The recipe for a lasting marriage? Honesty, laughter and embracing flaws


Joe Banks reflects on more than three decades of wedded bliss

Joe-Banks-ssI’m writing this on the day of our 32nd wedding anniversary. It’s not a particularly special year, except it occurred to me this morning, as I kissed my bride, that fewer and fewer of our contemporaries, friends and acquaintances are doing the same. (Marking anniversaries I mean, not kissing).

There’s a simple answer for that: fewer of them are still married to the one they originally hitched up with in the first place, mostly through separation or divorce. Statistics bear that out.

Society used to say that was a shame; that why wouldn’t people love the one they’re with, and fix what’s broken rather than tossing it away like trash?

Neil Sadaka said breaking up is hard to do. But from what we’ve noticed here in the future, divorce needn’t always be the default – if simple honesty had trumped an unrealistic and unattainable sentimentality in the first place.

That, and lots of laughter; there can never be enough of it. As far as I know, no one has died from too much of it. Combine both, and there is a recipe for a lingering marriage.

One of the most honest – and funny – wedding vows I’d ever heard was exchanged at a ceremony last May, which took place in Algonquin College’s pub, The Observatory. This couple had been cohabitating for quite a while, as many couples do (we did).

While not a typical venue one would equate with solemnity, it was entirely fun in the very best sense of the word. It was, after all, a place so many students had made vows of their own, though perhaps not so soberly.

There she was, resplendent in white, facing her tuxcovered, ponytailed groom, looking at him with a moist eye; so much in love, the two of them. The skylight above was casting a movie-like ambience over the proceedings, as if a higher power were itself blessing the union.

Or so Hollywood may write it.

And then, at the moment of vows, she spoke those magical words.

“I vow not to belittle your collection of Star Wars action figures.”

Bam! The place went up like a raucous comedy club crowd, and any ceremonial tension disappeared like dust in the wind.

His retort was along similar lines: I promise not to criticize your shoe collection, or go on about the mascara brush sitting on the bathroom counter every morning, or any one of a number of other petty miseries endured by any number of couples every day.

The vows were so granular, real, and funny, that they actually made a serious statement about how the little things that jam our keys get in the way of the big ones that are at the heart of a marriage; let’s not sweat the small stuff because we’re in it for better reasons.

Of course, that’s a very mature and adult way to look at marriage, and I’m the first to agree that such wisdom doesn’t easily fit inside the pre-castings of what wedding planners, Frankenbrides and moms have in mind. They want perfection, and the ordinary flaws of everyday life don’t mesh well with them.

Not long after we attended that wedding, my wife and I were reflecting on what has made us most happy as empty nesters. A romantic soul would guess it’s the joy of each other’s company, long conversations and rediscovering our youthful selves.

But that would be wrong. Or at least dishonest.

It actually has a lot more to do with the ability to pee with the bathroom door open, sashaying around the house in the ole birthday suit, and almost never having to make a decision on what’s for supper.

That’s the simple truth, for better or for worse. And for us, it worked for 32 years. article-end-jj15-30px

Photo: © Jim_Filim