1. Your marriage is your marriage, not anyone else’s. Don’t try to compare your marriage to other married couples. Just because the Jones vacation together every year doesn’t mean you have to. My wife and I take vacations together, but we also take short solo vacations. Its ok to spend time apart and have separate interests. Understand that you both will continue to grow and change as people. Be willing to accept that with yourself AND your partner. It’s ok that you are not the exact same person as when you got married.
2. It’s important to have a discussion and agree on what your goals actually are as a couple/family (when you have kids, bring them in on goals also!). If you’re having trouble making decisions, run it past your goals, which decision is going to help us reach this thing we said we both wanted sooner. It helps put things in perspective sometimes. And it lets me say “are those shoes worth giving up buying a house for another few months?” a lot..
3. Know that you cannot be everything to your spouse. Allow them “alone” time where they can regroup or enjoy a hobby. When they greet you, they will be recharged and ready to enjoy time with you.
4. Your SO cannot read your mind. If something is wrong, talk it out. Don’t let the fear of discussion poison your relationship. Be kind, be honest and be the one who loves the most.
5. My husband and I have been through hell and back. We went from being two independent people with great careers and so much life ahead of us to being in a caregiver/wounded warrior relationship. He is completely dependent on me, I no longer have a career outside of his care and we have had to move away from friends and family to seek top notch medical care. Despite all the changes, I love him as much if not more than the day we got married. My advice is this… sometimes, no matter how great the relationship is you will get mad at each other, those endearing things will drive you nuts and some days you’ll be yelling. When that happens, take a private moment to yourself or call/text a friend and think about/describe in detail the day you got married. On your wedding day, there was nothing but love and adoration for your spouse. Think about all the big and little details of the day. I can’t get through thinking about it or telling someone without ending up with a giant smile on my face. Then I take a deep breath and keep on moving forward in life, love and marriage.
6. Be. Honest. I don’t mean tell her her ass looks fat or that he looks like an idiot in his fedora. I mean that drop-all-the-bullshit, really lay it out there, honesty. A lie exists until the truth is told. Marriage is for life, and the lies add up. Be straight with your spouse. They deserve it.
7. You can’t just “win the girl” and then coast. Relationships take effort. Or more specifically, relationships are worth effort. The things I do for my wife take time and are not always easy, but I do them gladly.
8. DON’T KEEP SECRETS FROM EACH OTHER. Now, I don’t mean you can’t have surprise birthday and Christmas presents. I mean don’t have locks on your phones the other doesn’t know. Don’t go out with the boys and say you are working late. Don’t lie to each other. Don’t hide things from each other. Be open with one another everything you do will effect the other one way or another, so let them know, or at a minimum do not hide it. Keeping secrets is a sure way to breed mistrust, and is a path which leads to misery.
9. If you win a fight, you didn’t. Fights in marriage aren’t win/lose. Unless you end up finding common ground you BOTH lose, and it makes your marriage weaker.
10. Respect each other! Contempt has been proven to be the primary predictor of divorce.
Your relationship is not just a romantic one. It’s also a business partnership where you participate in running a home, managing finances, making decisions. You have to be good partners.
Put together an IKEA cabinet. Work together as a team. If one of you gets weird about it (self righteous or bossy or irritated) in a way that hurts you as a team, then fix it.
Know each other’s and your own love languages (The Five Love Languages book) and give your spouse love in the way they receive it best. Not in the way YOU receive it best.
Go do things together that neither of you are very familiar with. Take swing dance lessons, join a hiking group, do art classes, learn to play an instrument together. It’s exciting and can bring you closer unless one of both of you are assholes about it :)
Take something that one of you is very good at and teach the other. If you can teach it well, it’s sexy as hell!
Make sure you like each other. This person is your friend. Treat them the most kindly out of all your other friends.
If the shit goes downhill and you’re scared, unhappy, uneasy, feeling ashamed or wanting to hide something from others….please go seek help! Talk to a counselor (by yourself for sure; together if the other person will attend) and don’t stay in a marriage that’s not healthy. Life is too short. I was married for 9 years but I knew six months into it that I wanted to leave. It took me another 8.5 years to overcome church pressures and shame. I’m so glad I did!
