This question originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Cyndi Perlman Fink, Retired: 41 Years of Wedded Bliss, most of them happy…
We had some early disagreements about money and we had separate bank accounts. I was a Princess in the early years. There was my money and his money was my money. There were arguments, and finally he turned the whole thing over to me.
There wasn’t relief, and I didn’t hightail it to Mexico. I grew up fast and appreciated the whole concept of net worth, debt to earnings ratio, savings, and why we should try to pay off our credit cards every month and try to live within our means.
I pay the bills. I do the taxes. I take care of all of our investments. I plan for our retirement. Of course we have discussions, and then he does what I tell him to do.
Am I kidding? Ummm, no. It works for us.
We started out laughing. We’re still laughing. He’s so funny. It’s why I fell in love with him. Every once in a while, I make him really laugh unexpectedly and he says, “I do the jokes.”
Is he kidding? Yes, he’s kidding, I think.
He does the best Marlon Brando Godfather impression in the world, so I bought him a Godfather Classic Quotes book, and the other day when he was shaving I took it into the bathroom. I turned the pages, and he read the quotes. This is his best one.
“Tattaglia is a pimp. He never could have outfought Santino. But I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzini all along.”
When he puts shaving cream on my nose in middle of this, I still adore him after all these years.
We love the dogs, and we walk them long distances. It’s good for us, it’s good for them.
We respect each other’s, and we each have a home office. He has a real office and goes to it during the week. I’m glad. I need a lot of space.
Once when he got walking pneumonia and was home for 10 days, I knew why God (although I don’t believe in that kind of a God) made offices. You may think we’re old, but we’re too young to be together 24 hours a day. Soon maybe, but not quite yet.
People always tell you what they want, you just have to listen.
“Isn’t that scarf pretty?”
“My friend said she read the best book.”
“My leather jacket is looking pretty worn.”
It’s not that hard. He doesn’t have a clue what to buy me. This used to cause us a lot of problems. We solved it. I stopped trying to make him into something he wasn’t, a listener who would absolutely know what I wanted, and he lets me buy myself gifts. See answer No. 1. I know what we can afford.
I wish it were different, and if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle. I hope no one takes offense, especially my aunt. I love surprising him, he loves to be surprised, and he sends me the most beautiful flowers on the appropriate occasions and sometimes just because. He understands flowers.
I bet you’re all cringing. Who wants to hear about sex from a person who has been married for so long. This is not about details. You can all breathe a sigh of relief.
You don’t need me to tell you it’s important. Especially when you’re young and especially in the beginning, but if that’s all there is, I don’t care how many chandeliers you have in the house, there will never be enough chandeliers to swing from because like or not, believe it or not, it doesn’t last forever.
If you are good friends, and if you respect each other, and if you can stand soul naked in front of each other and trust that the other one won’t hurt you, then have all the sex you want, or not, it will all fall into place.
That’s my lecture on sex. It wasn’t so bad, was it?
Be kind to each other. Be respectful. Be playful, be nice, be all the things you want the other person to be, and guess what, 41 years go by and you’ll still be laughing and buying your own presents and you won’t be resentful. One more, be grateful everyday for the other person. That’s all!
… More questions on Dating and Relationships: