30 Tips to stay Married 30 years Today’s Tip: #21 Maintain Surprise

King: Take it away, everyday the same thing. Variety! I want something different. Fix me Hasenpfeffer right away!

Shishkabugs (Bugs Bunny short cartoon) 1962

One of the things that is often mentioned as a problem in relationships is the same old thing. Our consumer society pushes the dread of the same old thing for the sake of selling and a lot of people find themselves spending a lot of money on junk because of it.

The same dread is often pushed in relationships today in movies and TV. The dread of the same old thing has been advanced to the point where people are making choices that are toxic for the long term health of a marriage.

The best way to avoid this problem? Maintain healthy surprise in a relationship. Here are a few ways of doing this that doesn’t involve risks that include catching the social disease of the day.

On a random day each month get your spouse a small gift.  This doesn’t have to be anything big, a single flower, a six pack of beer, a little thing.  If you regularly get a coffee, skip it one day and get something for daspouse.  pick a day and that day use those few dollars to a little something for dawife or Dahusband.

And once every three months instead of the small thing do something slightly bigger, a small lunch, a movie.

And once a year instead of the small thing, do something bigger, a show, a fancier dinner, an overnight

This should be independent of regular birthdays and anniversaries and it should also be something that doesn’t break the bank.  The real trick is to keep it random (I suggest using old D & D dice that you’ve put away years ago.

Again it isn’t the size of said gift, it’s the fact that it is completely unexpected that makes it special.

Now I’m sure many of you can come up with better ideas and schemes and naturally you will know your spouse better than me but as long as it’s a bit random and a bit of a surprise you will put an extra smile on your mate’s face and those extra smiles will add up to many years of happiness.

My 30 Tips so far

30 Tips to Stay Married 30 Years #20 Remember Marriage is Work

Prince Arthur: But if you all work all day every day when is the time for Adventure?
Little John: Life is nine tenths work my boy and a little play when you can get it. The same in the greenwood as it is on the Lord’s manor or in Nottingham town

The Adventures of Robin Hood The Youngest Outlaw 1955

One of the real problems of the current culture, particularly TV culture is the idea that marriage is all about the things you do together, the places you go the things you see etc etc etc.

The reality however is quite different.

Marriage is all about waking up each moment with a different person and living your life with them, that means all the normal things of life which means work and plenty of it.

It also means getting along which is also work

And of course your regular paying job of whatever type you have which again means work.

In other words more of the time of your marriage is going to be spent at work and if you come into marriage not knowing realizing this you are in for a nasty surprise.

But if you go into marriage cognizant of this, ignoring what the culture claims and instead prepare to work at it, your odds of staying married a long time will be considerably increased

My 30 Tips so far

30 Tips to Stay Married 30 years #19 A United Front

A House divided against itself can not stand

Abraham Lincoln

Sir Richard Warrington: We even see a danger of the cabinet perusing it’s own foreign policy
Sir Humphrey: But That’s absurd! The country can’t have two foreign policies!

Yes Prime Minister A Victory of Democracy 1986

Let’s pivot away from the fight game for a bit.

One of the most important things to remember is that as a married couple you are a single unit, no longer just two people but one flesh.

This is a very important thing to keep in mind when dealing with people and groups outside of your marriage, with relatives particularly with your kids.

Let’s start with the kids, the more united you are when dealing with your children the more likely you will be able to direct their path to a better direction, furthermore it will make it much harder for said kids to try and play you and your spouse off of each other. For a lot of basic things you want to be discussing before they come up, if the kid hits you with something you don’t expect, postpone a decision till the two of you can confer the key word here is UNITY

When dealing with groups other than the kids and a decision is either called for pushed at you again the thing to do is to defer a commitment in these situations until you get a chance to make that united front, if a decision can’t be deferred and only one of you are present then make sure any such statement is made with the understanding that you have to consult with your spouse to finalize it.

By all means has things out in private and make your cases but come to a single public position and make sure that’s what is presented to the kids and others.

A united front makes the family stronger, it fosters communication to come to that decision, foils others who want to make things rough for you (and such people DO exist) and most importantly when dealing with family and kids makes sure everyone is traveling int the same direction.

Want a strong marriage, build it on unity.

My 30 Tips so far

30 tips to stay married 30 years. #18 Don’t Spoil the Kids, Particularly Early.

Claudius: [writing] It is always unpleasant to hear of the murder of a child: but the reader must take my word for it that if he too and known little Drusilla, her father’s [Caligula’s] pet, he would have longed to do to her precisely what Lupus did.

Robert Graves, Claudius the God 1935

It’s time to bring up the subject of kids

I was watching a video of my kids first couple of christmas’ and in so doing what really jumped out at me was how the whole gift business seemed all about us rather than the kids.

Every time the kid opened a gift they liked and wanted to play with it we were chasing another gift, it was particularly funny when watching my oldest who was fascinated by a pencil, we would keep giving him another gift to open, he would smile, hold it for a while and head back to the pencil. He would have been completely happy playing with said pencil till the next day (even today his spare time when not gaming is spent drawing).

Not only did that pile of gifts become clutter that would make dawife crazy but once a person gets a large number of gifts suddenly the exceptions game changed and not for the better.

If instead of a flock of gifts we purchased one or two each Christmas for the boys and told any relatives who wanted to kick in to buy em savings bonds the house would have been a lot less cluttered, their bank accounts would have done even better than they did and most important of all they would have not only appreciated the stuff they had a lot more but learned that life isn’t about stuff.

And of course I suspect two and a half decades later with bills and loans to pay they would really appreciate the nest egg that twenty years of extra savings would have meant.

The time to avoid spoiling your child is always now, if you already have kids, the time to start is now, if you haven’t yet now’s the time to resist the temptation of watching them open gift after gift. I know there is joy in that but you’ll have more from a well adjusted kid who isn’t obsessed with things and an adult who knows the value of them.

The 30 tips so far…

30 Tips to Stay Married 30 Years #17 Have an Argument Escape Plan (and or let your spouse use their’s)

Peter and Val, a bit of advice, when you get into a fight, don’t throw the expensive stuff.

My Pal Roger on our wedding video. April 9th 1988

The last several tips have been about arguments and disagreements and this one is for when you are getting deep into an argument.

There comes a time in an argument when you realize that there is nothing you can say to avoid it, defuse it or to calm down the person you are with. Some times a fight is just that bad.

When you reach that point you have two choices. Stay there and take it or get out of the line of fire.

While there are advantages to staying there and taking it (your spouse gets to vent) very often such a plan has one of two effects, both bad:

1. Your spouse presumes that you have “tuned out” and gets angrier and angrier over it

2. You lose your temper and the the fight escalates

Neither of these choices are condusive to ending a fight. It’s at these moments that your best choice is simply to leave for a time

Maybe there is a local watering hole that you enjoy, or a restaurant for a bite or if you’re a gamer or comic guy there is always the local comic store, I always find a pinball machine a perfect tool for venting out frustrations. if you’re religious there is your local church, if there is a Divine Mercy Chapel with 24 hour adoration that’s an even better choice as you can’t do better than going directly to Christ in times of trouble.

Getting out have many advantages, you get to calm down, without someone to strike back at your spouse eventually begins to lose the edge on their anger and once you are calm you now have the inititive to make a move to diffuse the situation even further. Once you’ve given yourself and your spouse time to regain your composure head on back (this is also a great situation to use the “Angry Gifts” tip) if you really want to be creative, call your spouse and invite them to a restaurant they enjoy or to a movie they want to see, see if they can be ready to be picked up.

Remember it’s all about making sure the fight ends quickly, hopefull that very night. Getting out gives everyone the chance to make that happen.

An important Caveat Do NOT fail to come home, if too long a time passes then the immagination starts to kick in and things can get worse (remember the last tip about not generating suspicion). In the end you are the best judge about how much time is too much and what the right time to talk again is.

Don’t worry about winning a fight, remember when the fight ends everybody wins.

The Tips to date:

30 Tips to Stay Married 30 Years: Today’s Tip #16 Avoid Temptation and Suspicion

Katherine McLintock: Oh congratulations I don’t want to seem prudish but if you are going to be marrying sheriff Lord you seem to be sitting on the wrong man’s lap.

McKlintok! 1963

I’m Married not Dead

My dad, on many occasions

When Mike Pence was first mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate he was teased an awful lot for having a rule that he would not go to dinner or be alone with another woman behind a closed-door.

In the #metoo era this sound an awful lot like sage advice but in reality it is applying a basic truth about men and women. Men are biologically programs to notice and pursue women and that biological urgency doesn’t magically disappear with a wedding vow. This not only explains the temptations of a man but the suspicions a man might have because he KNOWS that vow is not likely to dissuade all men from perusing his woman.

Furthermore the same biological programing that causes men to pursue causes women to both make an effort to be attractive to men AND to one a mate is chosen to be suspicious of other women with him.

While there are of course in a population of billions exceptions these are the biological facts and the ability of people to resist the prompting of evolutionary biology vary from person to person.

However there is one very simple way to avoid this problem, and that’s avoiding the situation and occasions where temptation is present.

Did a member of the opposite sex from work invite you to dinner or lunch alone, decline politely or ask if a friend cam come. Going to an event without daspouse where pickups might be expected. Bring a wingman or woman who will keep you honest (as opposed to one who will make excuses) or bring the kids if possible. Do you know your spouse is the jealous type, dodge situations that would trigger said jealously.

Use these three general rules:

  1. If a situation is one that YOU would be jealous or suspicious of if your spouse was doing it, odds are you should give it a miss.
  2. If you know that you are weak or attracted to a particular person who is getting too close either avoid said person or bring up your spouse whenever possible in conversation. That is a very strong signal that you are not on the market.
  3. If you are going supposed to be at an event without your spouse which mixes the opposite sex with booze or legal (or illegal) drugs just say no to it.

Bottom line Temptation is a lot easier to deal with if you just dodge it and suspicion is a lot less likely to take place if your spouse sees you avoiding these situation.

Mike Pence has been married a long time, follow this tips and you’re more likely to be as well.

Previously in 30 tips to Stay Married 30 Years

30 Tips to Stay Married 30 Years, Today: #15 Carefully Choose the Hills Worth Dying On

Ambassador Fox: Your refusal to comply with my orders has endangered the entire success of this mission. I can have you sent to a penal colony for this.
Mr Scott: That you can, sir, but I won’t lower the screens.
Ambassador Fox: Your name will figure prominently in my report to the Federation Central.
Doctor McCoy: Well, Scotty, now you’ve done it.
Mr. Scott: Aye. The haggis is in the fire for sure, but I’ll not lower my defenses on the word of that mealy-mouthed gentleman down below. Not until I know what happened to the Captain.

Star Trek, A Taste of Armageddon 1967

This is the companion of Don’t sweat the small stuff. Carefully Choose the Hills Worth Dying On.

While questions like

  • Do you want a blue bedspread vs a yellow one?
  • What type of flowers do we plant in the front
  • Do you buy Tide or Gain to do the laundry?

aren’t worth a dispute things like…

  • Can we afford this House?
  • How Big a Car Loan can we take.
  • Do we move across the country
  • Do we pay for Private School for the kids?

…are things that are important because they will affect financial and social future of you, your spouse and your kids.  A bad decision here can make for a rough life so such questions have to be worked soberly and carefully, even if it leads to a fight.

Furthermore there may be times when one’s self respect is at stake. While such times are rare and with wisdom may not come up at all, at such times it may be necessary to take a stand that has to provoke a crisis.

There are times to put your foot down in a marriage, if you’re going to do so make sure it’s something more important than pancakes for breakfast or taking the short cut to the party.

If you’re going to fight and die on a hill be damn sure that hill is worth dying on.

Previously in 30 tips to Stay Married 30 Years

30 Tips to Stay Married 30 Years, Today: #14 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Bret Maverick: Waco I’ve never seen a man do so many things wrong. Have you ever been in a Gulf hurricane?

Waco Williams: No.

Bret Maverick: Well, it’s the big pine trees and the thick oaks that get uprooted first. The palm trees are smart. They give with the wind.

Waco Williams: That sounds like pretty good advice… for trees.

Bret Maverick: They live a long time.

Maverick: The Saga of Waco Williams 1959

The next few tips are going to be about fights and disagreements

Any time you have two people together you are going to have disagreement and any time a decision has to be made and there isn’t an odd number of people involved there is going to either be a stalemate, a compromise or someone will have to give in.

The reality is most of the disputes you are going to get into are petty ones, where to eat, what brand of Peanut butter to buy, what color should the furniture or the breadspread be?

That’s where this tip comes into play: Don’t sweat the small stuff

I know everybody says this but that’s because it’s true.

None of these things or the other thousand small decisions in a marriage make a difference toward the success of a marriage but fights arising from these small things can escalate out of control really quick and even if they don’t have the potential to sow the weeds that can multiply over the years and choke a marriage to death.

I submit and suggest that if you’re smart most of the time that on disputes like this you give your opinion but don’t press the issue. Go to her restaurant this week and to yours the next, don’t worry about the color of the wall, let these things go.

There are plenty of rocks that can run a marriage aground, don’t get shipwrecked on a pebble.

Previously in 30 tips to Stay Married 30 Years

30 Tips to Stay Married 30 years, Today’s tip: #13 Angry Gifts.

Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”

Romans 12:19-20

This is something that was an innovation of my wife’s and it is absolutely brilliant.
There was a day I had really made her angry over something, I don’t remember what, but it must have been something big because she left the house steaming.

She ended up at a store and while there saw something that she knew I would like. On an impulse she purchased it for me and came home and gave it to me as a gift.

If there was one thing I wasn’t prepared for it was that. I was completely and pleasantly surprised, particularly given the state she was in when she left and was loud in my pronouncements of gratitude.

It completely diffused the situation. Neither of us could stay mad at that point and the argument was forgotten.

Some time later we found ourselves in a similar situation and this time I had left the house, and remembering her gift to me, I did the same finding something I knew she would like and coming home with it. Once again there was surprise and reconciliation.

It’s very hard to stay angry at someone you are buying a gift for and it’s even harder to stay angry at someone who has given you a gift.

Now I should point out that this tip should be reserved for a real Donnybrook rather than a small tiff but when used in a critical situation it really pays off

The 30 Tips So Far

30 Tips to stay Married 30 years Today’s Tip: #12 Pray

Rev John Witherspoon: Nowhere do you mention the supreme being. Why surely this is an oversight as how can we expect to win our independence without his help, therefore I humbly offer the following addition to your final paragraph: ‘With the firm reliance on the protection of divine providence.’

1776 (1972)

In the end any relationship is a case of putting up with another person and no matter how much you love, admire and esteem them, in the end there it’s all about being able to cope when the situation isn’t what you’d like it to be.

This is why prayer is so important here.

Prayer places your situation before one who is greater than the two of you. One who like a loving father wishes the success of your marriage and most importantly has both your and your spouses best interests at heart.

Furthermore regular prayer for your marriage creates a in imperative to continue to work at a marriage, even when things are not going as you might want. By keeping that imperative you will find yourself implicitly working toward the very goal you have in mind.

Both Jesus and St. Paul say that marriage creates a single flesh, regular prayer feeds the spiritual needs of that single body and will pay dividends far beyond one’s understanding.

It’s worth noting that this tip was once common knowledge, as the Venerable Fr. Patrick Payton said: “The family that prays together stays together” and at the time when this was the norm, families did.

Take advantage of the wisdom of your great grand parents and pray for your marriage and your spouse. You won’t regret it.

The 30 Tips to Say Married 30 years so far