Award-winning screenwriter and producer Cindy Chupack spent years concocting snappy, outrageous, groundbreaking storylines about love and dating for Carrie Bradshaw and the gang on the hit HBO seriesSex and the City. In her latest book, The Longest Date: Life as a Wife, Chupack writes of her own real-life romance with husband Ian Wallach. Here, she gives readers a taste of what she’s learned from wedded bliss.
Now that I’ve written the book on marriage (well, a book on marriage), I am qualified to tell you…very little, actually, because I have literally made every mistake in the book. I continue to flub things daily (which I prefer to call “material”), but in case you don’t need or want “material” in the same way I do, here are a few lapses in judgment you can avoid:
Enjoy your leverage before you get married.
We’ve all heard, “You can’t change a man,” and I knew from dating that it was best not to get into a relationship with someone I might want to change. What I did not know until it was too late, however, was that when you’re dating, you have much more leverage to request a change than once you’re married. If a guy wants to marry you, he might be willing to alter his behavior a little to avoid losing you. He might agree to stop smoking, drink less, wait on getting a dog, or, say, get rid of his machete collection. But, once you’re married, you really have no leverage at all—unless you want to be single again. And, once you finally find someone you want to marry, the thought of being single again seems worse than a machete collection.
Don’t buy into the myth that women lose interest in sex once they’re married.
I used to hear about women withholding sex for leverage, but I think that’s an antiquated idea based on the notion that women don’t enjoy sex as much as men. The truth is, neither of you will enjoy sex as much once you get married. There’s no thrill of the chase anymore: You go to a party together, you’re leaving together, the end. Don’t get me wrong—it’s great to finally know who you’re going home with, and it’s great to love the man you sleep with. And after you get married, you will still have amazing sex (yes, with each other). But not as often. And for the record: Part of the reason you won’t be having sex as often is him, so let’s stop blaming women, folks. It takes two to not tango.
Do not write a book about everyone you ever slept with—and if you do, don’t give it to your future husband.
My first memoir, The Between Boyfriends Book, had just come out when I met Ian, the man I married. In my defense, I was so excited to have written a book, I gave Ian a copy the morning after I met him. (Why he was at my apartment the morning after I met him is another matter that might need defending—which I do, in The Longest Date.) After reading it, Ian said, “Don’t ever give that book to a guy you’re interested in again.” And I didn’t ever do it again, because I never dated anybody after Ian. By the way, if Ian ever wrote a book about his sexual past, it would be longer than mine. He didn’t judge me too harshly, and I felt less guilty about my tally thanks to his.
Do not throw your birth control pills into the ocean as soon as someone proposes to you.
After Ian proposed, he wanted to have a kid right away. I mean, right away, like that evening. This is not so unusual for a guy, especially a “bad boy” like Ian (see my chapter on bad boys), because a bad boy has no reason to get married unless he wants to start a family. Yes, it’s still a compliment that a bad boy wants to marry you and have kids with you, but there was a part of me that worried if I didn’t have a kid, Ian would not be happy with just me.
Nevertheless, after Ian proposed, I chucked my birth control pills into the ocean and immediately regretted it, because A) I secretly wanted some time just to be a couple before we had a kid, and B) we got that time, and then some. Because at 40, not only did it become clear I didn’t need birth control anymore, it became clear I had no control over when or if I might ever give birth! Finally, one day, Ian admitted he knew we could still be happy without a kid; it was such a relief to hear, it renewed my energy to pursue parenthood, whatever it took. But that’s not the end of the story—it’s just the beginning. You’ll have to read the book.