Our FREE secrets to a thriving midlife marriage.
My husband Kevin and I will be celebrating our 28th anniversary this year. No small feat, for sure.
What's our secret to a thriving midlife marriage, besides not killing each other in our sleep? Being married for a quarter century or more takes a lot of work, but I've boiled it down to a few key "staying strategies."
1. Fight the good fight.
Every couple argues, but if you want to fight and stay married you need to abide by a few rules so you don't end up in divorce court. I'm especially prone to pulling a "kitchen sink," where I lose focus on the disagreement at hand and argue (for the 147th time) about something that happened 16 years ago. Echoing the words of Elsa in Frozen, I just need to "let it go."
2. Combine forces.
You've both got a great sense of humor? Fantastic! Binge-watch Seinfeld together. You're a morning person and he's a night owl? Great! Enjoy some alone time at the beginning and end of each day. You're a planner and he's a free spirit? Terrific! Combine forces to stay on track with built-in flexibility. Do whatever works for your relationship to keep it going strong another 25 years.
3. Praise him/her — it won't kill you.
When he does the dishes, verbally pat him on the back. (Ignore the fact that you've done the dishes the past 7,500 nights in a row without so much as an acknowledging nod from your spouse.) When she cooks an amazing, made-from-scratch meal instead of popping open a box of Hamburger Helper, point out how much you appreciate her cooking prowess.
Everyone likes to feel like they've done a good job or made a difference. It wouldn't kill you to say, "Thanks, hon! I appreciate your effort." And sometimes, recognizing the good stuff is simply being able to tolerate each other after all these years.
4. Keep your expectations real.
Do you really expect him to complete a household project with only one trip to Home Depot when every honey-do project since 1988 has required at least seven trips? Do you really expect her to remember to buy Moose Tracks ice cream if you don't write it down on the perpetual shopping list she's kept posted by the fridge for 25 years?
5. Remember: "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."
Do you need a Fixer-Upper fix with Chip and Joanna Gaines, but he's craving Shark Tank for a dose of Mark Cuban? Record your show and watch his now. She wants to order a pizza and you want a home-cooked meal? Order the pizza or offer to cook.
Really, it's that simple. Like my kids learned in kindergarten, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." Just take one for the team and move on already. It's not worth losing a Friday night — or a marriage — over.
6. Laughter cures all (even if you have to put a bit of distance between it before it's funny.)
Seriously, other than catastrophic illnesses, bankruptcy and infidelity, most things can be assuaged with a good, hearty laugh. Find the funny in a bounced check, a ruined vacation, a disastrous plumbing project, or a forgotten anniversary.
Sometimes you might need to put a little distance (in some cases, a lot of distance) between you and "the incident" before you find it funny. But after the sting of a bad situation wears off, laugh about it. Some of the best memories evolve from life's biggest hiccups. Embrace the screw-ups with a chuckle.
7. When you have good or bad news, your spouse should be the first to know. Always.
There's a definite need for girl/guy friends in your life, but your spouse should be the one you run to with your best/worst news.
Like Marcia Kester Doyle says on her Menopausal Mother blog, "He doesn't have a problem with hitting the drugstore in his pajamas at 2:00 AM for a tube of Monostat and a bottle of Pepto Bismol. He'll grab a six pack of beer while he's there and tell the checkout lady that he's hosting a hell of a party." Stuff like that will carry you for 25 years.
Check out Lisa's website at Lisa Beach Writes and visit Tweenior Moments, Lisa's humor blog about midlife, family, friends and all the baggage that goes with it. Follow Tweenior Moments on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
This article was originally published at Tweenior Moments. Reprinted with permission from the author.