Life. Simplified. column: The secrets of marital bliss
If you’re looking for the secret to marital bliss, here it is: Put stuff away and clean up your messes. Honor your promises. Schedule intimacy at least a couple of times every week. Share the load. Pick your battles. Try to be kind, generous, patient and forgiving. Take turns preparing deliciously nutritious meals, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, picking up dog poop, and getting the kids to bed. Smile more. Yell less. Save more. Buy less. Listen more. Say less. Agree to disagree. And celebrate — as often as possible. Show up. Every day. That’s it — that’s the whole show.
In my family, we’ve agreed on three additional non-negotiables: 1) no hitting, 2) no cheating, and 3) no saying “eff-you” when you’re angry. For my wife and me, that third one is the verbal equivalent of the first two. In our home, it’s simply the most disrespectful thing you can say, so we’ve made it off-limits. We’re lovers, not siblings — and there’s a reverence we’d like to honor in each other, and model for our daughter, who we hope will grow up with enough self-respect to choose a partner that honors whatever’s most important to her.
My wife and I celebrated eight years this week; a full decade if you count the fun stuff before the wedding. We’re not running for couple of the year, and we understand there are tough times ahead — but we think we’ve got this whole marriage thing. In a word, we’re partners. We do what we can with whatever we’ve got, and try to make the best of every situation. We don’t always agree on how to get stuff done. So we take turns and talk through objections with as much understanding and compassion as we can muster. We’re not perfect, and sometimes it gets ugly.
I’ll admit, sometimes we joke about hitting each other with the car, and we’ve certainly gone to bed angry — but I could probably count those nights on one hand. Alright, maybe two. But every morning is a new day; a new chance to wake up, make up and get on with it. Life’s too short to hold a grudge; besides we’re both far too lazy. We understand we simply couldn’t do it without the other — at least it wouldn’t be any fun. So, we look for opportunities to keep it light, shake things up, keep it fresh and play. When things get heavy, we call it out, talk it over, and work it through by nurturing our common ground.
If there’s one thing I admire, it’s a family that commits to working things out with heart. Helene Taylor, a California family law attorney, recently reached out to me to learn more about the impact clutter has on relationships. Helene’s innovative heart-centered approach to resolving couples-in-conflict actually helps good people navigate the complex dynamic where love and the law collide. When couples are racing in opposite directions, she’s bringing them back to the table — helping them work things out. When irreconcilable differences rule the day, her radical approach guides individuals through the process of separation and divorce with compassion and dignity. Yes, she’s a renowned divorce coach, but her professional emphasis is on honoring love, compassion and peaceful transitions. You can learn more about Helene’s unique approach at www.HeleneLTaylor.com.
Sure, life gets messy; but what matters most is the strength of my relationship with my wife — and that requires following through with heart and integrity. In my wedding vows, I promised, “If love is what you do, and not what you say or how you feel, then to you, my love, I pledge my life.” In response to popular demand, I recently wrote an 80-page ebook titled “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex and Relationships that Last.” Downloaded several hundred times since last November, it’s a pocket guide outlining my six steps to decluttering relationships between lovers — and still available for free on my website.
Wishing you epic love, clutter-busting bliss, but above all — joy.
Evan Zislis is author of the bestselling book “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World” and “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex & Relationships that Last.” He is founder and principal consultant of www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com. For more information, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970-366-2532, or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.