Farts are still funny: what I learned from my parents’ 30-year marriage

Guest post by MissSquirrel
My parents… are drunk

When I think about what I want from a marriage, what I want from my partner as a husband, and the kind of wife I want to be for him, I think naturally of the marriage I have observed the most — my parents. They had a short courtship and a long marriage: over thirty years together.

The best things they have taught me about marriage are:

  • It will not always be easy. Loving someone can be hard work at times, and there will be issues on which you will not always agree. But if you make the choice to love your partner, you can survive it all.
  • When things are rocky, explain it to your children. Explain the situation the best you can so they don't think it is their fault.
  • Be equals. Discuss decisions and always consider how it will affect your family.
  • Laugh together even at stupid stuff. (Farts are always funny, even when you are 54).
  • Cherish each other.
  • Valentines Day is a crock of shit. You should show you love your partner EVERY day, not when Hallmark tells you to.
  • Flowers aren't for when you screw up — they are for whenever. My dad buys my mum flowers for no reason, sometimes because she has been working really hard, to tell her he loves her, because they are reduced to $1.99 at Woolworths, or because the weather is horrible and he wants her to have some colour.
  • Do stuff together, don't sit around complaining that life is boring. Make your life exciting.

What have your parents taught you?

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Comments on Farts are still funny: what I learned from my parents’ 30-year marriage

  1. My dad’s lesson: make sure there are things that you enjoy doing together (sports, board games, cooking, WHATEVER) and then make sure you do them as often as possible.

    Also, never go to bed angry.

    • I agree. This one is sooo important.

      FH & I are pretty good about having activities. The “never go to bed angry” part we need to work on…

      Good advice!

  2. Certainly do things together and enjoy time with each other, but have your own interests, friends and activities as well. Remember you’re still your own person and that’s who your partner fell in love in the first place.

    • GOD YES. Maintaining our separate interests has been crucial to my and Dre’s longevity (14 years this New Years — holy shit). We love each other and we have shared interests, but we also have a lot of things we’ve always enjoyed doing separately.

  3. i hate “i fucked up flowers” but i looooooooooooooooooooooooooooove just because flowers! (proud to say i never have received any of the former but plenty of the latter 🙂

  4. My parents have been married 29 years, and they taught me all of the stuff in the post, plus how important it is to grow as a couple. You’re not the same person 10 years into marriage that you were the day before. You have to grow up together, make sure you know who your partner really is, through all of their growing pains and your own.

  5. My parents have been together since Mum was 16 and dad was 17. They’ve been married 42 years and together 47. Their recommendation is to always remember how important it is to be silly! Remember life is ridiculous and there is always something to laugh at.
    I was the odd one out at school because my parents were still married and actually liked each other!
    It’s only now I have a lovely, silly, happy man(7 1/2 years together and alls good!) that I can really see what they were on about.

  6. Never go to bed with a heavy heart, for it will harden in the morning.
    Communication really is everything.
    Remember above all else, she is your Best Friend.
    As you grow old together, stay young at heart with each other.

  7. Always, always make fun of each other!

    Also, the random unexpected things are always amazing. I remember one day my dad brought home flowers (something he doesn’t do much as we grow a lot) and my mom was really confused. Then he hugged her and said “today is the day you’ve spent half of your life married to me”. I still remember that and think it was so sweet!

  8. Miss Squirrel, I loved you in Bad Teacher. Regarding long-lasting relationships, something I’ve heard the research has shown is that you have to accept some conflicts will never be “solved”. Even in 50 years, you may be arguing about the same stuff. Another thing I saw on a documentary about human emotions, is that happy couples argue just as much as unhappy couples. The difference is that for the happy couples, there isn’t an emotional sting. They can argue, and even say very mean things to each other, but each partner knows the are loved even in the midst of the argument. There is never a big emotional drama of “my partner hates me” or “I hate my partner”.

  9. Unfortunately I don’t come from a set of parents that were married and what I have learned will land me in jail on domestic abuse charges!

    • You learn from this, too. My mom’s second marriage was to an abuser. As a result, she has two daughters who rely on each other, a son who will protect them to the death, and three loving children who have all thrown abusive relationships to the curb when we would have otherwise stayed.
      Love may be hard work, but it shouldn’t hurt.

