Let’s Call the Whole Thing…Happy!

Yesterday I followed a link to an Atlantic Monthly article written by NPR contributor and writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh who I recently heard speak at a library event in Orange County, CA. I loved her energy and humor and bought her book, MOTHER ON FIRE, which talks about her anxieties and challenges as a mother of school-age kids. It also talks about her marriage, which, from what she says in the Atlantic article, is now over. I’m sorry about that, and sorry to learn from what she writes in the piece titled, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” that she’s doesn’t have much faith in the possibility of long-lived, happy marriages.

As someone who just celebrated a two-digit anniversary, I can tell you I’m a believer…

Loh complains that everyone says a good, long marriage takes “work.” Maybe she’s more of a romantic than I am, because she doesn’t seem to think that there should be an element of labor involved. I don’t think it should be arduous either, but to imagine that there aren’t going to be crumbs left on the bread board or socks on the floor, well, that is just being blind to the usual foibles of our fellow man (and of ourselves. Every time I find myself irked by some habit of my spouse’s, I remind myself there must be an equal number of my own–that I’m blissfully unaware of–that irk him). Or maybe Loh just hasn’t spent enough time at an office type of job where you have to deal with the habits and idiosyncrasies of co-workers. No grumbling at the boss for leaving the milk on the counter!

And to give credit where credit is due, I’m know the credit for my continued marital happiness goes in large part to the wonderful man I married, Surfer Guy. He’s a bit of a pack rat. He’ll be late for something because he stopped to push a stalled car off the road or help change a tire. And then there’s that tendency to think that he can repair any kind of household problem (with many more successes than failures, though). So he’s not perfect, of course, any more than I am.

But when our anniversary was coming up and I could only dither about what we should do and also worry about fitting in a research trip for the current trilogy, Surfer Guy went all man on me and made a decision while I was at the RWA conference…he booked our trip to the wine country. We left behind kids, new puppy, the results of The Flood (blog for another day) and flew to Napa & Sonoma where he played chauffeur and fellow winetaster as I soaked up the atmosphere. No winery was too obscure, no backtracking to revisit a place did he find an annoyance. He took photos, he asked good questions, he made me hand out my books (he’s much better at promo than I).

So, people, I’m here to tell you…a good marriage starts with a good man. And I believe and believe and believe that they are out there. Romance lives beyond the pages of our books and beyond the “I do”…I know it and live with it every day. Happy Anniversary to us, Surfer Guy. Thank you and I love you.

Do you have a marriage/romance success story? Yourself, parents, family? What do you think is The Secret?

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20 Responses to Let’s Call the Whole Thing…Happy!

  1. Michele Hauf says:

    Congrats, Christie! Good men are keepers.I got me one. We're in the double digit anniversaries too. Yep, you gotta learn to ignore (or at least not complain to loudly) the little stuff and celebrate the wondrous.The secret? Love changes. It morphs into different things all the time. Accept that. Work with it. Embrace it for what it is.

  2. Congrats to you and your husband, Michele (and to us for picking keepers)! Great tip on rolling with the changes.

  3. Candace says:

    I'm always baffled by people who complain that a good marriage takes "work." For goodness sake, what good thing doesn't take work?My friendships take work. My dogs take work. Making a gourment takes work. My garden takes a boatload of work. And my work — which I treasure as much as all the other things in my life — takes work.So why should I expect the most intimate, the most precious, the most necessary part of my life to just happen with no effort?My DH and I will celebrate 37 years of marriage in November. Has it been work? Well, sure, sometimes, but so what? The work is just part and parcel of what makes it all worthwhile.

  4. Candace says:

    "gourment" should be gourmet meal. Obviously, writing a blog comment takes work, too!

  5. Congratulations, Christie! And to Surfer Guy, for his excellent taste. I don't know about the wine, but he couldn't have done better picking his wife.We're headed for number–ohmygosh–39 in October. It's quite a journey, this married life. Secrets? Hmm. Surely one of them is R-E-S-P-E-C-T. (I like Otis Redding's version as much as Aretha's. I think his came first, but I could be wrong.)

  6. Congrats Christine!I'm into double digits too, as are my parents and both sets of grandparents were as well.As you grow and change, so does love and your expectations of what love is and your idea of what love means. Maturity brings with it many things, but acceptance of flaws in perfection is one of them. We find that the flaws help make the perfection, not perfection means no flaws. Has it has been said many times, Love is a many splendored thing. It just the things that make it splendid change.Dottie 🙂

  7. Dottie: Congrats to you and yours as well! I see a theme, here. We're all into acceptance. That doesn't mean we're "settling" but that we grow more tolerant and see more shades of gray, I think. Getting wiser.

