My husband and I just recently hit that milestone anniversary and someone asked us how we did it. Of course, his flip reply was, “I just do everything she says.” Which was pretty funny, but decidedly untrue. I mean, if you could just see the way this man loads a dishwasher.
So how did we manage to stay together through twenty-five years of marriage? I asked him at dinner last night, what he thought the real reason was. “Communication!” is what he said. You may think this was a thoughtful, sweet and considerate reply. No. This was also flip.
You see, it was a reference to a guy at our wedding who’d had a wee bit too much to drink and told us, about thirty times, each, that “Communication is the key to a successful marriage.” (Though it might have been the Scotch talking, it really is pretty good advice.)
I think the real reason our marriage has endured for twenty-five years is, perhaps even without realizing it while we were doing it, we’ve always put our marriage first. Before everything and everyone else. Before careers and kids and houses and cities and even other family members. Team Kim and Jeff comes first.
There were plenty of opportunities for taking jobs in distant cities or promotions that would have hurt us, but those were turned down when it meant too many challenges for our partner, regardless of what it meant for the bottom line.
And don’t get me wrong, our kids are important to us. Huge! The loves of our lives. But the marriage had to be more important, because if we weren’t happy, believe me, none of them would be. I can count on one hand the times we spent more than one night in a row away from them. So I’m not talking about long, romantic get-aways or even every Saturday night date nights. (Although all of the above would have been wonderful!) I’m talking about being a unified front. About making time for each other on a daily basis, even if it’s only a five-minute phone conversation grabbed between flights, meetings or washing sippy cups.
We always make the big decisions as a team. We make each other laugh as often as we can. We both understand and appreciate that life is always harder on the person who is holding down the fort at home than it is for the person on the road. And that being on the road is never really as glamorous and fun or all that. We follow the advice of the Reverend who married us, “When you argue, may each of you be the one who takes the first step back.” (Okay, yeah, sometimes we take turns at this.) And yes, we communicate.
This may sound an awful lot like advice, which I am always loath to give. I’m superstitious. I once heard a story of a guy who’d been married for forty years and, when asked why he got divorced he said, “I hated the way she loaded the dishwasher.” He confessed that wasn’t the only thing he hated, that he’d let so many annoyances build up that the marriage could no longer endure it. While I doubt this will be our future, still, I don’t want to jinx it and then be known forevermore as the bossy blogger who stayed married for twenty-five years and two months.
But I guess I do know a little about how to stay married for 25 years, so I’ll risk sounding like some drunk guy at a wedding telling you repeatedly that Communication is the key to a successful marriage.
Well, communication, making the marriage itself a priority and, of course, being able to load a dishwasher properly. And if all that fails, just do whatever she says.
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