Let’s raise a glass to 13 years of marriage. If you’ve surpassed that milestone, you probably won’t learn a darned thing from me, but hopefully I can make you laugh a little.
So here you have it, my 13 hilarious lessons from 13 years of marriage.
1. It’s good to know the pecking order
I thought I maintained some semblance of control but then I took the DISC “birds” personality assessment. Even the assessment confirmed my subordinate status to my sweet, angelic, domestic overlord. It turns out that I’m a parrot (all about positive experiences, having fun, making friends, chitter chatter) and my wife is an eagle (all about…well…ruling the roost and having control).
It’s good to know where you stand, because if you pretend otherwise, you’ll just run into problems.
2. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: NOT TRUE
When it comes to special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, random days of appreciation), your spouse may long for a new diamond necklace, diamond earrings, or a diamond studded watch. But here’s a little fact to add to your love arsenal thanks to researcher and author of Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert: humans kind of suck at knowing what makes them happy.
Plus, further research shows that experiential gifts bring people closer together.
So, save yourself a few bucks, skip the jewellery store, and take your wife out on a fun date. I just took my wife to a comedy show for her birthday and we shared some gut busting laughs together. Try experiencing the same joy with a diamond. Ain’t gonna happen.
3. Your router has this cool setting to block Facebook
Do you ever feel like your wife’s 489 Facebook “friends” matter more than you? Do you question the sincerity of “one sec, I’ll be right there, sweetie”?
With a little covert, technological magic, you can get a different reply from your spouse that sounds like this: “Hmm, that’s strange, Facebook seems to be down. What were saying, my stud muffin? You now have my undivided attention!”
Just Google “how to block facebook on my router.” Use sparingly to avoid detection, you sneaky little relationship magician.
4. It’s good to appear poorer than you are
My friends used to make fun of me for my frugal ways. I admit it, I’m cheap. And yet, the allure of spending money to maintain a certain image in the eyes of those I like and respect is huge. Even for a cheapskate like me.
Think of it this way. A 40 year old dude rarely buys a fancy sports car because it has good fuel economy. No, he’s buying it because it says, “I might be a dork but I’m a dork that made something of himself.”
Status is a powerful motivator. “There is a group of goods” explains economist Juliet Schor, “which are consumed visibly – their use is public, other people can see that you own them, live in them, drive in them – and those public goods come to be very important in the competitive ‘keeping up’ process.”
So what have I done to subvert our own desire to “keep up” and thereby operate in a more financially prudent manner? Jedi mind tricks.
First, like R2D2, I have painted a holographic picture of our idyllic future 40 years from now, sitting on the porch, enjoying a cup of tea, watching the sunset with good friends and family. What more do we need? Definitely not that fancy vacation home in Mexico.
Second, my wife and I share a joint bank account. It’s great because all our money goes into one big pot. Well, most of it anyway. The truth is that I keep another pot. Each month I skim from the top and put it in a savings account for retirement (or a rainy day). My wife knows about that account, is grateful that I have it, and yet, every now and again, she asks, “what the heck are we spending our money on? Why is our account so low?” Like Luke Skywalker, I quickly distract my opponent, I mean, my wife. “Good question,” I say, “Would you like some wine with dinner?”
5. A “honey do” list is a good thing
I used to get overwhelmed by the “honey do” list. Although in my wife’s eyes, “replace bathroom light bulb” and “remodel kitchen” take up the same amount of space on the list and thereby have equal importance, I keep the peace with these two tricks:
First, I knock off as many easy items as I can because, duh, they all have equal weighting. I change that kitchen light bulb, replace the toilet seat, and run the oven cleaning cycle to grand applause and appreciation.
Second, with the help of years of coaching, I reframe the “honey do” list to the “honey, have someone else do” list. In addition to having a great relationship with my wife, I now have a good relationship with Mike the irrigation guy, Tom the lovely retired Italian handyman, and Al the electrician.
6. When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy
Research is finally catching up to this old truism. In her book Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrickson describes the science of relationships and emotions. The way I’ve made sense of the book is to think of emotions as radioactive substances. When someone ain’t happy, especially momma, it’s like they are full of uranium and if you’re within a five mile radius you’re bound to be affected. You won’t exactly grow an extra eye but you might grow an ulcer. You gotta deal with that stuff before it gets toxic.
That brings me to the next lesson.
7. When momma ain’t happy, you don’t always have to do something about it
When we were courting, my wife and I came up with the following relationship rules and shockingly, they are as true today as they were 13+ years ago:
- All relationship problems are communication problems.
- All communication problems can be solved with good communication.
- Therefore, all relationship problems can be solved with good communication.
The bottom line is that if momma ain’t happy, I just have to communicate better. In many cases, that doesn’t mean I have to do anything except ask questions and listen.
8. The only difference between me and superman…
…Is that kryptonite doesn’t seem to bother me.
I don’t look anything like Clark Kent (I have much lighter hair) but my wife thinks I resemble Superman when I wear spandex shorts or a speedo. Tuck those love-handle inhibitions aside gents, middle aged is a state of mind.
9. Me, Tarzan
Give yourself the freedom to reduce yourself to the lowest common XY chromosome denominator. You know you want to watch sports, make fart jokes, and swing from vines. Hopefully, your wife appreciates the importance of it.
Funny how after hanging with the “boys,” my wife keeps asking, “what’d you talk about?” and when I say “nothing” she doesn’t believe me.
10. Shoot for 50
Thirteen’s nothing. I’ve got 37 years to go. But having a big goal makes all the small stuff not really matter much.
11. Toolbelts and uniforms work
I finally got my garage fixed up and joined the local volunteer fire department. The myths are true. She can’t resist me when I wear a toolbelt or my uniform.
Trying to understand why would be like trying to explain to a five year old how Santa hits every house in the world in one night. “It’s magic, son, it’s magic.”
12. Choose the make and model that fits you
When buying a car, some guys like tonnes of torque for off-road ruggedness. Other guys like a powerhouse drag racer that can go from 0 to 60 in four seconds.
That’s all fine and dandy but when it comes to choosing your mate, you need to think about the long road ahead. You want an ageless beauty to drive into the sunset with. Choose wisely. I know I did.
13. Rule #1 still applies
After 1.3 decades, I can say that the foundational rule we created still applies. It’s quite simple. If I have a problem, we have a problem.
Like for example, when my wife says she’s having a problem with our car (it’s older than our marriage) because of the cracked radiator, weird ABS grinding, and “wet dog” smell (no, we’ve never owned a dog but we have two kids that act like dogs sometimes), “we” have a problem. Even if I don’t mind the car’s idiosyncrasies or driving with the window down in the winter, “we” have a problem. Yes, “we do.”
Who ever said “I do”?
Anyway, anybody want a ‘01 Chevy Impala, a beauty of a car we affectionately call the Red Rocket? I hate to see ‘er go (it’s me or the car). Only 160,000 miles. Runs great.
About Stephan Wiedner
Stephan Wiedner’s mission is to help individuals and couples forge their own unique paths in this world. As a certified coach, he has served hundreds of clients and as the co-founder of Noomii.com, the web’s largest professional coach directory, he has matched thousands of individuals and companies with their ideal coaches. Stephan is a dedicated husband and father of two children.