  10. My parents are divorced and very happily remarried, but both still maintain that they wish they had worked harder on working out the issues that drove them apart. As I plan my wedding, I spend time talking to my future husband about something that they have both made sure to repeat to me several times in the past weeks:
    When there is a tough time, it will pass. It will pass if you stick with the relationship, and it will pass if you leave. What will not pass is your choice to end the marriage once you have done so. It is telling that though happy, they both still make sure to tell their children that we should try harder, and that they wish they had, too. It echoes the line in the post that says “sometimes it will be hard work”. I hope to always remember that if it was worth committing to, it will always be worth working on.

    • My parents are also divorced and re-married. My dad confessed to me a few year ago that he was too proud to seek marital counceling when my mom requested it, and even though he’s happy now, he’s always regreted it. My finace’s parents are still together and ridiculously cute, but they separated twice, and his dad had even moved out of the house at one point.

      There’s a lesson in every marriage, whether it’s behavior to copy or avoid.

    • oooh, this reminds me of something a family member told me as a teenager. “Never choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” I’ve always remembered that. And I often use the mantra “this too shall pass”

  11. I have to respectfully disagree with the never go to bed angry comment. Sometimes you need to sleep on it. Sometimes it’s better to walk away and calm down before you say something hurtful. This doesn’t mean storm out in a huff but say something along the lines of “I’m really angry right now and need to take some time before we talk about this issue.”

    • This is usually how arguments are handled between my boyfriend and I. We come from previous marriages and we were both the yellers in those relationships. We know that wasn’t who we wanted to be in this one so rather than start screaming matches, if the argument is serious enough, we get quiet, stew, think, ponder, whatever….and then discuss. I can’t even keep track of how many times this has helped.

    • Yes! I used to think it meant ‘fix it before you go to sleep’. BAD IDEA. My ex and I would stay up for hours and hours arguing and we would be tired and angry and that doesn’t help at all. It just makes things worse. Sometimes it’s good to just have some space to think on things. Or sometimes I tell my current husband “I just need to be angry for a while.” Sometimes I just have to process and feel what I feel before we can make things better. Anyway, now I think the “don’t go to bed angry” thing just means, even if the argument isn’t resolved, remember how much you love your partner so that tomorrow can start anew.

    • I’m glad taking that time works for you… Some nights/fights I think that will work out best, but I know for my partner and I, we don’t go to sleep angry (going to bed just to fight more is a bad idea for us). We have successfully worked each disagreement or full on fight out enough that we both can easily say I love you and good night. It is also important for the kids that the argument doesn’t drag on for more than one day.

    • I also disagree with the “never go to bed angry”. The rule me and my guy have is that no matter how angry we are, we always cuddle in bed. Because no matter how angry we are, we still love each other, and we are still commited to loving and caring for each other, so “sleeping on the couch” or otherwise snubbing each other isn’t allowed.
      And many, many times the core of our argument is stress and tiredness, and cuddling is great to diffuse those feelings, and often when we wake up in the morning we find the argument just evaporated. And even when the reason is still there, we may be disagreeing or hurt about something but we’re calmer and reassured that the other person loves us and we’re able to work through it without anger.
      Actually, in general, when we’re arguing, sometimes it’s good to take a breath and hug each other and remember we love each other no matter how much we’re disagreeing in that moment. =)

    • I have to agree. I’ve gone to bed seething at my husband and in the morning couldn’t even remember why I was mad. I remembered the situation that I was angry over, but not WHY I was angry. For me, the “don’t go to bed angry” thing is translated to “don’t say something in anger before you have a chance to calm down.” And I agree with Ana – no one sleeps on the couch.

  12. My parents also had a short courtship (six months from first meeting to marriage, I think) and a long marriage – 24 years, until my father passed away. They weren’t a very demonstrative couple and I know that earlier in their marriage they had some serious struggles (although I’ve never wanted to know the dirty details). But they loved each other more than any other couple I know. My dad could always make my mom laugh, which is probably how he got away with being such a wiseass and prankster all the time! In turn, he respected my mom’s love of being left alone to read and relax on her own. My mom has told me that aside from how funny he was, her favorite thing about my dad was that he was rock-solid dependable. I’ve learned from them what I want from my own marriage – for it to be a partnership, to always be able to rely on one another and have each other’s backs no matter what. Also, to always have fun and inject humor into life. And to respect each other’s passions and hobbies and give space for those things when needed.

  13. My parents just had their 25th wedding anniversary (dating to pregnant – with me! – to married in 3 months) and my sister and i still walk in on them making out in the kitchen. that has to have something to do with it, don’t you think? 🙂

  14. My dad told me some things that have really stuck:

    1. Honesty in communication is important, of course. CLARITY of communication is just as important. Don’t assume that your partner understands what you mean! Keep talking until you’re sure you both know what you’re talking about.

