I’ve been married for almost 25 years. That’s almost half my life. Arguably, marriage has consumed the best half of my life. That said, I’ve had a long, happy marriage.
People often ask me: What is the key to a successful marriage? Okay, that’s a lie. No one asks me that. Ever. Not once. I wonder why. People ask me about other things. What’s it like to be a lawyer? How are your kids? What’s wrong with you? I’ve answered these and many other questions, usually truthfully.
I’ve always believed that the most annoying advice is the kind you don’t want. Maybe marriage is like that. Folks just don’t want to hear about it. It’s probably because they are either happy themselves and need no advice or they are miserable and hate people who aren’t. Surely, young, single people want advice. I doubt it. When I was young and single, I knew most everything, especially when it came to the opposite sex. What could some old guy tell me? He doesn’t know that I’m in love and that’s all that matters. Fools.
People write books about marriage. I’ve seen them, but I’ve never read one. There are marriage counselors. Marriage therapists. If you belong to church, you can talk to your minister about your marriage. Even Catholic priests–who have vowed to God never to marry–counsel couples before and after they marry. Yes, there is much advice. Add me to the list of experts. The difference is that I have a quarter century of inexplicable success backing me up.
Much advice is useless. A chimp could tell you–if he could talk–that things such as infidelity, violence and disappearing for days at a time can break any marriage. Those things set the bar far too low. Marriage requires many more subtle precautions to flourish.
This is also known as “out-kicking your coverage.” Marry a woman who is more attractive than you. Of course, what I mean is that she is more appealing to the opposite sex than you are. Why? Isn’t the conventional wisdom that an ugly woman is likely to be more faithful? I call B.S. on that one.
At some point in your marriage (probably a day or two into it), patience will be important. Very important. If you are about to say or do something untoward, one look at your ridiculously beautiful wife will make you pause and think: “Whoa! I need to be careful. There’s no way I can duplicate this deal.” Those pauses are one of the key components of staying married.
Let’s say you look like Brad Pitt. It’s almost certain you are prettier than every woman you’ve ever met. Not only are you irresistible to women, most men find you attractive, too. The first time your wife does something stupid–like lose the remote–you are likely to explode, thinking: “Why did I marry this hag? She can’t even keep track of the remote!” I’m certain that’s why Brad and Jennifer Aniston split. As beautiful as she is–and she IS, by God–can anyone, male or female, honestly say that he or she is prettier than Brad? I guarantee you Brad doesn’t think so. Nor should he.
Personally, I married WAY up. My wife has even become prettier over the years, while I’ve simply aged. I’m a troll compared to her. When I introduce her to people for the first time, the typical response is: “This is your wife?” I once overheard someone talking about me, and she said: “Have seen his wife? She is really pretty. Really.” Shocking.
Conversely, when she introduces me to people, they get a look of pity on their faces, as though they just met that kid from the movie, Mask. They all assume I am incredibly wealthy, but I’m not.
This works well in our marriage. Sometimes, I’ll be about to say something about the remote or her cooking and then I’ll catch a glimpse of her. I’ll still say something, but I try to take the edge off it. I’m simply not going to be able to duplicate my success.
I’m not suggesting that marrying up is easy. Few worthwhile things are. It takes work, and–in my case–alcohol. Attractive women are no different from ALL men. They often exercise poor judgment under the influence of strong drink. Use this to your advantage. Of course, you may be incredibly wealthy. If so, this is no problem.
You may think that an attractive woman married to a physically repellant man is more likely to stray. I guess that’s possible, but it beats the hell out of looking at an ugly woman all the time. Also, remember that it is all relative. If you are an extremely ugly man, you can marry up by marrying a plain or even homely woman. The point is–aim high. It works.
As noted above, a brief pause before speaking can make the difference between a long marriage and an annulment on your honeymoon. Here are examples:
WIFE: Let’s go see my parents tomorrow.
