Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Happily Ever After List by Mackenzie Crowne

As a young woman, I stood before the mirror in my childhood bedroom, admiring my oh-so-cool leg warmers and putting the finishing touches on my “big” hair. That brand new phenomenon, MTV, blared in the living room while I primped for nights on the town with my girlfriends, giddy at the idea of spending the night dancing like it was 1999. Ah, the music, the excitement…the boys! The possibility of that night being the night I would finally meet The One and live happily ever after! 

Mac & The One then...
But alas, time passes quickly. Mom jeans have replaced the leg warmers, and the hair, which is not so big anymore, would be liberally streaked with gray - if I didn’t beat it into submission once a month with a box of Nice-’n-Easy. As for happily ever after, yeah, I still believe in the concept. After all, I did eventually meet The One, and this Saturday we’ll be celebrating thirty-three years of wedded bliss.

Hah! Chances are those of you who have been married longer than the length of the honeymoon are raising an eyebrow at the word bliss, because let’s face it, bliss is hard to maintain when faced with the day-to-day realities of marriage. Honestly, is any woman blissful when picking up their One’s briefs from the bathroom floor? Or wiping his toothpaste splatter from the mirror? Yuck.

There have been many occasions in the past thirty-three years when I looked at The One and imagined myself as one of the Merry Murderesses from Broadway’s Chicago, declaring He ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times!

Yeah, I know. I’m weird. But I’m a writer. I can’t help imagining delicious scenarios I can never follow through on - unless I’m willing to do time. And if you’ve been married as long as The One and I have, admit it. You’ve imagined some of those scenarios yourself. So, what’s the secret to a successful marriage and happily ever after? There’s the popular list: Respect, give and take, communication, and commitment - but I have my own list. 

1. Know when to stand your ground.
2. Maintain your sense of humor.
And…
3. Develop the art of subtle revenge.

Mac & The One years later...

Okay, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Despite the Merry Murderesses reference, The One and I rarely disagree, much less fight. The One claims this is because we’re friends as well as lovers. I attribute the usual peacefulness of our relationship to my aversion to conflict. I hate fighting and avoid it whenever possible. But, The One is a guy, which means he occasionally does something so ridiculous, it simply can’t be ignored. When that happens, I survive the explosive fall out by sticking to my list. 

Case in point:

After accidentally dousing his sandwich with a heaping pile of pepper several years ago, The One promptly tossed the pepper shaker into the trash, announcing, “I’m sick of this f*%@ing thing!” 

Seriously, he threw away the pepper shaker. Who throws away a pepper shaker? I mean, come on. It’s an innocent, inanimate object. If you’re having a problem with it, it’s a pretty sure bet the trouble is user error. Besides, it’s part of a set!

#1: Know when to stand your ground.

“Well then,” I responded. “We don’t need this!”

Into the trash can went the salt shaker. Take that, buddy! I swear, his hair stood on end. He pinned me with narrowed eyes as he grabbed the first thing within reach. The tea kettle joined the innocent salt and pepper shakers in their absurd fate.

And, hello. Game on!

Dirty dishes and clean ones, silverware and counter top items, including a few small appliances, nothing escaped the whirlwind of angry passion gripping the blissfully married adversaries in our kitchen. Five minutes later, with a fine cloud of flour hanging in the air, sanity suddenly grabbed hold of me. Okay, the truth is, I came to my senses when I couldn’t fit anything more in the trash can.

#2: Maintain your sense of humor.

I glanced around at the carnage, but there was no way I could apply #2 at that moment. I was too ticked off. The man threw away a two-hundred-dollar blender, for heaven’s sake, and my kitchen looked like it had been ransacked! Because it had.

(I need to add an addendum to the list here: #2b: Know when to utilize a cooling off period.)

Sometimes getting away from your loving spouse is the only way to avoid doing time - with the added bonus of allowing you to regroup and come up with a workable plan for #3: Develop the art of subtle revenge.

I promptly went for a drive.

While I have my list, The One has his own. It consists of only two items. He believes in the power of persistence, and if that doesn’t work, he turns immediately to his own form of bribery. He’s such a guy. But I have to admit, he’s got skills when it comes to the suck-up gift - and he knows when to bring in reinforcements. The next morning, he enlisted our teenage boys in his ploy to charm me out of my mad. They disappeared for an hour and returned with a tiger striped kitten he claimed to have found foraging for food in a downtown parking lot.

Talk about a double whammy! I was toast and he knew it. But I ask you, how is a woman supposed to stay mad under those circumstances? It would take a much harder woman than me, that’s for sure. As we shared our morning coffee, his suck up gift lay curled up asleep in my lap.

“What are you going to name her?” he asked, looking far too smug for my liking.

I haven’t lived with the man all these years without knowing how to nip that kind of thing in the bud. I scratched at the kitten’s soft chin, smiled sweetly, and replied, “Pepper, of course.”

Oh, please. You didn’t think I was going to forget #2 and #3, did you?  

So here’s my happily ever after advice. Stand your ground. A good man loves a woman who knows her mind. Laugh with him as much as possible. It’s impossible to hold a grudge when you’re giggling. And learn the art of subtle revenge. You might just get a kitten out of it.


When Mac isn’t busy working on her own happily ever after, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like Gracie Gable, the heroine of To Win Her Love, book #1 of the Players series – on #SALE for $0.99 through this weekend in all formats at KensingtonBooks.


