Sunday, March 20, 2011

Long marriage - how does that work?

Every year as we get ready to go away we think about our anniversary because we decided on our 20th anniversary to start going to the Cook Islands for a winter holiday. This year I've been especially aware because I will have had my married persona for as long as I had my non-married persona on our anniversary.
This year there have been some other things prompting the evaluation. A couple of wedding invitations, a post by PZ Myer's marriage being worth less than Newt Gingrich's in the eyes of US right wing mouth pieces, (Mr. G has a poor track record of sticking around-his previous wives should probably be happy euthanasia is illegal in the US) and comments on an review of Spousonomics by Canada AM. 
I really liked the idea of running your marriage like a small business because in the end, that's what a modern marriage is - a partnership that takes an effort to be successful. One of the key concepts identified is recognizing that there is a finite amount of time and everything takes time to do, too many tasks and something has to give. If that something is always the same person's personal time the partnership is unlikely to be as successful as it could be.
A long time ago I read an article about how to negotiate and I used it to redistribute household chores. Like most people I regard housekeeping as a necessary evil and, like most people find it profoundly unrewarding. Getting stuck with most of it wasn't working out. Because I'm a geek, I listed all the chores and assigned time and  frequency to each task with the view of equalizing the time. Then, and this is the important part, we sat down and listed which was  most important to us and which we really disliked doing.  Then chores were distributed evenly with no  one doing the stuff they really either dislike or don't care about. And I made a chart:)  By doing a lot of background, we got past the accusations of who does all the work (me).
Another mention from Spousenomics that resonated was the don't go to sleep angry idea. Keeping someone up to argue is about  winning. Who doesn't benefit from leaving a situation while conflicted. Think things over, identify the root point and talk when things have cooled down a bit.
So how do you have  long, content marriage? Treat the other member as a partner an recognize they have their own interests that may not be yours.