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 background 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!
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 year we’ll be celebrating thirty 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 come by when faced with the day to day realities of marriage. Honestly, is any woman blissful when picking up their One’s boxers from the bathroom floor? There have been many occasions in the past thirty 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.
Now, despite the Merry Murderesses reference, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. 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 not long ago, The One promptly tossed the pepper shaker into the trash, announcing, “I’m sick of this d*%@ 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 have 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 countertop items, including a few small appliances, nothing escaped the whirlwind of angry passion gripping The One and me. 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 we couldn’t fit anything more in the trash can. I glanced around at the damage, 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.
#3b: Add knowing when to utilize a cooling off period to the list. Sometimes getting away from your loving spouse is the only way to avoid doing time after all - with the added bonus of allowing you to regroup and come up with a workable plan for that subtle revenge I mentioned. 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 they 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 for thirty 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, 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 Meggy Calhoun, the heroine of her latest contemporary romance, The Billionaire’s Con.
Meggy Calhoun has too much on her plate to explore the shocking revelations in her birth mother’s letter. The success of Boston’s hottest new restaurant rests squarely on her shoulders, and her fascination with her hunky new tenant promises to take up all of her free time.
Trevor Bryce Christos would do anything to protect the woman who raised him; including seducing a beautiful con artist disguised as a chef, and bent on cashing in on his family’s wealth.
Under the microscope of small town interest, Meggy’s and Trevor’s opposing agendas soon have the townsfolk choosing sides, and betting on who will be the first to surrender the field, and their heart.