First came love, then came marriage, then came...

You've found yourself in this situation, I am sure: You are at a wedding reception and a videographer comes close, sticks a mike in your face and asks you what you might have to say as in the way of congratulations or advice to the happy couple. This is where you freeze a bit like the proverbial deer and then find yourself mouthing a platitude when, in an otherwise different situation, you might be the Neruda of congratulatory poetic-ness or, the walking encyclopedia of marriage-related advice.

The reason for the temporary mind paralysis is of course that moments like the one I just described are all about time and place and not, about having the time nor mentally reaching that correct place from where you may dispense the kind of words and advice that are grounded in tried, tested and technicholor experience.

For myself, I chose to pass up on that video moment the other day at my sister-in-law's wedding. I had to lie and tell her that I had indeed been interviewed already and I was going to let my video disappearance remain the afterthought that it surely would have been when nevertheless, you find me here dwelling further on the matter. I am hopeful that with your help, I might rewrite the bypassed video moment to suit my tastes. How do you precisely figure in this you might ask? Well I don't know about you, but sound advice from total strangers has figured hugely in my life. Should you find it in yourself to pass on the pearls of wisdom you may have acquired on the subject of marriage for my sister-in-law's benefit, I would be not only grateful but much obliged. Consider this a non-invasive, time filled session to share what you know, deep down in the heart, is an ingredient to a successful marriage. I'll get us started...

Dear S: Now that I have confessed, I hope you find it in yourself to forgive my little white lie. In the flurry of this, your wedding time, I had just one brief moment with you to tell you that I wished you and your new husband the same measure and happiness I have found with your brother but, my wishes for your married success go much deeper than that. Indeed, it would take too much time and result in a biased view of what makes a partnership work to tell you everything I myself have learned that I think might help. That is the reason I am enlisting the aid of my fellow bloggers and kind readers. Throughout my life, I have discovered that I can place a higher value on the words that come from someone who is as far removed from me as this sensitive and sensible group of people that I call my blogging friends, are to you. May they offer you that which someday might be either remembered or come in handy. Here is my own two bit contribution before the cornucopia that I hope will be theirs.

Milena's advice: To the degree that it is possible, never go to bed sleeping apart. Even when mad, the healing of physical closeness works a magic like few others. You WILL get mad at your husband jan, that is a given. Married life without the occasional fights is an impossibility. What you must not ever do, is hold your physical self hostage to a fight. I do not speak of withholding sex, I speak of withholding physical demonstrations of affection like a kiss or an embrace. Even when profoundly angry, I have always made an effort to circumvent my initial desire to put up the type of barriers that can result in silent treatments and literal cold shoulders. I credit the circumvention of that, my first inclination, with speeding up the reconciling of the differences your brother and I have. Remember, marriage is about building bridges, not erecting walls.

Take it away guys...


  1. This post reminds me of the engagement party that my mother threw for us. Everyone decorated a card plain note card and then on the inside, wrote an anonymous piece of marital advice for us. Some of them were sweet and expected, and others were humorous and saucy. I remember the one that said simply "laugh during sex." Hmm. I still have the cards, but we haven't looked at them in years. I think I will pull them out tonight...

  2. Oh, Milena - I wish I could weigh in with some sort of lovely pearl about togetherness and sustainability but, as you know, I'm not sure I really know what makes a good marriage. I'm afraid I don't have a very healthy one at this point. But I do know he and I would be in a much better place if he were given to spontaneous displays of affection and consideration or if he was emotionally free, able and willing to communicate. I also know that being old enough to know what might make for a good partnership is key. Marrying too young is dangerous and naive. So there, how's that for a buzz kill. I'll come back with wisdom for your SIL if anything comes to me that isn't too depressing.

  3. Milena - In the end, a good marriage is about staying together and being able to listen when bad things happen. In those moments when you'd really rather turn and run, holding on to each other and pushing through it will make love last.

  4. "Marriage"- its the union of two souls for seven lifes - thats how we believe it being an Indian. I can just say though the younger generation is moving away from this belief, this still hold true in the larger part of Asia especially India.

    Thank you "Gypsy" for your comments on myk blog page. These comments are the fuel which drive my passion to put down my feelings using pen on paper.



  5. Melissa: I loved that you used the word saucy. Thanks for contributing to my SIL's advice pot. I much appreciate it. P.S. I can vouch for the laughing during sex advice. Something tells me that so can you.

    Cce: As regards the weighing in, I can infer from your words that your own relationship is in a difficult spot right now. Still, I do not believe for a minute that you do not know what it takes to make a successful partnership because no one with the kind of depth and insight you always evidence could know any less. As proof of this, you state not two seconds into your comment the kind of relationship malfunction all of us married people struggle with to one degree or another. What you are longing for right now is nothing out of the ordinary. You have every right to acknowledge its current lack and demand its necessity. Our better halves sometimes lose their way. Wish I could redirect yours Cce. As to the being young part, I guess it could be but it depends on the nature of the coupling. I have seen both ends of the spectrum on the age issue.

    Lastly, you are many wonderful things Cce and as yet, not one of the things I think you are comes remotely close to being a buzz kill. Your words are sobering and true. Thanks for reminding the SIL that a honeymoon does not last for ever.

    Victoria: My last sentence to Cce brings me directly to you. How utterly right you are in your own assessment of what it takes. I've always thought that the best friendships (and isn't a marriage mostly about the end friendship?) there has to be the proverbial trial by fire in order to see whether differences can be resolved. Pushing through is key to remaining friends. As you so aptly describe it, marriage is all about getting through the humps together. I can attest to that.

    Thanks guys. Without realizing it, you have so far provided a very circular take of married life. Laughter, conflict and resolution. I think my sister in law is all set so far.

  6. Sanzz, thank you for stopping by. I loved your Indian philosophy on marriage. Lord knows that on certain occasions it does seem like we are progressing from one married life state to another. Like Victoria said, it is all about the pushing through. Seven lives - two souls. I'll have to remember that one.

  7. You are a hoot - relying on the advice of strangers. How silly and how absolutely true for all of us.

    There is a problem with offering marital advice. It can come from only one of two kinds of people - those of us married and those who are not. The latter can easily be dismissed as having much useful to say, but those of us in the former category offer a dubious product as well. Some think that they have it all figured out and by their cluelessness render their advice suspect; more aware members of the married crowd realize that they have little figured out and are therefore humbled into a mute state. I'll show myself clueless and say this: marriage is the most custom of institutions and your SIL ought not to feel obligated to live out somebody else's marriage but she and her husband should instead negotiate, define, and celebrate their own idea of marriage. Just be warned though, this is coming from the guy whose life in six words is: as if I had a clue.

  8. Ron: If you only knew the kinds of confessions I've regaled total strangers with. Lack of partiality makes for a great sounding board. Happily, most of my strangers became friends. Agree completely with tailor making it to suit what those involved need. Ah... stop downplaying yourself. I know it is not false modesty on your part but you DO, have a clue.

  9. I saw recently an interview with a couple who had been married for 80 years or thereabouts. Their one piece of advice was : never go to bed angry. My advice is (as if I have the perfect marriage - ha!) : always think before you speak, disasters are made from thoughtless words. L


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