I just met a girl named Maria. If by “just met” you mean in 1979.

My cousin Maria got engaged last weekend. And you know I knew? I knew the way you know about a good melon. (At least I am referencing When Harry Met Sally again and not Gone with the Wind).

They made her poor now-fiance get on the phone with me at Thanksgiving, when everyone was passing the phone around, and I got a sense. I am totally John Edward or Sylvia Browne or whomever about wedding proposals and pregnancies. (I always know the sex of someone's baby, which really isn't such a clever trick now that everyone goes and finds out anyway.)

So, this poor kid had to go to my family's Thanksgiving, and I want you to imagine a house with 25 people in it who are all exactly like me. Every single person there thinks they have the funniest line in the room, so they are telling it loudly, even though every single person there is ALREADY telling a funny story. This is what this guy walked into. Then they thrust the phone at him and made him talk to some old lady he never heard of in North Carolina.

Anyway, as soon as I talked to him, I knew, and now he is almost related to me, and I feel very sorry for him.

Maria tells me she likes those mermaid-style wedding dresses, and I told her that sounds nice but won't it start to smell after awhile, and once again who thinks she has the funniest line in the room? We had better snag this guy quickly before he changes his mind.

Here they are:

Maria

I do not know what kind of class they are attending where they are learning about wine prices.

What I need to discuss with you all is not the beauty of marriage or the importance of lifetime commitment or the hard work that goes into spending your life with someone. No. What I need to discuss with you is how can someone who shares my gene pool HAVE HAIR THIS GOOD? How did SHE get THIS HAIR and I got THIS HAIR:

Hair

Am I being punished for something I did in a former life? Was I Hitler? Also, nice sleeve. Was I rolling one tiny cigarette?

But this is not a post about me. It is about pretty things. And steak and eggs. Or Kaets & Sgge.

What deep thing do you think I am contemplating? It's almost like I'm starring in a Lifetime Television for Women movie, isn't it? June was torn. Should it be pork chops for $4 or steak and eggs for $5? Either way, her hair was Her Stepson, Her Lover. Co-starring Meredith Baxter Bernie. (I know that made no sense, but that's my favorite Lifetime movie title and I just wanted to work it in.)

Okay, again. Not about me. So, let's all congratulate my cousin Maria and her fiance Ryan, and if you are married (or even if you're not), please give them the best marriage advice you have. None of that phony stuff like treasure every day, because please. Some days you want to drive a screwdriver through the other person's head. Or maybe that's just me. Maybe that's what I'm thinking in the photo above.

One time I asked someone who had been happily married well over 50 years, what's your secret? And he said, "Why start again with someone else?" And I loved that. It sounded kind of cynical, but it's really very deep.

I mean, no matter where you go, there you are. If you meet someone new, YOU are still you in the new relationship, so whatever problems you brought to the old relationship are still going to happen with the new person. So you are probably going to (a) pick the same kind of person and (b) probably have the same kind of relationship. So why not work out whatever you've got going on with whomever you're with, provided they're not a monster?

And heck, maybe you should treasure every day. Maybe if I treasured every day I would pick up fewer screwdrivers. So if that's your advice, have at it. I will print out all your advices (do you like that word?) and make Maria a little book or something.

69 thoughts on “I just met a girl named Maria. If by “just met” you mean in 1979.

  1. I have to say you have quite fetching hair. No I don’t mean it chasing after a bone, I mean your hair is lovely.
    I want to know why Kendell is only $10.00. Is Kendell a boy or a girl? Oh and while we are on the subject of signs over peoples heads why do are you sitting on the pork chop side and not the steak and eggs side?
    My advice for a long marriage. Beats me. Nope he doesn’t beat me nor I him. It just works. We are not opposites, we are sames.

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  2. Congrats to your cousin! Have you tried using a flat iron on your hair? Did you know that people with flat, thinning hair WISH they had hair like yours? True! : D
    I can only vouche for long-term relationships and not marriage-
    Have a sense of humor.
    Don’t always think of yourself first.
    Compliment the other person for the most simple things.
    Give what you want.
    Appreciate what is GOOD in your relationship and…
    LOVE like there is no tomorrow!
    People love being around others that make them feel good about themselves.

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  3. This is your Aunt Mary’s daughter?
    My tenth anniversary is coming up so I’ll have to conjure up a pearl of wisdom that seems to have gotten us this far.
    Hmm, don’t go to bed mad, but don’t stay up all night fighting either.
    Really, though, if and when things get rough around here I think about all the work that it would take to actually pack up and move. That usually does the trick.
    And lastly, I’m thinking that Ryan is hoping the best marital advice is, “don’t grow yourself a big ole ass”.

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  4. Dear J,
    No, Aunt Mary doesn’t have kids. This is my Aunt Kathy’s daughter. Aunt Kathy is my mom’s sister.
    Maria and I share the gramma who tried to shove the address book up my nethers.

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  5. compromise and communication. if you are fighting to win, you will lose.
    but 5 1/2 years and no big sparkly ring so what the hell do I know.

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  6. Get over the fury of the lid up on the toilet, and the lid off the toothpaste. It will be there forever, there is no point in fighting over it. Also, you MIGHT (and it’s a slim possibility, I know) have an equally annoying habit that he’s just not telling you.
    The other thing is that really and truly, the grass is never greener on the other side. If you’re going this far, just go with it.

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  7. I survey couples in order to discover the secret of a long lasting marriage. The best advice I’ve heard was from a woman married over 60 years to a very difficult man. Her pearl? “Keep your mouth shut!”

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  8. My advice? Taking out the garbage every week is as much an act of love as bringing you flowers.
    I told my husband when we got engaged that as long as he understood that what’s mine is mine and what’s his is mine, we would be fine.
    And finally, on those days when you think that you are just too different and you should never have gotten married, remember if you marry someone just like yourself, one of you is unnecessary!
    Love and wine-soaked kisses,
    Aunt Mary Ellen from Napa

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  9. Look at that!! Bronwen posted before Bronwyn! It’s alphabetized Bronwyns!
    And I agree, it takes a LONG time to train up a new one. No point in doing it more than once. Mine’s just coming along nicely after 14 years of marriage.

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  10. Best marriage advice ever? Do NOT keep a screwdriver nearby. Because, y’know, then it’s close. And handy. And way too close and handy.
    Feel free to say, “I’m going to go put myself in timeout before I hit your face with my elbow.”
    And then come back and kiss him. Even though.

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  11. Best advice? DO NOT sweat the small stuff. If he doesn’t like to squeeze the toothpaste from the end of the tube? Who cares! Buy a tube for yourself and hide it (which is what I do) and then you can have your own neat, tidy tube! Things like that make life so much more pleasant.
    Also? If he is bad at cleaning and you’re a neat freak (like me), then it’s up to you to do the cleaning as you like it. Don’t expect the other person to notice the things you notice, like the mounds of dog hair that are everywhere. He just doesn’t care. If you care? Then pick it up.
    We have a divide and conquer marriage and it works very well. I never have to nag him to do anything. Nag is not in my vocabulary. He sucks at folding clothes, ergo, I fold the clothes. He’s horrible at grocery shopping, ergo, I do it. Otherwise? We’d have cupcakes and canned tuna for dinner.
    Basically a happy marriage is one where you can just let the other person be themself and not try to change that person to your liking or expectations. What you see now is what you’re going to get in your married life, except they’re way worse because they cease being on their best behavior!
    Also, don’t stay mad long about stupid stuff. It’s not worth it. Let things go, take a deep breath! Never dredge up the past in a current fight. Ever. Not good.
    Oh, and the final piece of advice? Drink heavily.
    The end.

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  12. Congrats to Maria!!! I didn’t even know she was dating anyone. I must say… she looks the best I’ve ever seen. Who does her hair? I want that person doing mine. Pronto.

