Hitched: Getting Through The Rough Patches

I woke up last Sunday morning — well, I don’t know that I was truly awake, but at least I wasn’t in bed any more — and stumbled to the kitchen for a giant glass of water with which to defuzz my thoroughly whiskey-fied mouth. In my hangover haze, I glanced across the living room to the coffee table, which held two empty glasses and a piece of old mail with my late-night scrawl on the back. It was a playlist.

We’d started with Darius Rucker’s new single, “True Believers,” because Patrick and I are true believers in pop country music. Now we are, anyways — I used to have more than a little detached irony mixed in with my Kenny Chesney appreciation, but that’s long since disappeared over the years of my relationship with Patrick, whose genuine love for the genre is both charming and contagious.

It’s becoming something of a tradition for the two of us: we spend a Saturday evening hanging out at the bar with a group of Austin feminists and allies that meet monthly to shore up our belief in the world being a livable place, and then we come home, drink whiskey on the rocks and watch music videos for hours. We sing along. We dance with each other. We trade stories about where we were when this or that song was popular. We debate the musical merits of the Zack Brown Band as musical successor to Jimmy Buffet.

It is, I think, a series of hours in which I am most in love with my husband, because we are living in so many moments at once: sharing our mutual love for this ridiculous music today, remembering the people we used to be, planning out both the next five videos we want to watch and the next five concerts we want to go see together in the coming months and years.

When I look to the future, I see us spending so many more of these kinds of nights together — though probably with less whiskey and better technology — as we get older. I’m excited about it. I want to always be in a relationship that is as silly and lively as ours is now, and also ever more mature and stable. I wonder how to make that happen.

I know it doesn’t for everyone. Not even one of my very favorite celebrity couples, Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, whose comedic adorableness seemed so very built to last. Of course, we can’t really know anything about strangers, and definitely not everything about celebrities, but the news of their split was a shocker to me and everyone else on my Twitter feed. I found Jessica’s “Five Stages Of Amy Poehler/Will Arnett Breakup Grief” to be something of a consolation.

Because you just don’t want to see those great couples you look up to split up. We all have them in our lives — I’m not trying to say I pasted pictures of Will ‘n Amy on my Dream Marriage Collage, but closer to home, I’ve watched a couple of long-term relationships between friends end this year. While I hope and know my friends will be happier in the long run, it’s a hard thing to watch people you care about go through.

Is there any way to prevent it? I don’t know. I reckon you just have to keep working on the relationship you have, building good communication skills and trying to stay on roughly the same page most of the time. People always say to plan a regular “date night” with your long-term partner. Share a hobby or two. Don’t go to bed angry.

This is where I seek the wisdom of Frisky readers who’ve been in the relationship game longer than Patrick and I have, which is admittedly short: we’ve been together for just about two and a half years. That’s nothing when you’re measuring in what you hope will be forever-time.

I know there aren’t any guarantees. I know there aren’t any sure solutions or one-size-fits-all pieces of advice. But there is good advice, and there are clever and interesting ideas. I’m the consummate Beatles fan, but even I know that all you need isn’t just love — and neither do the easy platitudes of pop country, which is rife with the “Mah wife, mah kids, mah country!” hooks that Patrick and I can’t really decide if we love or loathe, translate into the day-to-day work of keeping a relationship fresh, exciting and healthy.

So what works for you, Frisky readers? How did you power through the rough patches? How do you make sure things never get boring — or if they did, how did you breathe new life into a relationship stymied by inertia? Please advise. I trust y’all way more than I trust Darius Rucker.

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