Secrets of a pretty damn good marriage

This week, John and I are celebrating our 26th anniversary.  Seriously!  He has put up with hearing my stories repeated, time after time, and still has not run screaming from the house.  Well, actually he has, but he comes back, so I don’t worry when I see him heading out the door.

Twenty-six years.  Not bad, huh?  It started with the Ode to Joy, which was played at our wedding.

Sadly, no Muppets came. Or maybe it would have ended badly had any Muppets shown up.  We’ll never know.

The anniversary has gotten me thinking.  What makes it work?  Why is my marriage so perfect pretty damn good?  Once I answered myself,  I decided to post my good marriage tips for anyone thinking of getting married or trying to figure out if they, too, did it right.

  • Do not marry an asshole.   You should not just love the person.  You must like the person, too.  Yup it’s true.  It’s the first, the most basic, most fundamental criteria.  Assholes make poor husbands/wives.
  • Never argue.  John and I never argue.  That’s because I let John make all the major decisions that impact our lives.  I agree with him.  On those times I disagree, well, then I do what I want to anyway.  He rarely notices because I haven’t argued about it.  Trust me, this technique is worth its weight in gold.  Or jewelery.  Or whatever it is you want that your husband thinks is stupid.
  • Admit your faults.  I am a kleptomaniac, and always have been.  I steal blankets.  Every night of my life I have taken them from whomever is fortunate/unfortunate enough to be sleeping with me.  Friends, lovers, children, husband, dogs, repairmen.  You name it.  If it is cold, I am toasty.  If it is hot, the blankets are on the floor on my side of the bed.  Otherwise, I am damn near perfect.
  • Make the bed with separate sheets and blankets for each side.  It looks like hell, but it is the single factor that has kept my husband in that bed.  Well, maybe not the only factor.
  • Use Gax-X.  I’m not saying who.
  • Pretend to like baseball.  Seriously, it’s not that hard.  I mean, they only play 7 days a week for more than half the year.  Unless the team is really good and then they play longer.  An occasional “what a hit” is the wifely version of “no, it doesn’t make you look fat.”  All bets are off, however, when he discovers a second team that he also needs to follow.
  • Have more than one TV in the house.  See previous tip and accept your limits.
  • Appreciate his gifts.  They are from his heart.  I am particularly lucky in this regard.  John generally gives me either books or jewelry.  In 26 years, he has given me approximately 300 books.  He’s given me only 2 duds.  Not bad, huh?  He chooses books that he doesn’t secretly want to read – just ones that he thinks I will like.  And he’s right nearly always.

John’s taste in jewelry has also been fabulous.  He gives me simple, tasteful pieces.  Yes I am lucky.  No gaudy jewelry for me!  Except that once.

  • Never tell him that that 10th Anniversary Ring He Gave You Was the Ugliest Thing You’d Ever Seen. When someone gives me a gift, I think of the love and effort it took to go out, choose and purchase that gift.  Whether I like it or not, well, that’s secondary.  So I lie.  I tell them I love it.  Every time.  It’s usually not too difficult.

Our finances improved significantly just around the time of our 10th anniversary.  John was able to buy me an expensive piece of jewelry.  Now I’m not an expensive jewelry kind of girl.  (If I am ever had to sell my jewelry to live I would last approximately 3.5 days.)

But that year, well, John went all out.  He bought me a HUGE ring.  It was a 400 carat emerald ring with baguette diamonds swirling around and around and around the center emerald.  Lots and lots of baguettes.  Yes, it was a grandma ring.  Picture a large emerald losing a fight with a diamond paisley.  When I told John that it was beautiful, well, I should have gotten an Oscar (it would have been my 3rd!).  Sadly, the ring was too big and I had to take it to the jewelry store to have it sized.  That day I cashed in a whole bunch of my lucky stars.

  •  Never admit that when the jeweler shattered the center stone of that horrid ring, that tears streamed down your face because you were desperately trying not to laugh — happy in the knowledge that you would never have to wear that horrible thing.  And that you didn’t have to hurt his feelings by telling him it was ugly and you hated it.  Shhhhh.  Don’t tell.