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  13. Seriously? You didn’t plan it so that it said merlot and cabernet behind her head, and your picture features “pohc krop”?

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  14. My husband said that he was a lot happier when he realized who the boss was, and it wasn’t him. His advice? Happy wife, happy life.
    My advice would be a lot of wine? And possibly an anti-anxiety medication. Maybe that’s just me.

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  15. 9 years of wedded bliss here. Oh, who the hell am I kidding?! 9 years wedded and 3 or 4 years bliss.
    Ok, advice for the engaged couple. Sheesh! Here goes:
    Pray. (Because one day only God will be able to stop you from killing him.)
    Maintain separate hobbies.

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  16. Don’t think things should be like they were when you were growing up.
    Just because your family folded the towels one way doesn’t mean it has to be this way.
    This is not worth fighting over.
    I agree with the above person about cleaning. If you like it clean and he doesn’t care but you feel resentful for being the only one who cares…hire a cleaning service. Same goes for the yard.

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  17. Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Money problems are the number one marriage wrecker.
    Never take each other for granted.
    Communicate, communicate, communicate. He can’t read your mind.
    Remember the grass may be greener on the other side, but you still have to mow it.
    Pray together.
    My hubby told me before we married 43 years ago that TV dinners were grounds for divorce, so we have never had one in our home.

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  18. Don’t use words like “always” and “never” in an argument.
    Also, take time to really get to know each other so there aren’t any surprises. Discuss your beliefs, childhood upbringing, expectations, habits, etc.

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  19. After 13 years of marriage, our biggest rule is this: Never ridicule, mock, or otherwise put down your mate in public. That’s the place for praise. Nothing wears out a relationship like being humiliated in front of other people.
    Being humiliated in private is a whole other topic.

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  20. Celebrating 23 years of marriage this year and I ‘still’ don’t know how we’ve stayed together so long. I suppose maybe we forgive each other a lot. Me WAY more then him but who’s counting. Anyway. Great looking couple and well worth coming out of lurk mode to offer a huge congratulations!

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  21. I’m a newbie at this marriage thing, but I really believe it’s simple.
    It doesn’t matter how much (or how often) you fight, as long as you deal with an issue, get past it and move on. Arguments can be productive, as long as you’re not having the same argument over and over.

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  22. After 14 months of marriage, our favorite conflict resolution tactic is ‘instant replay.’ The injured party asks permission to do it, then you switch roles and act out what you both heard… it’s great entertainment and usually gets the point across with minimal heartache.
    You can also add the ‘do-over’ feature – this one is more important to ask permission for, but allows the one who said or did the insensitive thing to recognize and rectify their blunder. Forgiveness is easier when you’re laughing.
    Best wishes to Maria and Ryan!

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  23. Do not nag. Ever. When you’re tempted to do so, just think “Would I want anyone to ever talk to me this way?”
    Also, nagging is completely counterproductive. It makes most men want to do the exact opposite of what you want them to do.
    Plus, nagging is very, very unsexy.

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  24. Dee from Tennessee
    Some Really, Really good comments/advice have been offered. A real gem….”If you’re fighting to win, you’ll lose.” True.
    I am old, and I know this…..
    money matters are a HUGE stumbling block to many marriages being successfully.
    I’ve been married a loooooooooooong time. Decades. And I think it’s easy (at least for me) to be selfish and not even realize/recognize it. Even now.
    When an issue/arguement/whatever comes
    up, treat him or respond, at the very least, as nice as you would treat someone with whom you work.
    Marriage is not 50/50. Somedays, it’s 80/20 in favor of the wife….somedays,it’s 80/20 in favor of the husband. Or maybe, 60/40…whatever, you get the drift.
    (Discuss where you will spend Christmas. 🙂
    I thank God that I have the husband I have…I got the best of the deal. I am blessed beyond measure. (And we were divorced at one time and remarried…. Thank You Lord for the second chance.)
    Pray for His guidance before and after the wedding.

