Long Married Dopers! Lend me your ear! (Or other long-termers)

So I’m 13 years into a relationship. Like many, we have issues, screw that, we have problems. We love each other very much, we have historically been a solid front even though we’ve been through a couple of our own private Katrinas lately.

Tell me your stories about how you were able to keep meeting each others needs effectively, how you coped with not getting your needs met, if you were able to resolve such problems. How were you able to break the vicious circles?

Help a doper out. I can’t believe I’m the only one.

If you don’t have problems in a marriage/relationship, then one of you ( not you, per se) is in denial.
Talk it out.
We like to carry out our terse pissing conflicts over the phone. That way I can’t see his ears becoming red at something I’ve done or said that is illogical to his very Black and White mind and he can’t see me roll my eyes until my optical nerve nearly snaps at his inability to comprehend that rules are merely Guidelines for wenches like me.

Or, you could do one of the strangest methods of partner communication I’ve heard heard about from my neighbor about their very good friends.

They pick up stuffed animals ( Opus the penguin is one of them, I forget the other one.) and argue through an alternate identity.

" Opus is not happy with how you have not helped out around the house."

“Well, Mr. Poofykitty has been working 90 hours a week and is too tired…”

“Opus has a job too…”

These people are both college grads.
It’s brilliant and insane at the same time.

Talk and trust. That’s what it boils down to. If you can’t bare your soul, expose your weaknesses, and be supported, and if you can’t support your SO for his bared soul and his weaknesses, then you don’t have the good strong relationship.

It’s you and him* against the world, and if you don’t have each other’s back, then you have nothing.

Now, if either one of you is dangerous and destructive, if abuse or adultery or addiction is a part of your relationship, all bets are off and you are not in a good strong relationship.

*I’m assuming it’s a him from your username. I’m also assuming you’re in a hetero relationship. If either one of those assumptions is wrong, my apologies, but my advice still stands.

We were strong. Time and apathy and 2 out of 3 of your list has taken its toll. We both want it back, we both want it better. We’ve never even uttered the words divorce. We don’t intend to. I know other people have survived, I want to know what they have done.

There’s no magic pill. If there is destructive behaviour, it has to stop. There has to be respect. The fact that

says a lot about your commitment. It will take time and work. But you both intend to put in the time and work, so you’re already on the right track.

Wife and I just passed the 17 year mark. In that time we have been through a rough pregnancy, child hospitalized (multiple times), fertility problems, six miscarriages, adopting our daughter, layoffs, major money issues, major medical problems (ongoing), insane family members (both sides), home repairs, house construction, moving, daughter being sexually assaulted, school problems, and so on. Through it all we always knew we could count on each other.
First and foremost, she is my best friend. I can talk with her about anything. We debate news items, talk about our dreams and fears, hold each other when we are hurting and hold each other up when we don’t think we can go on. Ying and yang, we complete each other.
I once told her that we are like a couple of drunks leaning on each other as they stagger down the road. Together, we can make it to wherever we are going, even if we are shaky. Apart, we would just fall on our faces.
We’ve argued over money, messy houses, the kids and god knows what else. But, at the end of it all, we probably have one of the most successful marriages out of anyone we know because we are friends first.

How do people with radically different ideas about managing money negotiate a successful LTR? I know this is an issue that often breaks up marriages, and I’m wondering how people deal with it. You’d think, sans adultery, abuse, or addiction, it’d be smooth sailing, but fights about money are murder. Hope this isn’t a hijack…

In our 27 years, trust and communication have been the keys. You have to believe that your spouse is smart enough and competent enough to do things right. It may not be the way you’d do them, but don’t get into correcting. Is the way your spouse does it, going to bring big trouble? If not, let it go.

Jealousy is a waste of time and pain. Strive to be as good a spouse as you know how, and try to improve on that standard; that’s the only way to keep your spouse from going astray. Accusations, suspicion, and restricting your spouse’s freedom will only create resentment and the desire to sneak out. Don’t you think Mrs. Peter was digging a hole in Peter Peter’s pumpkin? Just assume fidelity is happening, and don’t worry about it. If you turn out to be wrong, going into “jealous jerk” mode is not going to help.

If you aren’t a good cook, learn how. That stuff about “the shortest way to man’s heart is through his stomach” is true for women, too.

When something bugs you, talk about it. Calmly. State how it makes you feel. Allow for the possibility that your spouse is right.

Give appreciation for your spouse’s good points and successes.

Not long ago, at a wedding reception, I told the bride, “The easy part is over.”