  • Never, ever, ever, call him “Baby.”
  • And never, ever, ever let him read your blog.


Filed under Books, Family, Humor

91 responses to “Secrets of a pretty damn good marriage

  1. Sorry I’m so late here, but congratulations to both you and John for your 26th anniversary! 🙂 I missed this one when you first posted it, but when I got the e-mail note for the like you put on my last post, this post was suggested reading, and the title made me curious about what your secrets for longevity and happiness in marriage are. Hey, I figured that maybe I might learn something!

    And after reading everything here, what I learned is that during our 22 years of marriage, my wife has made many mistakes, and her very first one was saying “I do.” when I asked her that “Do you…” question. But she loves me anyway, and as much as I love her, so it works for us. Different strokes for different folks, I guess…

    And yes, I DID officiate at our wedding, so I WAS the one who asked her that “Do you…” question. What? Did you think that I was gonna let some guy that I hardly knew ask her that question, just because he was qualified? NO WAY! I married my wife when I married us, and that was the only way we were going to get married!

    Yes, it was a little awkward during the ceremony when I had to keep jumping from in front of her, to by her side, and then back in front of her again… and a little strange when I had to ask myself “Do I take this woman…” and yes, there were a few guests who didn’t have enough maturity to make their laughter less obvious at the end, when I said “I may now kiss the bride.” But hey, that was their problem, and even if a little bit challenging, WE got through it OUR way just fine!

    And now, as I look back upon our wedding day, I know that I wouldn’t change a single thing. Because I would NEVER just stand there in front of all those people, and watch some other guy marry my bride! And since it’s just way beyond anything close to my comfort level, I would NEVER even consider letting him marry both of us! I’m not even sure how that works, and I don’t really want to know…

    Just trying to plan and organize a wedding in a way that keeps everyone happy is hard enough, so I don’t even want to think about how complicated our wedding night might be, if we got mixed up with that sort of arrangement! Yeah, I know… In ways I’m an old fashioned guy, and I don’t care what other people think about it.

    Sorry, but that’s just some seriously weird stuff, as far as I’m concerned. If other folks are into that sort of thing, then that’s their own personal business, and I respect that. But I’m just not into that scene at all, and I never will be. I married us, and I married only us. For 22 years now, this has worked well for both of us, and we are happy. 🙂

    But I’m also happy that you and John have found 26 years of your own happiness together, Elyse. So again, Happy 26th Anniversary to both of you! And sorry I was late with my congratulations, but I know that my heart is still in the right place, even if my mind has no concept of time or space… Lol 🙂


    • Chris, you are unique! Thanks for letting me know one of the post that pop up when I click “LIKE.” I have always wondered. They don’t seem to change them too regularly — they seem to hold on to old ones forever!

      Actually, I know another man who officiated at his own wedding. (Sadly, he not long ago had to officiate at his wife’s funeral, too. I hope that doesn’t happen to you — or at the very least, not for a very very long time.) It is interesting thing to watch — like “The Parent Trap”!

      Thanks for your kind wishes on my continued marriage. We’ve made it nearly another month. And you know what they say, “one month at a time …” 😉


  2. This is HILARIOUS! Encore!


  3. Congrats to the both of you, but I am damned. I’m only good on a couple of those and this is my 2nd attempt. Oh well…..guess we’ll just be anti-divorce and make the best of it.


  4. Happy Anniversary! I’m glad you’ve made it through 26 years, and that you never had to wear the hideous emerald! (Love that story!)

    Here’s to many more years of good books and no arguments!

    PS. I’m actually interested in knowing what the 2 dud books were. (I’m always interested in those out-of-the-way stories. The two dud books sound much more interesting than the 298 good ones!)


    • Thanks John. I lucked out with the husband AND the ring!

      The first of the two books was The Kindness of Women by J.G. Ballard. It was the sequel to his book Empire of the Sun where he tells the incredible story of growing up in a WWII POW camp — brilliant book, brilliant movie. The sequel was about him having sex with tons of different women. Ho hum.

