Every now and then, when I have a couple minutes to kill at the checkout line (because the woman in front of me has 83 coupons and she's arguing over the 35 cent gem that expired yesterday), I peruse the variety of magazines on display. I do this because it will get me into less trouble than ramming her ankles with my cart and yelling, "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I'LL GIVE YOU THE 35 CENTS IF YOU'LL GO AWAY!"
Anyway, it must be a rule of thumb in the magazine publishing business that every issue MUST include an article on "How to Improve Your Marriage" or "Tips on Having a Long Marriage" or "The Secrets to Not Strangling Your Spouse in His Sleep" or "This Couple Tells Us How They've Managed to Stay Married for 91 Years!" Inevitably, it is determined that communication is one of the key factors.
Here's my tip: Stop reading stupid articles. (Unless that "stupid article" includes this one. In that case, carry on and feel free to sing my praises in the comment section.)
Every marriage is different. Some people believe that dating (other people) is a great way to preserve a marriage. Some people believe that never getting married in the first place is the key. Some people like marriage so much that they do it over and over and over again (Polygamy gives me an owie on the brain. I can hardly keep track of the deodorant and shaving cream preferences of ONE husband, much less 8 husbands. That would require charts and lists and stuff and I really suck at those.). Other people believe in family beds or separate checking accounts or weekly trips to church or never going to bed angry.
I agree that it can be interesting to see what other people do to keep the bond alive....yes, we can even learn from them. But you can't look at an open-marriage couple and say, "YES! When we get married, we'll continue to date other people and THAT will guarantee us a long life together!" It doesn't quite work that way. When I was a newlywed, I thought that we were supposed to be romantic and that romance = flowers or expensive dinners or an occasional piece of jewelry. Luckily (for our bank account), it didn't take long for Ye Olde Common Sense to pay me a visit.
Common Sense said, "Dude. Is your last name Trump or Rockefeller? I can't remember."
Me said, "Um. Neither one, actually. Why do you ask?"
Common Sense said, "Well, if you'd like flowers, dinners, and jewelry on a regular basis, then you'd best get yourself married to a Trump or a Rockefeller."
Me said, "But wait! I'm already married!"
Common Sense said, "Sucks to be you."
Me said, "No it doesn't! He's a great guy!"
Common Sense said, "Well then you'd better figure out how to be happy without flowers, dinners,
Me said, "Seriously?"
Common Sense said, "Seriously. And, FYI, those things don't really prove anything. They're just stuff. Do you hear me? They are JUST STUFF."
Hm. Ye Olde Common Sense had a good point.....(which annoyed me to no end because I really LIKE being the one who is right.) And slowly, my priorities shifted....as did my definition of romance.
Romance is.......When The Husband takes all 4 kids to a hockey game so that I can accept a last minute invitation to a Mets game. When he stops at 7-11 and buys me a pint of my favorite ice cream. When he clears off the passenger seat of the van and adjusts it to a comfy position for me. When we have bacon with our breakfast and he hands me the crispiest pieces because he knows I like those best. When he can see, just by the look on my face, that I'm getting a migraine....and then begins ticking through the list of remedies to see which ones I've tried. Romance is a husband who is kind, funny, hard-working, and a good father.
We are coming up on 18 years of marriage in June. I'm so proud of that.....so proud of him, me, and the knowledge that WE are the secret to those 18 years.