My first marriage ended abruptly at the one-year mark. Studies show that the newlywed grace period can foretell the long term outcome of almost every marriage, and I should have read the telltale signs from the get go. Keep in mind, that If you can successfully make it through those first 365 days in tumultuous seas, you may just stay afloat - to my own dismay, I went down sinking. Fast forward through a painful divorce to an unorthodox but romantic courtship later, and voila, I've come out swinging. In this latest voyage on the marital seas, by my "Paper Anniversary" I will be cradling a six-month old infant in my arms, have remodeled my first home and survived three continent moves. So, what have I learned from the failing and succeeding, amongst 374 marital disputes, 500 plus make-ups, and the infinite number of insecurities and worries that have unraveled in the process? Well, despite the fact that being married and taking on the role of wife is one of the hardest plays a woman will ever perform in, a little reprograming and compromise could turn a bumpy partnership from for better to worse to till death us do part. Here's hoping that the second time's a charm.
1. EXPECTATIONS - MANAGE THEM!
Ah, your wedding vows. Do you remember them? Made before your loved ones with promises to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. Sounds lovely in the light of day, though in retrospect, extremely outdated. They should be, considering they were originally coined in Latin in the 1500's. Like any friendship or partnership, marriage should be entered with reasonable expectations, especially when it's not your first rodeo. Oftentimes, taking the second chance in life is harder than taking the first. Second chances are riddled with self-doubt, irrational fears of falling short or making the same mistakes, and not living up to the potential you got a firsthand taste of the last go around. If you buy a used car, you know you're not getting the authentic article - all is not in tip top shape under the hood. The car has miles on it, the right rear tire has been twice patched and the speakers were blown out ages ago. As my dearly departed grandmother used to say, "Perfection you will find in Hell." Once you accept that you fell in love with your partner for their faux pas and faults, and embrace their scattiness, gluttony and love for the booze, you'll be able to manage your expectations a lot easier. Same goes for the version of yourself that you are presenting - You're no spring chicken. I don't know anyone who has lived to 100... 80 maybe. And when we say middle, I assume we mean 'middle of life,' which would technically be 35-40. With that being said, what would one expect from a human that has already lived out half their life on the planet? You ain't changing at this point and neither are they, so grin and bear it, or even bare it, but for G-d's sake and your own - embrace it and get on with it.
2. STASH SOME CASH
Everyone needs some extra moolah on the side. This is money that only you know about and spend on yourself for guilty pleasures you don't want your partner to know about. It is untraceable and airtight. Always save for a rainy day, or a $3k weave, or when you'll just need to Airbnb your troubles away following a nasty domestic, home renovation or visit from your in-laws. Money is power and having some extra green will go a long way when the shit hits the fan.
3. AVOID THE BLAME GAME
We all love a good finger pointing game, but don't blame outside circumstances for your inside chaos. Find your inner bliss and smoke it. Every time something goes wrong, don't go blaming your partner - the resentment will only boil over and eventually you won't be able to blame them for walking away if you didn't do anything to make them stay. Another important lesson is to stop blaming yourself for the woes of the world and your own. Life is an abstract mess of self-doubt and insecurity. Once you realize that there's no one to blame you'll be able to move on from it and make things happen for yourself.
4. TAKE BREAKS
Once in a while, sleep in the other room, go on holiday with your friends, take a week at fat camp, but take a break. Nothing makes the heart grow fonder like an absence, preferably one that is abrupt and unannounced. Historically, I never felt more appreciated by my lovers, partners and friends more than when I went off on an assignment in Africa or the Middle East. Nothing says, I'm hot shit and miss me madly more than turning off your phone and getting off the grid.
5. DESIRE AND BE DESIRED
Ahh, the approving male gaze. The effect a red lip and tight jeans can have on the world and your ego. One can still have a loving marriage and feel desired by other men. Plus, when your partner is aware that you are desirable by others, they will only yearn for you more. Jealousy arising from the thought of your loved one with someone else can trigger many feelings. Your jealousy is a clear indicator that you yearn and care for your partner. I'm not telling you to go out on dates with unnamed suitors, but let him know that the goods are first-grade, that you are still a piece of meat, and that he shouldn't take for granted what the next man would happily snatch up.
6. GET A LIFE - I.E. A HOBBY, JOB AND SOME FRIENDS
Second marriages are entered into for a few of the creature comforts we all need and crave: a warm body to sleep next to, someone who loves us sans makeup plus 10 pounds, and a copilot to navigate the turbulences of life. Hopefully you and your significant other share the same hopes and dreams for a blissful life together, whether it's to retire to that gated 2 bedroom 1/2 bath timeshare in Boca Raton, or to achieve a six-pack from a twice daily CrossFit regimen. The point is, your marriage and your partner can not be your entire life and unfortunately they won't always be around. You, however get to spend every waking moment of your existence with yourself, so don't delete your individuality and identity in the union. Remember, before you were a two, you were a one. If the Mr. were to get lost at sea, or "go out for a pack of smokes" never to return, here's hoping that you have a backup plan. Pursue a hobby, start that blog, get that startup funded, work on your body, make a friend or two. A fulfilled and busy partner is a sexy partner. Nothing dries up the well like a needy mate.
And for sake of word conservation in this post - several tips have been omitted including, in-law management, tuning out, fake sleeping, role playing, and the importance of wine. Please post your marriage survival tips in the comments section below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org