    2. Understand and be okay with the fact that probably half of the laughter that goes on in the relationship is you and your partner laughing AT each other 🙂

    3. Don’t think that you’re married just because you go through the ceremony and have a piece of paper to show. My dad’s idea is that a wedding is a statement of an *intention* to become married, which is an ideal state that you have to work at constantly to achieve. Looking at marriage in this light makes me see it as much more of a philosophical/spiritual communion of souls than just a financial agreement and new living arrangements. (My first marriage failed in part because my ex and I were lazy about working to become married in this sense – it was very easy for us both to take it for granted that the marriage would exist on its own, independent of anything we might do.) Dad and his wife have been married over 30 years now, and neither one considers their relationship anything other than a work in progress.

    • I love that idea of the wedding as an intention to be married, and marriage as a work-in-progress! It really captures the feeling that sometimes it will be hard work, but that the both of you will continue to grow and change and the important thing is to grow together.

      I’m going to share this beautiful thought with my partner right now!

  15. My parents are still together after – wow – 36 years! They’re really an incredible team; they raised three kids, struggled with employment, dealt with serious illness, lost a son, etc. etc. They’re both very funny, quirky, independent people, and while my dad has a hot temper, my mother is a paragon of patience. They balance each other really well. And they don’t hold grudges.

    They’re awesome. And now I need to call them and tell them that 🙂

  16. My parents separated recently after 25 years of marriage, 35 years together, so the lessons I learned from them are bittersweet.

    Stuff they taught me through example:
    – you can be an offbeat couple even through child rearing, career progression, serious family stuff like death, all the way to middle age and probably longer.

    – trust, laughter, goofiness and flexibility make everything easier.

    – unexamined gender roles are for suckers!

    – differences in religion, political opinions, social class… needn’t come between you.

    Stuff they taught me in negative:
    – it’s super important to talk through the big stuff, especially health issues (including mental health and addictions, which can be a lot harder). Getting help is not admitting failure.

    – sometimes life can suck really really hard through no one’s fault, and you need to actively protect and patch up your partnership through the storm to make it through.

    – there are many things you can live without a plan B. Finances aren’t one of them.

  17. My parents have been married 30 years this January:) The best advice comes from my dad: take what you do and your relationship seriously…never take yourself seriously:) Keep laughing, stay stimulated. They haven’t spent a night apart in 20 years, I’ll follow that advice:)

  18. My parents have been married 45 years. What I’ve learned from them can’t be contained in a post, but a few of the more important things are:

    –You may not always be “in love”; you may not even like each other that much at times. But your marriage is bigger than both of you, and if you can get through the bad times on that commitment, love is all the sweeter.

    –When your spouse is down, that’s when you need to love them the most.

    –Never even mention the word “divorce”. Once it’s on the table, the road back is all the harder.

    –Put your relationship first. Not work, not your house, not your hobbies, not even your kids. Your relationship has to come before all of that.

    –Bear ye one another’s foibles. You’re gonna drive your spouse nuts just as often as they drive you nuts, so get over yourself.

    –Smooch in ways that embarrass your children. They’ll love you for it someday.

    • Both sets of my grandparents have been married for over 50 years. Here are just one or two examples I’ve seen from them demonstrating real love. One grandfather was a minister but he kept his family his main ministry and even still swatted my grandma on the butt in affection when they were in their 70’s and they thought no one was around. Working together as parents they adopted two foster children while caring for their own three biological kids. My other Grandpa working hard to make sure all 4 kids went to college debt free. Grandmother staying by his bedside day in and day out after he developed cancer a year ago. Oh, and both grandfathers served their country in WW2. But I just figured after 50 years of marriage they must have gotten it right. Now if only those Hollywood people would have “real” examples to go by!

  19. There is no love between my parents, but they helped me by being a prime example of how NOT to behave in a relationship. So I’ll list things I learned from my own relationship, which is the polar opposite of my parents’.

    -A fight is not a contest. You don’t have to one-up the person.

    -Don’t play the blame game. No matter how justified you feel in the moment, you’re going to go to bed feeling like a insensitive jerk.

    -“I appreciate you/it” can turn around a bad day, for both of you.

    -Using sex as a weapon or an excuse is a really stupid idea.

    -You never need a reason to do something nice. Make them a sandwich/draw them a picture/leave them a note, ect.

    -“I love you” never loses it’s meaning. It’s not a sacred phrase that can only be uttered once in a blue moon to preserve it’s specialness. Say it when you feel it.

