My son’s first-grade teacher is getting married this summer. At the end of the year, a group of parents who are much more on the ball than I am decided it would be fun to compile a book of marriage advice from her students. So they sent around a little sheet for the kids to fill out. Just TRY to get a 7yo boy to wax poetic on this prompt: “Love is…” I dare you. Now, I’m not one to propagate gender stereotypes, but I daresay his female classmates had more to say about that. So he opted for the second prompt: “For a happy marriage…”
Not too surprisingly, however, he came up blank. “I don’t know. Um… get married at the zoo?”
“OK, sweetie. But that’s just the WEDDING part. The marriage is the living-together-happily-ever-after part. What makes THAT happy?”
“I have no idea.”
I was tempted to say, me neither. I mean, I’ve been married almost 10 years and I’d say I know less now than the day I got married. At least then I didn’t have 9 million distractions including 2 kids and a first-grader’s perplexing homework assignment. So we asked his dad. “Have him write whatever he wants. I’m not going to tell him what to say,” says Dad.
“OK, hon. He’s SEVEN. And we’ve been married TEN YEARS. I think you might have to help him out a little here,” I
And that’s how we got the first item on my first-grader’s marriage advice list: “Try not to turn everything into a fight.” Oy. The class moms are going to have a field day with that one.
From there, we started talking about all the things that make our marriage happy: being a good listener, doing nice things for the other person, maybe putting a dirty dish in the dishwasher every once in a blue moon, starting a family… And that’s how we got the last item on my son’s advice list: “Try to get kids.”
There you have it, straight from the 7yo horse’s mouth. A zoo wedding, no unnecessary fighting, get some kids however you can — the recipe for a happy marriage. He’s actually not too far off, is he?
READ O’ THE WEEK: I stumbled across this post on Twitter and think it’s pretty good: Four Crucial Tips I’ve Learned for a Happy Marriage. Although I have to take issue with the date-night suggestion. If you’ve got relatives nearby (e.g. free babysitters), that’s one thing. But paying for a sitter, dinner out and a couple of drinks, not to mention parking or a movie…? Who’s got that kind of cash to spare every weekend?! And that doesn’t even include the stress of “pre-cleaning” for the sitter, as one of my former writing students once hilariously pointed out in an essay. Much easier to stay home and rent a movie. If you can stay awake for the ending.