Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Husband Makes Me Nuts—Secrets to a Long Marriage

How to survive marriage, respect, marriage, love,
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

People ask, "What's the secret to staying married so long?"

Once, at a dinner with other couples who'd been married ten, twenty, or thirty years, I asked what they thought the secret to a long marriage was. There was nervous laughter, but in the end they gave variations of the same glib answer I have.

Don't leave.

  • Or, if you must leave, make sure you go back. 

Pretty lame isn't it? But the truth is that there isn't an answer to staying married. Articles and research on the subject catch my eye online. I'll start to read them, sigh, and shut them down without finishing. They're written by experts. They're written by someone nearing their seventh anniversary—or maybe their tenth. 

Come October I'll have been married thirty-five years. 

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS. Please, girlfriend, unless you've been married that long (or longer), when I read your sage advice I'm probably going to roll my eyeballs so hard they creak. 

No! They don't always do that! 

I've never let age define me, probably because I'm so bad at math that I hardly notice time and number things. But when the thirty-five years number sank in, I considered lying about the age of my marriage. 

Yet as I tell my husband, the warranty isn't even up yet. Plus it doesn't feel that long. That is probably a good sign. I'm seriously considering renewing that warranty when it is up. That's not what I say during fishing season though. 

Life is hard af

It is every shade of wonderful to have someone who will always have your back. But what kind of person will always have your back?
  • Someone you can trust
  • Someone who is kind
  • Someone who can trust you
  • Someone you respect

Experience has shown me that real marriage doesn't look like a Hollywood Romance. You can fake it through the white wedding and maybe a couple years in, but is that who you both really are? Or is it a template of what you assume marriage should be?

Marriages don't have to fit into a box. 

You can make your own box. It seems mandatory to adjust expectations to what works for the two of you. My husband loves archery and fishing. He saves the electronic guts of everything that breaks and builds stargates and portals to other dimensions nothing yet, but he could. 

My days are spent making imaginary characters say what I want, and moving piles of books and papers around. Sometimes I wake my husband in the dead of night because the printer won't work or other life-threatening emergencies. This works for us. (It does, babe. Don't argue.) 

When someone asks what makes a long marriage work, I say you have each other's backs and keep finding things about life that thrills you.

It's never going to be a picture perfect marriage. Living with someone else is just too damn annoying. Can you imagine coming home to another box of fishing crap stuff from FedEx (possibly live insect larvae doomed to become bait) sitting on the dining room table next to a box of random boat motor parts? How about finding your husband using your hairdryer to blow dry the inside of his fishing waders?

It killed the hairdryer.

Don't worry. You can probably get the parts to fix it online.

Here comes the big secret.

The secret that no one tells you about marriage is this...

You don't always like your spouse!

It's true. Sure, I've seen those testimonials of people married sixty-five years who say, "We've never had a fight!" I call bullshit on that. Maybe they're from a stiff upper lip generation or culture, but I promise you there were some marital battles going on that could liquefy the bowels of a Cold War politician. 

Some marriages shouldn't last. Nobody should have to endure abuse and cruelty. I don't judge couples for opting out. Choosing the right partner is at least partially good luck. 

If you love, trust, and respect your partner it's worth staying.

My husband still does all those little annoying things he did since the start of our marriage. His dirty clothes live in a pile about two feet from the hamper. Unless I drill-sergeant over him he never makes his side of the bed. Over the years we've slowly, almost imperceptibly, broken up the chores into those traditional His and Hers boxes that I swore I'd never allow. 

After all this time I can admit with confidence that I'm annoying af to live with too. He gets to watch me make the same mistakes over and over. He gets to talk to a woman who drifts completely out of the conversation and into a story-line. He always knows. He says, "Hey! Where'd you go?"

"Uh, sorry, Kahtar needed me."

How do you deal with the petty differences and the same person's annoying habits for years? I can only tell you what works for us. (But I know it's worked for many friends married just as long too!)

Give each other space to continue growing as human beings.

After we got married I was certain he'd give up hunting and fishing to hold my hand and listen to my story ideas for the rest of his life. I also knew he'd stop dressing like a nerd with a few top quality camo jackets. He knew I'd never hang onto pregnancy weight for a decade or stop being young, and I'd certainly stop philosophizing about whether or not animals have souls. And I know he thought I'd quit walking around the house with my nose in a book about twenty hours a week too. 

Nothing changed but us.

There have been plenty of growing pains over the years because he continued to be who he is, and I continued to be who I am. But the magic is that we found common ground because we looked for it!

the reality of marriage, married thirty-five years, secrets
Our Dorky Love Story isn't very Hallmark.
The reality is that neither of us is the near-child the other married. They're in here still, but we've both changed into older, wiser versions of ourselves—with no regrets. I like to think that's in large part because we've had each other to count on all these years.

My husband has continued to fish too much and hunt with bows and arrows. He likes to be in the woods or on the water, far from civilization. Sometimes he does slightly Frankenstein things with electricity and old computer parts. I like to write and travel the world. Most of the time we do these things separately and when we're back together again we meet up with the same enthusiasm we had when we first met. That's not half bad for almost thirty-five years. Maybe I should renew that warranty, hmmm?


  1. So beautifully put!! Thank you for always sharing your thoughts with humor and honesty.

    1. My pleasure Lisa. Reading articles on long marriages I get so frustrated with the advice I HAD to say something. :)

  2. GAH! I love this so much. Such sound & simple wisdom..."Stay."

  3. This. Always this:
    'I say you have each other's backs and keep finding things about life that thrills you.'

    We've got 27 years this year behind us and looking forward is the magic - finding the thrill whether its together or apart, but always with each other's support.

    1. <3
      27 years is epic Lisa! I suspect you've found the magic. <3

  4. Thanks Stephanie for writing this! It's the having each other's backs part...and laughing together with each other...

  5. “when we're back together again we meet up with the same enthusiasm we had when we first met.” Love this. Well said. If couples would give it a chance ... there are moments the years together provide that are so worth sticking around for. 47 years next month. I might have to revisit your post every year left, though! *grinning*

    1. <3 47 years! That is epic Bonnie. Congratulations AND lucky you, right?

  6. Excellent post, as always, Sis. I totally agree. Don't leave (but if you do, come back). Also, work at it. It's work. There is no fairy tale. It's like showing up to work everyday. Some days you're looking forward to it and other days you're not. But you show up just the same.

    1. <3 Absolutely. Some weeks (monhs/years) seem like they're full of Mondays, lol. But plod onward, Friday is always coming. Eventually. xo