A cup of poo taught me what true love is. No need to reread that – you had it right the first time.
Let me set the scene for you and hopefully, it will make more sense. A few weeks ago, I was in the laundry room sorting the dirty clothes. The kids had gone to school and my husband was getting ready to leave for work. On his way out the door, he stopped to kiss me goodbye, just like he does every other morning.
I lovingly cupped his face with one hand, while I held a pair of dirty underwear in the other. My husband hugged me tightly with one arm and juggled a cup of poo in the other.
Not a literal cup of poo, but an actual cup of poo. You see, one of our kids needed to submit a stool sample and my lucky husband was dropping it off at the lab on his way to work.
And in that moment, it hit me. THIS is the secret to a lasting marriage.
If you want to stay married for the long haul, you have to be able to handle the dirty stuff together and still show love and affection for each other. You need to be able to juggle poo and smelly underwear as a team.
The secret to staying married
I would like to think that most people enter marriage with the intention of it lasting forever. Recent statistics have shown that divorce rates are declining and people are waiting longer to get married. This is good news and experts agree that this shows that this generation is taking marriage more seriously.
However, movies and romance novels have taught us to believe that love conquers all. Many newly married couples think that because they are SO in love they will be able to weather any storm that life throws at them.
But the secret to staying married is not true love. Love certainly helps, but there are other aspects of a marriage that are equally, if not more, important.
My husband and I recently celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary. I would be lying if I said our marriage was perfect or that we were experts. We have had our ups and downs; the moments of pure joy and the times where I contemplated divorce because he was singing off-key again.
No, our marriage isn’t perfect, but we are solid and still in love after all these years. And we have picked up a few tidbits along the way that we want to share with you now.
Remember the mountain lions if you want to stay married
Mountain lions are opportunistic hunters. They will sneak up behind a herd of deer, study them and look for the weakest animal. When they find a flaw in the herd, they take advantage of it and attack.
People, especially children, are built the same way. They have a supernatural sixth sense about cracks in a marriage and will capitalize on it. That is why it is absolutely vital to always show a united front.
I’m not saying you always have to agree. There is a big difference between agreeing and being united.
United front in real life
Let me give you an example. I think the kids should do homework as soon as they get home from school. My husband thinks they should go play outside and do homework later. Since I am in charge of the kids and their schoolwork, my husband defers to my decision.
He doesn’t agree with me, but he backs me up. When the kids ask him if they can go outside, he says, “Did you ask your mother? Is your homework done?”
This is a simple example, but you get the idea. It shows the kids that they can’t play one of us against the other, that we are a team.
Sometimes, it is not the kids who are looking for a crack in the foundation of your marriage. Unfortunately, there are adults who will take advantage of a struggling marriage, which can potentially lead to infidelity.
Again, this is why it is so important to always show a united front. Physically, you can hold hands or sit next to each other in group settings, which gives off a visual cue that you are a team.
You could agree to not get into heated discussions in front of other people. Over the years, my husband and I have perfected “the look”. The one that says, “We will discuss this later in private.”
This brings me to my next point.
Some things need to remain private
If you want to stay married forever, recognize that your relationship with your partner is sacred and set limits on what you will discuss with other people.
There is something special about having information that is only for the two of you. I know the topics will vary from couple to couple, but what is important here is to have something that is just for your marriage.
Maybe you refuse to discuss your sex life with other people. Or maybe only your spouse knows about your childhood or your lifelong dream to run a snorkel shop on an island.
Whatever the information is, when you are talking to other people about your spouse, stay loyal to your partner. Everyone dishes about their spouse once in a while, but respecting your marriage and your partner’s trust is the most important thing in this situation.
And while we are on the subject of privacy, some things can remain private from your spouse. We all go to the bathroom, but we don’t have to do it together.
My husband and I call it “keeping the mystery alive.” On some level, he knows I dye my hair and pluck my chin, but he doesn’t need to witness it. I would rather have him picture me as an effortlessly beautiful creature.
Be persistent if you want to stay married
The definition of persistent is “continuing firmly in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” Doesn’t that perfectly sum up people who want to stay married forever?
If you are in it for the long haul, your mind, body, and soul continue to show up every day. As a team, you commit to making it work and agree that quitting is not an option.
There will be days when you face a difficulty or an opposition. You will be mad or tired. A person will try to come between you. There will be stress at work.
There will be days when you want to throw in the towel. But if you choose to be persistent and keep going, you will get through it.
Marry your funny best friend
This is the marriage advice I will give my children one day; marry your best friend and make sure they can make you laugh every single day for the rest of your life.
My husband is absolutely my best friend. When something happens, good or bad, I want to tell him first. If you tell me something, you can bet he knows about it too because we have no secrets.
He gets me in a way that only a best friend can. He understands all my stupid jokes, he accepts me the way I am and he makes everything more fun.
And here is quite possibly the biggest reason why our marriage has thrived for so long – he makes me laugh every single day. Whether he is making up a song, telling a story or texting me a meme, he always finds a way to make me laugh.
Think about how powerful laughter really is. It can change the trajectory of your entire day. The ability to make your partner laugh, to laugh at yourself and to find the humor in every situation is a gem in a marriage.
What does The Evil Daddy think?
I told my husband that I was writing this article and asked him what he thought was the most important factor in a lasting marriage. His reply? Communication.
According to The Evil Daddy, if you want to stay married, you need to make open communication a priority. Staying bottled up and keeping things to yourself will breed resentment and confusion.
Married couples should be able to calmly discuss things and if it escalates to a fight, do it like adults. What this means, is keep the fight clean.
No throwing plates or calling each other nasty names. Once the plate is broken, it will always have a crack, even if you try to glue it back together. The same is true of name-calling. Once you say it, you can’t take it back and even if you apologize, your partner will still remember that you said it.
Things that will not help you stay married
Many people think that things like money, great in-laws or amazing sex will hold a marriage together. While they might help, they can’t make or break you.
There are plenty of people who are poor and happily married. And there are plenty of people who are rich and miserable.
There are married couples who get along fabulously with their in-laws and there are couples who don’t speak to their extended family at all. And sex is like a roller coaster in most marriages. Sometimes it is exciting, with loops and spirals, and sometimes there is a long, flat, boring stretch.
When you are fighting with the in-laws and dirt poor, the other things, like persistence and laughter will sustain you through the hard times. Here’s to many, many more years of wedded bliss!
Feel free to comment below with your own tips! How long have you been married and what is the secret to your success?
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