Secret #1: Don’t talk and don’t listen.
Never was the saying Silence is Golden more applicable than in a happy marriage. Otherwise, husbands, if you talk and your wife doesn’t respond, you’re ticked off. If she responds and it’s not what you want to hear, you’re ticked off. If you just want to vent and she’s determined to solve your problem, you’re ticked off. But if there is no talk, you can both fantasize about the great conversation you just had. Besides, as we get older we all get a little hard of hearing and going silent saves us from the “What?” “What?” that can really send you around the bend.
Secret #2: A bathroom of one’s own.
As soon as our younger daughter went off to college, I boxed up my husband’s medicine cabinet stuff and carted it down the hall to the second bathroom. Heaven! This will keep love alive, I thought, because not even Brad Pitt, much less a mere mortal such as a husband, could be seen with toothpaste foam all over his face and still be considered a heartthrob. Besides, for my part, there are some things that should only be between my hairdresser and me.
Secret #3: You eat your food and I’ll eat mine.
Early on in our marriage I established “EMFH.” That acronym stands for “Every Man for Himself.” The advantages of EMFH are: a) I am much more appreciated when I do rattle those pots and pans; b) I don’t have to have my husband supervising me in the kitchen, as he is prone to do; and c) I get to eat my green kale while he gets to the all-white meal for which he yearns: eggs, potatoes, milk, and vanilla wafers.
Secret #4: Let him have his fantasies – as long as you can have yours.
My husband secretly covets a tool belt, ten-gallon hat, and a beat-up pickup truck, preferably with the radio blasting Willie Nelson. Never mind that he grew up in Scarsdale, New York, and wouldn’t know a lariat from a bungee cord, he’s sure that one day it’ll be home, home on the range for him. I, on the other hand, have always wanted to be a Las Vegas showgirl. Never mind that they are 6-feet tall and I’m only 5 foot 4, and that they have statuesque posture and I slump. Not to mention the fact that I’d be in traction from those big, feathered headdresses. But I can dream, can’t I?
Secret #5: Practice selective vision.
Wives, I suggest you ignore your husband’s desk with the drawings on it from your pre-school granddaughter—(who is now in college). Pretend he looks great in his college blazer. It will never fit him no matter how hard he holds in his stomach, but okay, let him keep it if it makes him happy. At the same time, do not draw attention to your wedding dress, which has hogged the hall closet forever because, frankly, you don’t know where else to stash it and you don’t have the heart to throw it away. And as for those love letters from old boyfriends–which you swore to throw out–there’s really no need to mention that they are safely, and secretly, stowed away.
So, those are my five golden rules of a successful marriage, and if you follow them, I guarantee that you’ll stay married forever, too.