26 things I've learned after 24 years of marriage
AT the time of writing, it’s our 24th wedding anniversary, meaning my wife and I have somehow survived almost a quarter of a century of marriage without her killing me, the jury sympathising, and an early parole date being set some years ago.
When someone asks what my secret is, I usually say something about blind luck in the face of abject failure as a husband — that and a few tips and tricks, hard learned along the way, that I’m happy to share here.
Look, you know these, guys — you probably pretend you don’t, but you do...
1) Being ready to go out for the night in five minutes flat ‘because you’re a bloke’ does not give you bragging rights. Neither does the ability to pack for a vacation by simply transferring a couple of handfuls of socks and jocks from wardrobe to suitcase. You’d think it would. It really doesn’t.
2) Staying in and minding the kids while she goes out is not ‘babysitting’.
3) Staying up late after she’s gone to bed and sneakily watching an extra episode of the box set you’ve been binge-watching together is considered cheating.
4) Do one nice thing for her as often as you can, but don’t expect thanks and don’t get in a huff if it goes unnoticed. You can probably assume that’s how she often feels and is probably the reason why she gets so miffed. See? You’re already the better person. (I put my heart and soul into making that sandwich, by the way.)
5) Keeping Up With the Kardashians is not made better by your scathing commentary. Well, not for her anyway.
6) Telepathy only works one way, and that one way is definitely not ‘your’ way.
7) Keep your toenails short.
8) If you’re told to do something, refuse. Tell her how nobody is the boss of you, that she can’t make you do anything, that you’re a man, damn it, not a mouse. When you’re done with that, quietly go off and do the thing you were told to do, if you know what’s good for you, and be quick about it.
9) Jokes about her family are not brave, they’re not funny, and they’re not cool. Well, okay, they’re just not cool, then.
10) You not doing something and then using instances of her not doing something from the mental list you’ve clearly been keeping is not an acceptable defence. Apparently.
11) Folding the washing does not count as ‘a favour’.
12) Do not offer your expertise from the sidelines when she’s cleaning, painting, mending or making something. She didn’t miss a spot. It isn’t slightly crooked. It doesn’t need more salt. Just shut the hell up, for Christ’s sake.
13) When she’s trying to fit more in the wheelie bin by climbing in, jumping up and down, and then getting stuck, do not under any circumstances laugh your ass off.
14) Arguments are not a healthy way of clearing the air — unless you like losing.
15) Get over your man flu.
16) Those socks you took off last night and tossed over beside the sofa? Apparently, divorce proceedings have been started over less. Just sayin’ what I’ve been told. Repeatedly.
17) When she’s driving and you’re in the front passenger seat, remember that wincing and flinching or grabbing the dashboard with both hands and shouting ‘WHOA!’ every few minutes will not win you brownie points.
18) Do not use the words ‘brownie points’.
19) If something about her has been annoying you, don’t keep it all bottled up inside. Let her know, in no uncertain terms. Honesty, after all, is the best policy and that includes being honest with her about just how irritating she is. I’m kidding. Are you high? Why not sign your own death warrant while you’re at it? Jesus. I’m scared just thinking about what I just wrote. Shiver.
20) It’s okay that the floor on her side of the bed looks like a bomb went off in her knicker drawer, but those shoes of yours downstairs had better be part of a neat row behind the door. This is the way of the universe.
21) Leave her alone. Can’t you see she’s trying to read?
22) You don’t always have to like the same things. Hating the same things is still ‘having something in common’ and my wife and I probably derive the most fun from our common intolerance and often entirely irrational hatred of people’s foibles, taste and tics. It’s one of the things we know we can always agree on — what terrible people we both are.
23) When you find something you both like to do, find some time, at the expense of anything and everything if need be, and do the hell out of it.
24) Find a special place that’s just yours — it could be your house or flat, or just a room where family, friends or kids aren’t allowed, just the two of you — then surround it with a moat of burning oil and spears topped with the heads of your enemies. Figuratively speaking, of course (though who am I to judge you?).
25) Love a lot, live a lot, and laugh a lot. And always keep one hand ready to protect your goolies.
26) Pick up your damn socks. Seriously. She’s not kidding about those divorce proceedings.