      The second I can’t recall the title of, but it was a book of essays on George Orwell. It might be interesting to read now given the craziness of politics, but I’m really not interested in critical literary essays. I still have it somewhere, I’m sure …

      Still, he gave me some of my favorite authors — Wilke Collins, Pete Hammil and Barbara Kingsolver among others. So I am absolutely not complaining. It’s a great batting average!


  5. cooper

    Congrats. We celebrated 33 years two weeks ago. I guess September is a busy month.

    Beaker rules.


  6. Happy anniversary! These tips are going to help people like me who are still afraid of getting in to a relationship. 🙂 By the way I too steal blankets, when it’s pretty cold. 🙂


  7. Sorry, but my first husband liked Cdn football & my second husband likes it too – I didn’t mean to imply I am a bigamist in my last comment!


  8. I’m laughing at pretending to like baseball. What if you don’t even like sports and your other half has to watch every football, baseball, basketball, and hockey game, professional and college? There goes the whole year! Time for a divorce………


    • I’m lucky to love Cdn. football & both my husbands love it too! So it doesn’t take any arm twisting to make me watch the game – as a matter of fact I’m the one making sure it’s on!


    • The answer is blogging. My husband doesn’t even know I’m not listening as long as I say “great hit” from time to time. (I actually like the game a bit, but it is on all the time and I really hate that.)


  9. You’re a brilliant woman. I love the advice not to argue. You should teach a Listen-Up-Young-Women class. Happiest of Anniversaries.


  10. Happy Anniversary!
    My girl and I are coming up on 12 years together, 4 married.
    Most of what you say is true for us, with the first two being most important.


    • Guap, what took you so long?

      You may be the only guy who agrees with the “don’t argue just do as you please” theory of marriage. I am very proud of you.


  11. Congrats on 26 years! Such a funny post. I can’t believe he doesn’t read your blog! Are you sure? My husband reads every post before it’s posted because I always want a second opinion. But even when I write about him, he laughs. I guess neither one of us married an asshole. 😉 Happy anniversary!


    • Good question, Karen. Does he read it? Occasionally. He is very supportive of my writing (even suggested originally that I take writing classes to get me motivated), but many of my stories are ones that he has heard, ummmm, more than once.

      I’m just hoping that this isn’t the one he checks in on me! Because, of course, he really doesn’t know just how much I hated that ring.

      I’m glad you didn’t marry an asshole, either!


  12. GOF

    Congratulations to you both on your anniversary, and along with your humor (which must have contributed to the longevity) there is so much truth and wisdom in the points you make. Education such as this should be compulsory for all teenagers….it might help prevent some of the disastrous relationships forming in the first place…….although I suspect it might take something even more powerful to overpower lust and hormones.


    • Teenagers listening to advice? I didn’t — did you? Of course, if you start your recommendations by saying “don’t marry an asshole” maybe they would listen! Once the hormones and lust die down, that is.


  13. You’ll be married forever with advice like that! A great post, Elyse and Happy Anniversary!


  14. Well done–the post and making it all those years! Congratulations!



  15. Congrats, Elyse. That’s awesome.


  16. Our 20th passed last week, due to many of the reasons you quote. Of course, we dodge the sports bullet, ’cause neither of us care for sports. And I was banned form the kitchen DECADES ago, so most of the arguments are little things that blow over REALLY quickly.
    Though I’d add one more point. Determine,VERY early on in the relationship, who will be the asshole (pardon my French). Because EVERY situation you will confront, while married, will require one of you to be one. It was easy for us – I already was one. So I just continued the role. If you want to screw with us, screw with me, ’cause I’ll be a smart-aleck and annoy the piss outta you. My wife, well, let’s just say, she has her very own sword, and knows how to use it – FATALLY! 😀
    By the by, do you have ANY idea how funny I find it that your husband’s name is John? Now I realise the gift I gave you by following your blog. You can yell out “John, you ASSHOLE!”, then claim you were talking to me. 😉


  17. Your #1 tip is 25 years too late for me. But I wised up and traded up! 🙂

    Happy anniversary!