For Ivylad and me, what saved us was separate accounts. I think I’m on his checking account for convenience, but I don’t use it and I don’t have access to it unless I go personally to the teller (no ATM card) which I might have done once to withdraw, and he knew about it.

We have separate credit cards, and the house bills just kind of evolved…I pay the mortgage, the cable, and the water bill. He pays the electricity, the car insurance, and the mortgage on the rental property. I pay the kids’ private school tuition, and he buys the groceries. I have the Sears card, he has the Lowe’s card.

It’s really cut down on fights, since I’m anal about balancing to the penny and he couldn’t care less. Also, if one of us wants to treat the family to a meal out or movies, there’s no “We can’t afford it!” because we’re each responsible for our own credit cards.

It took us awhile to get to this point, but when I moved back to FL for a new job he was about six months behind me (finishing up some classes) and I’d set up the household on my own. When he joined us he just took over some of the bills and we’ve been financially separate ever since. My paycheck goes into my account, his WC and Navy retirement pay goes into his account.

That’s not to say we don’t discuss the finances, and we do talk about major purchases. But if I want to splurge on knitting supplies, I don’t have to check the account to make sure he hasn’t splurged on DreamBlade figurines.

OK, I take back everything I just said. I just called her to ask a question and got my head bitten off. Yesterday while she took the kids to get their Christmas pictures taken, I cleaned the house. For six hours I picked up, did laundry, put it away, did dishes, touched up the paint in my son’s room (I painted it Friday) then removed the masking tape and put his furniture and belongings back into his room, cleaned the bathrooms and straightened my daughter’s walk in closet.
Just now she said, “I don’t know what the hell you did for six hours but…” and then went on a rant about what I fucked up. I couldn’t get into it with her because I’m sitting in my cube so I just told her I was sorry my efforts hadn’t met her standards and hung up.
AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!! :mad: :mad: :mad: I forgot the other part of surviving long term relationships: having to deal with the other person’s mood swings (especially since I know her period is due any day now). She’s going to be a miserable bitch and then she’ll apologize because she knows that it’s mostly the hormones talking and exaggerating her frustrations. But still…

My parents were married for 61 years.

Dad used to say the two most important words in a marriage were “Yes dear.”
But he said it with a smile! :slight_smile:

As others have said, you need to talk things through. My parents tried never to go to bed angry.
Make space for each other’s interests. Dad went to watch soccer matches while Mum played bridge.
They would each do their share of the chores, and sit down each month to balance the budget.
They supported each other, especially when times were hard financially or my sister was getting messily divorced.

Hope this helps.

Well, after 20 years into my relationship, unfortunately, I have no way to explain how we work it out. Basically we try to fight fair, we try to let bygones be bygones, and we try to prioritize what is really important, and what is just annoying.

We take our dogs for a walk every single morning. It takes about 45 minutes, and this is the time when we fight, chat, discuss, bitch, gossip, plan, and console. At 5:30 am there really isn’t anything else for us to do except talk to each other, and that is exactly what we do.

So talk. Not angry yelling, not confrontation, just talk. Talking to him reminds me why I fell in love with him in the fist place, and it makes me love him more all the time.

I’ve been with my wife for 16 years and counting. My only advice is that it’s sometimes best to just give in to the other person even if you’re convinced that you’re in the right. It’s usually not the end of the world, you release a lot of tension in the relationship and you bank some good will for the future. People always say marriage is about “compromise,” but it’s not really compromise so much as occassional unconditional surrender.

You also have to accept that there are some things about your spouse that you’re never going to be able to change. You either make the decision to take them as they are or you move on. Trying to change hardwired aspects of your partner’s personality will always end in failure and tears.

I do think there has to be a certain amount of basic, underlying compatibility. Eerie is right about the friendship thing. My wife is my best friend first and foremost and our marriage has always functioned organically to a large extent. We’ve never consciously put much “work” into it. We’ve just always gotten along very well with each other. We’re fundamentally suited for each other. I think that needs to be there.

You could be us. Keeping our finances separate has been very good for us. I don’t know what goes on in his checking account and I really don’t want to. In fact, I shudder at the thought. He’s a terrible money manager, while I budget down to the penny. We have arranged our bills so we each have some spending money each month and are always willing to give each other a bit of cash if needed. Honestly, I’m not altogether sure we’d be together right now if we shared an account. I couldn’t handle his money management or lack thereof.

