The Minimalist Guide To A Good Marriage

My husband and I have been married for over 32 years…To each other.

99% of ‘it’ has been good.

75% of ‘it’ has been great.

I see another 32 years together.

He sees whatever I tell him to (and THAT folks is part of the magic).

But, seriously, who the hell has the time, the motivation, or the vision to work at ‘it’ every damn day long?

Not me. Not him. Not most people.

So let’s take a look at what actually makes a marriage a neighborhood everyone wants to live in, but because they work a 45 hour week and are too exhausted to know what the hell’s going on, they usually forget the address.


Take a deep look, and a hard listen, to other long-term marriage partners. Surround yourselves with them. Ignore the sarcastic barbs about Great Uncle Timmy, and the reasons why the family’s inheritance was wasted, and now they are barely getting by on Social Security because of his indiscretions. Or the Saturday afternoon picnic when Dad throws the macaroni at Mom. These are LOVE gestures. They show emotional engagement. What you don’t see is often a profound understanding of each other. The automatic reflex to throw themselves under a bus for their partners (And probably a few fantasies about driving the bus, as well) because they are certain in the knowledge that they, themselves, are flawed. These people have been committed for the long-haul from the beginning. Rose colored glasses weren’t available at Woolworth’s and even if they had been, baby needed new cloth diapers. LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS.


Don’t share every damn hurt feeling with the neighbors (But remember to talk about the neighbors with your partner, and what you really think about them, then giggle, and say ‘But that’s just between us’). Nothing fosters intimacy like  feeling safe, and discussing everyone else’s flaws. PROTECT EACH OTHER.


You must give to receive (And, I’m not talking kinky sex…. well, maybe I am), but seriously, who among us wouldn’t find an unexpected full tank of gas, or socks right side out in the dirty clothes hamper, a major aphrodisiac? Come on. Unloading the dishwasher is foreplay! An extra bag of sea-salted thick-cut chips, a jar of unopened ranch dip, and a selection of nitrate fueled hard salamis, haphazardly placed on the kitchen counter before a Sunday football game is like catnip. (Now, picture your partner rolling on the floor and throwing money at you). IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT.

SAYING ‘YES’- or ‘NO’: 

Just don’t say ‘Maybe’. ‘Maybe’ sucks. Maybe is code for ‘No’. ‘No’ is fine- really. I’ll deal with it. ‘Yes’ is better, but ‘No’ is not the end of the world. ‘Maybe’ is wishy-washy. It makes everyone look foolish, and lazy, and selfish. Don’t be selfish. Be a grown-up. COMMUNICATE WITH CLEAR INTENT.


This is really not that difficult. It should go as follows: yourself then the kids then your partner then the bills then recording a Netflix show. The question here, of course, is why ‘yourself’ first? People that tend to take care of e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e else first turn into martyrs. And martyrs are a buzz-kill, full of self-righteous indignation, and a perpetual whine, that make me want to smack them upside the head. For the Love Of God, the world will still go round ‘n round without your imperious gestures. So if you want to sit down and read a book instead of making dinner, there’s this new idea called ‘Take-out’. If you can’t make your child’s soccer game, because you’d rather get a massage- get one. He doesn’t want you there anyways. You’re always embarrassing with your ‘Go Johnny’ and ‘That’s okay. You’ll get it next time!’ encouragement (We all know what’s really in the thermos, btw). As for Netflix, that’s a no-brainer. NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE #1.


especially yourself- for giving your partner too much rope and inevitably hanging themselves. Think of your marriage like a child that needs to be nurtured but is still sort of a dumb ass. Would you let your six year old drive a car? Should the cats mow the lawn? Do separate bank accounts really mean independence? No. So, why, in the name of everything that’s Holy, would you allow your partner to skip down the proverbial yellow brick road when you know with every fiber in your being that the Wizard is really just a kindly flimflam man looking to make a killing and those ruby slippers are a size too small? But it will happen. Yes it will. And you will be pissed. But you share responsibility for these mistakes. Forgive. Everyone. Then GET SMART.


Find the humor in this messy thing we call Life (And your partners extremely loud toilet habits). My darling husband is the funniest person I know- he adores me, after all, which makes him hysterical…


This post was originally featured on Cheryl’s blog, A Pleasant House. Photo via