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.
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.
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.