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Advice From An Old Married Man

by Stephen Lautens

June 26, 1998

It's my eighth wedding anniversary next week, and I'm feeling quite proud of myself.

In fact, I'm feeling so proud of myself I feel compelled to give advice - something a columnist does at his peril.

You see, I have a very happy marriage. I made an exceptionally good choice in picking my mate Rhea.

You'll have to ask her if she thinks she made a good choice. Fortunately for me, I'm the one with the column.

And with eight years under my belt, I've been thinking about what makes my marriage work so well.

First of all, we're good to each other. It's amazing how many couples can't figure this one out.

We have married friends who constantly snipe at each other. Or tell stories about how stupid the other one is.

That's in front of company. Imagine what life is like in private.

Remember nothing is as important as each other.

My cousin Diana, who gives advice to anyone she can hold down, told me something last time I visited.

She said: "Make sure your children know that your spouse is number one in your life, and not them. The children are number two. That way when they grow up and leave home, you're still with number one."

Diana's pretty smart, and her kids now treat their spouses as number one in their lives too.

Be honest. Don't let things fester. Get the little bothers out in the open early before they turn into flying dishes.

Also, be able to figure out what is a big deal and what isn't.

If you ran into an old girlfriend on the street, say so. The world is a small place and you can bet someone saw you. But don't mention it for that reason. Mention it because it shows respect for your mate, and trust them to respect your honesty.

Remember, jealousy is not as attractive as some people think. Neither are public fits or tantrums. Have some dignity, and leave some for your spouse.

If you're doing something you hate but the other person loves, don't do it grudgingly. There's nothing worse than dragging someone along who's determined to let you know just how a bad time they're having.

Do it with a smile, or don't do it at all. If it's important to the other person, do it with a smile.

If she wants to rent the latest Jane Austen movie and you want Alien Facesuckers IV, figure out who picked last time. In a perfect world Jane Austin would have written about mutant killer robots. But she didn't, so take turns.

We celebrate each others' triumphs and sympathize with the disappointments.

We keep a bottle of cheap champagne ($6) in the fridge for no special occasion in particular.

We're very supportive of each other in whatever we do. You both win when you put the other person first.

I like that we're able to spend time alone, but would rather be together.

And let your spouse win the occasional argument, especially when they're right.

Finally, pick someone you love and who loves you. If you get married for any other reason, you're a fool.

Is it good advice? I don't know. All I know is that it's worked for me for the last eight years.


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