Listen, I know I’ve only been married for ten months, but it’s true what they say, “happy wife, happy life”. Although, I do want to shelve the expression’s roots that are doubtless held in the patriarchy’s idealized complaisance of women.
Here, I want “happy wife, happy life”, or in my case, “happy husband, happy lusband”, to refer to the pedestal on which you should gently place the well being of your intimate relationships in order to maintain peace in your life.
And while I may still be bathing in honeymoonlight, I’ve never been more certain of something appreciating over time as I am with my marriage. Each night, I go to sleep soundly next to the man of my dreams, and every morning, I am inspired by him to try harder than I did the day before.
Fear not, for in saying this I do not tempt fate, but rather I taunt it. Whatever Thomas and I have is inexhaustibly powerful. We’ve been inseparable since first we brunched, and though there have been moments in which we waded in troubled waters, the dark night of the soul has never been definitive of our story.
We don’t bicker or cling to petty predispositions, we are sincerely endeared to the other’s flaws, there isn’t anything in this world we would not do for the other, and we’re genuinely happier together than alone or with anyone else.
At the risk of pissing everyone off, I’d say we’re kind of a big deal. In my humble opinion, Thomas and I are the couple for whom the hashtag #couplegoals was created. He is the Antinous to my Hadrian, the Nancy to my Gipper, the Adam to my Steve.
And while no marriage is perfect, I have observed a few of the mechanics that have made mine pretty goddamn close. Simple parts of a whole that seem familiar to other successful partnerships as well. Things in which you should take an interest if perhaps your naivety or shitty personality keep obstructing your romantic bliss. Things afloat in the river that leads to a happy lusband.
1. Get Along.
A little on the nose, I know, but think of the couples you know who have very little in common but sexual attraction. By no means do I mean to devalue sex as an integral, foundational component of a blessed union, however it cannot sustain one alone.
I don’t mean to suggest you go out and marry your carbon copy, you will inevitably drown yourself. But, let’s say you’re a rather sedentary person who enjoys whisky with their steak. Perhaps you shouldn’t invest everything in your straight edge, vegan spin instructor. You know what they say: you’re not in love, you’re just having regular BMs and orgasms.
Tommy and me, we click. We like the same shows and hate the same people, and stay with me when I say that most importantly, our life journeys track. Now, I don’t mean to pass judgment on those inclined to cradle robbing or to dismiss true love that blossomed from daddy issues, and, of course, age differences are not always indicative of dichotomous values, skill sets, or even experiences. I just know that I found my bliss with someone who gets my pop culture references.
My husband and I want different things in life, and that’s acceptable. At the end of the day, we value different things, but each other above all else. He wants to live like Isabella Stewart Gardner whereas I would feel more at home in the Guggenheim. The important thing is that we both like art, and have yet to amass separate collections. We’re both young and flexible, and aren’t attached to much else but each other.
Balance and compromise are key, and in my opinion, balance and compromise are most easily facilitated between people of comparable histories and net worths. In partnering with someone of comparable (yet different) intelligence and life experience, I believe I have encouraged the substance and longevity of my marriage.
So, while Thomas and I may approach things quite differently, above all else we work well together. Neither of us has a leg up in our respective careers or experiences or talents, and we share an excitement and fear of our unknown future together. Our conversations flow as naturally and as comfortably as our silences. We get along.
2. Speak the Same Language.
Money isn’t the root of all evil, misunderstanding is. Money can buy wonderful things like eclairs and health insurance, while misunderstandings are what lead to awful things like birthday cake flavored protein bars and privatized healthcare.
At one point or another you’ve probably found yourself audibly chastising a character in a horror movie, or considered how you might have avoided a particular pickle in any given situational comedy.
The peril in those arenas often stem from certain misunderstandings that appear quite avoidable from the bleachers, and yet those ethnically diverse teens keep splitting up to search the camp, and bad people with inexplicably good apartments keep refusing to clarify simple things.
My advice? Don’t split up. Listen. Don’t be an archetype or a formula. They say write what you know, so I am wont to juxtapose movies and television with my life, yet unlike characters on a screen, you and I are complex, nuanced individuals with the ability to learn and grow from our mistakes. For us, clarity is not unachievable and it is nowhere near evincive of a chapter’s end.
We can’t always see the killer right behind us, but we can certainly always be on the same page as our partner. That isn’t to say that we should always agree with them, but we should be damned sure of with what we disagree, and that starts with speaking the same language.
Thomas speaks in kind words and gentle touches. He tells me how special I am, and how much he loves me, and he often won’t let me withdraw from a hug. It’s alright, I’m quite fond of the guy, but before him, saying “I love you” was an absolute chore for me.
I’m not a very physically or verbally affectionate person. A part of that might have something to do with my sharp bones and a refusal to utilize coat sleeves, but even phone calls to my parents have always ended with a cordial “take care” (and a modest wire transfer if the conversation went smoothly).
