From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

Hooray for the Ho-Hum Marriage

It is an extra dividend when you like the girl you’ve fallen in love with.

Clark Gable

Then the prince swept the lovely young maiden into his arms and carried her home to his castle. And they lived. . . .

What I want to see is a federal study of all these princes and princesses seven years after their happily-ever-after marriages. The truth is that life isn’t made up of the continual highs found in the initial stages of courtship. Yes, the flirting is fun and the chase exciting. But after a while your system needs a rest.

It’s called the second stage. All of a sudden the man who wanted you morning, noon and night prefers watching the football game, falls asleep while you’re revealing your innermost secrets, and forgets the four-year anniversary of the first time ever he saw your face.

Actually, settling in is the best thing about a marriage. No longer do each of you have to do a little tap dance to win approval. You’ve won each other’s acceptance, and that is not to be undervalued.

Yet as time progresses, you look at the glorious union that you were sure would be filled with Kodak moments. You see a house that has to be cleaned, car pools that have to be organized and a husband who looks as weary as you feel. You ask, “This is it?

Now comes the third stage when you come to terms with your marriage and why it’s worth the ups and downs. What saves the relationship is that your plus column is fuller than your minus column. Maybe he doesn’t tell you how incredible you look when you’ve spent three hours putting yourself together (minus), but he unloads the dishwasher without being asked (plus). Although he doesn’t surprise you with tickets for a weekend in Miami (small minus), he treats both you and your parents with respect (big plus).

Maybe you don’t have his newspaper and slippers waiting for him (little minus), but you ask him about his day, and are even interested in his response (super plus).

Then there are the things your husband does that say: this man cares about me. He makes me feel loved. It’s a security I wouldn’t trade.

Who else but someone who loved me would agree to take our teenage daughter shopping because her taste in clothes makes me want to gag?

Who else but someone who loved him would travel twenty miles out of the way because he was too stubborn to ask directions, and not say, “I told you so.”

Who else but someone who loved me would kiss my sleepy head before he leaves in the morning and not tell me I look like Medusa on a bad day?

Who else but someone who loved him would pick up his trail of underwear and socks that never quite made it to the hamper and not question his upbringing?

Who else but someone who loved me would insist I meet him every Thursday night for dinner? By the time we sit in the restaurant and have a chance to do what we do at home (exchange the stories of the day), we usually don’t—because we’re alone and forced to share more of our feelings, to laugh a lot. The net result, after eighteen years of marriage, is romantic (super plus).

Although no marriage is continually blissful, it can be pretty good most of the time. The reason we lasted through arguments, money worries, kids’ traumas and midlife crises is not that our relationship is always like the Fourth of July. It’s because the fundamental reason for our marriage has outlasted the craziness of day-to-day living: We love each other. That’s my idea of “happily ever after.”

Trish Vradenburg

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