First of all… you have to know what you’re getting into. This is more than just a roommate, more than just a booty call. This is a partnership, one that in other times and on other parts of the planet is intended to last a lifetime.

Consequently… it requires a certain amount of working space, and certain essential ingredients.

  1. Love

If you were planning a lifelong thing, then love is kind of a prerequisite. It’s one of the few things we can count on to keep us from plotting murder when we REALLY get on each other’s nerves, which WILL HAPPEN at some point or another. It will. Really. Show me a couple who claims to love, love, love each other, every minute of every day, and I will show you a news clipping or video byte where the neighbors are weeping and talking to the news people as the house burns in the background, saying stuff like, “They were so quiet,” and “They loved each other so much, I can’t believe one of them finally nutted out and killed the whole family like that.”

Y’see, actual human beings don’t work like that. We are a combination, here, part mystic spiritual/psychic/intellectual essence that can handle E=MC2 and the Nature Of God, and higher philosophy and greater mathematics…

…and part monkey. Not just any monkey, but a certain hair-deprived, smelly, sweat-stained, remarkably EARTHY kind of monkey.

And certain monkeys lose their &%$#@ MINDS when you leave the toilet seat up once too often. Or don’t put the pliers back on the pegboard. Or leave that empty milk glass out long enough to get the crust in the bottom. Or don’t oil the chainsaw before you put it back in the case.

You know?

LOVE will not put a stake through that monkey’s heart. YOU are that monkey, and so is your loved one, and JUST BECAUSE YOU WOKE UP ONE DAY AND REALIZED IT… does NOT mean you are no longer in love.

Love is what makes you wanna stick WITH that monkey, even though he swore he’d clean the toilet and then forgot to. Five times running, now.

Love is not indestructible. It can be erased. It can be eliminated. It can simply… die. Usually of neglect. KEEPING that love up and functional and operational is possible, of course. It’s also frankly kinda necessary, if you expect “marriage” to be more than a transitory state you find yourself in occasionally with a string of different people. The trick is that YOU have to realize it… and your PARTNER has to realize it… and you BOTH get to WORK at keeping it going, all the days of your lives.

Sometimes this is easy, especially when you’re both fresh out of the shower, and the bank account is full of money, and the kids are out of the house, and my GHOD, don’t you smell GOOD…

…and other times, it is more difficult. It is those difficult times that require the most effort.

But this one thing is so important, I’m gonna say it again. YOU BOTH must realize the necessity of KEEPING love alive… and you BOTH must work at it. You BOTH get to work at delighting one another, loving one another, and occasionally leaving one another the hell alone to have some space. If you both realize it, and agree on it, and communicate about it…

…no, you’re not done. But you do get to move on to the next level.

  1. TRUST

Gotta have it. Without it, you’re doomed as a couple/partnership/whatever.

Y’see, when the bank account is full and life is good, trust comes naturally. When you’re fresh and new and in love and the Pink Cloud is in full force, trust simply isn’t an issue. Where else would you rather be than in your beloved’s arms? NOT a problem!

…but life ain’t like that. Life operates in cycles, in rhythms. Sometimes it sucks, and sometimes it blows, so to speak. When life is peachy… well… all that really means is that you both have to work very little at keeping your marriage healthy and your love alive. Hell, it’s EASY to be loving and supportive and happy when all’s well!

…and if YOUR life is always peachy… well, then, it’s been a better life than mine.

Trust is when your loved one has been out considerably later than you thought would be the case, and your loved one has been talking about this person of the opposite sex they met at work… and you can ignore that part of your mind that’s screaming CHEATING! at you. Well, maybe not ignore, but not believe. Much.

It’s okay to be a little insecure. Goes with being a monkey, really.

…but trust should be earned. One’s partner should be WORTHY of trust, and not abuse it. A partner that requires too MUCH trust… well… that’s a person who, sooner or later, will find himself understocked on the stuff. You shouldn’t NEED your partner to trust you TOO much… and vice versa. Keep your trust supply well-stocked, for when you DO need it. Again, this is something BOTH partners should understand, agree with, and WORK at.

