At Disneyland, while we were in line for Peter Pan, (why is there always a line for that one?) we fell into conversation with a woman next to us who was newly engaged. She asked us how long we had been married, and when she found out we were in the double digits, she wanted to know if we had any marriage advice.
I said, "Just be nice to each other."
She looked a little disappointed, like she was hoping for something a little more earth-shattering, but seriously, that's it. Be nice. If you both do this, you will have a happy marriage.
I can already hear it out there: "But... but... but..."
But nothing. BE NICE.
If you would like your husband to do something for you, ask him nicely. Then, if he does it, thank him. If he doesn't do it, you still have to BE NICE. This means no getting snippy when he doesn't pick up the dry-cleaning. Or take out the garbage. Or load the dishwasher in the one-true-and-holy way known only to you. Simply ask him nicely again ("I know you're busy, but would you mind taking out the garbage for me?") or tell him how much it would mean to you if he would put the forks in the dishwasher the way you like it. Then if he does it, thank him profusely. If he doesn't do it, let me give you a little tip: do it yourself and don't be a martyr. And seriously, get over the dishwasher thing. Just because he's not doing it the way you like it done doesn't mean he's doing it wrong.
Oh, I know. You think that "if he cared" about you he'd leap to put those fork tines down when you ask him (ask being the operative word there - no ordering each other around). But I'm going to let you in on a little secret (well, two, to be exact). The first is that there are many, many things that don't actually matter -- If he wipes off the counter, it doesn't matter that he doesn't fold the towel in half when he's done. The second is that the nicer you are to your husband, the more willing he will be to do things for you. It's not rocket science, ladies. If you are kind and grateful, this attitude will be returned to you a hundredfold.
There is absolutely no reason to get upset if he continually leaves the toilet seat up. This is not to say you should never mention the things that bother you (how is he supposed to know it bothers you if you never say "Honey, I almost fell in the toilet when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and the seat was up. Would you mind putting it down next time?") but really, it takes approximately one second of your life to put the seat down yourself. One second. Is that really worth getting worked up over?
How many other petty things do we let chip away at our marriage that only take ONE SECOND to handle ourselves?
So don't get in a snit waiting for your husband to be nice to you. And don't get in a snit because your husband is not reading your mind when it comes to romance or work or helping around the house. Appreciate him for the things he does for you, and BE NICE about the things he doesn't. You hold the power here, ladies. Be nice to him and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Come on, try it.
You'll like it.