The romantic in me, who used to believe in the “…and they lived happily ever after” kind of love, has long retired to give way to the sensible, realistic and more mature me. I realized early on in my marriage that a fairytale romance is nothing more than fiction; it doesn’t exist in the real world. Because in the real world – our world –, the story does not end when Prince Charming saves the princess from the Wicked Stepmother, the Evil Queen, the Dark Fairy, the fire-spitting dragon or what have you, scoops her into his arms and, together, they ride off into the sunset.
In the pages of our own stories, we could be confronted with all kinds of challenges and tests and crises simultaneously strewn along our way. We could get burnt out and knocked down by a multitude of stress-inducing deadlines, heavy loads and pressures at work. We could get sidetracked from our goal of a successful relationship.
So, twenty years into our marriage, my husband and I are still on a constant search for ways to keep our relationship (and sanity) intact.
The following is our personal recipe to a more lasting and harmonious matrimony. Believe me, these could help you suppress that urge to strangle your partner in his sleep and could, thus, save you from a life behind bars!
- We take our wedding vows seriously. “I take you to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part.” I, for instance, hold his hand when he is suffering from a painful gouty attack. He holds mine when we are at the shopping mall — to prevent me from dashing to the nearest women’s boutique, no doubt!
- We accept each other’s imperfections. By doing so, we are able to make reasonable demands and expectations from each other and from our relationship. He knows that I have an allergy to detergents, so we both expect that his Friday nights are devoted solely to a date with our washing machine.
- We use terms of endearment. I call him Knee (my own version for the shortened “Honey”) and he calls me Ling. So, during a fight, I’d shout, “Shut up, Knee!” to which he would reply, “Don’t interrupt me while I’m still talking, Ling!” See, we still maintain a modicum of sweetness even during a fight.
- We treat one another as each other’s best buddies, and as such, I try not to murder him even when he drives me nuts. After all, since we intend to grow old together, I still have many years to come up with a perfect plan to execute that without having to suffer the criminal consequences. I am open to suggestions, though.
- We believe that a kiss a day keeps the doctors away. A flying kiss does not count, guys. Neither do “Tsup” nor “Mwah” at the end of your text messages!
- We don’t call our parents (or our aunts, our brods and sisses or our BFFs) when there’s trouble in paradise. We are tough enough to fight our own battles and mature enough to keep them from escalating into full-blown tribal wars.
- We don’t have any qualms showing our mushy side to the entire Facebook world. Take a look at my status update the other day. Eeeew!
- We don’t have any qualms showing our fangs, either. Bottling it all up is not good for one’s health, after all. But these occasions are just between the two of us, and not for the consumption of the social media. A little word of advice? Never EVER wash your dirty linens in public.
- But if we have to fight, we do so constructively. Moreover, we don’t go to bed with an unresolved issue between us. It’s either we have a pillow fight first or we don’t go to bed at all. (Sleeping on the floor is no fun, but if we have to come to that, well…)
- We do stuff together. After locking the kids in their rooms, my husband and I would watch our favorite TV show, share a bag of chips, or gossip about and make fun of someone on social media. If we have more time, we would walk around the ‘hood, have coffee at a nearby cafe, see a movie, or go to the supermarket – for some more chips!
- We stay connected with our respective families. Our kids need to see how we love and respect our elders so that when their turn comes, they’ll know what to do. Self-serving, you think? Of course, it is!
- We don’t count – each other’s mistakes, unaccomplished chores, shopping items hidden at the back of one’s closet, and the bumps and dents that miraculously appear in the car. We also try not to dig up the past. Digging could be extremely exhausting, don’t you think?
- We give each other gifts, particularly during special occasions. My husband knows that I love receiving chocolates, flowers, a bottle of my favorite perfume, AND matching bag and shoes. I know that he loves it when I write him a love letter!
- We don’t lose our senses – of humor, of adventure, of duty, and of that one sense that proves to be not so common, after all, the common sense.
- We learn from and grow with each other. He tells me what happens to him at work, the lessons he acquired from the training or workshop he just attended, or the traffic condition in EDSA. I share with him the new recipe I stumbled upon on the internet, the article I’m working on, the latest episode of my fave TV show, the new antics that Gatsby (our new puppy) is showing off, or the things I learned from stalking our kids online.
- We still lust after each other. Did you know that infrequency of lovemaking could inadvertently put a strain on your relationship? So, we regularly have to unleash that amorous beast and set our bed on fire!