While we feel pretty confident in the arenas of wedding and prom fashion, men's suits and tuxedos, the cuts, trends, dos and don'ts around wedding day wardrobe, we can't put a stake in the ground and say, "We Also Own the Marriage Advice Field." In fact, we wouldn't dream of it. We know what we know from our own lives and those of wise people close to us.
It's in that spirit that we offering some gentle, but extremely savvy counsel we've found, heard and learned from personal experience.
Keep it Simple
Wrapping up the planning and execution of a wedding, reception and honeymoon will leave you feeling like you might be able to pull off a Super Bowl halftime ceremony. You and your mate may want to buy and fix up a house, start a brand new business based on a half-baked idea, adopt 3 puppies from the "pound", decide overnight to become full time missionaries, .... you see where we're going? Pace yourselves.
Keep it simple.
You will be amazed at how much you'll still need to learn about each other, about each other's habits, whims, talents and failings and you can't do the most important thing in a marriage - BEING A COUPLE - if you're scurrying around chasing things that can be put on hold.
Deal with Your Own Family
This one almost doesn't need to be explained in this age of confessional social media posts and evolution of self-help books, blogs, podcasts and pre-marital counseling. But it's important, and family interference can cause friction in your own marriage.
Some families are meddlers and eager advice-givers, gossips, and the like. They may assume that you're up at 3 am hoping they'll call to tell you how to run your marriage, life, finances and pantry. Other families are so contained and quiet your mate may wonder if they care at all. Regardless, if YOUR family ruffles his or her feathers, speak directly to your family and smooth things over. If they need to apologize to your beloved, ask them to. It's a brave new world of openness and we all need to get along. Plus, YOUR marriage is ultimately none of THEIR business.
Watch Your Budget
It's that simple and it's THAT HARD. Create a budget. Live within your means. Communicate about what you want to prioritize into your lives and what can wait.
Now say that out loud and send this to your spouse.
People break up over money. It's a serious thing, so be arm and arm about it. Be a team.
Put Respect for Each Other Above All Else
How you treat each other in private is a thing, and how you treat each other in group settings is a BIG thing. Tread lightly and think before you speak when you're hanging with friends, even those you've known for a while, but maybe your spouse is new to.
Treat each other the way you want to be treated. Sometimes wanting to have fun or get your way may mean making your mate feel unheard or misunderstood. If you communicate and show respect for your spouse's wishes and values, you won't find yourself arguing and apologizing later.
And if you need to say something a little "pointed" to your mate: do it in private. Being disrespectful in public is embarrassing and those in your company will not remember the argument, but how poorly you treated your soulmate.
Learn How To Fight with Grace
Learn how to fight with grace AND with an eye to the goal of keeping yourselves strong as a team. Tearing down your partner to win a single argument when you hope to have a lifetime together is a bad idea. (Ask anyone who's been married more than a decade.) You're playing the long game. Put your ego aside. Don't be a bully. AND! Don't be a doormat. Think about what would hurt you and refrain from saying that to your mate. And demand that they do the same. "We love each other! Let's act like it!"
You'll learn this over time, but there are very few "hills to die on." Pick your battles and fight when it's a real issue that matters. Spoiler alert: NOT EVERY ISSUE MATTERS. If you fight about new napkin rings, brands of dryer sheets, whether or not you're taller or whose version of the story is accurate, then when you really want to take a stand about something of substance, you'll just sound like The Crabby One who must always win.
Don't be The Crabby One.
Spend Time Together & Apart
We know those people who want to spend every waking moment hip to hip in a booth sipping from the same shake with two different straws. Time together to download your day and confab is important.
Time apart is incredibly important too. Have you heard the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt"? Well.... it happens. Sometimes too much time together creates unnecessary friction. This can also apply to in-laws, and that's all we'll say about that.
Do Not Take Each Other for Granted
It sounds trite, but remember why you fell in love and why you got married. You will have moments when you think you've moved away from each other because you've gotten distracted by work or you're constantly changing as a human being.
Remember that you're a team and that you're both contributing to this marriage thing. If you take your partner for granted, it says two things: (1) your priorities are skewed and (2) you're ok with your mate feeling neglected, unappreciated, invisible, or irrelevant.
Acknowledge each other! Say Thank You when a small service, like emptying the dishwasher, has been rendered. Understand that those small and large efforts to make the marriage strong are done in love and show appreciation for them..
Ask for Counsel
Find a couple who've been married a long time and befriend them. To tell you the truth, it's better if they are NOT family. Couples who don't have an agenda, but have tons of wisdom and life experience would love to share their thoughts and advice about what is on your heart.
If you need to unpack an issue, argument or tough decision, these couples make great sounding boards and they have no skin in the game. You're someone else's family! Plus - looking to and learning from other generations just makes sense. If you're going through it...... they've already arrived on the other side and can point out the land mines.
Finally, focus on what you have more than what you don't have. All things happen in good time.