As my wedding date draws closer and closer, my favorite pastime recently has been asking my married friends and loved ones for their best piece of marriage advice.
Though I’ve gotten a lot so far, here are the top responses that I’ve received which I can’t wait to put into practice.
Make Sure You Agree on Finances
I knew I was marrying the right guy when I found out that our approach to finances differed a lot. My fiancé is extremely smart with his money. Me? Not so much. In actuality, finances and money troubles can be the main source of conflict in marriages.
Many practically-minded people have given me some version of the following: Make sure your finances are streamlined. Make sure you agree on budgeting and where things are going. And most importantly, be honest with your spouse (and do this before getting married) about how much you spend, how much you save, and all the other tiny details of your individual accounts.
Have Separate Bathrooms
Surprisingly, multiple people have given me this same piece of advice. (Cut to my Zillow searches changing to more than one bathroom for my and my fiancé’s new place.) While avoiding the obvious reasons that necessitate using a bathroom in the first place, people can be dirty, messy, cluttered individuals in general.
Keep things separate so you don’t have to step over each other getting ready in the morning.
The consensus is if you have the space, keep things separate so you don’t have to step over each other getting ready in the morning, and your 30-piece skincare routine doesn’t interfere with his counter space. Looking at the amount of makeup I use just in a day, I know this is one we’ll have to try out.
Communicate Your Expectations
Like they say, communication is the key to any relationship. So much disappointment can arise in relationships out of thinking your partner should know better, or should already be aware of everything you’re thinking. But your partner isn’t a mind reader. Tell your spouse what you mean, mean what you say, and put all your expectations, big or small, out there.
Remember That You’re a Team
I believe I have my soon-to-be in-laws to thank for this one, which just proves that they’re pretty great. In marriage, it isn’t you versus the world and your spouse is along for the ride. It’s both of you together as a team. Your problems are his, and his problems are yours. This also means that your happy times are just as happy, and the sad times are shared between the both of you. Your daily work-from-hell incidents and his kooky family issues might be a lot to handle, but thankfully both of you get to share them.
In marriage, it isn’t you versus the world and your spouse is along for the ride.
Don’t Expect Your Spouse To Be Someone Else
This response came from my fiancé’s best friend soon after we got engaged, and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since, mainly because it sounds so simple but encompasses one of the main complications that can arise in a relationship.
Essentially, he said the following: There will be many mornings you’ll wake up and want your spouse to be someone that they’re not, whether that’s clean and tidy, or organized and prepared, or countless other things.
Marriage isn’t just accepting 50% or even 75% of your partner, it’s accepting the whole 100%, even the parts you don’t like. It’s easy to cherish all the things you love about your partner, but marriage and lifelong commitment mean waking up and choosing those lovable things along with the things that aren’t so lovable.
Build Each Other Up
You know the saying, if you love someone, tell them? If your spouse looks nice, tell them. If they received a promotion or are working towards one, cheer them on. Encourage them and talk to them the way you’d want them to talk to you. Be their biggest cheerleader and always be present with them as they pursue their goals and dreams.
Encourage them and talk to them the way you’d want them to talk to you.
Coming from a religious background, I like to joke that no one was interested in talking about sex before I got engaged. Now, it’s all anyone talks about (I kid — but not much). Sex is obviously one of the most important parts of marriage, for good reason, and making time for it whether you’re seasoned pros or newlyweds is paramount. Whether it’s sex, cuddling, sleeping in, or going to bed at the same time together, making time and even planning for intimacy is a good way to set boundaries between your marriage and your household and everything else so you can prioritize your spouse.
Whether you’re married or not, no one likes an “I told you so” or “nah-uh.” My old boss-turned-close-friend shared this with me, and since she’s been married for many more years than I have, I trust her judgment and her advice.
Arguing productively means not bringing up personal digs and keeping a goal in mind.
You’re going to argue, it’s inevitable. But the key to arguing productively means not bringing personal digs or vendettas into things, and keeping a resolution or end goal in mind. Don’t be the couple who starts an argument that goes on forever. Take a break if you need it, never say anything in the heat of the moment, and have discussions and conversations calmly and with your partner’s viewpoint in mind.
Don’t Tear Your Spouse Down in Public. Ever.
This last gem comes from my sister. Interestingly enough, we’ve both observed this in marriages we’ve encountered throughout our lives and it’s a habit we don’t want to bring to our own.
If you’re out with friends or sitting around the break room, don’t speak ill of your spouse. While venting frustrations may be natural, doing such a thing betrays the intimacy of your marriage and it’s in bad taste, especially to friends and co-workers who might have the wrong takeaway about your spouse.
Not only does engaging in this behavior motivate you to keep doing it, just imagine what your partner would think if they ever heard the things you revealed about your relationship to others. If you have problems or issues, take it directly to the source and leave your friends out of it.
Maybe this is all advice you’ve heard before, or maybe you have your own to share. As a soon-to-be wife, if you know engaged couples, reach out and share the wisdom that you wish you’d had before your own marriage. One of the best gifts you can give is the generosity of your own experience and we could all use assistance with making our marriages the most successful, healthy, and beneficial they can be.
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