The Evolution Of A Marriage

by Jill Veldhouse
Tater tots with peas served on a white plate on a table covered with a checkered table cloth
Andrea Skjold Mink / Shutterstock

My husband and I are getting ready to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. I use the term “celebrate” loosely as we are basically both hoping we remember the day when it arrives and then get through it without any unforeseen drama that might interfere with our annual high-five and anniversary embrace as we gaze into each other’s eyes and proclaim in perfect unison, “Fuckin’ A! We made it again. We are awesome.”

It usually ends in a heartfelt kiss. We’re very fond of one another. It’s a classic love story.

We really have nothing to complain about. We have three beautifully healthy children, a roof over our heads, income to support our extreme and lavish lifestyle, a goddamn minivan, reciprocal love, and mutual respect for one another’s less than desirable traits. Our tolerance for one another has grown and blossomed in a manner that has far exceeded even our own wildest pre-marriage dreams. We can thank our kids for that. They make it easy for us to disregard any spousal needs in lieu of their own. Gone are the days of petty adult arguments and one-upmanship. We have standards to set and must now lead by example.

When thinking of the evolution of our marriage, the following term comes to mind: tater tot hotdish. I’m no marriage expert, nor should I be, but personal life lessons learned from the aforementioned culinary delight can be applied across the board to any couple looking for insight or relationship advice from someone who’s been in the trenches and made it out a stronger and less self-serving person. Here are the specifics on the evolution of a marriage and the tater tot hotdish:

Grow up. There was a point in time when the how-to specifics of preparing this creamy casserole dish tested the very limits of our proclaimed love for one another. My way was right; his way was wrong. He refused to see this, and a wooden spoon may or may not have been flung forcefully across the kitchen. We didn’t talk for days. This is perfectly reasonable and highly relatable no doubt, but violence is never the answer, especially in front of the children.

Mix it up, everything (except the tots of course). Marriage cannot be successful if you don’t try your absolute best to form a cohesive unit with your partner in a determined effort to mesh together as one being. Layering ever so carefully to avoid blending is not only a waste of time, but discriminatory, tasteless and just plain wrong.

Agree to disagree. Simply don’t make it. Agree to disagree, and never ever enjoy the gloriousness of tater tot hotdish in each other’s company ever again. Ever.

Life’s a game. Have fun with it. Prepare two pans individually, but in each other’s company. Maybe turn on some music and open a bottle of wine to accompany the mood. Not only will you be sharing space in the kitchen working toward the same common goal, but the eye-fucking alone that exists as you both dip into your deliciousness at the end of it all is sure to bode well in the bedroom if you ever start speaking to one another again.

Extend an olive branch. Don’t be a dick; give the other person’s way a shot. You fell in love and married them after all. But add celery, big chunks. Everyone loves a surprise.

In a pinch, cry. My mom taught me this one. Don’t let your kids see it though. That would just be setting a bad example of how to get your own way. Be a role model, but honor thy mother.

Plan a family meal. Bring everyone to the table. You’ll forget what you were arguing about and form a united front in a matter of seconds if you go down this painfully disappointing road. Been there, done that times infinity. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Let’s eat:

“What is that Mom?”

“Tater tot hotdish.”

“It looks gross. And why is it all mixed together like that? I’m not eating!”

Be a good sport. Glance across the table, raise your glass, give a heartfelt “you win, asshole” nod to your partner, and call it a day.

This is married life with kids, in a nutshell.