"I don't drink," I protested.
"That's fine. I'll take care of the drunk part," he responded.
Uneasy about the idea, I asked, "What would I say?"
His response? "Well I don't know, but at your birthday party I got to hang out with your ex-husband while he cooked, so I'm assuming you must be doing something right."
After a moment of reflection, I thought, "Somehow, I don't think this is the place or time to offer advice on how to remain friends with an ex spouse."
This exchange lasted for a few minutes, culminating with GenWar stealing my sparkly purple sunglasses and leaving me with his straw hat. I totally chickened out on the speech, because giving happy marital advice to a newly, happily un-married couple at their non-wedding wasn't something I felt I could do on the fly.
But, having had a pretty successful marriage for 9 years (we were married for 10, but that last year really wasn't very good), and having remained friends with said ex-spouse, I figure GenWar might be right (don't tell him I said that). I might have something of value to offer. So, having had a couple days to think it over, this is what I've come up with:
- Stay true to yourselves. Yes, you will both grow and change, and that's OK. Life would be boring if we always stayed the same. You fell in love with each other for who you really are. Stay true to those feelings, and true to who you are - the rest will always work itself out.
- Focus on each other. Yeah - family, friends, work, obligations...they're all important. Don't give them up. But at the end of the day, you and you are what matters most. Don't let anyone or anything come between you.
- Be honest. If you're doing something you feel you need to hide from the other person - you need to stop. Immediately.
- Don't discount each other's stuff. No matter how insignificant the other's collection may seem, if it's important to one of you, it should be important to both of you. The same goes for feelings.
- Don't give up what matters to you outside the marriage. Yes, I know, this is a little contrary to the point about focusing on each other, but it's a big part of staying true to yourselves. It's a balancing act. You'll screw it up once or twice, but keep trying and you'll get it right.
- Don't share a bathroom. Trust me - nothing good can come from this.
- Never forget to remember how much better your lives are because they've come together.
When all else fails - find separate corners until you can play nice.