Do couples who craft together, stay together?

No research has yet given us a definitive answer to this important question. But I, as you might predict, would theorize that the crafting could count as a ritual of connection, eh? Thus, a crafting couple would be boosting their odds of staying happy, right?

I think so. And indeed hope so.

Because today I engaged my husband/pal Brian in a holiday crafting task which, happily, reminded me of part of our hands-on-the-crafts history.

A little more than (can it be true?) 20 years ago he and I, hands together, constructed our first couple-craft: a wedding invitation. Long before DIY was cool, we were DIYers because we, well, were B. R. O. K. E. graduate students. The crafting must have been contagious, or just necessary. Probably both. My mother made all of the wintery table decorations, a simple white mostly-paper angel with curly blonde hair. That sweet symbol of our December wedding has since, annually, crawled her way to the top of our holiday tree. Today, to my delight, one of the gal pals (and my sister-in-law) in our wedding sent me a photo text of the tree topper she had just affixed up high on their family’s evergreen giant: “Remember? She always tops our tree too.” Twenty years, despite her yellowing wings, she carries on … in our home and others.

Oh, right, back to the point of this blog, one which is not actually about crafting, nor rituals, nor holidays. Rather, it’s about nuance.

If I was going to be crazily crafting holiday gifts for our family and friends, my not-so-crafty husband was going to participate. I don’t care if the Packers are on. The holidays are near! Dear. You are going to help and enjoy it. “Oh, and, honey, no beer on the craft table, please.”

He swiftly moved his bottle from the task at hand. I promptly smiled. Not because our tedious project was no longer in jeopardy of being bathed in ale. Rather, we had just mastered — okay, it might have taken 16 or more years, and hey, it might have been just today — what relationship guru John Gottman discovered over decades of discerning what predicts divorce and success: happy couples are those in which a husband is open to influence from his wife.

Sorry guys. The research does not suggest women need be open to influence from men. Maybe it’s because, for hundreds of years, that’s been happening already. But that’s a topic for another day and a future post.

The moral of this story: today, in this tiny life, I witnessed a nuance which suggested we might just make it another 20 years or more. Whew. Husband + craft project + one beer + a small suggestion + a positive response = one pretty happy crafter. And the lesson for all of us: it’s the little things, most of them in our control, that add up to the larger feelings and behaviors of happiness over the long haul.

How might you choose to change the way you respond, ever so slightly, to make your partnership a little happier?

CRAFTING DISCLOSURE: all of my crafting is totally copied from others’ great ideas. For e.g., the mini trees in mason jars, below: spied as table decor at a local Anthropologie. No, my husband had nothing to do with their creation nor installation. But he did say “hey, nice.” I like those compliments. More than that, I like making little art projects on tables.

The yet-to-be-disclosed craft with the paperclips (opening photo): seen at a local store where they sell only goods “Made in MN.” I said to myself “I can make those. And, what do you know, I live in MN too.”

NOTE: My best friend does, yes, call me Crafty Carol. As you blog readers know: nicknames are indeed good for sustaining marriage AND friendship. We, yes, do have research to support that simple fact.

ONE FINAL NOTE and I promise it’s the last: My happy couple husband never reads this blog, hence why it’s fun to write about him! I think that him not reading the blog is one of our keys to long-term happy couple-ness.