When I was pregnant with our first tax deduction, the Engineer read a few parenting manuals for dads, chock full of fun tips about fashioning diapers out of duct tape and a tube sock. In one such tomb, the author claimed that most marriages that are going to fail, collapse within two years of having a child. Any child, be it the first or the third. So it turns out, fellow children of divorce, it probably was our fault after all. I know, all those years of therapy just went right to hell. Sorry.
But here’s the good news for all you new parents out there – if you can make it through the first two years, including those days when “accidental stabbing” seems preferable to another minute of listening to your significant other chew his food like a cow on morphine, if you can hang in there through the blur of poop and vomit and mind-numbing exhaustion, your odds of making it through the following years intact just skyrocket (until the teen years when everything goes to hell again)! My youngest is finally two, so the Engineer and I made it through the gauntlet intact. At least, that’s what I keep reminding myself when my stabbing hand gets a little twitchy. You gotta celebrate the small victories… (twitch goes the hand)
I hope you weren’t expecting a marital guide, here. I’ve only been married seven years – though it’s closer to 15 if you count time served – so I’m hardly an expert on long-haul marital bliss. The lady magazines I no longer read all seemed to agree that staying married requires a blend of manicures, therapy and inventive sex, so there’s that, if you need bad advice.
As far as I can tell, the big secret to not getting divorced is not calling a divorce lawyer, and not moving out. Oh, and not fooling around helps too, as a rule. Fortunately I’m lazy, so this plan works for me. Not packing my shit and moving out today? Boom. Done. I am winning at marriage.
Also, tip for the guys, maybe don’t buy your wife exercise equipment for her birthday. Even if she asks for it. Or socks for your anniversary. Socks are not romantic. Even expensive socks.
According to my brother, you can learn most things about keeping together from old Flintstones reruns. His rules for marriage: “Basically never forget that most chicks dig pointless expensive crap and flowers. Why do you think the male Adelie Penguin has to look all over a frozen hell for a pebble? Oh sure, that lady penguin may say she doesn’t care, any old rock will do just fine, but the successful penguin knows that shit’s a trap. Just play the damn game, both of you. Wilma wants a damn necklace and Fred wants to go bowling and get laid. Stop making it complicated.”
My brother, the cave man.