to work on the “not expecting to be repaid” part. A lot.

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