How To Stay Married Forever

The short answer: don’t die. I mean, that’s just logical. Every other tip you’ll get is hit or miss. All joking aside, there are no real guarantees, though there are a few things that have helped my husband and I stay together for almost thirty years. I can’t say what may happen tomorrow. He works with some pretty cute nurses.

First, I’d say you should expect things to go to complete shit at least once over the course of your relationship. Yes, I think it’s vitally important that you go into marriage with the right attitude. For example, if you think that life will be all roses and sunshine for fifty plus years, you can think again. And sure, everyone says they can “handle it”. It’s in most people’s vows. I’ll “honour and love you through good times and bad”. But no one really tells you what those “bad” times will actually entail. Let me help you out. “Bad” is not “your husband throws his balled up socks in the wash and leaves the cap off the toothpaste and never washes the cutlery and it all drives you nuts”. It’s not “oh, we have to go to three different houses every year for Christmas just to make everybody happy, and the distance between families is bloody far”. It’s not “my wife regularly flirts (sometimes pretty heavily to the point that people think they are having an affair) with that guy Brad at the office, because he’s smokin’ hot”. No, the bad times are bad – REALLY bad. Let me give you an example…

You love Keith and he loves you – at least, that’s what you believe. You’ve been married for almost eight years. Now, Keith is a man’s man – it’s part of the reason you were attracted to him in the first place. In the beginning, he routinely hung with his buddies once every two weeks, and you thought, “Good, he SHOULD have his own friends; it’s healthy. I have my girls. We jam too,” but as the children came along (in rapid succession because hey, Keith is a good lover), things got more and more stressful. Now, the baby has colic and never sleeps; your two-and-a-half-year-old has Asperger’s (or something), you’re sure of it; and your five-year-old twins are just brats, plain and simple. That last bit is your husband’s fault for not being around so much anymore. You see, as the years have gone by, Keith has progressed from one night out with the boys every two weeks, to going out almost EVERY night. To be honest, you can’t blame him for not wanting to be at home, for preferring an evening of poker and beer with the fellas – home life (while you love the little bumble heads) can be like hell-on-wheels at times. Even you want to hide in the basement and chug back a whole magnum of Merlot most days, but you can’t – obviously. Babies and toddlers and five-year-olds aren’t equipped to “just deal with it”. And you can’t afford a baby sitter either. You are down to part-time at work (the stress of a forty-hour work week was WAY too much), and that “great job” you thought Keith had, well, forty-thousand dollars a year barely buys diapers, not to mention the Asperger’s meds. Shit, that sugar daddy your girlfriend had a few years back is looking like a pretty good idea these days. Screw your husband though. You guys signed up for this together. He shouldn’t get to leave. On top of all that, the house is filthy – like the laundry hasn’t been done in weeks, and the dishes in the sink are so crusty that they will have to soak for days just to get the pasta sauce off. There are perpetually fingerprints on your nice stainless steel appliances, and just walking past the fridge sets off your OCD big time. Not to mention that you keep finding nuggets of poop hidden in random corners around the house. It’s either your five-year-old son protesting something or other (he’s like the Martin Luther King Jr. of kindergartners), or it’s the dog, which you might as well give to the Humane Society at this point. You don’t have time for Bubbles. And to think, he was your baby way back when. So yeah, your husband’s “outings” with the guys have gotten more and more frequent. Then, just the other day, he came in late from the pub as usual. He smelled like sweat, booze, and (get this) perfume. When you confronted him about it, he told you to “lighten the fuck up. What the fuck do you want from him? There are other fucking women in the world, you know. How’s he supposed to fucking avoid them all?” After arguing for a good hour or so about that (and everything else that’s been bottling up between the two of you), it finally came out that Keith’s been sleeping with your office mate, or your cousin, (or worse), your sister. To add injury to insult, he told you things about his new “woman” that you didn’t need (or want) to hear – how she’s a freak in bed (you aren’t, apparently) and how he’s given her his grandmother’s wedding ring – the thing he wouldn’t dare give to you, because it was “the only gift he had left from his Nanna and he vowed to keep it all to himself”. In that moment, it felt like your whole world came crashing down – and it kind of did.

