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Things to do to make your marriage work

This is a list of marriage rules and reminders—all of which, we hope, are cheaper and more fun than therapy.

No fisticuffs in public

Take this example: We were at a picnic with a group of friends when the wife of one of the couples present casually announced that she had bought their family a house. In another country. Without consulting the husband. He turned about 14 shades of red, and they began fighting at the top of their lungs. Cut to everyone else with their heads down, forensically examining their egg-salad sandwiches as though they contained the secrets of the human genome. You do not want to be That Couple Who Ruined the Otherwise Delightful Picnic.

Accept that everybody needs alone time

Sometimes your spouse needs to go to the bathroom for 45 minutes. Look, he’s not going to the bathroom the whole time; he’s trying to get away from you. And that’s OK. Maybe you’re being annoying. Sometimes you can be kind of annoying, you know.

Let your spouse in on 90 percent of your day-to-day routine

Save the other 10 percent for your bathroom time. Sam, for example, will never allow Jason to see her lurching to put on a pair of panty hose, and he never wishes for her to see him struggling to shave the back of his neck. It’s those small things that keep the mystery alive.

When you buy gifts for each other, give them at least a full minute of thought

Sam’s mother once gave her partner a giant meat grinder for Christmas so that one could make her tastier hamburgers. In our opinion, gifts that require someone to perform a household task don’t count as gifts. A present should convey the message “I love you, but most of all, I get you.” Like playing chess or figuring out Facebook privacy settings, delighting a longtime spouse is a genuine challenge—which is what makes it worth the effort.

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