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The Secret

I got a lot of comments and messages on that last post specifically about the longevity of mine and Chip's marriage, given its unorthodox beginning. So I thought I might speak to that a bit more.

Truth is, there actually IS a secret to a long marriage, and I am willing to share that secret with you now.

It is not:

  • Marry your best friend

  • Love is a verb

  • Exercising together

  • Praying together

  • Great sex (together)

  • Never having to say you're sorry

No, it's none of these platitudes that you'll see in rom coms or read on other blogs. It's actually even simpler and more basic than that. It is just this: DON'T GET DIVORCED.

Boom. There it is. That's how you stay married for a long time. By not getting divorced. It's simple, as they say...but it's not always easy.

Chip's mom did me a tremendous favor when she sat me down at her kitchen table and told me, "There is no divorce in our family." She essentially took divorce off the table. No matter what happens, no matter what y'all face, you gotta figure it out. There was no other option.

Of course, the key is, both parties have to be willing to figure it out. One person cannot a marriage save. And of course anyone in a violent or dangerous situation should absolutely 100 percent get out and get safe. But if both parties are committed to sticking it out and making it work, it can work.

Because I've watched dozens of women declare online that "I married my best friend!!!" only to watch the union fall apart a few years later. It's super easy to be so infatuated with someone that they seem JUST DAMN PERFECT only to find out later that they're actually not perfect and they throw their dirty clothes on the floor right next to the hamper.

So here's some things I've learned:

  • Give up the Prince Charming fantasy. You'll only be disappointed when you have to share a bathroom with him.

  • If you can't have separate bathrooms, at least have separate sinks.

  • Set the expectations from the beginning. Don't wait on him out of early romance if you're not planning to do it for the rest of your life.

  • Learn to ask nicely.

  • Make him get up for at least some of the night feedings, even if you're nursing. Otherwise, he will learn to sleep through everything.

  • "Love" means different things to different people. If you can figure out what it means to him (and he, to you) you're halfway there.

  • Babies are a huge stress on a relationship. Dogs can be a huge stress reliever. Try to practice the unconditional love of dogs. (It's an ideal. None of us will ever meet it.)*

And now, the most important lesson, which came to me in the first year of our marriage, in our tiny little 800-square-foot home with the terra cotta walls:

When I moved out of my house with Susan, and into a house with Chip, I told him right up front: I am not taking the trash out. I've done it for years and it's gross and if there is a guy in the house, then by the gods, he should be the one to take the damn trash out.

I thought we were clear on the topic.

But I often found that the kitchen trash was piling up by the back door. "Chip," I would call, "I need you to take the trash out!"

"Yeah, okay," he'd say. But he wouldn't actually do it.

And the trash would climb higher.

"Chip! I NEED you to take the trash out!!"

"Okay...I will..."

Eventually I came to this life-changing realization: I could either A) Live with the trash climbing up my kitchen wall, or B) I could take it out my damn self.

And that, my friends, is the secret to staying married.

* - If you want to know what unconditional love is, lock your husband and your dog in the trunk of your car for an hour and see which one is happy to see you when you return.

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