  1. SEX

Well, you knew we were getting here. First, a few facts, just to nail down a baseline:

(a) Men peak, sexually, around age eighteen, and begin to drop off gradually, and then sharply, as they enter their thirties.
(b) Women, on the other hand, don’t really peak sexually until their late twenties to mid-thirties.
©This means that men can screw like wild animals, all night, as teenagers, which is precisely the time they should NOT be doing so, whereas women are becoming totally sexual creatures about the time the men are discovering they have a favorite chair.
(d) This is considered proof positive, by some theorists, that life is NO goddamn fair.

But we digress. The only point that can really be made about sex is that in the early points of any sexual relationship, there will be a lot of sex. Gradually, the amount of sex will drop off. Eventually, it will end, usually with the breakup of the relationship or the death of one of the participants.

Yeah, well, you knew that.

In addition, there will be times when one partner wants sex that the other does not. Traditionally, the guy is the one wanting sex and the woman not, until we cross that particular point mentioned above, where the two sides flipflop, and it’s the WOMAN who’s hot to trot all the time.

…and it’s amazing how many people think this is the other partner’s fault. There is a great tendency, sexually, to want to blame the other participant when things are not going as one wishes, either in the amount of sex happening, or in the quality of that sex.

This brings us to the fourth point.


In short, TALK about it.

And the flip side of this: LISTEN TO YOUR PARTNER.

And you have to do BOTH. Whether you want to or not. And you have to do it when your partner NEEDS you to do it, not when you’re really capable of it.

This is where marriage can really get shitty. You can tell your partner to go take a goddamn hike if you don’t want to have sex right now… but if your partner needs to talk, and you don’t want to listen right now, you are playing with fire, bud, while standing up to your kneecaps in dynamite. You are taking BAD chances with the future of your marriage, and you need to get OVER yourself, right now.

Note also that the reverse is also true. When YOU NEED TO TALK, then your partner NEEDS to drop everything and PERK UP THOSE EARS, and listen.

For some reason, the inability of a great many people to do this leads to nasty-ass fights in the course of a marriage. It’s worth noting, however, that when the “making up” part involves lots of affection and/or sex, then the fight wasn’t really a FIGHT so much as simply a demand for attention, recognition… and a good “listening to,” session. One should also be very aware of when one might be wrong, and be ready to admit that, and so on, and so on.

It’s better, though, if the “listening” session can take place without the fight. Admittedly, sometimes fights are GOOD – blowing off steam, and tension, and all that – but sometimes things get said that can’t be unsaid later. One should be aware of this, and stay clear of that tendency, and deal with it in a more workable fashion. Like, say, talking and listening, as opposed to calling each other “whore” and “junkie bastard” and flinging priceless family heirlooms at each other’s heads.

Which brings us, finally, to the key at the heart of it all.

I knew a woman once, who had a perfect marriage.

Her husband was basically in charge of everything except household matters. She deferred to his judgment and will in ALL things. If he said it, then it must be right. There were no arguments, because there was nothing to argue ABOUT, because how can you argue with someone if he’s always right?

In short, the marriage worked because she was completely and totally subordinate to him. Only the things that HE wanted mattered.

Things were great until she found out, after their children were grown, that he was sneakin’ down to the Boom-Boom Room and playin’ hide the salami with a twenty-year-old topless dancer there.

At that point, she realized that she wasn’t happy, and hadn’t really been happy for some thirty years. HE was doing just fine, obviously. He got his needs met. He was heard, listened to, respected. He was peachy.

She wasn’t, and after filing for divorce and cleaning him out, she wasn’t much happier, but had learned a valuable lesson: Subordination in marriage works great, but it has to be mutual.

It’s actually fairly simple, although it sounds complicated.

You both type out copies of the following document. You read it aloud to each other. Then you sign each others’ copies, and stick 'em in a safety deposit box, like a contract…

…and then you spend the rest of your lives living up to those contracts.


I, ____________________, hereby declare my total slavish subordination to the will and happiness of my beloved _____________________. I do so of my own free will, because I know that my beloved ___________________ will hear me, listen to me, care for me, love me, and do everything they can in the pursuit of my happiness.


You know what? If you both take it seriously… and you both really work at living up to it… and you both communicate about it, both the easy and fun parts and the hard or sticky parts…

…it works.

Anything to add, anyone? Or contest?

Reminds me of an story I heard once.

A man goes to a therapist, and says ‘I don’t love my wife any more. What should I do?’