When you get to the point where you don’t know what to do, ask for help. That’s exactly what external help is for – to supplement you when you don’t see a way to fix the situation. If you knew how and had what you needed to fix it, you wouldn’t need to ask for help. I used to say “there’s nothing that can be done” but what I was really saying was “I can’t see anything that can be done”. Don’t be like me. Go find help.
11. It’s ok to go to bed upset. Sometimes you just need some sleep.
12. Unless you absolutely 100% mean it, don’t say the word “divorce.” You will disagree and get mad at each other, and once that word is out there as ammo in a fight it’s always gonna be there as a way to have the last word. Don’t invent the atomic bomb if you don’t have to, because once it’s out there, someone’s gonna use it.
13. The advice my grandmother gave me was “you will each grow at different times. It can be scary when you see your spouse growing without you. They got a new job, a new hobby, a new friend (new interests). It can feel like they are leaving you behind. But, just know that one day you will also grow and think about how you would want your spouse to support you in that growth.” When things get tough for me I think about that.
14. Be prepared for the honeymoon phase to end. It will end and when it does you will see each other for who you truly are. Remember why you fell in love with each other and don’t focus on flaws, they’ll drive a wedge between you if you let them.
15. Don’t be a dick. Be considerate. When you argue, never start insulting your partner. Don’t make big purchases without consulting your partner. Have a lot of sex. I’m not being facetious with that last point. A good sex life can smooth over other minor problems.
16. Make sure that you agree on the important stuff before you get married.
What is important may be different for everyone, but generally include…children (do you both want a family? How many kids do you want? etc.); religion; money; how you deal with each other’s families; and sex. There may be more.
I wouldn’t say newlyweds need advice. It’s engaged people that need it. If you have all of that down before you say I Do, you won’t need advice after you say those words.
But I’ll add this for post-nuptials… communicate a lot and make sure you both have a good rapport and a way of rationally discussing things.
17. Make time for one another. And be present when sharing that time together.
18. Date night at least once a month. And sex at least once a week.
19. Marriage isn’t going to be all sunshine, rainbows and glittery unicorn poop. Sometimes there will be ACTUAL poop..yours or somebody else’s..involved.
If you go into marriage expecting it to be all sunshine, rainbows and glittery unicorn poop all the time..you’re in for a bad time. It will be good. It will be bad. There will be fun and there will most definitely be things you go through that are shittier than you could ever imagine. It’s not how much fun you have together during the good times. It’s how you treat each other during the shitty times that really shows you whether or not this person is meant to be belly to belly with you for the rest of your damn lives.
Don’t let society/family/friends tell you what to do, If you don’t want kids, don’t have them. If you want to wait…. wait.
Be aware that both of you need “me” time, and that is totally fine. (This was hard for me at first.)
Don’t make large financial decisions without discussing it with your partner.
You will fight, you both will be wrong at some point. That is life.
You fell in love, you choose to get married…. you can choose to stay married.
(I say this knowing that there are people who should… just not be married. Don’t stay in an abusive relationship.)
21. Communicate properly. By which I mean honestly and openly. Especially on the big issues like finances, kids, careers, future plans/retirement, what sort of lifestyle you want.
Your spouse is the one person you should be able to be totally open and honest with. If something really bothers you, don’t go along for the sake of a quiet life – you’ll end up building up resentment.
22. Elope if your families are not well off and not paying for the wedding.
Don’t start your marriage off in debt.
23. Their frustration is not usually with you. Usually it’s with something else and you’re the safest person to unload their frustration on. Does it suck? Sure, but it doesn’t mean you caused it or that you’re responsible for it. The best question my husband started asking (which I’ve since adopted as well) is “are you anything at me?” Meaning, am I the reason you’re acting this way? It allows several things to happen:
You know it’s not related to you, or maybe it is and the conversation gets started in a non-threatening way.
It lets them see that they’re behaving in a way that you’re taking poorly. This helps both of you since it teaches you what general frustration looks like and it teaches them what you take personally (side note, try not to take most things personally. Direct attacks are different)
It keeps the lines of communication open. This is probably the biggest one since tangled communication will be the cause of the majority of your disagreements. Money, kids and extended family are the other big ones.
