Recipe for a Healthy Marriage

Photo by theswedish

Photo by theswedish

We’re going to a wedding this weekend, the first one we’ve been to in a while. I’m feeling sort of rusty. I know they throw birdseed instead of rice, and no one drinks wine coolers anymore, but do they still do the Macarena?

I feel so out of it. It wasn’t always that way. We did the “wedding circuit” for years. I used to be an expert in bridal gown bathroom assistance, buying blenders in bulk and slyly switching place cards when we weren’t assigned to the “cool table.” But that was–gulp, gasp, gag, boy am I getting old–more than a decade ago. Now our social life consists mostly of waving to friends from the carpool lane, hanging out at the Little League Fields or (whoo hoo!) the basketball team party at Giovanni’s.

I’m certainly older than I was when I got married, so I must be at least somewhat wiser and therefore qualified to give advice to my soon-to-be-wed friends, who are close to 40 and have–miraculously–never walked down the aisle before. Here goes:

I know you’re Jewish, but did you have to pick Easter weekend to get married?

Clearly you have no children, baskets or bunnies to worry about. But someday you’ll look back on this and feel a teeny, tiny little bit guilty for making my son’s grandma deal with all of that plastic grass embedded into her carpet.

Science has now revealed that married men are significantly more satisfied with their life when their partner is satisfied with life, so make sure your wife is happy.

Okay, the study also found that married women are more satisfied with life when their husbands are happy–but really that equation is so simple, boobs + beer + control of the remote = male happiness–it doesn’t seem worth discussing.

In marital disputes, silence isn’t golden.

Wives who don’t express themselves actually increase their risk of illness. So talk it out, and if he’s not listening, keep talking and talking and talking until he hears what you’re saying and gives in. I have personal experience with this, but there’s actually science to back this one up. New research shows that married women who keep silent during disputes have a greater chance of dying from heart disease and other conditions than women who speak their minds. So go ahead and tell him what you really think. It’s good for your heart, even if it’s not so good for his eardrums.

There are Different Rules for Husbands and Wives.

Married men who keep disagreements to themselves actually have the same life expectancy as men who speak out. So men don’t get bonus years for speaking up, but they will get bonus points for walking down the aisle. Married men live seven years longer, and married women live two years longer, than single men and women, respectively. According to actual bona fide social scientific research, married people as a group have better psychological health than people who have never married. Years from now, when your idea of a big night out is a martini after the PTA meeting, you should remember that science is on your side.

“Whatever you want, the answer is yes.”

I taught my husband that phrase even before we got married and those magic words have served him well over the years. Now my son has also come to understand the wisdom of keeping me happy. After all, if I’m not happy, nobody’s happy. Plus it helps, a lot, if you want to stay married.

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Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on March 21, 2008.

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