  8. lois greiman says:

    Very sweet post, Christie. We've been married, holy cow, almost 30 years. One of my tricks was to watch my mother. She knew how to make things work no matter what it took, and in the last years of Dad's life, she forgave him everything and was the best caregiver in the world. A good marriage is always an inspiration. Thanks for sharing yours.

  9. Having a good marriage as an example is wonderful, Lois. My parents divorced and Surfer Guy's father died when he was 12, so I think we are making up our success as we go along.Would be interesting to know what my sons think of how we make things work…think I might find some time to ask them.

  10. Cindy Gerard says:

    Congrats, Christie. I love hearing 'great marriage' stories. Me and my dh have been together longer than I could have possibly imagined as a young blushing bride. Okay. So I'm not really the blushing type but wow,was I young and since I'm not any more it was a long time ago! Now we celebrate anniversaries with the kids and grandkids which is just fine with me.And yes, it's work but as someone said, what really good thing isn't?

  11. Helen Brenna says:

    Very sweet post, Christie. It's been 22 years for us. Wow, us Riders have a few years between us, don't we? Very cool.I remember reading the argument somewhere that reading romance novels gives women unrealistic expectations of marriage, but I don't think that's the case at all. We write stories about conflict getting resolved, not pushed aside, in order for that hea to happen.Divorce happens, though. It's a reality. It takes 2 to make a marriage work, but only 1 to let it fall apart.

  12. Emmanuelle says:

    Oh Christie, you made my eyes al wet and misty !!That was a beautiful post and a wonderful declaration of love to your DH… I really hope you made him read it, he's a very lucky guy (and so are you apparently!).I'm celebrating my 10 years anniversary myself in september so I do agree with the fact that marriage is something you have to work on…I'm sure years later you realize "it was worth it".

  13. Emmanuelle: I'm going to email him the link (he took Son 2 to the beach) so he can see it as a surprise.Wow, we Riders do have some long marriages. Yay, us!

  14. Betina Krahn says:

    Christie, I read an article written by this woman and was a little stunned by her matter-of-fact approach and her (self-serving) conclusion that there were no happy long-term marriages. Talk about seeing what you WANT to see. Of course, she uses that to excuse her own and her spouse's infidelities. Mutual infidelity does not mean that marriage is flawed, if means your committment to it and to each other is. I thought it was unsettling from the standpoint that there are quite a few people who feel the same these days. The whole concept of "starter marriage" gives people license to "try it out and if it doesn't work, no harm-no foul." But there are wonderful marriages and good men and loving unions. You and Surfer Guy, Christie, are a wonderful example. And what a terrific anniversary celebration. Wine country for two. You deserved a fabulous time and I'm glad you had one!

  15. Betina: Ew, "starter marriage." Which wouldn't be such a terrible thing, I suppose, if there weren't children involved. As a child of divorce, I never considered myself part of a "starter family," though because my dad went on to marry a woman with 2 sons and their father not in the picture at all, I felt left behind.The couples she describes in her article, friends of hers, she says, seem to have a way different view of their unions than the ones that my friends and I have.

  16. Debra Dixon says:

    Hey! Success story here! Checking in late. Started dating at 16. Go married at 18 1/2 to the complete and utter concern of my parents, but by then I had 2.5 years of college under my belt because I started college early.Been married a bazillion years.What's the secret? Beats the heck out of me other than he makes me smile. He's a good guy. All the time. How he's put up with me I don't know. I'm sure he'd tell you something wonderful, but I know me and I'm not that much fun to live with. So I guess it helps if the hubby is willing to overlook lots of faults!

  17. Kathleen O says:

    You got a one of the good ones Christie.. Me, not being married, ever, but I have had a couple of good guys in my life. I have seen good marriage & I have seen some not so good ones. And I guess I have just not found my Mr this just be the right one, to settle down with, yet. So Kudos to you all who found "The Guy".

  18. Deb: I have to say I think my dh is much more tolerant than I am…thank goodness!Kathleen: You have to wait for the right guy, that's for sure. But I have single friends who completely enjoy their lives too…there's no one way for any of us.

  19. flip says:

    I have been with my sweetheart for 28 years. We have worked through the hard times, because we both know our marriage is worth the hard work. We not only love each other, we respect each other.

  20. Oh, what a great post. I love this line: A good marriage starts with a good man. So true. Today is my 8th wedding anniversary. Hubby and I are working toward those double digits!Congrats to you and surfer guy, and hurray for happy!!

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