Secret Tips From Successful Marriages

older happy married couple looking at photos

Five, 10, 15 years ago, it was all white lace and promises. You were young, dewy—and a little bit dumb. Who knew about all the things you would find out lat

Since I've been married for 20 years, I've been elected to dig up some of the truths about married life. I had some ideas of my own, but I also polled a bunch of my long-married friends. They told me that over the years, their eyes had been opened—and it has not always been pleasant.

1. Weird in-laws get even weirder over time. And your kids will inevitably inherit some of the traits of your weird in-laws. Got a nonstop talker? An attention hound? It's probably not hard to figure out who she takes after.

2. Your hubby may be a great guy, but beware: Once he slips that ring on your finger, you've adopted his family—not just the immediate family, but every long lost cousin too. That's a lot of people who could show up uninvited for Thanksgiving dinner or ask for a loan ("just until payday").

3. Though he never snored before, he might after you're hitched. Take a tip from a couple I know with this problem—wear earplugs.

4. There are two schools of thought on birthdays: the "it's not a big deal" school and the "yay for meee!" school. The former gets a card. The latter celebrates the Season of the Birthday, which can go on for quite a long time, like Chanukah or Advent. Figure out which one you're married to, and be ready.

5. It's better to keep listening to those stories and laughing at those jokes rather than remind him he's told them to you a million times (this from a 41-year veteran of listening to old stories). Life is short, even though those stories aren't. Deal with it.

6. Yes, you can go to bed angry. You may hate him at that moment, but no one really deserves the backache you get from sleeping on the couch.

7. We all do stuff differently. You may be married to one of those guys who thinks that the way to wash dishes is to (gack!) soak them in a sudsy sinkful of water, then rinse them off. If this isn't your way, it's not worth arguing about it. Just be glad he's doing the dishes.

8. Your husband really doesn't remember your clothes. If you call attention to anything new, you're a fool.

9. It is amazing how many disagreements, crummy moods and disappointments can be temporarily glossed over with a plate of good food.

10. Are you on the same page about the empty nest? If he loves the idea of moving to Florida for golf and the early-bird special and you're all about salsa lessons and tickets to the Met, you're in trouble. Either that or you've got to do what you've done so many times already: compromise. Go to the Met—but eat at 4:30.

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