  18. Jonesingafter40

    400 emerald carats of congratulations on your anniversary! That ring story was too much!! 🙂


  19. Happy anniversary, Elyse! May you have many more years together. And your marriage tips are most wise.


  20. Congratulations!

    I’m also a believer in separate bathrooms.


  21. Perfect and more perfect.
    I did tell my husband once that I didn’t like the expensive earrings he bought me. I thought they were too expensive to lie about, and then never wear. It was a mistake. I should have just said I loved them.
    I can’t understand the sheet thing however. How do use separate sheets on each side of the bed?


    • Honesty doesn’t pay with jewelry.

      Use twin top sheets and blankets then a large comforter over the whole think. It looks imperfect but my husband will probably not die of pneumonia because of me.


  22. Great advice! Happy anniversary to you both.


  23. Michelle Gillies

    Happy Anniversary, Elyse! A girl could learn a lesson or two here. I have to say I agree with most of these but, I will have to try that 2nd one and let you know how that works out for me.
    He-Who reads everything I write…blogs, facebook, twitter…to see if I am talking about him. I usually am as he is the source of many of my tales. It is a good thing he thinks I’m funny. 😉


  24. Happy Anniversary Elyse and John! Great list with #1 being the perfect starter! Wishing continued success in the years ahead.

    My wife came down the aisle to this song … and he had it before Lady Di. 😉


  25. I loved this post so much. Looks like you two are in this for the long haul, even with the grandma jewelry. Happy anniversary to you both!!


  26. What wonderful advice! Congratulations and so many more you have dual powered wheelchairs!

    I loved the jewelry story, you and I share something in common.


    • Thanks Val.

      The funny thing about that story is I’ve told it a million times, but never to John. I thought I had performed admirably when I told him I loved it. A few years ago, John (who had never heard me or my listeners guffawing over the story) said “you didn’t really like that ring, did you.” Sigh. He knew. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t become an actress!


  27. Congratulations! #1 is my absolute favorite. I did that the first time around, but once my love goggles were surgically removed the whole world opened.
    I think you need to get a contract with bridal shoes across the country to have this posted at the front door!


  28. Absolutely perfect advice! I couldn’t agree more with #1 – don’t marry an a**hole. Like many Moms have said, “You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.” Any guy who is rude to his family, co-workers etc is eventually gonna be the same way to you 🙂

    And along with admit your faults, admit when you’re wrong.



    • Thanks, MJ. I do think though that you really ticked off Sarah Palin with that comment. She is, of course, a dedicated follower. (Actually I knew my marriage would last when John found Sarah Palin so totally disgusting.)

      I do admit it when I’m wrong. Sadly, John is never wrong, so he doesn’t have to. It is his WORST feature.


  29. Congratulations – great list!


  30. Whatever works well enough to keep you guys together for so long is perfect harmony. Happy Anniversary.


    • I wouldn’t say perfect. Like everyone else sometimes it’s flat and sometimes it soars. Mostly I married a guy I like and respect. And, importantly for me, who shares my politics!


  31. bigsheepcommunications

    Happy Anniversary 😀


  32. Congratulations. These are excellent tips, especially #1. As you know, Sweet Cheeks and I celebrated our anniversary on Sunday. It has been an interesting journey. For our 20th, he bought me a tasteful anniversay band with 10 channel set diamonds. I asked him if there was a diamond for every good year we’d had. He, bless his heart, laughed at that one.

    I hope you and John have many, many more glorious years together.


  33. Congratulations!

    Great set of tips – things to return to regularly (e.g., don’t marry an asshole, and don’t become one over the course of the marriage, either). 🙂


    • Thanks, Cortney. You mean I can’t become an asshole? Damn, I didn’t know that was part of the formula. It is in fact what I was going to do over the next five years.


  34. You have such great words of wisdom – I would only add “pretend to be interested in what he is saying, even if you require toothpicks to prop your eyes open.”


    • How did I forget that one, Benze? Absolutely. Pretend to be interested is high on the list. OF course, my husband fails in this department, at least where my stories are concerned. When I launch into one, he leaves the room. Sigh. Still, he’s not an asshole.


  35. Elyse~

    GREAT words of Wisdom!  May your next 26 years be just as good!


      Diane Figley



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