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  25. I will try to keep this as short as possible…
    I was married to my husband for 19 years. We both still loved each other but things had gotten really bad…so bad that we just didn’t think we could do it anymore…so we divorced. We both dated other people during the next year. And guess what? All the things I wanted that I thought he wasn’t giving me? I realized I didn’t really want those things. I thought I wanted someone to read me poetry in a bookstore in Berkeley…I thought I wanted someone who was demonstrative…I thought I wanted someone who told me how fabulous I was all the time. Come to find out…I didn’t want any of that. What I really wanted was the man I had been married to for 19 years. Thank goodness there is a happily ever after…we got back together and even remarried.
    So…accept your spouse the way they are…flaws and all. Share your feelings. Remember why you married them in the first place. Love them for loving you.

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  26. This summer we will celebrate 40 years of marriage. My advice…forget that gobbledy-goop advice of never going to sleep angry with each other. Personally I think our marriage is doing so well because we do NOT plow through an argument when we are tired. That is when you are likely to say horrible things to each other. Once you said it, you can’t take it back. So – don’t say it!
    Come morning, after a good night’s sleep (maybe in another room), my/our frustration level is down and we can settle our differences.
    Excellent advice has been given here – much better than found in advice columns or from any therapist du jour. Best wishes for a long and happy life together.

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  27. Just remember that the things about him that irritate you now will drive you crazy in the long run, as will some of the things you LIKE about him. But, that works both ways, so call it even and have a happy life.

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  28. Ask for what you need – your partner cannot read your mind! You might not always get every thing you need, but if you don’t ask for it, you probably won’t get anything except a whole lot of resentment.

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  29. I have been married for 6 years now and am pregnant with our second child (June, is it a boy or a girl? We won’t be able to find our for another 6 weeks…)
    What works for us is to always say what you expect/need instead of thinking they should know. They don’t. If I need a hug or expect some acknowledgement of my birthday, I just tell him. I give a list on holidays (let’s face it… he is going to go at 11pm on Christmas Eve,and he’s going to need some choices.)

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  30. Make sure to stick a funny line in every argument. That way, you’ll always have something to laugh at later. For example, “I’m going to throw this phone at you and hit you with it” will live on forever in our family, because why would you throw a phone at someone and NOT hit them with it?

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  31. Married 27 years – happy most of them.
    Don’t assume he’ll get it. Most men don’t take hints. You have to be V.E.R.Y. specific.
    Don’t make the kids the focus of your family. They’ll thrive if the parents are working on a good relationship.
    Do continue to dream and plan together. Just because you’re married or have a family doesn’t mean you can’t still do interesting things.
    Stay on your meds.

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  32. 1. Maria’s bangs make me want to freakin melt right now. My whole life I have pined for a bang like that.
    2. After less than 1 year of marriage I think I will stick to reading everyone else’s advice.

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  33. I’ve been married for not quite 2 years yet, so maybe I don’t have the long-term advice down, but I can definitely say in the short term my husband and I are happiest when we’re doing fun things together. Like playing keep-away from the dog, or building lego robots. Yes, we’re grown-ups, I promise.

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  34. Congrats Maria, I miss you at the clinic. I
    don’t have any advice for you, just be happy. I’d like some advice from June, where can an old lady like me meet a nice man?

