Chaney: You can stay married, too |

Chaney: You can stay married, too

JoAnn Chaney
Vail CO, Colorado

My husband and I will celebrate our six-year wedding anniversary soon. Six years really isn’t that long, but in this day and age, six years of marriage is practically a lifetime. Almost every couple that I’ve met over the past few years has ended up going down Divorce Road (which is about three miles north of Break-Up Avenue).

I once had someone ask me what I did to keep my own marriage happy and successful. First of all, I am not an expert on marriage. Secondly, anyone who thinks that my marriage is always happy and successful is obviously not a fly on my wall (and good for them, because I squash every fly I see.)

So in response to the question of how to keep your marriage afloat, I unveil my 11 tips for a healthy marriage:

– Communicate. And that does not mean pretending to listen to your spouse and nodding like a bobble-head while slyly attempting to catch a glimpse of the television. Or feigning sleep so you don’t have to listen to anymore nagging. And for goodness sake, get that glazed look off your face and wipe the drool from your chin! (Would someone mind giving a copy of this to my husband? I would appreciate it.)

– You must trust each other. I trust that my husband will put the toilet seat back down so I don’t take a late night dive, and he trusts that I won’t be slipping anything potentially deadly in to his dinner. I’m only kidding, of course. He always leaves the toilet seat up.

– Never go to bed angry at each other. There is nothing worse than just lying awake in bed and fighting the urge to smack your spouse upside the head. I suggest getting the smacking out of the way while the lights are still on. Plus, there’s nothing like a heated argument before bedtime to really sweeten your dreams.

– Give each other space. Everyone needs their own interest and friends. So get out of stalker mode and let your spouse go out without you once in a while. And stay on your own side of the bed ” it’s not just emotional space we all need, but physical as well. No sane person can sleep on three inches of mattress.

– You should have shared goals and dreams. For example, I dream that my husband might one day put all his dirty clothes in the laundry basket. My husband dreams that I might one day stop nagging him about his dirty clothes. Not a common dream, you say? Oh, but you have to do the math for it to make sense: My dream + my husband’s dream = a maid.

See? We can all share.

– Keep your finances under control. Money problems can break any marriage, so it’s best to plan out and stick to a budget. This might mean using the cash-envelope method, or just stealing the credit cards from your spouse and threatening to cut them all up if another dime is spent. Use whatever method works for you.

– Keep it fresh and surprising. Jewelry and flowers = good surprise. Handing the phone to your wife without letting her know that her evil mother-in-law is on the other end = bad surprise. (Again, can someone make sure that a copy of this gets to my husband?)

– Be considerate. Offer to get your spouse a refill at dinner so they won’t have to get up. Gag the children and let your spouse sleep in one quiet morning. Hold the door open for your spouse. (Heck, if no one at the post office will hold the door for me ” stroller and all ” at least my husband should be doing it!)

– Respect each other’s beliefs. No two people are alike, and you shouldn’t expect your spouse to believe and like everything that you do. My husband doesn’t like fish. I do. I respect his dislike of fish, so I never cook it for dinner. (Except for the time that I sat on his chest and forced a piece of salmon down his throat. To make a long story short, there was some projectile vomiting. So for your sake, and the sake of your clothing and furniture, respect your spouse’s beliefs.)

– Keep your sense of humor handy. Laugh together, there’s nothing better than a good chuckle to make anyone feel better. And even if you don’t find something funny, laugh anyway. At least, that’s what my husband does when he reads my writing.

Now that you know all the secrets to a happy marriage, go forth and steer clear of divorce! And somebody get me an award for being married so long! All right, maybe I don’t deserve an award ” just a cookie. Somebody get me a cookie.

JoAnn Chaney is an Edwards resident who writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily. She can be reached at Read her blog at

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