"Life is a Life-changing Experience"
My husband is the funniest person I knew. He makes me laugh everyday, really! He's also the most trustworthy person I know. Except when he's being the most annoying person I know.
When I asked him what superlatives he would give me, he answered instantly, "You're the nicest person I now. And the kindest. Except when you're being the most annoying person I know. You're also funny, but not the funniest person I know. Sorry."
So what's the secret to a happy marriage? I wouldn't presume to answer that question for anyone but us, but I figure you need 3 things going for you:
- Good luck in who you choose and good luck in the curve balls life will surely throw you.
- The 5-1 ratio. Your nice-to-nasty ratio must be 5-1! It really works!
- The Bill Murray Groundhog Day Principle. If you stay married long enough, and keep repeating the same stupid mistakes over & over again, you finally get it right! The light bulb will go on & you'll figure out what works & what doesn't. Ditch what's not working.
- I am spatially-challenged, so my husband has quit relying on me to help him move furniture through narrow doorways or going up & down stairs.
- My husband is directionally-challenged (as in maps) so I'm the directions person, & I make sure I know exactly where we are going.
- I love to hike, but I'll pass on backpacking--why would you want to ruin a perfectly good hike carrying 50 lbs. on your back? So he goes with a friend.
- He's not into going to lectures on weeknights--I go with friends.
- He got tired of listening to me whine & he finally learned to dance--and loves it.
- He knows I hate to read technical manuals, so he'll just read them for me.
- Nagging never works! (I'm still working on this one.) Sounds simple enough, but like Bill Murray, it took us years to figure these little things out.
Making the best of what we have....is not second best. It is rather, a demand for active engagement in caring for what and whom we value.
That is what's touching about Groundhog Day. Our trapped weatherman has to learn this the hard way. His life is reduced to one inescapable day. It's the entire deck he's been dealt, the allotment of flowers he can arrange, the cast of characters in his life.
He goes through stages of feeling trapped, depressed, and living as if there's no tomorrow. He finally comes to the not-so-profound-but-still-pretty-rare realization that he can change his world by changing himself.
..it's about making the best of what you have...over and over. Making small repairs and improvements so that the commitments of midlife--the work you do and people you love--don't become a trap. They become and remain the town in which you choose to live even when you have options.
Back in May 2008, in honor of a very special wedding in Chicago I did a little thinking about what I'd learned after almost 37 years of marriage.
- Laugh a lot, touch a lot, show affection & give each other compliments! It's the WD-40 of marriage.
- When your spouse asks for your help or needs you to show up--Do it!
- When your spouse needs to talk--Listen.
- When it's important to speak your mind--Speak up.
- Know when it's important to keep quiet.
- Cut each other some slack.
- Learn to dance.
- Get into the habit of taking walks-it's the best time to talk.
- Make time for activities you do together.
- Make time for activities you do on your own.
- Laugh a lot. It bears repeating.
- Cook together.
- Stay healthy for each other.
- Be wonderful to each others parents.
Favorite advice from Meg Tufano.
- Listen to your spouse. Shut up and listen, every day, for at least a half hour a day. Ask pertinent questions. Remember the answers. Keep notes if necessary. Your children depend on your relationship with your spouse. Make sure your marital relationship is solid and your kids will be fine. (For men: if your wife is looking miserable, ask her to tell you what’s wrong and keep asking until she spills her guts. WHATEVER it was, it will no longer make her miserable because she has talked about it with you. This is the magic key to making women happy. Flowers are always nice too!.
- Rest. Sundays are good if only because other people may be doing the same thing. But any day is fine. Rest is essential to everything else you care about. Without rest, the fragility of your life will be front and center; with rest, you have a savings account of energy from which to draw to help out others. Make it religious in the sense you ALWAYS take rest at least once a week.
My Wish for Dave & Emily back in May 2008, is exactly what came true for us!
- Outrageous & memorable adventures
- Wonderful friends
- Good health
- Work that you're passionate about
- Enough of life's challenges to make you stronger, wiser, and kinder
- Kids who are above average, sleep through the night, are easy-going and lots of fun
- The gift of balancing your life, your work and your family
- Enough money to feel both secure and generous. Not so much that you become out-of-touch & spoiled.
- The knowledge that it's your friends, family & experiences that will bring you your greatest joys. Invest your time and money accordingly.
And I almost forgot, this sage advice comes from Rhett Ellis' wacky book, How I Fell in Love with a Librarian and Lived to Tell About It: