Twenty Ways to Make Your Marriage Work

  1. Call him from work every day. It will hurt his feelings if you don’t. You should be thinking about him no matter how busy you are.
  2. Don’t cause extra work for him. For example, never tuck in the sheet at the foot of the bed. This causes him to have to untuck it with his feet at night. Don’t roll your eyes when he does this rigorously to prove the point. 
  3. Park the car with the wheels straight, the emergency brake on, and the seat set back to the position he drives in. If you forget to do this, don’t make excuses or question why the wheels have to be just so. Do it because it’s important to him.
  4. Don’t dilute the children’s juice with water like the pediatrician recommended. If you do, he will have to dump it out and refill the glasses. This is wasteful, and it’s insulting when you take someone else’s advice over his. Trust him. A pint glass of straight-up orange juice is the healthiest way for toddlers to start their days.
  5. When he spends money on martial arts classes, more student loans for an online graduate degree, or cosmetic repairs on his beloved car, agree that it’s a financial investment in your family’s future. But feel guilty every time you splurge on a Starbucks latte. He’s right: you’re the reason you can’t save money.
  6. Should you win a short story contest, understand that publishing the story under your maiden name is offensive. Don’t attempt to explain your rationale or celebrate your achievement. 
  7. Don’t expect him to want to go on date nights, vacations, or come along to family-friendly community events. It’s not his thing. But don’t nag him to find out what his thing is either. Give the guy a break.
  8. Leave the kitchen table pushed tight against the pantry closet. Yes, you will need to move it back and forth every time you need a pantry item, and you will often bang your head on the pendant light fixture no longer centered above the table. But he needs more room between the table and stairwell to comfortably make his way through when he comes home carrying his work or gym bags. Do it his way because you love him.
  9. Rearrange your work day to handle the logistics of getting your children to and from daycare and school. At the same time, keep leaning in and chasing promotions. After all, if your earning potential is currently higher than his, it’s only fair that you do your part.
  10. Spend your free time job hunting for him after he completes his degree. You have a master’s degree in library science or, as he says, a degree in “finding things.” It makes more sense for you to do it. But don’t send him any job openings outside his narrow set of criteria. In fact, keep your opinions on what might make a good bridge job to yourself. Don’t give him the impression you don’t believe in him. 
  11. Don’t try to engage him in a conversation about your hopes for the future. Your dreams for tomorrow are clearly a veiled attack on the life he’s working so hard to provide. Be grateful and content at all times.
  12. If you ask a mundane question and he snaps at you, it’s because your communication style sucks and is the root of your marital problems. Try a new one. Or just shut up. He doesn’t have a problem communicating with anyone but you.
  13. Tolerate that he will spank the children when he thinks it’s necessary. After all, he tolerates that you don’t spank them.
  14. When he is about to break something, keep your mouth shut. Like if he yanks on the automatic sliding door to your minivan to force it shut when it’s stuck, don’t warn him to stop. And once it’s broken off completely, whatever you do, don’t express anger. Be positive and supportive. 
  15. Should you need to write a eulogy for your grandmother’s funeral, don’t expect him to forego a nap to keep an eye on your toddler who is running amok in your parents’ non-childproofed home. Let him get some rest. You can write it later.
  16. Accept that the basset hound with special needs he insisted you take in will enrage him when she barks uncontrollably or has an accident. He has a right to be angry, especially after all that money you spent on her medical care. When you see your two-year-old kick the dog in anger while you’re nine months pregnant, take on the responsibility of fixing it. Find the dog a new home before the baby comes. For everyone’s sake. 
  17. Enjoy when he gropes at your crotch and lactating breasts at the end of a long day in front of the kids. This should be alluring and exciting. If it bothers you, just have sex with him more often. Problem solved.
  18. Find your own ride to and from the hospital when you need a procedure requiring general anesthesia to remove tissue from a rare type of miscarriage. When the procedure fails and you need chemotherapy for what is now a malignant tumor, don’t be selfish and opt to drive yourself 35 miles to go to the best specialist in the area for treatment. Surely there are competent oncologists and treatment centers closer by, which would require less time away from home and less help from others. 
  19. Whatever you do, don’t try to talk to him about how hurt you feel. Don’t direct any negative emotion at him. Better yet, don’t have negative emotions. Unless someone dies or is diagnosed with a serious disease. Then it’s ok. Let him comfort you. Then move on quickly.
  20. Don’t disagree with him in front of the kids, or his parents, or when no one else is around—especially when no one else is around.



Corinne Mahoney is a mom, writer, editor, and manager who spent years trying to escape the harsh winters of New England only to settle down in the exact same spot where she was born. Her writing has also appeared in the Molotov Cocktail and placed in Wow! Women on Writing’s flash fiction and creative nonfiction contests.