So here’s the deal, I’m a married girl, have been for almost 3 years now, but I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. Hell, there are people who’ve been married 10 times as long as me who still don’t have it figured out. There are a few things though that I DO know: Marriages may or may not be made in heaven, but how strong or fragile a marriage is depends to a great extent on how you treat it here on earth. For instance:
1) Appreciation is Key
Marriage is based on partnership, on teamwork, which of course means that there will aways be a separation of duties for him and her. Now it’s up to each and every couple to decide how to divide up the chores but a division there must be because one person can’t shoulder all the responsibility and expect to make it work. So yes, one might work outside the home while the other works inside it, one might do the yard work while the other does the cooking, one might do laundry while the other does bedtime bath and feedings for the baby. It doesn’t really matter who does what, what matters is that each shows appreciation for what the other does.
What does appreciation mean? It means NEVER taking what your spouse does for granted. Yes, it’s his duty to earn a living and provide for the family, but that doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge his hard work. It may be part of her responsibilities to cook and clean but that doesn’t mean you disregard what she does as ‘not real work’. A happy spouse means a happy you and a happy home, and if you really want that, appreciate everything they do, if only with a smile, a thank you or a squeeze of the hand.
Special aside for men: DO NOT under any circumstance compare your wife to your mother. Trust me when I say that saying ‘that’s not how my mother does it’ can be injurious to your health.
2) Taking Turns
Although marriage is all about doing things together and growing as a couple, there is one thing you should never do together: get angry. Anger is a normal part of any relationship and let’s just say that if I met someone who never got angry, I’d be meeting an angel which would make me dead or on hallucinogenics neither of which is a good thing. So yes, anger is normal and you really shouldn’t expect your spouse (or yourself) to never get angry. What you can do is to never get angry when the other is ranting or raving. When your spouse is angry, be a little patient, let them vent, do not retaliate, let them cool down. Snapping back at them will never lead to anything good and no matter how silly it may sound, don’t worry, you’ll get your ‘turn’ to rant and rave to your heart’s content.
3) Never Argue in Front of Other People
This may sound obvious but it’s one of the most important things to remember if you want a happy marriage. Like I said before, arguing from time to time is a normal, even a healthy part, of every relationship. Where it starts to go sideways though is if you let that argument escalate beyond the parameters of just the two of you. Yes, never go to sleep mad and try to take turns getting angry, but also, do NOT argue in front of other people. You two will sooner (hopefully) or later kiss and make up but those ‘others’ you yelled at each other in front of? They will remember and they will talk about it or bring it up or judge you or judge your spouse because of it. Not to mention knowing that others know of your argument or what you called each other or what you said in the heat of anger won’t exactly help when it comes time to forgive and forget. People, no matter how much they love you or how close they are to you, are still outsiders to your relationship and it really sucks when they start interfering or commenting on things you don’t want them to comment on. And lets face it, if you argue in front of them, you are implicitly giving them permission to comment on everything you say and do in that argument.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying advice from outside the marriage is always a bad thing, that would be stupid. All I’m saying is that if you argue in front of other people, they will try to give you ‘honest’ advice based on what was essentially said in the heat of anger and 9 times out of 10 it won’t account for the intricacies and the ins and outs of your particular relationship and can therefore do more harm than good.
4) Importance of Time Apart
Yes yes, this one is a cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Not only does distance make the heart grow fonder, it leads to healthier relationships. Too much time cooped up together can become toxic and lead to cabin fever so yes, it is important for both of you to have friends and activities outside of your relationship. Seriously ladies, there is nothing more annoying then a girl who insists on doing EVERYTHING with her husband and therefore tags along on all exertions or gets pissed off if she’s left out. The same is true for men: there is nothing less attractive then a man who can’t handle his wife going out without him or having a ‘girls night’.
5) Mutual Respect
After all is said and done, happiness to a great extent is based on love. As far as I’m concerned though, there can be no love without respect. Love without respect is like a chocolate filled eclair without the chocolate: empty and vaguely frustrating. A relationship that is based on mutual respect though, that will go a long way. Mutual respect means many things, including not swearing at each other, no throwing each others flaws or weaknesses in each other’s face during a fight, not bad mouthing each other when venting with a friend, and so on and so forth. Words are dangerous things people, way too easy to say but impossible to take back, so be careful how you use them.
What advice would YOU add to this list?