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What’s The Secret to a Perfect Marriage?

humorous tip to help you have the perfect marriageMy husband, Jeff, and I recently returned from an ambitious trip abroad. Usually I turn down any long-distance or death-defying kind of experience because of my multiple neuroses, but this belated trip to Iceland and the Netherlands was both, necessary and unforgettable.

I’m still dreaming about naked, pre-thermal bathing, and tulips. Anyway, while we were stumbling around in one of the many airports we hit returning to the states, I was majorly struggling with re-entry mode. You know, that state when you have one foot at home and the other in your favorite Icelandic coffee-house? That icky, depressing, “Shit, I have to go home,” mode where jet lag and its accompanying snarkiness are just starting to bloom? That one. That was me. And it was in this delirious and disoriented state that I discovered the secret to an enduring relationship.

I’ve noticed recently that my husband has developed a habit of chatting to complete strangers he’ll never see again. Ever. I believe this is a hereditary condition he picked up from both parents. He can strike up a meaningless conversation anywhere. In an elevator, a parking lot, or say, for example, in an airport line.

So, when this happened on our way back from Europe I was reminded of why I don’t like human interaction. Maybe I was grumpy from eight days of sleep deprivation, (the three-word phrase I heard consistently on the trip was, “Shelley, get up.”) or maybe I was just tired from lugging around twenty pounds of chocolate, two Hieronymus Bosch paper weights, two Hieronymus Bosch coffee cups, one cake tin, and three lamp shades. Oh, and a much degraded art poster I continued to schlep from one city to the next. My plastic bag carry-on wasn’t effective at all. We had to scotch tape its growing wounds! But it was all I was permitted to take on the plane. We actually had to purchase an extra suitcase to check the remaining souvenirs and gifts.

Anyway, the trigger points in my shoulders were burning, the bags under my eyes were darkening, and the last thing I wanted to do was chat with someone I didn’t know or care about. Every time I heard my husband discuss his tectonic-plated scuba trip with his new BFF I wanted to throw a shoe at him. (He didn’t deserve this. I almost caused us to miss our first flight. Damn that rule about getting to the airport two hours early!)

It didn’t help that without exception, the person behind or in front of us in line was a middle-aged woman. Now I know what he does on business trips. I couldn’t participate. When he would start yapping I would just turn around and pretend to study the apps on my phone. Or I would just walk away. My growing contempt was driven by frayed nerves and intense anti-social sentiment. I’m sure these equally loquacious women thought Jeff was either single, or that he was married to a shrew. The only thing I could do was text my daughter and tell her he was doing it again, and to please shoot me if I ever picked up the habit.

But here’s the catch. When we finally moved up the line to start boarding, the gate agent informed us we no longer had seats together. “What?!” I shrieked. “Not sitting together!? Jeff, oh my God.” The airlines had given my seat away and now I was sitting four rows ahead of my husband. “Don’t worry,” he said. “We’ll fix it. We’ll get someone to trade.”

We climbed up into the shuttle bus and headed for the plane. And that’s when it hit me. The secret to a healthy relationship, a good marriage, the perfect marriage, is WANTING to sit next to the person who most annoys the shit out of you. And I’m sure my husband would agree.

Shelley Segal

Shelley Stolaroff Segal is a playwright, actor, composer, and essayist living in Greensboro, North Carolina. She enjoys wearing different artistic hats so long as it doesn’t interfere with raising her husband, twin teenagers, and three cats. Her latest play, My Son, is about autism and race, and premiered in New York City. It was presented as a TED talk at TEDx East in NY and continues to tour. Publishing credits include the anthologies, Voices from the Spectrum, Cup of Comfort/Autism, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Multiples Unlimited. Humor is a must in her home so in her spare time she guest blogs and posts on her own website, Shelltells. She’s been working on the same book for six years now and is hoping it will literally write itself one day.

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Friday 13th of May 2016

Got that right! I used to fly all the time, 42 weeks a years so I had uber status and could upgrade to first class for free. My husband poo pooed flying first class, elitism or such nonsense until he tried it and suddenly he wanted to travel more with me!

Doreen McGettigan

Friday 13th of May 2016

As ridiculous as it sounds you are so right. You also reminded me to be less chatty (I'm the social one) when traveling with my husband because I know it drives him nuts!

Shelley Stolaroff Segal

Friday 13th of May 2016

(I'm really going to try and not be so grumpy about it.) ;)

Shelley Stolaroff Segal

Thursday 12th of May 2016

Thank you, Kim! So glad you enjoyed it!

Kim Acedo

Thursday 12th of May 2016

This was hilarious and heartfelt at the same time. You're a fantastic writer, Shelley!

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