There is a truth about marriage that fairy tales never reveal. They should; it would be helpful, but it just doesn’t fit into the happily-ever-after narrative
If you’re betrothed, you’re learning it daily. If you’re engaged, you’ll discover it soon enough. If you’re single, well, prepare yourself.
As romantic as it sounds to share your life with another, life-long relationships more often resemble a Steven King novel than a Nicholas Sparks screenplay.
That is to say . . .
Marriage isn’t always beautiful. Sex isn’t always romantic. Conversations aren’t always flowing.
So if you’ve found yourself on the proverbial roller coaster called marriage, understand that you’ll have bad days, but you’ll have good days, too — and you can make the most of both!
The key is to establish boundaries, and remind yourself of those boundaries early and often. For example: No storming out, No slamming doors, Never threaten divorce, and Murder is not a great option.
So if you ever find yourself married to another human, here are some ways to stay alive:
Admit when you’re just in a terrible mood.
I call this the “rattlesnake principle.” It’s all about warning your spouse that you’re dangerous to be around right now. I’m having a bad day. I don’t like people right now. All I want to do is eat ice cream and binge watch . . . anything. On days like this, it’s okay to say, “I’m in a terrible mood right now. I don’t have any rationalization for this. I just am. Heed the rattle and walk away.”
When you fight, fight fair.
Every form of fighting — from boxing to UFC to middle-school shoving — has some sort of set of rules. No shots below the belt, no eye gauging, keep mothers out of it. So why is it that we take the gloves off when we argue in our marriages? Come on, people, we’re not savages! Establish some guidelines and fight fair. Don’t call names (That’s hurtful), don’t scream at each other (That’s abusive), don’t bring up S.A.T. scores. (That’s mean. It’s funny, but it’s mean.)
Do something fun.
Marriage turns out to be a very practical enterprise. It’s more about being teammates than lovers, soul mates or kindred spirits. But practical doesn’t have to mean boring. Your spouse isn’t your accountant. Live a little. Go for a drive, grab a coffee, get away, rent a movie, flirt, make out — do something. What can you do today that you’ll smile about tomorrow?
Don’t make every battle a war.
Sometimes an argument is just an argument. Avoid using the words never and always. Stay on topic. What is this fight about? Don’t let this argument become an argument about everything you’ve ever been mad about. He forgot your birthday in 2003 — it’s over; let it go. She threw away your lucky underwear last summer — you can’t get it back; mourn and move on.
You love to laugh at the arguments and idiosyncrasies of cute couples on your favorite sitcom, so why can’t you laugh at your own arguments and idiosyncrasies? Couples disagree — try laughing at yourselves when you’re doing it. It’s just an argument. CNN isn’t broadcasting your debate; you don’t have to win. Breathe . . . relax . . . laugh.
There are so many other ways to deal with your spouse when murder isn’t an option, but those five reminders serve as a good place to start.
Good luck, my fellow marrieds. Our endeavor is not for the faint of heart. Keep your head on a swivel and just stay alive out there.
(Pause for dramatic effect and repeat in a whisper . . . )
Just . . . stay . . . alive.