The therapist responds: ‘Go home and love your wife.’

He says, ‘No, you don’t understand- I don’t love her any more.’

And the therapist replies ‘I heard you just fine. now go home, and love your wife. Everything will be fine once you understand that.’

The point? Love is a behavior, not just a feeling. Words don’t mean anything uless they are backed up by actions. And as long as you and your partner do love each other, all will be well.

Mrs. Wang-Ka’s standing right over your shoulder, isn’t she?:wink:

Seriously, very nicely done. I will show this to my wife when I get home. She will agree, I’m sure.

Actually, no. I hammered all this out with Mrs. Ka years ago. This was a response to an odd conversation I had with a female classmate over lunch, who’s having some trouble with her new marriage… so I decided to organize my thoughts and rant a little, all at the same time…

That was absolutely beautiful…and so true. Not married myself, but will be attending a sprinkling of nuptial functions in the very near future. Many of the happy couples have been asking guests to bring advice or written anecdotes. I wholeheartedly concur with your vision of marriage and feel it would be a nice thing to share. Mind if I print and give*?

*Attributed to the ever-articulate Wang-ka of course.

I’m not sure if this would fall under your “Love” section, or if another section called “Like” needs to be added, but my husband and I follow the simple rule of being nice to each other. We feel that basic politeness is essential to a good marriage - just because we’re married, doesn’t mean we can slack off on common courtesy.
For example, I’d never tell him to “Shut up” or speak rudely to him. I wouldn’t talk that way to someone I’m barely acquainted with, why would I speak to him that way? If he sees I need help, he helps me. If he’s getting a cup of tea, he offers to make me one, etc., etc.

I really think this is one of the most important parts of marriage (added, of course, to the love/sex/trust/communication parts).

On your subordination thing, when we said our vows, we both promised to “love, honor and obey” (despite his buddies’ teasing). I was inspired by my first real boyfriend, whom I dated when I was 17. We were chatting away one night and he said,“When I get married, I want my wife to wait on me hand and foot…and I’m going to wait on her hand and foot, too.”
I thought that was an astoundingly perceptive thing for a 17 boy to say (then and now). I’ve always remembered that and tried to live up to my end of that with my husband. (Thanks, Jeff!)

Very well written. I agree with everything, including C3’s comment that “like” or what I would call common courtesy does not go by the way side.

Quite so. Can’t believe I didn’t think about that. I’ve known more than a few couples who, when the pink cloud wore off, realized that they did NOT particularly like each other.

You don’t have to be friends to have sex, but you do have to be friends to make a marriage work.

And if you wanna print it out, go for it. That was why I wrote it in the first place.

Well said. After two marriages on his side, and one one mine, this is the conclusion that my dear SO and I have come to as well (and including C3’s “like” clause). We both have every intention of making this our final and for-the-record marriage.

It takes quite a bit of thought and coordination. We are both committed to work at it for the rest of our lives. Couldn’t have a more worthy hobby, I say!

I’m sorry…I can’t help it.

< / hijack>

MAwwiage! Mawwiage is the weason we are gavvered here todeh…

< / end hijack>

I appreciate everything that has been said! My marriage is a little rocky right now and I keep thinking well, every marriage has issues. So i think that it is just hard work and we have to try harder. It is very difficult to know what to do and what is wrong. And it is very scary. Trust is a big problem for us. He wants all the trust in the world, and I cannot give anyone that. I would love to know peoples opinions on this… isn’t there such a thing as too much trust? If something makes me feel uncomfortable, I do not swallow it, I ask questions. I think it is ignorant to completely trust anyone, am I wrong?

Sorry, I just don’t buy #5.

“Sorry, I just don’t buy #5.”

Well, obviously there has to be some giving in on everyones parts, but after looking up the word in the dictionary, I do think that the writer possibly chose the wrong word. What word though would define the give and give ins that occur in marriage. For example, there are times when your partner says no and you just have to respect it and listen and vice versa.

You know him. Is he a good man? Has he ever betrayed you before?

If he ever did betray you, it wouldn’t be because you let your guard down, or weren’t keeping close enough of a watch over him. If he betrayed you, it would be because of a fundamental character flaw, and no amount of mistrust or suspicion will stop it.

