Happy marriage? Don’t sweat the small stuff, like misplacing keys, and … and…

The woman who is my wife and I celebrated our 29th-anniversary last weekend. We celebrated by spending a couple of days in sunny Eastern Washington. It was a wonderful experience and marked the first time in a decade that we didn’t celebrate our anniversary with a shared Blizzard at the Dairy Queen in Poulsbo following a Viking Cup soccer game.

Being married to the same woman for nearly three decades doesn’t necessarily make me an expert on successful marriages. I can’t even be sure why our marriage has lasted as long as it has. I suspect it’s because before we became husband and wife we were best friends and still are. I think it’s also critical that for any relationship to last, there has to be a fair amount of flexibility and forgiveness on both sides. Petty grievances and minor annoyances have to be overlooked or accommodated, and not allowed to fester and foment bitter discontent and smoldering resentment.

In my own case, for example, I have come to accept that my darling spouse will always drive too fast and follow too closely to the car in front of her. In the interest of marital harmony, I no longer mention those concerns when we are driving together. Instead, I physically brace myself in the passenger seat, cover my eyes and whimper like a doomed baby seal whenever Wendy is at the wheel. Such are the subtle accommodations that make for a long and happy marriage.

Likewise, I’ve accepted that Wendy will never put dishes in the dishwasher in a systematic and orderly fashion, but will instead continue to randomly toss them in willy-nilly, mixing glasses with plates, and plates with cookware, and silverware with God-knows-what-all in a chaotic, vaguely incestuous, dirty-dish free-for-all. But you’ll never hear me complain about such a petty matter. It’s not a problem for me at all. I hardly ever think about it anymore. It’s a minor burden I’m happy to live with, a small sacrifice I make for the woman I love and whose kitchen habits are otherwise exemplary. Except for the catsup fetish. And the Tupperware.

And I certainly would never complain about that Wendy sets her car keys down in a different place every time she comes into the house, leading to the inevitable ” Have you seen my keys?” game that we play every time we leave the house. If they’re not on the hearth, on the kitchen counter, in her purse, in the pocket of a jacket she was wearing or on the dining room table, then it’s likely she never brought them in the house at all, but left them dangling from the ignition. I don’t mind frantically scouring the house for the misplaced keys, and I would certainly never point out to my dear wife that I set my car keys down in the exact same spot and therefore never have to look for them.

Nope, pointing out that sort of thing would be petty and not conducive to a healthy and sustainable marital relationship. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.

One of the things I won’t mention is Wendy’s habit of pressing her cold feet against mine in bed. Or her habit of ordering things in restaurants that are not quite on the menu, such as the “Meatless Special” with meat. Also, Wendy likes to prune trees and trim bushesbut doesn’t like to pick up pruned limbs or trimmed branches, evidently preferring to see the smile on my face when I nearly run over them a couple of days later with the lawnmower. Small stuff, all of it. Live and let live, that’s my motto.

We’ve already started making plans for celebrating our 30th anniversary. I don’t want to give away any secrets here, but I’m leaning toward an Italian theme. I’m thinking of All You Can Eat Pasta Night at the Olive Garden in Silverdale. Don’t tell Wendy; I want it to be a surprise.

Tom Tyner writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper. This is from his “Classics File.”