By Paula Damon
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher and poet
“You get the longevity prize when it comes to marriages in our family, “came my brother’s sober assessment directed at me. His remark broke waves of laughter and chatter at a mini gathering of relatives.
Only two of us have stayed together for the long haul. With his eyes calculating the mostly failed unions in our clan of six, my brother’s matter-of-fact statement resonated with a tone of mystery and wonder.
“It will be 42 years in August,” I acknowledged.
His statement gave me pause to consider my old habits I’m still trying to break after all these years, and some new ones I’m working on to continue to grow, including these pointers…
1. Avoid finishing his sentences. He’s a big boy and will spit it out in his own time.
2. Don’t interrupt him. Even though science has proven that women process information faster than men do, don’t flaunt it. Let him speak.
3. When he’s snoring, refrain from jabbing your elbow into his ribs. Trust me, I did this one too many times 13 years ago and have been in the dog house ever since.
4. At the end of the day, don’t be the bearer of bad news. Deliver good news first and wait until after he’s had supper to share the bad stuff. Men are more docile on a full stomach.
5. Be sure to tell him he’s handsome, even if he could not win a George Clooney or Brad Pitt lookalike contest.
6. When you’re in public and notice he has more ear hair than head hair, avoid reaching into your purse for that pair of tweezers you put there just in case. Keep your mouth shut and repeat after me, “Ear hair is better than no hair.”
7. When you get all gussied up to meet him for dinner at a nice restaurant and he arrives wearing his favorite pair of stained blue jeans and wrinkled t-shirt, don’t despair. And, whatever you do, don’t draw attention to it. That will only start a sparring match that you will not win.
8. Don’t compete with each other. Remember, you’re on the same team, not opposing teams, unless you’re playing Scrabble, that is.
9. Be a good friend to your spouse. When you’re inclined to harp about something he did or did not do, think WWYDTAF (What would you do to a friend?)
10. Try to out-serve your partner, as if you are the host of a very important event and he is the guest of honor.
11. Smile often. It becomes you.
12. Honesty is the best policy, but be tactful. Brutal honesty never gets us anywhere.
13. Surprise your spouse. Nothing breaks monotony in a relationship more than a fun surprise.
14. It’s not all about Y-O-U. It’s OK to do what he wants to do, even if you’re not really keen on trap shooting or buffalo chip throwing. Grin and bear it.
15. Don’t criticize or correct him in public and reframe from cutting him down in private.
16. Don’t find fault, either. Who died and made you the “blame” police. The best policy is to look and overlook.
17. Take every opportunity to praise him. Instead of saying the dish he made for supper tastes like dog food, say something like, “Interesting flavor!” or “Thanks for cooking.”
18. Unfortunately, women tend to think that pointing out a wrong makes a right. Remember, there’s no place called perfect, no matter how hard you try. If you are so inclined, follow the next step.
19. Sometimes it’s best to say nothing. Keep in mind the ancient proverb: “Do not speak unless you can improve the silence.”
20. And finally, be loving, understanding, respectful, sensitive, supportive, accepting and playful.