I trust my husband completely, because I know him. I know what kind of person he is, and how strictly he keeps to his moral code.

If you know your husband is a good man, you need have no fear in trusting him. I can understand how you feel. Both of my husband and I had trust issues when we first got together. But, once I got to know him, and to see his deep integrity, I let go of that suspicion, and have never regretted it.

Suspicion holds you back. Your heart may try to “save” itself by not fully letting go and loving him as much as you could out of fear of being hurt. As hard as it may be, you need to assess your man honestly. If he’s worthy of that trust, let go, and believe in him. If you find you really don’t believe he’s trustworthy, then you truly have problems, and should seek counseling to see if your marriage can be saved. He’s the man you share your bed with, the potential father of your children. You need to be able to trust him, and you need to do whatever it takes to reach that point.

There isn’t any subordination to it. It is a partnership. Remember:
[ul][li] It isn’t about me[/li][li] It isn’t about her.[/li][*] It is all about us[/ul]

I can go along with this until the last item, which drives me nuts.


Arg! Never subordinate to anyone for anything. Marriage is not about subordination. It’s about mutual growth. Why would anyone willingly enter into any relationship where subordination is required, expected, or planned? How does subordination make anyone happy unless they harbor serious codependency issues? Who wants to be joined to someone who is going to lose their identity and is going to give in to the other person? I sometimes cringe when I see older couples in the grocery store and one of them has been so completely obliterated or pounded down by the other that they are a big zero shuffling along with their little square wheeled rusted wire shopping cart.

I don’t want to link up with a potential subordinate, I’ll get a dog if I want that. I want to link up with someone who is strong and passionate and who is growing madly, uncontrollably. I want to grow and I want to contribute to that persons growth. I also expect my partner to not limit my growth, and I will vigilantely defend my freedom to be myself and I expect to be shoved out of the way if I am in any way impeding the growth of my partner.

subordination is important for insecure and tiny males

Whoa, Stonebow! That’s awesome.

I have to tell myself sometimes that love is action, not feeling. Remembering that has kept me with my S.O. for almost 10 years now. You don’t always feel lovey-dovey. But you can decide to act with love every day.

I couldn’t agree more! I am young, but I’ve been with my SO for 4 years (2 in high school, 2 as ‘adults’)
I have had so many friends gush at me about how “jealous” they are, that we have such a “perfect relationship” and so on. This isn’t because we don’t fight, or that we have some magic formula. Heck, we don’t even really trust each other (on small things like ‘will you do the dishes?’ “yes, i’ll do them tomorrow!”, on the big stuff trust is instinctual by now).
What we HAVE done is made a conscious choice to avoid the drama and hysterics of most people’s idea of romance. For us, love isn’t a blinding flash out of the night or some such, it is a thing that we have made for ourselves out of infatuation, admiration, attraction and just plain liking each other more than anyone else on the planet. I am amazed at friends who put up with people/behavior they can’t respect, all in the name of ‘love’. I can’t imagine being ‘romantically’ involved with someone I wouldn’t be friends with.
I feel like a weirdo for putting it all like this, but the whole concept of courtly love is foreign to me.
It makes me sick to think about it, but in all honesty, if something terrible happened and I was alone, I don’t think I would have that much trouble building up another love if I could find another person I like and respect as much.

on preview: Archergal- my sentiments exactly, but more concise!

I was looking for Wang-Ka’s underwear debacle to cheer a friend up and ran across this thread in the search results. I promptly sent all of my married or soon to be married friends this link.

My now ex-bf and I had this discussion many times and came to the same conclusions. The fact that we are not still together is not a reflection on the truth of it. Instead it has further convinced me that should I ever get married, I would move trust to #1 with communication listed #2. Those 2 make the others easier and better. Sex is always better with someone that you trust implicitly and understands what you want and need and I couldn’t love someone that I didn’t trust.

As for subordination, I am not sure that the exact denotation is what is meant. According to Merriam Webster subordinate is
1 : to make subject or subservient
2 : to treat as of less value or importance

I think what is meant here is that one should be careful to make sure that each person is doing an equal share of the supporting, giving and caring. In the OP, the negative example was one the woman who allowed her needs to be subordinate to her husband’s with no corresponding sacrifice from him.

I may have to save this for future reference should I ever meet “the man I am going to marry”