Saturday, July 17, 2010

Marriage advice from the Hungry Dog

Today I attended a bridal shower for my friend, Jen. It was a lovely affair, with Spanish food and plenty of sangria. To create a scrapbook for Jen before her big day, the hosts asked each guest to fill out a card that finished the sentence, "If I could give you one piece of advice about marriage, it would be..."

Well, that's a puzzler. People want different things out of marriage. Some want undying passion. Others might want a house and the promise of a comfortable life. Some just want the assurance that they won't be alone. Most of us want a combination of the three, with a bunch of other stuff thrown in. There's no formula for a happy marriage.

Plus, over time, things can change. You might live in different places, have lots of jobs, and welcome any number of children and pets into your lives. You may be tested by illness, infidelity, or financial woes. It's impossible to prepare for marriage, since marriage is just two lives tethered together as the days roll by. Who can know what the future will hold, or how either of you will embrace it?

The main piece of advice I can think of, which is both dumb and true, would be, Pick the right person. What I mean is, pick the person who is already who you want them to be. Don't marry someone that has any significant qualities you wish were different or that you hope will change. Newsflash, folks: people don't change much.

Of course, that's not useful advice by the time you're a few weeks out from the wedding. Presumably, you've gotten that part right. So for Jen's scrapbook, I settled on: Always remember what drew you to each other in the first place. The routine of life can wear away at love, but if you can continue to enjoy the qualities you initially found so charming in each other, you've got a good chance at a long and happy marriage.

I was reminded of a third one when considering a dinner I made last weekend.  I had rustled around in the fridge and unearthed a few ears of corn, some grape tomatoes, and a bunch of chives. The combination cried out for a risotto, its flavor deepened by shallots and a splash of white wine.

The risotto was delicious on its own, bursting with the flavors of summer. But the husband doesn't enjoy a big bowl of risotto, unless it happens to come studded with prawns or scallops or something else of the animal variety. So I decided to top it with a little bit of...

pork chop.

The husband was very pleased with the dinner, which in turn pleased me. And, as you know, I'm a fan of pork in all its forms, so it wasn't exactly a sacrifice. Except for the pig, I guess.

So, I guess my third piece of advice is: Do nice things for each other. Often. After all, you chose each other out of all the people in the world. Make it count.

What say you, readers? Any marriage advice to share with the masses?


  1. HD, You gave very sage advice. All that you said was true. The only thing I can think to add is, marry someone that you can continue to grow with.
    Someone who won't stand in your way when you want to try something new.

  2. Great advice, I can only add: say "I love you" everyday. By the way, that pork chop and risotto look really good, I need to stop reading food blogs first thing in the morning on an empty stomach!

  3. Your risotto looks amazing. As far as marriage, there will be tough times regardless of the marriage and I think you have to take the long view. Look through the current difficulty to the future which is likely based on that person that you married to begin with.

  4. This post totally made me smile. I agree with all of it, though if pressed, I might add something like "make time for each other." It's easy to get caught up with work, internet, hobbies, and whatnot. Make sure to spend some time together, just the two of you.

    We try to take at least one weekend a month where we make no plans, and just let the days take us where they will. We'll go out to dinner, or not. We'll go to a museum, or walk around in the sunshine, or spend all day holed up watching sitcoms and playing Wii. I'm smiling just thinking about it.

  5. I often tell my sons that their relationship should enhance the quality of their lives. If it does not, get out. There is not enough love to make that work. A relationship should feel good even in rough times.

    Loved your post but, then I always do-

  6. those are thoughtful and useful pieces of advice! in fact, i'm gonna swipe them and claim them as my own so people will think i know a thing or two. :) wonderful post, as usual.

  7. Lovely, lovely words Hungry Dog. I'd add : make time to talk, and listen properly to each other every day. If you can talk freely about anything, and I mean anything, then you'll probably be ok.

    The pork chop risotto combo looks awesome, sounds like everyone won, except the pig.

  8. Wonderful advice. I think mine would be: don't try and compete with each other. I find that that always leads to problems. Husband/wives need to be friends, not competitors.
    *kisses* HH

  9. Pam: You are absolutely right.

    Connie: I often have the same thought about reading food blogs too early. I find myself thinking of ribs and ice cream at about 9am!

    agrigirl: Yep, the long view.

    camille: definitely. Your marriage canNoT be made up of errands and busywork. YOu have to make time to do fun, and new, things together! Your weekend ideas sound perfect to me.

    Velva: You are giving your sons wise advice indeed. Thanks for the compliment! :)

    grace: thanks. And, I'm sure I stole these tidbits from someone else at some point in time!

    shaz: Thank you. Communication is certainly key--I'm sure it can save a marriage!

    HH: Interesting, and true!

  10. I'm smiling at the thought of topping a fabulous risotto dish with a pork chop. It really struck my funny bone.

    As far as marriage is concerned, it's hard work. No matter what. And if you're not willing to work hard at it, don't do it.

  11. My friends created something similar for my bridal shower. I keep it on my bookcase now and treasure it. It is so adorable and full of both hilarious and sage advice.

  12. Barbara: Glad you liked the pork chop bit :)

    CJ: It's a sweet thing to do for a friend...I'm glad I contributed to it for my friend Jen!

  13. I loved this post! And yes, I am always always adding "substance" to my seemingly vegetarian meals to appease my husband. :)

  14. Yay for this post! I wish I had all this amazing advice posted above when I had to fill out my own card for Jen. Alas. The upside is that I can now squire it away for myself, when I need a few bits of advice.

  15. HD, lovely post. I remember when I was engaged I asked all my friends for advice. Most of it included the word 'patient'. But the one thing that stood out for me is something I still think of from time to time:

    Always remember that it's the rough edges that make a diamond sparkle. Sometimes when you rub up against them they irritate, and you're tempted to 'polish' them. DON'T. Let them sparkle.

  16. Tiny: well a little pork chop never hurt anyone, right?

    Ash: I love all the advice the readers have posted--I'm definitely stealing some of it for future reference!

    Kate: That is a beautiful sentiment. I'm keeping that one close at hand! :)

  17. Marry someone who makes you laugh every day. Even on bad days, he will slip an inside joke or phrase in and we laugh.