As far as other things that have kept our relationship strong (together 12, married 6 years), I echo those who say friendship is the most important. Sex is important too but if that’s mostly what a relationship is based on, then I think it’s eventually going to fail. Just my opinion of course, but I believe there has to be more of a connection than that. You need to like each other and should want to do nice things for each other. Your spouse should be the person you can vent to, but not take things out on. I feel that there is nothing I can’t talk to my husband about. I don’t keep things from him and expect that he not keep things from me. Hobbies, both together and away from each other, are also important. I think it’s good to find hobbies that you enjoy doing together, but you don’t have to do everything together. You should both have other hobbies and friends to do them with. You also need to be aware that you and your spouse are changing as people constantly. My husband and I are definitely not the same people we were when we started dating (in high school!). We have had to adapt to each others’ constant evolution along the way.

Well, that was kind of rambly but I hope it gives you some food for thought, Auntbeast. I’m hoping for the best for you during these trying times.

You either separate, like ivylass, or you let whoever is better at the money take care of it all. My husband and I fall into the latter camp. His brain is too much on other stuff to worry about money, but I’m the details person. Attempts to show him the budget get a “just tell me how much cash I have this month for junk food” from him. He’s just not good keeping track; I doubt he even knows the total of his student loans so far (I sure do, though :eek: ). He lost his ATM card 3 times in one year before he just stopped carrying the damn thing. The last one the bank sent him is sitting in my wallet, PIN unknown.

Giving up that control (or conversely, taking up that responsibility) is certainly not for everyone, though. We always talk out big purchases (and both being students, sometimes even the small ones) before money is spent. I can see when we’re both done with school having some degree of separation, but we agreed early on in the relationship that we’d pool our funds. It’s just what works for us.

Married for 18 years, together for 20.

I agree with you that big failings are survivable - dh and I have both made huge mistakes. We’ve talked about the Big D (yelled, more accurately). What’s saved us, honestly, were ancillary issues that forced us to keep working on our marriage – for a while there it was our cat, whom we both adored. Then a lack of money. Now it’s the kids. Dh and I are both volatile and verbal, so at first we were learning to let things out constructively, to fight effectively; now we’re working on reining in our emotions and keeping a calmer home. But hey, that’s us.

You talk about addictions, adultery, not having needs met --> what’s with the big, gaping holes? Vast emptiness isn’t really about marriage, that’s a self issue. Is it a lack of self-love and acceptance? Unhealed wounds from childhood? A lack of faith? An excess of fear? I don’t really think any marriage can heal self issues (although living in a supportive environment can’t hurt). Hmmm, no…well, every relationship effects self issues, particularly at the start, but once you’ve been together for a while the parts that didn’t heal still fester. It’s not a sign that the marriage is necessarily failing, though; it’s just a problem that the marriage can’t fix.

I hope you have a chance to work on your selves separately. If you get lucky and find a good therapist, you’ll have a relationship where addiction issues properly ARE the focus (ideally, anyway). People sometimes think therapy is about finding answers; my sister (the psychologist) always says it’s about forming a relationship.

Married for 28 years, and knew each other for 6 before that.

First, it is helpful to have the absolute marriage killers spelled out in advance. For my wife it is physical abuse - not a problem, since it’s not something I’d even think of. I suspect spending a lot of money without consulting the other could be, but neither of us are built that way (and have rarely had an argument about money.)

It helped that we spent a lot of the first six years we knew each other hardly talking, until we decided that neither of us could stay away from the other for long, so we should get married. Knowing what not being together feels like makes it easier to stay together. I think it also helped that all our parents had long and happy marriages.

I think recognizing when one person is being horrible due to hormones or stress has helped a lot also. Even if it is just obnoxiousness, blaming it on external influences makes it easier to take for both of us.

But we’ve had it relatively easy. I hope we’d get through problems like you’re having, but we’ve managed to avoid them - and now we’re getting too old to have them.

One of the things that’s helped me is to remind myself that whatever it is I happen to want (for myself) at any particular moment in time is often not actually all that important, even not all that important to me, if I stop to examine it in the cold light of day.

Lots of good advice. I don’t have a long-term marriage (4 years and change), but it is a strong one, and it sounds like we’re doing a lot of things right.

Dr. Phil always says something about if you’re not getting your needs met, the place to start is meeting your spouse’s needs. I’ve thought about this, and he might be onto something. That would be a great way to break vicious circles; when you keep looking to get your own needs met, you both keep focusing on negatives - what you’re not getting, what your spouse isn’t doing, instead of focusing on a positive - what you can do to help your spouse. I’ve tried this with my husband, and I can’t believe how giving a little to him gets so much back for me.

Just out of curiosity, what did she say?