The Minimalist Guide To A Good Marriage


My husband and I have been married for over 32 years…To each other.

99% of ‘it’ has been good.

75% of ‘it’ has been great.

I see another 32 years together.

He see’s what ever I tell him to (And THAT folks is part of the magic).

But, seriously, who the hell has the time, the motivation, or the vision to work at ‘it’ every damn day long?

Not me. Not him. Not most people.

So let’s take a look at what actually makes a marriage a neighborhood everyone wants to live in, but because they work a 45 hour week and are too exhausted to know what the hell’s going on, they usually forget the address.

  • LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION:Take a deep look, and a hard listen, to other long-term marriage partners. Surround yourselves with them. Ignore the sarcastic barbs about Great Uncle Timmy, and the reasons why the family’s inheritance was wasted, and now they are barely getting by on Social Security because of his indiscretions. Or the Saturday afternoon picnic when Dad throws the macaroni at Mom. These are LOVE gestures. They show emotional engagement. What you don’t see is often a profound understanding of each other. The automatic reflex to throw themselves under a bus for their partners (And probably a few fantasies about driving the bus, as well) because they are certain in the knowledge that they, themselves, are flawed. These people have been committed for the long-haul from the beginning. Rose colored glasses weren’t available at Woolworth’s and even if they had been, baby needed new cloth diapers. LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS.

  • KEEPING SECRETS: Don’t share every damn hurt feeling with the neighbors (But remember to talk about the neighbors with your partner, and what you really think about them, then giggle, and say ‘But that’s just between us’). Nothing fosters intimacy like  feeling safe, and discussing everyone else’s flaws. PROTECT EACH OTHER.

  • NICE GESTURES: You must give to receive (And, I’m not talking kinky sex…. well, maybe I am), but seriously, who among us wouldn’t find an unexpected full tank of gas, or socks right side out in the dirty clothes hamper, a major aphrodisiac? Come on. Unloading the dishwasher is foreplay! An extra bag of sea-salted thick-cut chips, a jar of unopened ranch dip, and a selection of nitrate fueled hard salamis, haphazardly placed on the kitchen counter before a Sunday football game is like catnip. (Now, picture your partner rolling on the floor and throwing money at you). IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT. 

  • SAYING ‘YES’- or ‘NO’: Just don’t say ‘Maybe’. ‘Maybe’ sucks. Maybe is code for ‘No’. ‘No’ is fine- really. I’ll deal with it. ‘Yes’ is better, but ‘No’ is not the end of the world. ‘Maybe’ is wishy-washy. It makes everyone look foolish, and lazy, and selfish. Don’t be selfish. Be a grown-up. COMMUNICATE WITH CLEAR INTENT.

  • PRIORITIZE IMPORTANCE: This is really not that difficult. It should go as follows: yourself then the kids then your partner then the bills then recording a Netflix show. The question here, of course, is why ‘yourself’ first? People that tend to take care of e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e else first turn into martyrs. And martyrs are a buzz-kill, full of self-righteous indignation, and a perpetual whine, that make me want to smack them upside the head. For the Love Of God, the world will still go round ‘n round without your imperious gestures. So if you want to sit down and read a book instead of making dinner, there’s this new idea called ‘Take-out’. If you can’t make your child’s soccer game, because you’d rather get a massage- get one. He doesn’t want you there anyways. You’re always embarrassing with your ‘Go Johnny’ and ‘That’s okay. You’ll get it next time!’ encouragement (We all know what’s really in the thermos, btw). As for Netflix, that’s a no-brainer. NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE #1.

  • FORGIVE: especially yourself- for giving your partner too much rope and inevitably hanging themselves. Think of your marriage like a child that needs to be nurtured but is still sort of a dumb ass. Would you let your six year old drive a car? Should the cats mow the lawn? Do separate bank accounts really mean independence? No. So, why, in the name of everything that’s Holy, would you allow your partner to skip down the proverbial yellow brick road when you know with every fiber in your being that the Wizard is really just a kindly flimflam man looking to make a killing and those ruby slippers are a size too small? But it will happen. Yes it will. And you will be pissed. But you share responsibility for these mistakes. Forgive. Everyone. Then GET SMART.

  • LAUGH: Find the humor in this messy thing we call Life (And your partners extremely loud toilet habits). My darling husband is the funniest person I know- he adores me, after all, which makes him hysterical…





  • Carrie - BRAVO!

    You nailed it with Nice Gestures.

    When I get in my car and find a full tank of gas. When I left it below the red line the night before…that is one of the most erotic things in my world. I have cried tears of joy before seeing an unexpected full tank of gas.

    Not kidding.

    And when he makes the bed. Dear God when I come out of the bathroom at zero dark thirty a.m. heading to the office and the bed is already made?!?

    Pure ecstasy.

