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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day Advice. Take it or leave it.

My first piece of advice is this:

If you have to send sweets to your child's school, send Rice Krispie treats or those peanut butter kiss cookies. I'm not going to trouble you with either recipe, because the Rice Krispie Treat Recipe is right there on the box (do NOT screw this one up by buying some organic, fake version of Rice Krispies!) and the peanut butter kisses are too easy*. Adding holiday appropriate décor to the Rice Krispie Treats is a classy touch. May I suggest the following?

  • Candy hearts or red hots for Valentine's Day.

  • Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa colored sprinkles.

  • Green food dye in the mix for St. Patrick's Day. Or peas.

  • Chocolate sprinkles or chips for Groundhog Day.

  • Little tiny candy Presidents for Presidents' Day.

  • Red, White and Blue sprinkles for the Fourth of July. Sparklers would be nice, too, but you want to be careful about putting kids' eyes out.

  • Little tiny licorice shovels for Labor Day.
And now, in honor of all the upcoming Spring and Summer weddings and super-cheesy Valentine's Day proposals, I'm offering helpful hints for marriage. I've only been married ten years, so take them with a grain of salt, because marriage can last a whole lot longer than that. And, oh yeah, I'm a bit nuts and so is my husband.
  • Make sure your husband thinks you are funny, pretty and smart, not necessarily in that order. You should think he's funny, smart enough and good looking enough. If he's too good looking, that's kind of gross and not very manly. If he's too smart, his social skills might not be up to par. By the way, y'all don't have to be funny to other people, just to each other. I, for example, find it beyond hysterical when my husband does that thing where he stands behind a counter, says, "Honey, I'm going down to the basement to get something," and pretends to walk down the imaginary stairs. In fact, I laughed just typing that. He does it really well and I always ask him to do it again. Logically, I know that joke isn't all that funny, but you have to see it when he does it! Likewise, he always laughs when I imitate our mothers (Sorry, Mom! Sorry, Maman! Can you console yourselves by knowing that making fun of you is the glue that holds our marriage together?)

  • Contrary to most relationship advice, I believe you can change the way your husband dresses, with one glaring exception. If he wears his pants too high, you will not be able to change that. If that's a deal breaker for you, as it is for me, don't marry him. Seriously, it will bother you more and more as the years go on.

  • Get a King sized bed. Space is good. Even better, go hotel-style and get two Queens, side by side. That way, you both have plenty of space, even if you decide to share for a night.

  • Don't share a toothbrush. Aside from the fact that it's gross, one or both of you will be bothered by the wear and tear inflicted on the communal toothbrush by the other person. I can tell if my husband uses mine even one time and it makes me crazy.

  • Be very, very open with each other about finances. Most people don't want to be in the dark and, even if they do, that's not fair to the other partner. No one should have to have all the responsibility.

  • Get rid of your television. You'll play more Scrabble. And you'll love staying in hotels, because they all have television. I think at least one of our children was conceived while we watched Law and Order in a hotel.

  • Don't go to bed angry. Feel free to go to bed angry. If we never went to bed angry, we'd fight all the time, because we'd never get any sleep!

  • Don't assume that unhappy times will be unhappy for your relationship. Some of those hard times have shown me a loving and strong side of my husband I had never seen before.

  • Don't assume happy times will be good for your marriage.
    • Pregnancy and child-rearing are not easy on a marriage. They can bring you closer and they can be very rewarding, but they can lead to a heck of a lot of fighting, too. With each child, we've gotten better at accepting that we'll be miserable at certain times, like when we haven't slept in days. Sucking it up and paying for a housekeeper and babysitters can help with some of the resentment, but not all of it. Just get through it.

    • Moving to a new (bigger, better) house is awesome, but stressful. You'll still fight: about what couch to buy, how much to spend, etc. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, be happy about the new house and convince your husband to just let you make the decorating decisions. Really. As a compromise, let him keep wearing the nasty green Chuck Taylors he's had since college.

    • Making more money is great, but you still won't agree on how to spend it. When we were first married, my husband once wailed, "If I just made $XXX a year, we'd never fight!" He makes double that now. Guess what we still do? After the fight, have a calm discussion and try to compromise.

  • Sex is important. There was a rumor traveling the housewife grapevine in my neighborhood a while back that the secret to marriage is having sex every other day (or more, for you over-achievers). For you newlyweds and fiancés, that may not seem like a lot, and for you new parents, that may seem impossible. Whatever your feelings, try it. I've heard it works. Even if you can't stick with it, it helps to try.

  • It's been said before, but remember that sex doesn't always have to be a certain way. Some days, you have seven minutes in the closet and some days, the kids are all at friends' houses and you have the house to yourself. Wheeee!

  • This is from my Mom, paraphrased. You'll fall in love at different, unpredictable times in your marriage. There may be months (or even years) during which you don't feel "in love." It's already happened to us, more than once, and we've only been married ten years. Wait it out. It'll happen for you again, and you can't predict when. I fell madly in love with my husband all over again after I had a miscarriage. Go figure.

  • When choosing your partner, go with your gut. Your first impression of someone's character is probably spot on. Don't let yourself be blinded by unimportant details, like wealth, good lucks, a glamorous job or popularity. Is he a good person? Yes or no. You'll know from the beginning.

  • If you do find yourself in a bad marriage, cut your losses and get out. Life is too short. People make mistakes, so don't beat yourself up. I'm not going to list the reasons you should get divorced, because you need to go with your gut. No one thing is a deal breaker for all people.

  • Know in your heart that your husband is the one person you can spend the rest of your life with. I can't really tell you how you'll know, but I hope you will!

  • Something about living together is hard. Don't expect the first year of marriage to be all hearts and flowers. Or the second year.

  • Be your husband's biggest fan and marry someone who is yours.

  • Try to love your in laws. It's okay to love them like you love your own family, with a little bit of resentment. But love them because they made your husband who he is. And try not to be too mad at them when you hate who your husband is.

  • Don't be afraid of counseling. Sometimes it helps simply because, by going, you show each other that you want to stay together. Knowing you're loved goes a long way.

  • Don't break up. If you've determined that you're in the right marriage, just stick with it.
I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of anything else right now. Happy Valentine's Day! Which reminds me: Don't expect your husband to just know what you expect in terms of gifts and acknowledgment on your birthday, Valentine's Day or any other holiday. Tell him. Over and over. Don't be passive aggressive and pouty. One day he'll get it.

Namasté, y'all!

* Okay, here's the recipe: Buy some peanut butter cookie dough, or make it, I don't care. Roll it into balls and cook them. Now stick a Hershey's Kiss into the top of each one. Hooray! Cookies!

1 comment:

Don Mills Diva said...

There is so much good stuff in there Annie, so much good stuff - love it!