Secrets to Surviving a Happy Marriage
by Patricia Draznin

As my husband and I celebrate our sixth anniversary, I feel inspired to share the secrets of how to live in harmony with the opposite sex within the cherished institution known as Friendly Fire.

Secret #1. The cardinal rule for a happy relationship is to never take your differences personally. After all, it’s just two people with two points of view, neither of which is inherently right, especially his. To create a safe space of communication where we can openly air my opinion, my husband and I convene once a month for a House Council meeting, where I am allowed to propose new household standards if he is allowed to bring a jury of his peers.

Secret #2. Marriage is a powerful opportunity to learn and grow and observe yourself in the eyes of your confused spouse. My husband, for example, accuses me of being a compulsive cleaner. At least that’s what I think he says. It’s hard to hear him over the Electrolux, or when I’m down in the basement ironing his shoelaces.

In most partnerships, one person is neater than the other. Significantly neater. In our home only one of us ever puts things away, which is why my husband can never find anything. Sometimes I consider having the interior of our home x-rayed. In case anything should happen to me, at least he’d have a map. Otherwise I can only imagine him in a CROSSING OVER session with medium John Edward:

“Your wife is in a peaceful place,” John would say, “a clean, peaceful place.”

“That’s great,” my husband would answer, “ask her where she keeps the raisins.”

Secret #3. Choose your battles. Then duke it out. As I have learned, why waste valuable argument time over my husband’s failure to keep the spice jars arranged by height and alphabetical order, or his swish-and-rinse dishwashing system that bypasses the whole sponge and soap thing. Not when we can go to war over travel styles, where he gets us to the airport after the final boarding call, which he calls ON TIME because the plane is still on the ground.

Secret #4. A vital force in marriage is to value each other’s opinions. When my husband packs for a business trip, he likes me to help him choose his ties.

“The blue striped one goes with the blue shirt,” I tell him.

“What about the red tie?” he says. “Look how great that goes.”

“The striped tie is better,” I say.

“What's the matter with the red one?” he asks. “This was an expensive tie.”

“It doesn't go as well.”

“You just don’t like the red tie, that’s the problem.”

These exchanges always make me feel included in his important decisions. Likewise, I always appreciate my husband’s tactful advice.

“How do I look in these glasses?” I ask him.

“Well,” he says, “I guess reading glasses are functional, aren’t they, not really for looks.”

Secret #5. Compromise, compromise, compromise, that’s the secret. When you want to vacation in Bermuda and his heart is set on Seattle, you have to learn how to meet in the middle. That would be Omaha.

Copyright 2005 Patricia Draznin


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