HUSBAND: For God’s sake, we just saw them two days ago! My parents are dead, but yours are some kind of immortals! I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because they are Hell beasts….
By responding immediately, this man has made a critical mistake. He has spoken his mind on a subject of great sensitivity. The better, more reasoned response goes like this:
HUSBAND: It seems like forever since we’ve seen Mom and Dad. Let’s go today. We should cherish our time with them.
By pausing just for a moment, this husband’s ludicrous response has prevented marital discord. This type of answer has the added benefit of possibly preventing the visit. How, you ask? Simple. When the wife sees the husband enthusiastically embrace this suggestion, she is likely to cancel the visit altogether and focus on a request the husband may dislike, such as yard work. Even if you can’t muster such an impressive response, you can always choke out a simple: “Yes, dear” or “Whatever you say.” These responses, while not preferable, are always good in pinch.
BRING ON THE NOISE
I have a White Noise app for my phone. It’s great. I go to bed before everyone in my house, but this doesn’t stop the other residents from being quite loud. This app allows me to turn on “white noise” to drown out the mad cacophony.
You can do the same thing with your wife. Once you’ve been married for a while, you may hear the same things over and over. For instance, you may leave towels in the floor or be incapable of properly folding them. If so, you are likely to hear about these shortcomings many, many times. One approach is to say something like: “For the love of God, would you just shut the hell up about those [expletive deleted] towels?!?! Honest to God, I can’t take it anymore!” Honesty, despite its value in general, is definitely not the best policy.
With practice, you can turn up the white noise in your own brain to filter out such offending exchanges. Personally, I am unable to properly use a sink. I splatter water on the fixtures or even the mirror. No matter how I try or how much I wipe it up, it’s still no good. I have trained my brain to deal with it. If am asked this question: “Did you use the sink in hall?” all I hear after that is the soothing buzz of white noise.
Men have a well-deserved reputation of being poor listeners. You will be reminded of this. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP. If you become a better listener, it is a recipe for disaster, for you will then listen to the very things which threaten marital harmony. It is better to properly condemned for one flaw than to pay heed to many things best left unsaid.
YOUR OLD LIFE WAS A WASTE
Sure, your enjoyed your single days. You lived as you wished. You had friends. It was a good time.
Think again. Your old life was useless. When you get married, get rid of every piece of furniture you owned as a single man. If you don’t, your wife will begin a systematic purging. Just get it over with. Same goes for your clothes.
You will be asked about girls you dated. You hated them. All of them. They were horrible people. Unattractive, too. They may have been sluts. I don’t care if you dated Kate Upton, never even hint to your wife that she was the least bit appealing. It is best to humbly express regret for your poor judgment.
Your friends were idiots. Your wife may actually like some of them, so you can still like those few. The rest of them are fools. Plain and simple. Stay away from them. Your wife is now your best friend. If not, she’s likely to be your only friend after a while.
What does it say about you that you dated worthless women and your friends were all idiots? Nothing good, my friend. Your wife saved you. You should appreciate that.
When you took your marital vows, you abandoned your old life. Keep it that way.
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON
This one is simple. Stay married, unless you just can’t do it anymore. That’s what we’ve done. I can assure that I annoy my wife. I know that I enrage her on occasion. I’m sure she does all the same things I suggested above. If not, she should (Expect the marry up part. She’s screwed on that one). My best advice would be to marry my wife, but you can’t.
I hope this has been helpful. If not, hey, I’m no expert on any marriage but mine.
When I told my wife that I was starting a blog, she responded by saying “One of those things full of trivial [expletive deleted] that no one wants to read?” Thus, I think it is unlikely that she’ll read this. On the off chance she does, please read the following important disclaimer:
The foregoing is meant only as general advice and any reliance upon it is at your own peril, as I do not know your wife nor do I know if you are a jackass or anything. More importantly, any resemblance between the above scenarios and my own wife’s behavior are mere coincidences. She would never do anything of the sort described. Plus, I listen to everything she says, because she is always right. And she really is very pretty.