Valentine’s Eve advice: How to have a happy marriage

“Don’t go to bed angry” is lame advice, and yet, like spam from Nigerian philanthropists (“please kindly help me collect my cash deposit of $21 million, I have set aside 25 percent for your time”), it seems to sneak into every two-cent prescription for a happy marriage.

On Valentine’s Eve, let’s explore good advice on staying married, shall we?

My mood is at its lowest ebb at the end of a bad day, and it’s. Not. The time. To make. It. Worse. Baby.

I’ll be a lot better negotiator after a good night’s sleep.

My first husband (yup, let’s say we’ve got a lot of experience in this house on staying and not staying married so consider the source) loved to pick a fight at bedtime.

A lot of expletives spewed from my sweet potty mouth when that happened, and you can bet that didn’t help matters.

In my experience, sleep trumps peace. Go to bed mad if you want. The philosophy of the advice is sound, however: Don’t let disagreement fester. So tackle that problem, whatever it is, with a fresh perspective (and fewer f-bombs) in the morning.

My best advice: Don’t try to change your mate and look for the best in him (or her). Unfortunately, it took me a good five years the first time around to figure out that nagging got me nowhere, but “looking for the best” got me through 16 years of marriage the first time.

Human beings are complex and flawed. You don’t have to look very hard to find behavior to drive you mad. But if you really want to be happy, choose to be happy: Spend your time looking for behavior you can appreciate.

My Beloved is a fabulous cook (the chicken and dumpling stew tonight was wonderful), a thoughtful and generous mate, an amazing wheeler-dealer, a jolly companion with a courageous heart. And he’s true.

His best marriage advice: “Be faithful and work through it. Communicate.”

We start almost every day with a cup of coffee and conversation. It usually starts with such scintillating queries like “how’d you sleep?” but with caffeine, we get going on oodles of good communication. Because my Beloved values communication, we’re on the same page most of the time and that makes us happy.

Married? For all those lonely hearts out there dying to be in your shoes, maybe you have some advice for a happy marriage. Do tell.

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