  20. My parents have been together for nearly 30 years. I’m not sure what I am to gather from their relationship. When I was a child, things were difficult between them. But they stayed together. Now that my brother and I are both adults and out of the house, my parents are more happy and comfortable together than they ever were. Is the lesson that kids will make you crazy? That you should just tough it out and things will be better someday? I don’t know. I’ve never known what to take away from my parents’ marriage. I’ve just surmised that I want more laughter. They were best when they were laughing.

  21. My parents met the first weekend of university, and my dad says he thought even then that he’d like to spend the rest of his life with my mum. It still took them two years to get engaged, and two more to get married. 27 years later, they’re still ridiculously cute lovebirds, more in love with every passing day. I’ve learned a lot from them:

    -Sometimes you “just know”, but that doesn’t mean you need to rush things
    -Cherishing each other is important
    -Respect each other. Always.
    -Welcome your partner home first (with a hug and an “I love you”), and *then* tell them the dishwasher broke.
    -Embarrass your teenagers with your lovey-dovey ways—make eyes at each other across the dinner table, etc. (Really, I think I was more jealous than anything else… now that I have a special someone in my life, I don’t mind near as much!)
    -Advice passed on from my great-grandparents: Have at least three hugs per day. (My parents claim to be incapable of counting past two, so they just have to keep hugging to make sure they’re following that rule!)
    -Relationships take work, but they’re also incredibly rewarding. Put in the time to make your relationship live up to its potential.
    -Go on dates. They’re not just for pre-marriage.

    • Sylvia- Yes I agree! Dating after marriage is so important! It can be a challenge to work it in the schedule especially during football season or if you have say 3 or more kids. But its a MUST.
      Next we have to accept our spouse is just the way they are and release the attempts at changing them. No doubt our hubbies might want to change some things about us too.
      Finally some men seem much better at helping women relax. Hopefully your guy is one of those. For us uptight women out there, let your relaxed guy help you relax and laugh at yourself. and at him. then do it again on your next Friday night date.

  22. Neither my husband and I came from the ideal couple. My mom had a sleuth boyfriends; and my husbands parents, though married for 30 years fight all the time and often say how much they don’t like each other. Looking at their mistakes the first thing mentioned is what is the most important to us. We chose everday to share our lives together and love one another. Our life together is a choice that we are always thankful for. Sometimes its the wrong way of doing things that help us see what’s right for us.

  23. My parents have been married 33 years, and their number one rule seems to be this: always, ALWAYS kiss the other spouse before they leave, whether they are heading off to work, going out to walk the dog, or just going to bed. This means there are many, many smooches shared between them. I have adopted this rule, to the point that my husband once bought me a nightlight that says “Always kiss me goodnight”. It’s a simple rule, but it works.

    • This is a great rule. Always kiss, and always say “I love you” You never know. Life is cruel, and a person can be taken from you in a heartbeat. You don’t want to regret missing the chance to kiss or say “I love you”

    • This is something my husband and I do and it’s surprising how such a simple thing can be so important. We kiss in the mornings and when we see each other in the evenings. I’m always sound asleep before he comes to bed but he always kisses me goodnight anyway. I’m not a romantic or touchy-feely person but this simple physical act has come to mean the world to me.

  24. My parents had a relationship that was less-than-happy but they are now divorced and my dad is in a new relationship. Everyone is much happier and watching them I learned:
    – be true to yourself and be honest with yourself and your partner about who that is. No point in pretending to be something you aren’t because they will figure it out. Also no point pretending your partner will become something they are not.
    – if you aren’t happy, do something about it.
    – relationships take two people (at least).
    – communicate. Seriously. Talk to eachother, be clear about expectations, limitations, unhappiness and happiness. Don’t just assume.
    – you deserve to be happy and so does your partner.
    – every day you make choices about your relationship and you are responsible for those choices, good or bad.
    – find your balance in YOUR relationship. It is not your parents’ relationship, it is not the relationship society tells you you should have, it is not the relationship you had in the past. It is yours, here and now. Take ownership of that and make it work whether it’s by complementary skills, equal share, or unequal share.

  25. My parents are coming up on 36 years, and I think my fiance’s parents are a year behind. Both couples are very happy, madly in love, and have made it a point to teach us some important lessons. A lot of them are above – keep your own interests, make your marriage the top priority, and keep secretly making out in the kitchen. My other favorites are:

    – Your commitment makes you a new entity, a sacred space that is inviolate. Keep it healthy, grow it, make it your refuge and your source of strength. Never let it be broached by anyone – the secrets, mysteries, and vulnerabilities inside are yours alone to know. You need a unified front and a commitment to communication to work out disagreements privately.