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  35. This is the first time I have posted on June’s blog. I am Maria’s sister, Katie. You may recognize me as the little tike on June’s lap sitting in our grandma’s rocking chair (santa towels on the arms circa 1979 ring a bell?). I believe I was also eating a pixie stick. Anywho, this is about advice for a happy marriage. I have been married x 11 years in May……
    Maria & Ryan:
    1. Take it easy on each other
    2. When you feel like running away, think about why you want to run away. It is often yourself you are trying to run from.
    3. Find and nurture each others inner child
    4. Love each other unconditionally
    5. When you are REALLY mad at each other try very hard to conjure a time when you felt head over heels in love. This is hard to do, but helps you get over it.
    6. Support each other and your respective dreams.
    7. Don’t have conversations about touchy subjects while PMS is a factor….Ryan- don’t bring the PMS factor up, just keep it to yourself knowing in the back of your mind what is REALLY going on 🙂
    8. Read self help books and get counseling if necessary. Marriage is often challenging and usually worth saving.
    9. Call your sister or another functionally married person whenever you need to talk.
    10. Enjoy the ride
    This is from my friend Marisha, yogi and massage therapist: “The thing I loved about being married was the opportunity it gave me to see myself every day. Your partner holds up a mirror and you have to keep facing yourself.”
    This is from my friend Tisch: “There is no sense in leaving this one and getting another one…They are all the same, and you have time invested here!”
    This is from my friend Dodie (yes, that is her real name): “Being married allows you to see all of the dark, stinky, and tender spots in another person. Try to fight fair and not abuse that power.”

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  36. Congrats to Maria and Ryan.
    1. Let him know he can leave the seat up as long as he ALWAYS put it down in the master bath.
    2. Spend time away from each other.

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  37. What works for me is this: Think of something that you absolutely love and adore about your husband, some quirky thing he does or the way he smiles, whatever, and store the image in your brain. Then, every time you are thisclose to strangling him for whatever super annoying thing he did, take a deep breath and think of that image of him being lovable. Then you can constructively tell him what an ass he is being.

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  38. This little jewel just came to me and it may be the best original piece of advice I’d ever come up with:
    Love means never having to say you are sorry.

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  39. Ooooh… what a good idea… I’ll do one funny one (kinda) and one serious one. How ’bout that?
    ALWAYS LOOK DOWN BEFORE SITTING ON THE TOILET- It doesn’t matter if your fiance/ husband grew up w/only women in his household, if his momma taught him right, or if you are giving him his own bathroom where he can leave the lid up. Inevitably (sp?) you will sit down on a seatless toilet, and can I just say ‘ewwww!’? My lovely husband of about 5 seconds pulled this move on me on our freakin’ HONEYMOON! The nerve. So, always always always look first.
    Second…
    life is never gonna’ be ‘normal’. You expect that eventually ‘things’ will settle down, you’ll break into a routine of life with your spouse, and after a little bit of rocky beginning, it will be smoothe sailing. But that’s just not the case. Life happens. Cars break down, jobs are lost, babies are born, parents divorce, moves are made, gifts are given, friends are made. In other words, being married doesn’t stop any of the good, bad, or ugly stuff. But having someone who is going through it WITH you, does help.
    Finally, this is advice for Maria’s fiance: NEVER buy her something that plugs in unless she has specifically asked you for it. Do not surprise her with a vacuum for Christmas. Do not get her a toaster for valentine’s day. If you realize that the heating blanket is broken and think it would make a great birthday gift, it won’t. Again…. unless she specifically asks for it.
    Amen.

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  40. Congratulations!
    My advice is figure out how to argue – you’ve probably already done it somewhat, but really work at making sure you’ve got ways to express disagreement so that you can work through things. You’re going to fight sometimes; may as well make them as short and painless as possible!

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  41. When my husband and I (before he was my husband – yikes, living in sin!) first moved in together I had but one request. Put down the toilet seat. And not just the seat but also the lid, and I would do the same. That way we both have to lift when we have to go. That’s fair isn’t it? The rest of the “stuff” like house cleaning and cooking are definitely not cause for argument. Life is too short to fight about what’s for dinner. P.S. We have been married for 12 years and living together for 18 and I have NEVER had to remind him to put the toilet seat down. Aren’t I genius? What a talent!

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  42. Don’t get married in the first place. You can leave your underware where ever you want and it’s always your choice as far as choosing what tv show to watch. Can you tell i’m a guy?