    This was hysterical and right on target! And congrats on 32 years. That is simply the best. I’ve got 31 years to go to catch up! =)ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - EXACTLY. The Bed Making! Oh yesssss. And when they pull out a vacuum! Or get your car washed! It’s P-A-R-T-A time~! I’ve got a feeling your going to make 31+ more!ReplyCancel

  • Linda Roy - HA!! LOVE this! Amen to the prioritizing one. It’s just like the putting the oxygen mask on you first, then the kid. Numero Uno, baby! That way everybody’s happy in the long run. It’s an exact science. 😉ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - It is an EXACT science! Good one Roy! I love your airline metaphor- excellent! Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • Cristina - I am the wizard! Thank you for that very gentle reminder.

    I used to feel guilty when I missed “little Johnny’s” soccer games. So we (the husband and I) made a very good compromise.

    “Little Johnny” plays piano at home – the teacher comes to us.

    Win win!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Brilliant! Yes- on your terms. A happy wife is a happy life. I know it’s corny but kinda true! Thanks for stopping by!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kathyy @ SMART Living - This is all true. As a person who is approaching her 38th!!!!! wedding anniversary this year I agree with with all your statements. I am more in love with my husband now that I ever was before and every day it grows deeper. I particularly like the one where you point out important honest and good communication is to the relationship…oh and the one where you recommend forgiving and then getting SMART for obvious reasons! Thanks for reminding me of my great relationship and congratulations on yours!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thanks Kathyy! It really can get better can’t it!ReplyCancel

  • Sue Pekarek - I think you have it right. It takes time, patience and great sense of humor. Love the secret’s with each other tip that is so true.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Oh yes. You must have secrets with your partner- things that only the two of you THINK YOU KNOW. Of course, it’s not true- but ‘Pretending’ is another successful strategy.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Froman - This was great….and smart, too. And I realized something….I do use maybe sometimes. I guess it is the Libra wispy washy person in me that seeks to be accommodating(even if I am not in the mood) or wants more time to make up my mind. But yes, the truth is, maybe usually means no. I am gonna work on this.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Well, you are unique ’cause I find this to be mostly a MAN’s middle name, like John Maybe Smith, or Andrew Maybe Iwillsmackyouupsidethehead Jones. Like that. Seriously Lisa- thanks for stopping by. Always glad to see you here.ReplyCancel

  • Larry Larry - Wow. I was wondering why I got so hot and bothered this morning when my husband put his plate in the dishwasher. This shit is going to last.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Oh yes. Very sexy. And when they do LAUNDRY! I simply swoon! The absolute kick-starter for me is the hanging up of the clothes. OMG!ReplyCancel

  • Ida Chiavaro - You deserve your title Her Majesty. Though I do question putting the kids before the spouse… the kids grow up and do their own thing one day but the spouse will be there longer… I’ll never forget the day I heard a son thanking his dad for loving his mother so much… He turned out to be an excellent lover too 🙂
    Reflex ReactionsReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Hahaaaa! Those might be interchangeable, but for me, the kids came first only because they sucked the life out of me and I was trying to survive! Little monsters….ReplyCancel

  • Carollynn Hammersmith - Love it. As a newly ‘married’ person, this is great advice to hear, AGAIN. Thanks for reminding us about life and the way it SHOULD be. Your 32 years is amazing and gives me hope that I too have that stick-to-it-ness that is necessary for a long lasting and happy marriage.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - It really has been happy- he does what I say! HA!ReplyCancel

  • Mari Collier - Good advice. I didn’t complain when he did his thing (hunting) and he didn’t complain when I did my thing (church work). We could look at something and find the humor in it. We always made time for each other. When we were young, we both had the ability to explode. We would walk away and save the disagreement for later. Our children rarely heard us argue as I can count on one hand the number of arguments we had. The best advice you gave was do not run each other down with words to other people unless you want to prove how stupid you were for marrying that person. Oh, yes, we were married for 45 years. I miss that man every day. No, for others that read this, it wasn’t a divorce. It was as we promised in our vows: Until death do us part.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Oh Marie, how beautifully written. I bet you two were a wonderful pair, and I agree with not exploding in front of the children, though I never sugar-coated an important disagreement- but no fights, ever. Yes loud debate, but no name calling or belittlement. Vows do have importance.ReplyCancel

  • William Kendall - His shoes on your feet have something of a clown shoes look to them!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Exactly. And they’re BIG shoes to fill. I like to remind myself of that every now and again, and fill-up with appreciation instead of anger.ReplyCancel

  • Dave Sumner - Very inspiring. I appreciate that in a post. Society can really use this type of advice, all we ever hear about is why things do not work out. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Living well and being HONEST is the HARD part of life!ReplyCancel

  • Elena Dillon - Hilarious and true!! Thanks. ReplyCancel

  • - Nicole - love this post! I share it on Facebook 😀 thanks Cheryl! I need that right now 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thanks Nicole! Glad I could help! And a special thank you for the SHARE. You’re awesome. xxooReplyCancel

  • The Minimalist Guide To A Good Marriage - What The Flicka? - […] post was originally featured on Cheryl’s blog, A Pleasant House. Photo […]ReplyCancel

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