So as of today my husband and I have been married for seven years. Seven years!

In that time we have attended three weddings, two funerals, conceived and bore a son and a daughter, went back to college, changed careers, moved 450 miles, gone from 60 cent packets of Top Ramen to $2.62lb tomatoes, bought 10 computers (no lie), loaded Linux on 2 of them, broke a car, bought a new one... (note for next time: listing anything over three years worth of activities is not a practical endeavor).

Well anyhow, I thought as my anniversarry gift to you, gentle noder, I will impart to you my advice for a nifty and long marriage (well at least you'll make it seven years).

1. Be Polite
Are you reserving Please, Thank you and Excuse me for special occasions? Are you On Your Best Behavior when you go out? Why is your very best behavior reserved for strangers? The person you love most in the world deserves the best of everything - including you!
"But facty" you might exclaim, "I need to relax in my own house! I don't want to think about my language and manners all the time."
My answer to you is this: the more polite you are every day, the less you have to work at it. If you start using The Power of Politeness today, in a few weeks you will find it effortless.

2. Learn to Resolve Four Conflict Types
Squabble - This is a conflict over nothing. You both KNOW you are right about who directed more episodes of The Facts of Life than any other director (Asaad Kelada) but who will give up first? Believe it or not this stuff ruins marriages - not for the squabble itself, but the behavior of the parties involved. Be graceful and drop it. "You are probably right". Never bring it up again.
Discussion - This matters. Which car are you going to buy, the station wagon or the sports coupe? Public school for the children or private? This is resolved by staying civil and sometimes sleeping on it (by the way all that never go to bed angry stuff is 70s sit-com crap - sometimes a good night's sleep is just what you need to make difficult decisions).
Argument - Argue! It's ok really! the rules are: Stay polite about it. When you hear the same stuff being said over and over take a time out. Say what is important to you. Be emotional but don't get carried away. Find the compromise.
Fight - Take a break and cool down. Seek opinions from trusted friends. Let it simmer until it's just an agument and take it from there.

3. Follow the Rules
Every marriage has rules set out in the beginning - sometimes they are in the actual wedding vows! We follow the traditional Western Marriage Model: the two things that would end our current marriage are cheating and physical abuse. I understand there are swingers and S&M people who might have differing rules - but they will follow them for a happy marriage.

4. Don't Have Kids Right Away
Enjoy each other for a few years - be a couple. Everything changes when a couple becomes a family. If you have kids right away you will have to wait at least 18-20 years to be lovers alone. (People have kids right away often have wonderfull 50+ year marriages, but I treasure the time I spent with my husband after boyfriend before father, so I included this)

5. Find the Excellent, Ignore the Awful
If you marry a human being there will be stuff you delight in and stuff you loathe about them. She chews too loud? He wont put down the Linux and come to bed? Bah! She is lovely and fun! He is a hero!
Sometimes this takes more work than being polite - that is the ebb and flow of love and the world. Worth it. Seven Years!

I tried to report it.

Afterward - I buzzed off my hair
so I would be harder to catch

I burned myself with cigarettes
which never left scars.

Instead, on the bridge of my wrist
there is a pucker of tissue

Where I burned myself on accident
Pulling food out of the oven
for a man.

I walked with an open knife
Up my sleeve

Once, it saved me from
A man in a white pick-up truck

I snarled,

“Stay the Fuck away from me.”
And gathered the knife in my fist.

He backed off immediately
Because he could see
How I could just kill a man.

I didn’t know it then,
But the sexual assault
that left me disabled,
was merely The Middle.

The end came yesterday,
when I realized I wasn’t afraid
all the time, anymore.

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