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  43. Try to remember there is only room for one person to be perfect and it will be you, so don’t let things he does bother you.
    Be kind to one another.
    Compliment each other daily and try to always appreciate the things the other person does for you.
    Remember to pick up some of his favorite snack-a-bites at the grocery. He’ll be happy.
    When it gets bed (and it will… but usually only for a little while at a time) remember how much divorce laywers cost, how much time it will take you to pack up and how much you will hate to be stalked. Because he will stalk you, you being perfect and all. 😉
    Keep a little mystery. My husband doesn’t need to know what I do in the bathroom. Ever. Not when and if I shave, not when and if I “use the bathroom” (you understand), not when and if or how I brush my teeth, floss my teeth or waterpik my teeth.
    And finally, pray daily that you won’t kill him, that you can overlook his ridiculous habits and that you can maintain your perfection. And… fresh sheets = happy life.

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  44. For the groom, this was given to me at my bachelor’s party
    “If she said it; you heard it” Doesn’t matter if the water is running, if you are in a different part of the house, over a bad phone line or even no longer there. In her mind she said it and you heard it. No logic will help you here. This means if you hear her mumbling, get up off the couch and say “Sorry dear I didn’t hear you. What was that?” This will save you from hours of being yelled at.

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  45. My advice? Be kind to one another. There will be days when you are a grouch and days when he is. Understand, and be kind.
    That’s it. It works for my husband and me, and I love him more today than when we married … because he is so kind (and sexy, and gorgeous).

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  46. Someone told me once that a good relationship is made up of two people who both think they got the better part of the bargain. I don’t know if this is really advice but it’s kind of the theme of my marriage and it works for us.

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  47. Those screwdrivers you want to jam into his ear when he’s acting like an ass? Those come in handy when you need him to fix something.
    Just give it a day or two and then you’ll be thinking he’s the greatest thing ever.
    If you pick a decent guy to begin with there’s not much you can’t overcome. And you can’t really train them, you can only train yourself to put up with their annoying b.s.

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  48. At my bridal shower, all the ladies wrote their advice in this nice journal-like book for me. On one page it said “never go to bed angry” with a big long explanation of how this saved her marriage, and on the facing page it said, “sleep on an argument” with a big long explanation about how it’s better to approach things with a clear head in the morning.
    I think the most important thing is to marry someone who is as committed as you are to making it work, for life. As long as you both care, you can work it out.
    (and it works better for us to sleep on an argument).

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  49. i want to add one thing and ask two questions:
    one thing that has really made a difference for me is this (i tpretty much applies to all facets of life, not just marriage): never try to make an important decision when you are
    Hungry
    Angry
    Lonely
    Tired
    Stressed
    ?1- June- what is the cool website w/pictures of 1930s house interiors?
    ?2- Jan- what in tarnation is a snack-a-bite?

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  50. Wow, we definitely don’t pray together. Or at all. And some of these comments are CREEPY! My advice is pretty simple:
    Go buy the soundtrack to Avenue Q and listen to “The More You Ruv Someone.”
    The more you love someone, the more he makes you crazy
    The more you love someone, the more you’re wishing him dead
    Sometimes you look at him and only see fat and lazy
    And wanting baseball bat for hitting him on his head!
    Got me through some hard times. 🙂

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  51. Last time I traveled overseas I sat next to a man and his wife that had been married for 55 years. They were taking their first ever plane trip. We got talking and I asked him what his words of wisdom were for such a long marriage. He said simply – You get out what you put in.

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  52. Love, intimacy, sex and romance are the basic things necessary for healthy couple’s relationships. These four things come in to existence in any married and unmarried couples life when they are knowledgeable about how to communicate, how to deepen friendship and how to gain trust. If you are capable to communicate healthy to maintain friendship and trust then love, intimacy, romance and sex consequently come in to your relationship. Those whose love or marriage relationship relationship are in trouble or not be able to communicate any more can take the help of marriage counselors. Christian marriage counselors give couples an unbiased counseling with proper relationship building tips to enhance relationship.
    http://www.marriage-counselors.net/

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