I hate marriage advice.
Mostly because it all sucks. But really because it’s usually shoved down your throat by someone who’s own marriage is less than appetizing.
Someone once told me – just keep his balls empty & his belly full.
So let’s think of my below marriage advice as more of…. marriage suggestions. Because here’s the thing (the most important thing); no one can tell you what will or won’t work for your marriage.
I also should tell you that I am married and my marriage is by no means perfect. We are two human beings that are really good at being human. I don’t talk about my marriage, at all really, on social platforms (including this one) – because it’s an aspect of my life that I’ve chosen to keep mine. Sharing the details of my marriage now would take away from the book that I’m writing for you to read later. But it’s important to me to share with you some of the wisdom that I’ve gained as a young wife and I feel like I can do that objectively, without sharing – just yet – how I’ve arrived there.
- When your spouse starts to speak, put your phone down and give them your attention. This is inspired by Ed Mylett (who is amazing, by the way). This small commitment goes a long way.
- NEVER correct your spouse in front of others. It’s never worth it and it can always wait until you’re alone.
- Never let a barista know your spouse better than you do; know each other’s top 3 coffee orders off by heart. Just trust me.
- Stop bashing your spouse to other people. When you complain or put down your spouse you’re basically complaining about or putting down yourself.
- Let go of “shoulds” and replace them with COULD. Your spouse should take the garbage out or they could take the garbage out? Removes expectations and creates opportunities.
- Marriage is nothing without YOU. It is so so so so so important to constantly work on yourself, be self-aware (how you’re acting, how you’re coming off, the reaction you give when your other comes home from work, how you’re communicating your needs, etc), practice self-love and self-care, be working towards your goals and purpose and to be having your needs met (not just meeting needs).
- Keep in mind that you and your spouse grew up in two totally different households with two different sets of parents, different diets, different experiences, different finances, different thought patterns, different rules – it will take lots of time to dissolve childhood habits and develop together habits.
- You’re partners in life because two is better than one. You’ve gotta be willing to pick up the slack & carry the weight when your spouse is going through a funk. Without resentment later.
- Make your own rules for your own marriage. There are zero guidelines that you actually have to follow.
- Don’t look happier on social media than you actually are in real life. This one got me in trouble… I used to post a lot about my spouse and I… and we looked perfect. Not only did it portray something to the people in my life that wasn’t true, it set the bar really high for ourselves and created a lot of pressure. When our marriage started to fall apart, the one & only response that I received from those that were peering in from the outside was “but you looked so happy…”It’s not their fault, we did look happy. And maybe we were genuinely happy in most of the photos that I would post. But overall as a whole it was unhealthy. I took about a two year detox from posting pictures of/with my other, which really pissed people off (oops).
But really, the same goes for comparing your relationship to other’s that you admire. No one is posting their messy midnight meltdowns & screaming matches, their financial struggles, their family grudges, their fertility struggles, their drug problems, their seasons of wanting to divorce and/or their seasons of uncertainty, doubt, fear, trust issues. You name it – it’s locked up behind doors that you don’t get to see into. Nor should you get to.
The truth is – your marriage is yours. It is absolutely the most unique relationship that you will ever have. It is not your identity, you still have to create a life within your marriage. But it is a big deal & it is a huge part of your life. It demands that you soak in the highs and hold on tight to each other through the lows (as in all of the lows, like the lowest of lows). How you choose to do that is up to you & your other. Not your mom. Not your best friend. Not your pastor. Not me. And certainly not the anticipation of what other’s will think.
The most fruitful of marriages don’t feel the need to explain why they do what they do or justify the choices that they’ve made. Because it’s working and there is simply no time to entertain why.
I hope these suggestions are helpful to you as you find yourself navigating marriage. I’ve never experienced something quite like it. While it really does require all of you, it is a really awesome and beautiful experience to share your life with another.