24. Money leads to issues. Always talk about purchases.
25. Communicate and talk it out; always.
Compromise and pick your battles.
Have alone time (not together) a few hours a week.
Go on dates.
Write down your goals and cross reference them with each other and tackle common goals together.
Be open about what you want sexually and have sex often.
26. Don’t test your relationship by seeing if they remember your birthday/anniversary. If you want presents and fun then mention these things, if you want arguments and depression then keep them a secret.
27. BE VULNERABLE! I spent way too long not sharing my feelings (good and bad), because I didn’t want to appear weak -or- thought he’d think I was silly. We’ve been married 14 years, have 4 kids and our relationship is a million times better and more intimate (think lovey-dovey) than when we met/engaged/first married.
Also—you’ll go through seasons of marriage. Set your expectations now. Sometimes you won’t feel as close—and that’s okay. Life gets busy, tragic events happen, etc. it just takes time and effort to make your relationship a priority, which is a good segue into my final point…
If/when you have children—put your relationship first. One of the best gifts you can give your children is an example of a healthy marriage, which means prioritizing your spouse.
28. Don’t try to share blankets in bed. Just each have your own fucking blankets. It’s just such a simple solution to nightly tug of war and your farts are mostly contained under your own blanket.
29. Don’t let resentments pile up. They snowball until you are afraid to talk about them and then they become a major problem. Happy couples fight and bitch and argue and clear the air. The ones that stew in silence get divorced because they end up hating each other.
30. It’s all small stuff. Everyone feels they’re doing 70%. Enjoy the kids every day – they are gone in a heartbeat. Death is forever, be here now.
31. Commit to it with everything. Blend your finances, don’t spend over $100 without discussion. Share the childcare, the housework, the yardwork, the maintenance. Hug and kiss everyday and if one of you snores like a wookie, it is ok to have separate bedrooms.
32. Don’t bother putting your shoes on until you hear her spraying her foundation
Always take her side against family, while you are married she is the number 1 member of your family. Your family will always take you back if you break up.
Exercise together, even if it’s a long walk holding hands or a bike ride, it’s healthy and you both feel better about yourself doing it.
Never think about their exes or their past sex lives. All of them were preseason training for you.
33. Don’t let your family or their family talk trash about your spouse.
34. Your spouse is not responsible for your happiness, you are. If you spend your time trying to change them you’re going to be miserable. Don’t get too serious. Be silly with each other. Laughter can save just about anything. There will always be a clogged drain, flat tire, crying baby, or squeaky door. If you can laugh through it, you’ll be ok.
35. Be generous with praise/affection/warmth and stingy with complaints. Try for an over the top ratio, like 10 to 1 good thoughts/looks/touches/comments for every frown or diss. If you start to feel like you need more back than you’re getting, find a way to say so & make it clear what exactly would help you.
Know that it’s not your spouse’s job to fulfill you, ever, or yours to fulfill them. It is your job to show up for the relationship, ready to see and support the goodness and overlook/forgive the imperfect. All of us bring some set of qualities that require a ton of overlooking and forgiveness, and it’s on us to be honest with ourselves about that.
Marriage is about deciding, every day, that you’re better off as part of this team than you would be going solo. It’s a choice you keep making over and over.
Shit will happen. Sometimes truly awful shit that’s nobody’s fault. That’s when the reservoir of trust and good will becomes not just great to have but crucial for you both. Keep it as full as you can.
36. You are not the same person. You are individuals, with different backgrounds. Don’t expect your SO to react to things the same way you would and understand that what you may feel is a compliment, may be taken a insult. If that happens, be patient, explain what you mean and be willing to listen to your SO’s take on it.
37. There are years that prove to be more difficult than others. Just remember you are both growing and maturing both together and as individuals. These changes can cause tension, but these changes can also alert you to how much you absolutely, truly, and deeply love this individual.
Pregnant at 19, married at 20. Three kids (13, 11, & 3). Going on 14 years of marriage in March and I don’t know how I could possibly love this man more, but I know he will do something to prove me wrong.
