Having just enjoyed my 6th complete year of marriage to my beautiful wife, Amanda, I thought it would be fitting to write a little field guide to living happily in the same house with your spouse.
First, a disclaimer: I don’t always succeed in the amicable part, but I do try! Additionally, this is all from my side of the fence and does not include all of the awesome things my wife does to add to the relationship. I’m a lucky man.
Below you’ll find a set of general guidelines I try to follow to avoid a furious Amanda. They seem to be fairly universal, however. Please feel free to leave further tips in the comments section and learn from my experience.
- Plan non-mutual activities in advance
I consider a non-mutual activity to be one in which I participate and Amanda does not. When I want to sit down with my fellow geeks and play an RPG all night, Amanda is not even remotely interested.
To that end, I attempt to give her as much notice as possible so that she can find something she likes to do (like a Sex & the City marathon or a trip with her sister out to a wine bar). That way, she’s not bored, and we can both have some fun.
Much in the same way, when she plans on doing something like going to a New Kids on the Block concert, I want to know ahead of time so that I can get my gaming buddies together. Symbiotic, right?
- Chore first, then game
This one is pretty simple. Before I sit down to play a game, write, or otherwise relax, I make sure that I’ve got one or two chores under my belt first.
That way, when Amanda comes in the room and asks why I haven’t done this or that, I can respond with something like, “Oh, I did that already,” or “I just emptied the dishwasher and cleaned the pans, I’ll get to that after I sit and relax for a few minutes.”
In short, I make sure I’m doing my part, because she works hard too. This is probably the rule I forget about most often, but hey, when I remember to do it, we’re both much happier for it.
- Always remember why you married your spouse
You don’t get married out of spite or for profit (at least you shouldn’t). You should get married for love. And don’t give me any cynical crap–love is real, and it’s why I married my wife.
When life is rough, or I’m emotionally distraught (whether it be with anger, fear, anxiety, depression, etc.), I simply remember how much I love my wife. It helps. I make sure she’s reminded of that when she is down, and it helps her too. Be vocal, buy chocolates, maybe even do something original like making two and a half hour drive to get a favorite food you can’t get locally.
It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you don’t let her forget that love is what brought you together, and it’s what’s going to keep you there. Your spouse should do the same in return.
- Keep your own set of interests
This one is important, and it’s one people tend to forget. Just because you married someone doesn’t mean you have to like everything they like and do everything they do. If you give up something you love entirely because your significant other doesn’t partake, then you are going to build resentment over time.
There are exceptions to this rule (and you’re going to naturally change a bit), but for the most part, it’s truth. I’m very much into gaming. Amanda is not. I still game, and I still love to do it. Amanda is very much into what I like to call “bad TV.” This includes shows like “The Bachelor” and “Bachelor Pad.” That’s cool, she can watch those whenever she wants.
She can de-stress with her shows or go to the mall while I go save the galaxy in Mass Effect. No problem. After we’re done, we can both go out to grab some Menchie’s, and everyone is happy.
The exceptions? Those are generally things you change to make you a better person. I dress a little better than I used to, for example. If you smoke, and your spouse wants you to stop, that’s not really a bad thing either. You know, things like that.
- Try things (and when you do, be open-minded)
What I mean by this is that sometimes you should try those things your spouse is interested in, even if you are not. Sit down and try an RPG without automatically assuming you’ll hate it. Sit down to watch an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, you might like it.
Chances are, if you’re compatible enough with someone that you’ve married them (and love them), then you might actually like more of the same things than you think you do if you give them a fair shot. However, if you sit down to play Halo with your geeky husband, and you are positive from the minute you agree to do so that you’re going to be miserable, you are not giving it a fair shot. 🙂
- Be excellent to each other
It’s just like Bill and Ted always say on this one. Give foot rubs and back massages. Cook favorite foods, and make sure you always keep a supply of Godiva around. When you do that stuff, it’s reciprocated, and you both come to enjoy making one another happy.
It’s simple, do extra things from time to time for no other reason than to spread the love, and married life is just grand.
Well, that covers your introductory lesson. Like I said up there, add extra tips in the comments, and maybe I’ll do a follow-up to this post some time down the road.
Here’s to happy living!
UPDATE: No, my wife and I do not sit around all day watching TV, playing games, and eating chocolate. I kinda wish we did, but alas, it isn’t so. We are, unfortunately, really busy most of the time. The things I highlighted above are all things we like to do to relax, as this post is focused on living happily, not work.