Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Because all advice goes down easier with a drink (even a non-alcoholic one). Especially when it's picked at random from our columnist's extensive collection of community cookbooks.

Dear Pink Lady,

I've been married for a few years to a man I thought was my dream partner. We got married at 25, and we both wanted the same things out of life—stable careers, a family (eventually), and a lovely house with a white picket fence—well, you know what I mean. I had thought we were happy together, and that we were moving towards feeling mature enough, and financially secure enough, to have children, but the past year or so, everything's been out of whack.

All we do is fight, over everything. Over who takes the garbage out. Over what movie to Netflix. Over what kind of milk to buy, or what kind of pizza to order. I still love my husband, and I'm pretty sure he still loves me, but I'm wondering—when is too much fighting enough? Like, how do I know if it will get better or not? (Oh, and we tried counseling, briefly, but it just escalated the fighting.)

—Fight? Or Flight?

Dear Fighter,

It's funny that you say you've already tried counseling unsuccessfully, as just last night I read that most couples are unhappily married for six years before starting counseling—so you're ahead of the game. That said, if you and your husband both honestly do want to save your marriage—and you both have to want to work on things for the fighting to stop—professional counseling is still your best option. It's possible that you didn't find a good therapist last time around—and it's also possible you should both go to some solo therapy sessions as well.

However, that advice comes with a big caveat: If your fighting with your husband has any elements of abuse, whether physical or emotional, start making plans to get out now. (Not sure what the warning signs are? Go buy The Gift of Fear, highly recommended by advice columnists the world over.)

But if your fighting is non-abusive and just caused by the stresses of day-to-day life, and you both do want to make it work, start coming up with ways to be nicer to each other. There's absolutely no reason to argue over milk—you can buy both whole and skim, just buy two half-gallons. You hate thin crust, and he hates deep dish? Order two medium pizzas and eat the leftovers for lunch.

Cut out the fighting over stupid stuff, and save your warring for a long evening of board games like Battleship, played while drinking generous servings of U.S. Army-sanctioned "artillery punch." And at the end of the night, see if you can't find some way to end the evening in a demilitarized zone like the bedroom.


The Pink Lady

Artillery Punch

1 c. water

Juice of 6 lemons

2 tbs. bitters

1 qt. claret

1 qt. sherry

1 qt. bourbon, rye, or scotch

1 qt. brandy

1 qt. soda water

Pour all over ice in a large punchbowl. Makes slightly more than 5 quarts of punch, or approximately 20 servings. "This recipe was given to me by (then) Major John Eisenhower at Fort Belvior, Va., in 1957."

This week's recipe is from The Gasparilla Cookbook: Favorite Florida West Coast Recipes (Junior League of Tampa, 1961).

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