7 Years and 10 Months of Marriage Advice

Last week, during a conversation about her upcoming wedding, @lindsayrobins asked me for marriage advice. This is what I have learned over the last 7 years, 10 months, and 29 days of my marriage. 

1. Relationship Books Are Useless. Read them for comedic purposes (if you must), but don’t forget that people are complex. Of course gender can affect certain relationship dynamics for some couples, but it can never be boiled down to all men are X and all women are Y. Not everyone labels themselves with one of those identities, not all relationships are comprised of one man and one woman, and even folks in opposite-sex relationships will not always act the way these books insist men and women are “supposed” to behave.

Seriously, people are complex. There’s no such thing as a one size fits all approach to us.

2. With That Being Said, Go Read “The 5 Love Languages. This book applies as much to your relationships with friends and family members as it does to your significant other. It’s all about discovering what each person actually need to feel valued and learning how to communicate your needs to one another. Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation are my love languages. When I’m running low on them I find it much easier to blow things out of proportion or take offense where none was intended.

3. Don’t Fight Dirty. You know (or will soon figure out) your future spouse’s weak spots. Never take advantage of them, especially when you’re angry. Yes, you will get really pissed off at them sooner or later, but it’s important to communicate all of your emotions with kindness. It’s better to table a heated discussion or admit you don’t know how else to word your argument than to say something you’ll regret in thirty seconds.

4. Start a Family Calendar. I don’t care if you’re planning to remain a party of two or have 10 kids in the next 12 years. Write down the events that matter, and always check the calendar before making plans. Good communication makes every other aspect of your relationship much more likely to run smoothly, and writing down the important stuff makes it less likely to be accidentally forgotten.

5. Remember, Rules Are Flexible. What works for one family might be an unmitigated disaster in another. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks about your relationship.  So have a stay-at-home spouse or don’t. Have 0 kids or 20. Split all chores 50/50 or assign them all to one person only. Outside opinions don’t matter because how you arrange your marriage isn’t anyone’s business but your own.

 Readers, what have I missed?

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0 Responses to 7 Years and 10 Months of Marriage Advice

  1. I agree about the relationship books. Good fire starters… It will really depress you if you have anything about your relationship that’s not typical of the author’s experience.
    I’d also add to be honest with yourself and your spouse about what you need. Expecting the other person to read your mind is crazy. Tell them and forget the romantic notion that he or she should ” get you” enough to know.

  2. I really like this post and I think it is an excellent guide to just about any relationship. I also agree with Kimberly that being honest and able to ask for what you need is vital. Great post!

  3. Remember, Love isn’t like the movies or fairy tales.
    Never focus on the “happily ever after” because relationships are journeys (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it sounds tacky).
    And always remember, it’s normal to constantly fall in and out of love with your spouse. It’s normal and healthy and if you can embrace this idea, you can enjoy the ‘falling back in love’ parts better!

    • It might sound a little tacky, but it’s also true.

      I wonder how many relationships falter because the people in them expect love to feel like a romantic comedy?

  4. Lydia! Thank you for these words! Even the comments have been helpful(I love being able to say that). The only thing I could think to expound on would be the “get you” notion that Kimberly brought up…I think when we fall prey to that notion we set ourselves up for disappointment, when they get it wrong and by robbing ourselves of the surprise when they get it right. I, for one, love surprises 🙂 And the only relationship book we pay heed to is “The Lovely Other Dinosaur” by Edward Monkton. I’ll sit down with The 5 Love Languages though!

    • You’re very welcome, Lindsay.

      Is “The Lovely Other Dinosaur” a picture book? While searching for it online those were the only hits I could find. It sounds like a great story.