I’ve spent a lot of time this year researching couples for a book I am writing, meeting with long term ones and seeing how they manage to still enjoy each other — and by “enjoy” I mean laugh together and have sex, not necessarily in that order. Many of the 30- to 60-year couples have seen a counselor (or 2 or 5 or 11) over the years. But couples counseling can be expensive. In light of the up coming extended holiday weekend, with days on end to potentially torture or celebrate each other, here then, is the couples counselor experience, with none of the cash outlay.
1. Let a resentment fester for two weeks to 30 years.
2. Keep almost bringing it up but do any of the following instead: eat a gallon of ice cream, drink a bottle of wine, make use of your 70-year-old mother’s marijuana card.
3. Finally get the courage to spill the beans to your spouse. Be accusatory enough in your presentation that he or she instantly gets defensive.
4. Allow what was intended to be a civilized conversation between two grown adults to escalate until you’re both gesticulating wildly and pacing until someone trips on A) a Melissa and Doug wooden truck or B) a corkscrew that fell off the coffee table the night before playing charades with couples you are sure are much happier than you two are.
5. As your tush hits the floor, blurt out a non-sequitur like, “And if I have to fold one more goddamn pair of your underwear I am going to lose my f*&king mind!” Throw in, “And I hate your mother!”
6. Let the catharsis of telling the truth after all these years wash over you and say “Yes” when your spouse offers to help you up off the floor instead of, “I’m fine. Thank you very much,” between clenched teeth.
7. As he or she checks for breaks or sprains, notice how cute/sexy the back of their neck is.
8. Move to the couch and put your feet up. Remember the time years before when you had no one to take you to the ER for (fill in the blank, perhaps a urinary tract infection on Labor Day weekend in 2005) and your spouse happily volunteered.
9. Say “Yes” to the question, “Can I get you a cup of tea?” even if you hate tea.
10. As the steam from the cup bathes your face in pore-opening goodness, let it inspire you to open your heart to this person who although only moments ago looked like a gargoyle, is more and more starting to resemble the human you fell in love with and married.
11. Go out to eat.
12. Have sex. Or at least think, while dozing off to sleep, we should have sex soon.