38. The person you’re married to, or your permanent life partner, should always be more important than the relationship they have with any other adult family member. This means if mommy bitches about how much time you spend with your spouse or tries to control anything about your new little family, it’s your responsibility to support your spouse and create healthy boundaries with your overbearing mother.
39. Understand what you can change, what you cannot change and the difference between the two.
40. Have ground rules for how you fight. For my wife and I, personal attacks are off limits. When we fight, we are clear about what our real problem is and what we want the other to do to fix it. We don’t assume negative intentions to actions as they are usually just carelessness or mistakes. When we reach a solution or compromise, and it is carried out, the fight is over. Bringing back old fights is not allowed unless that issue has resurfaced.
Once we figured these out and stuck to them, our fights became so much more productive and healthy and we’re always able to work out problems without causing pain in our relationship. I also find it has created habits that extend to our relationships with others such as work.
41. Anyone can tie the knot. Don’t forget to make sure the knot stays tight.
42. It’s a partnership. Be supportive, be open, be honest.
There are times when you’ll want to walk away, there’ll be times when you could cheerfully murder your spouse. You may even consider straying. And the same applies to your other half. But, if you’re prepared to work at it, things will get back on an even keel.
Don’t be afraid of telling your partner what you want or need from the relationship if you’re not getting it, but do it with kindness.
43. Talk about what’s on your mind with each other. Help each other solve problems. Don’t fight about cleaning the house. Laugh together.
44. You need to be able to take “fine” and “ok” literally. If you ask/tell SO your going out with some friends or what ever. If the response is “fine” that needs to be the truth. If SO wants me to stay home that evening, let me know. “Could you stay in instaed and do blah with me instead?” That’s cool! As long as it’s not every time ofc, but don’t say “fine” and then be annoyed when i’m about to walk out the door.
Communication, and honesty in communication is key!
45. Communicate. Always communicate. Did I mention, communicate? If there’s something bothering you, tell the other person. Don’t hide it away and let it fester.
Make sure you still trust each other. If you don’t, it’s time to dissolve the marriage and move on.
Never be too busy to let the other person know you love them.
Be best friends.
You do you, and let your SO be himself/herself. Don’t try to change them to be something else.
46. Remember why you love each other. Be friends. Comunícate and be honest. Treat each other like partners and discuss things. Don’t make unilateral decisions. Pick your arguments and don’t sweat the small stuff.
47. Communication is key. Talk about EVERYTHING!!! Also be sure you are in 100%!! Don’t half ass it! Marriage is hard and not being in 100% makes it that much harder!! Never go to bed angry. Say “I love you” before going to bed no matter how mad you are! Do special little things, he/she shouldn’t need the world to be happy, just you and your love.
48. YOU. ARE. GOING. TO. FIGHT.
It’s inevitable and quite frankly its healthy.
On this same note, don’t be too proud to be the first to apologize, life is too short for that bull shit.
Sometimes my wife and i fight over who left a Damn light on.
Be friends. Find shit other than your day to day bull shit. Hang out with each other and try to just have fun. My wife and i just bullshit and fuck with each other constantly. Just to try and make each other laugh.
49. When you fight, remember its not you vs your SO. Its the two of you vs the problem.
50. 10 Minutes of Air: When you’re in difficulty (or not!), take turns giving each other a full 10 minutes of “air time” during which one partner talks (or cries or is silent for stretches, up to them) and the other gives their full attention, no interruptions, just listen. Clarifying questions (pardon? Do you mean xxx?) are ok but otherwise not even questions, it’s not an interview.
Benefits are obvious for the listener. For the talker too, sometimes it’s hard to get to your meaning (or even know it) without the freedom to talk, with pauses, for a long stretch.
And 10 minutes is the minimum. In my experience as listener, you may think you “know” after 1 minute, but you’ll learn a TON over the next 9 minutes (including that what you thought you knew after minute one was wrong). Oh, and BOTH get 10 minutes. Not just one.
Been together 30+ years, got married in 1994. Marriages do not stay great by themselves.