My point is that no two people operate or emote the same, not even soul mates. My M. O. is to charge some affection to my AmEx, whereas my husband can’t sleep unless we’re touching.
Of course, communication being a key component of a harmonious relationship is as novel a concept as the love languages themselves, and yet these are important clichés.
Thomas has learned to surprise me with gifts, and I would be a very wealthy young man if I had a dollar for every time I’ve now said “I love you”.
The things we do and say now may not be inherent, but we learned to coexist until we became bilingual in our love pidgin.
Ironically, the most important lesson I am still learning as my relationship matures is that speaking the same language has the least to do with speaking, and the most to do with listening.
Most of the squabbles in my marriage have arisen in consequence of my impulsivity refusing to consult my husband’s many, many neuroses before driving me to do any number of expensive things.
Remember, your partner is not the enemy, misunderstanding is. Clarify the things of which you’re uncertain. Try to speak the same language. When you’re on the fence, ask your partner for help down rather than guessing which side they’re on and jumping. Listen. Eat. Pray. Love.
I am partial to rose oil and balsam, while Thomas prefers eucalyptus and lemongrass, but more importantly, this is not what I mean by “diffuse”. I mean that people argue, it is inevitable. Really, it’s not a very big deal. What is a big deal is how you move forward.
I think a lot of nuptial discord is rooted in financial problems, but as I mentioned earlier, I personally set myself up with the advantage of marrying laterally in terms of coin, livestock, and land ownership.
Also aforementioned was my admission that most of the arguments in my partnership with Thomas are born of our combative character flaws. If you like, I could sum them up by saying that Thomas is inclined to overanalyze everything, whereas I minimize.
Maybe there are two types of people in the world. The people itemizing their carry-on at the terminal three hours before take-off, and the people unbothered by missing their flight.
Thomas seems to have the debilitating anxieties of someone with Final Destination foresight, and I prefer not to get bogged down in the minutia of details and consequences, to an admittedly disenchanting extent.
Usually, we balance each other out quite nicely. I’m sure if I hadn’t married Thomas I would probably be a sex worker somewhere in Eastern Europe by now, and he would be collecting terminally ill Chihuahuas in a remote shack.
Other times, the polarization has lead to chaotic misunderstandings and I’m not yelling, YOU’RE YELLING!
Three in, six out. When was the last time I’ve had a nosh? Am I angry or is my blood sugar just at a perilous low? Is my husband actually chewing too loudly or is this just about someone mistaking me for John Waters at dinner earlier?
Even if it is your partner with whom you’re angry, perhaps even for good reason, I have news for you: it doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme, all we are is dust in the wind. Is what you’re upset about really more important to you than the most important person in your life?
Light some incense, do what you’ve gotta do, and figure your shit out. You shouldn’t let disagreements go unresolved, but in my experience, shelving them in heated moments is sage.
Most likely, whatever it is that you’re so fervently defending now won’t seem so important in even ten minutes. The things that really matter can only be seen after you’ve taken several steps back from whatever insular situation in which you find yourself.
What’s important is the big picture. Going to sleep knowing that tomorrow can be better. Loving someone as wholly as you can, even when it is challenging. Reaching new levels of productivity in your art, or helping other people.
Powerful emotions are intoxicating, don’t become a lush for tension. Don’t let pettiness or anger fester, it’s all they want. Remember to look for the light in your partner’s eyes and focus on it.
4. Hold Hands.
Yes, literally. Touch has been scientifically and indefatigably linked to couples’ bolstered mental and physical health. I realize that I am, myself, not organically inclined to physicalize my love, but I have noticed that I am more at peace sitting next to Thomas than across the room from him.
I am thrilled each time he takes my hand when we are out on a walk. An impromptu kiss or hug feels just like a shot of Bulleit, and I’m instantly reminded that everything’s going to be great.
I think our physical closeness strengthens our bond a lot. My husband’s most intimate thoughts are somehow just more meaningful to me when I’m picking at his back through the holes of one of his old band tees.
At home, our hands often wander about the other’s body mindlessly. It’s annoying, but we diffuse, and at least, I really do believe in the medical benefits of intimate articulations, intentioned or otherwise.
So the next time you’re out for a malt with your top gal, don’t be afraid to take her hand and give her a smoochie. Not only is it good for your health, chances are she’ll enjoy it, and you know what they say, “happy wife, happy life”.
So let’s review what we’ve gone over today.
In my experience, I have found it advantageous to my marriage to get along with my partner, learn to speak the same language as them, diffuse tensions when they are peaked, and hold hands.
I have also found it to my advantage to be wary of horses and people who deny peeing in the shower, but that’s neither here nor there. I just want to make sure that everyone’s having a good time.
Until we meet here again, be sweet to the people you love. They're what this is all about.