How will you ever come back from this? Sadly, most people don’t. They go through a brutal divorce, and a brutal few years of joint custody, until each party finds someone else – well, your ex already has Suzie, your sister – and then you get to experience these life stages all over again.

Now’s here the thing about people who stay married for a long time – it’s not that these catastrophes don’t happen to them – they do. It’s just that they work through them without hating each other in the end. It’s not easy, as you may well imagine. Not easy at all. Somehow, they manage to do it though – alcohol and/or drugs are often involved. Also, keep in mind that your “bad times” may not be exactly as described above. If you imagine how this situation would make you feel though – like utter crap, and possibly like jumping off a bridge – then you’ll understand.

OK, let’s move on to tip number two for staying married an excruciatingly long time…

You need to genuinely like your partner. If tomorrow, he/she turned into a hideous monster or your worst physical nightmare – for me, that would be Donald Trump –  would the attraction still be there? Would you still like who they are “on the inside”? Hell no, Donald. Hell no. Yes, it’s very VERY important to remember that the fun and often zombifying “we are like two gorillas in heat” sex will fade – and it will, sometimes dwindling to virtually nothing for what seems like years when the kids are infants and/or preteens and/or teenagers and/or young adults. There needs to be another reason for the two of you to stay together.‍‍‍

Also, while the above statement about “things going to shit” is true, if life is like living in a fish tank (and you are a fish) and someone keeps randomly and frequently stabbing a long and very sharp spear into the water over and over again just for the hell of it, sometimes missing you, sometimes not – your poor fish body covered in scars, scales missing in places, one eye gone – and every other week you proclaim to your fish friends that you need to “get out of this fucking (blub, blub) tank or you just might take the initiative, and stab yourself”, then maybe it’s time to make a profile on Match dot com, or Tinder, if you’re REALLY desperate.

Finally, for a marriage to last a lifetime, people need to be able to compromise, and to understand that they are NOT going to get everything they personally want out of life. That is the price you pay, my friend. What I’m saying is, prepare for disappointment. I mean, prepare for amazing joy and love and support – sure – but also prepare for debilitating and heart-wrenching “you really wanted that” disappointment. No, you shouldn’t be a complete sucker, but you will find yourself “giving in” more often than you might like just to “keep the peace”, just so your partner doesn’t flip out – again. You want grey paint in the new family room (’cause you are a “simple guy”). She wants dark teal with an accent wall. You want a vacation in the Bahamas just the two of you (because tropical resort sex in is usually off the charts). She wants the whole family to come (because you barely see the kids anymore now that they are growing up, and your parents are getting old and who knows how long you’ll be able to travel together). You want to buy another motorcycle. She wants new carpet for the basement because you NEED it – how could you be so selfish? You want your kids to move out ASAP (that “crazy sex wherever you want” thing is forever on your mind). She wants to make some kind of wacky and totally unrealistic “compound” where everyone lives for all eternity including your children, your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren, and where you will NEVER get to be alone just to do the kind of random shit that guys like to do. Oh well, you got sucked into this whole business twenty-nine years ago. Come to think of it, it was the “sex” thing that lead you astray in the first place. Hmmmm…

So, before tying the knot – and they use those words for a reason – you need to realize that you cannot have your cake and eat it too if you plan to be married for decades. Two people together have different wants and needs – that’s just the way it is, no matter how similar you may have seemed in the beginning. People change over time (that’s the even bigger conundrum – what you get now may be totally different from what you’ll be getting in twenty years). In order to make it work, you’ll have to role with the “he used to think it was cute that I picked out his clothes, now he just says to ‘leave him the fuck alone and let him wear whatever the fuck he wants’” punches. Anyway, good luck. You are gonna need it.‍‍‍

Now watch us take the ultimate relationship quiz to see if we are ACTUALLY meant for each other…

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