The Forbes piece is “What Your Mother Never Told You About Life After Marriage.” The thesis of the piece (if you haven’t already guessed) is this:
Marriage is not easy, and you were naïve and foolish to think otherwise.
The author cites potato chips in the bed, battles over the remote control, and snoring as irritants that will eventually make any spouse, but especially a wife, crazy.
I find this position to be trite, whiny, shortsighted, cliché and typically advanced by individuals who have made bad spousal choices and are lacking any reasonable degree of perspective.
I would like to offer an alternate thesis:
Marriage can be almost perfect if you marry the right person, avoid selfishness, and have a sensible perspective on life.
A friend recently asked me how Elysha and I manage to have such a good marriage. He pointed out that we almost never argue and continue to live as individuals within the context of a couple.
“How do you guys do it?” he asked.
First, I assured him that we are far from perfect. I still haven’t learned to wash the dishes to my wife’s satisfaction and recently left my daughter’s hair full of shampoo. Last week Clara spent an entire day with her shoes on the wrong feet, courtesy of her father.
I can’t be easy to live with.
Elysha is not without her flaws as well. She is incapable of syncing her iPhone until it becomes nearly inoperable and places items on counters and can no longer see them in the same way the T-Rex in Jurassic Park loses track of it prey if the prey isn’t moving.
We all have room to grow.
Still, our marriage is pretty fantastic. It’s true that we almost never fight and genuinely love spending time together.
We’re frightfully and disgustingly blissful on most days.
So my answer to my friend’s question about how Elysha and I manage this constant state of bliss was this:
I spend 75% of the time ensure that Elysha is happy and 25% of the time ensuring my own happiness.
Elysha spends 75% of the time ensuring that I am happy and 25% of the time ensuring her own happiness.
As a result, we are both happy, and we are both supremely happy with one another.
Will this plan work for everyone?
I’m not sure. There are certainly some problems that our 75/25 split cannot overcome.
I know a couple who negotiates free time from the kids as if they are negotiating nuclear nonproliferation.
I have a friend who married a shallow, soulless woman who is incapable of experiencing happiness on any level.
I know a man whose in-laws despise his wife.
I know a woman who cannot share information with her husband because he lacks discretion and tact (no, this is not me).
These are problems that our 75/25 plan might not overcome.
But I also know many couples who are extremely happy in their marriages and do not complain about potato chips in the bed or snoring.
In fact, I know more happy couples than unhappy couples, regardless of what the Forbes piece would have you believe.
Perhaps the people around you play an important role, too.