    – Never make your partner feel bad about something they can’t help, whether that’s the changes of an aging body, illness, disability, or carrying scars from trauma. We’re supposed to make the hardest things in life bearable, not worse.

    – There are a lot of things you shouldn’t do with wild abandon. Expressing your love and joy and delight in each other, in life, in family, in friends, and in all the small pleasures the world offers us demands Bacchanalian levels of indulgence. Even when things are really tough, there’s still love and small joys to connect over.

    – Acknowledge what your partner does and express your gratitude often. Learn to see the ways they express love, especially when they’re not the ways you would express it.

  26. My grandparents have been married for 62 years- I’ve learned so much from them, but the best advice is NEVER cuss at one another. They fight, like all couples do, but instead of nasty words, they say things that would make an outsider laugh. “you long necked giraffe” “well you’re a big old hippo” Just silly little things. Their quarrels are typically short because one will make the other laugh. I love it. Their marriage is wonderful!

  27. My parents’ marriage was a train wreck, so I am slightly chagrined to admit that the best piece of marriage advice I’ve ever heard was dialogue in a cheesy Glenn Close movie. She’s asked the secret of her marriage, and she says “Only one person gets to be crazy at a time.” 7+ years into my own marriage, that tidbit has served me well. My husband and I do indeed take turns being the crazy one.

  28. Make your marriage a priority. Before my folks had kids (nine years!) they both had great careers making good money, but it took away from their time together and their marriage suffered. Rather than get divorced, they changed some work things around and reprioritized. Now they’ve been married 40 years!

  29. Lessons I learned from my first marriage that I hope will make my second one more successful: Love ISN’T all you need. I was under the misconception that it didn’t matter what we did to one another, that if we loved each other everything else would work itself out. Money does matter. There is a reason why it’s the cause of so many divorces…money drove my ex to have an affair with a more “financially secure provider”. He respected her for her financial savvy that I lacked. While I wasn’t paying attention, that respect grew into more than I could have ever dreamed of. And I totally agree with loving your spouse and putting them before anyone, even your kids. My kids always came first in my life, and while I wasn’t looking my marriage deteriorated because of it. Love your children but realize that the best thing you can do for them is to love each other and set a good example for their future relationships. I read somewhere that the best thing a father could do for their children was to love their mother (and vice versa).

  30. my parents are coming up to their 30th at the end of this year. they’ve been through a tonne of shit and have come out of it all loving each other so much more.

    Watching them help out struggling family members with accommodation, food etc. has been such one of the biggest inspirations on how I want to live and love.

  31. Nice post which It will not always be easy. Loving someone can be hard work at times, and there will be issues on which you will not always agree. But if you make the choice to love your partner, you can survive it all. Thanks a lot for posting.

  32. Here I was trying to figure out how to log back on to the tribe a few years later and I stumble across a picture of my parents. =)

  33. My parents have been separated for a very long time and each got married afterwards. My father is still happily married to a lady I deeply care about, my mother married an abusive guy, stayed with him for far too long, causing my siblings and I to witness and endure horrible things.

    It taught me that it’s OK to get a divorce, it’s not the end of the world and you may be happy again after.
    It taught me to always expect respect from your partner and to walk out of a relationship when you are not being respected, even if you love your partner, and even (especially) if you have kids.

  34. My parents taught me that seperate bedrooms are definitely the way to go. It’s the best of living together and having your own space. (Also, my mother has Restless Leg Syndrome and snores, my dad gets hot if there’s anything heavier than the gauziest, flimsiest sheet in the house on him, and they have that too soft/too hard mattress incompatibility.)

  35. Unfortunately, everything my parents taught me about marriage was by negative example. Fortunately, my husband and I figured out the happy marriage thing as we went along, and have now been married 26 years.

  36. My parents have four “learning experiences” in marriage between them but this is what I learned from them:
    – Ideally marriage should fall somewhere between “we’re head over heels” and “it seems right”. My parents have gone from one extreme to the other in their marriages, either going off of puppy love or settling because they just want off of the dating scene. To me this isn’t so much about prior relationship duration as it is mindset.
    – Don’t wait until you’re knocking on divorce’s door for counseling. Even if you don’t have money for a counselor for now always be ready to improve your relationship whether it’s reading a book, relationship articles, or whatever. I wonder if their divorce could have at least been an amicable split had they understood the motives behind the behaviors.
    P.S. Farts are always funny, especially when they’re yours.

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