To win the game, they’ll have to risk losing their hearts…
When a bizarre child custody stipulation pits popular sports blogger Gracie Gable against football superstar Jake Malone, losing the battle for her twin nieces isn't the only thing Gracie has to worry about. Forced to live for three months under the same roof as the sexy tight end, will she fall prey to his flirtatious pursuit? Or worse, will the skeletons in her closet destroy her chance for the love and family she so desperately wants?
Neglected by his parents as a boy, Jake doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Yet living with Gracie and the twins might be enough to change his mind—and his womanizing ways. But when the press unearths a scandal from Gracie’s past, will he lose the one woman he was ready to open his heart to?

For more information on Mac's Players series, as well as her other titles, visit her at mackenziecrowne.com, Twitter or Facebook.







20 comments:

Leah St. James said...

Great post, Mac! I love the story of the tossing-out frenzy! And it all started with a little too much pepper. :-) I have been married a few years longer to my ONE, so I know well the challenges of keeping it together. Your list should be a must-read for every marrying couple! Happy anniversary to you and The One. Wishing you many more years of happiness.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Happy anniversary. My One and I are approaching the half century mark. Yes, I was a child bride! ;-) Love your list, the toss out story, and the blurb. Best of luck there too. Pepper is adorable.

Juli D. Revezzo said...

Your sweetie's anger at the pepper's a great story. Hubby and I would be giggling after the salt went into the trash! From a gal at the 23 year mark, I can tell you keeping a sense of humor, even in the midst of a tussle, is a good piece of advice. Don't fight with each other much, I say, fight *together*. ;)

Jannine Gallant said...

This cracked me up! Mine does stupid crap like that, too. (The throwing away the pepper shaker move.) Don't they all? I will say he never holds a grudge. We can be mad in the morning, and he won't even remember there was an argument going on when he gets home from work. Oh to have such a selective memory! Happy anniversary, Mac!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Good read to start my morning. Having just passed the 48 year mark, I can relate. We've had some similar standoffs. Your book sounds like fun too!

Vonnie Davis said...

Calvin's personality is so different. He'd never throw away anything that cost money unless it was my collection of shoes. I only have one pair of feet, after all. Why do I need six pair of red shoes, etc.? I loved your story. I can see it happening. LOL But, hey, you got a kitty out of it.

Alison Henderson said...

Happy anniversary, Mac! OG and I celebrated our 33rd last month. I, too, am conflict-averse, but that's only one reason we never actually argue. Someone, who will remain nameless but isn't me, is completely unable to tolerate opposition of any kind when he's in a state. I have learned to wait him out with my zen-like calm. It may drive him crazy at the time, but tough bananas.

Leah St. James said...

Alison, I think your OG and mine might be brothers separated at birth. -)

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Thanks, Leah and Margo. Congrats on your longevity in the marriage mart. I love hearing about people who have stood the test of time. It's blows away the current belief that a lasting relationship is a myth. Go you!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

LOL Juli. So wise. Laughing together is completely different than laughing at someone and the key to remaining friends.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Thanks, Jannine and yeah. My "One" isn't one to hold a grudge and neither am I. Grudges require way too much energy. My hubs can make me nuts with his Roman candle temper, but he always apologizes for flying off the handle. I think the ability to move on from a stupid argument is a key to a lasting relationship.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Wow! 48 years, Brenda? That's just impossible. You are way to young looking for that to be anything other than a flat out lie!

Diane Burton said...

Keeping a sense of humor and knowing which mountain to die on has kept Hubs and me together for almost 44 years. We haven't had very many mountains. One time he'd taken a job in Chicago and I didn't want to move from Michigan. I'd be leaving my college-age kids behind. (They decided they weren't going with us.) I griped and bitched and made his life miserable. Finally, he offered to get an apartment in Chicago and come home on weekends. My 1st response was "that's not acceptable." We worked things out from there. I went to Chicago because he was willing to compromise.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

LOL Vonnie. You know I love Cal, and I can totally see him smirking over your shoes. For me it's purses...and kittens.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Alison, you have learned the secret to a peaceful marriage, if not life. A woman who understands the psyche of a man, will rule her reality and his as well. Your hubs sounds like a twin to mine. Seriously, the reason we don't fight often is because I don't fight back. I could, but since I hate conflict, I pick my battles. When we do fight, it's because I act out of character and get in his face. That usually shocks the hell out of him which gives me the advantage...and I end up with cute kittens. :-)

Brenda Whiteside said...

I'd like to say I'm from the Ozarks, Mac, and I was a twelve year old child bride, but no. I think I photograph younger. LOL

Rolynn Anderson said...

Mac, sorry I'm late responding, but I had a golf course to subdue today. July marks my 45th anniversary, which shocks the hell out of me. How did that happen? The thing about not holding a grudge...and forgetting what the mad was about...seems to be a male trait. It's good and it's bad. I like to fester like you do (taking a drive works...going for a walk, etc.) Really, what's the use of getting mad if you can't hang on to it for a while? Happy Anniversary to you and One!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Lol whatever works, babe. Claim it!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Lol yeah, on those rare occasions when I do respond, I like to hold on to it for a bit and get a suck-up gift before I give in. :-)

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Wow Diane, that's a tough one, but it sounds like you managed the compromise to a working result. Go you!