Keeping with the personal theme this past week, Matt and I are sharing our marriage advice today! Marriage is the best thing ever but every marriage has its challenges too. So this week’s Friday Five has our 5 tips to make a marriage last!
Most of the time, marriage is the greatest. Spending the rest of your life with your best friend? Hell yes. However, there are moments of challenges and it takes work to keep a marriage at its height. While hopefully the work doesn’t feel like work, just know that it’s not always going to be easy. Although it doesn’t hurt to hope for that!
When it comes to marriage advice, there’s the usual list: compromise, apologize first, communicate, trust the other person. But in order for this to be an insightful post, I’m going to skip over those if that’s okay. Instead, I’m going to share the 5 things that we’ve really found helpful. And yes, I discussed this with Matt. However, given our fiasco yesterday (if you saw Instagram Stories) I owe him big time so I’m giving him a break and writing this post.
Marriage Advice #1: Know each other.
I mean really know each other. Invest the time upfront so that you know exactly who you’re marrying. Ask every question and remember as many details as you can. Right down to how they always ask for no tomatoes on their sandwich. In parallel, create an open and non judgemental environment where answering all of these questions feels safe. Of course, don’t rapid fire and interrogate your significant other (unless you’re into that sort of thing). But treat every date like its your first date. Play a game with yourself and see if you can find out at least one new thing about the person every day or maybe every week. Daily is a bit aggressive when you’re also trying to do life.
I always say that since Matt and I spent the first 9 months living 2,000 miles apart, we were able to build one of the best foundations for marriage. We didn’t have the luxury of going on a movie date or doing an activity when we were communicating. We actually had to be exchanging words! The benefit of this is you know the other person really well.
The downside is that we knew each other so well, we knew exactly what to say to really upset the other too. Sometimes you might do this unintentionally. But learn your lesson and don’t repeat what you did! I once jokingly called Matt an “idiot” and he got so offended and upset at me I have never used that word again. That’s just one of his trigger words just like I probably have a few too! Luckily, neither one of us has used our knowledge of each other’s triggers to our advantage over the years!
Marriage Advice #2: Divide and conquer.
There is a lot of work to be done in life and love. When you’re living together, there seems to be an ever growing list of chores. It’s not fun, it’s adulting and sometimes it just sucks. You should both commit (and expect) to do 60% of the workload all of the time. It’s a more mild version of the “hope for the best but plan for the worst” mentality. It also prevents one half of the couple from resenting the other.
Set roles and responsibilities for the two of you. They can be little things too! This doesn’t need to be done day one. It took Matt and I a few years to figure out who was best at what task. That clarity of responsibility will help immensely. We’ve learned the hard way that when we don’t have clarity, things get missed. Either you’re both working on the same thing and doing double work or neither one of you is. That’s a guarantee.
Marriage Advice #3: Time.
Make time for each other. Quality time. Admittedly, this is one Matt and I are still working on as we balance our schedules. Since I already set a bunch of 2018 goals, maybe I’ll put that on the back burner until 2019 (yes I’m already thinking that far ahead). Figure out what works for you two. Whether it’s having breakfast together or going on a dinner date, make the time.
What has really helped us is actually scheduling time on our calendars. Otherwise, it’s always something we say we should do and it never happens. We use Gmail religiously to communicate events, hang outs, and travel plans. Matt even sends me an invite for when he’s getting his hair cut and tags it with “Matt only” so I know it’s a him only event. That’s what works for us. Find out how you prefer to operate and what you see success with and devote time to each other.
Marriage Advice #4: Teamwork.
Ideally, you and your significant other should be operating like you’re on the same team. If you don’t have a teammate, you’re probably in the wrong relationship. When you’re coming home to the same person every night, it can feel like you guys are a little isolated from the world. That tends to manifest into a he-said, she-said whenever anything goes wrong. Avoid this. And trust me, it’s not going to be possible 100% of the time. After all, we’re human. But approach your marriage as a team. Talk through and work through everything. Together.
One of the things I struggle with most is reminding myself that Matt and I are on the same team. It’s not because he’s done anything wrong and it’s not related to anything I’ve done either. I’m extremely independent and even though we’ve been together for almost 6 years, I sometimes revert back to my single days. I try to do everything on my own and I don’t ask for help. I’m exceptionally bad at asking for help or admitting that I’m falling short. It took me until 3 months ago to let Matt in on the secret that I needed help balancing everything with my day job and this blog! And I’ve been doing this for 4 years!!
Just know that your significant other is going to be your biggest supporter and your greatest advocate. Remind yourself of that daily. Even if he or she does something that seems like they’re working against you, chances are, it’s unintentionally. Identify where things went wrong with your partner and find an approach for how to avoid it next time. Communicate.
Marriage Advice #5: Love language.
If you haven’t taken this test, do it right now. Even if you’re not in a relationship it’s important to know what your love language is and if you have multiple. It will help you identify what you need in a relationship. If you are in a relationship, it will not only help you know what to ask your partner for, but will also help you know what you need to give your partner. It will make things easier to categorize.
Matt and I didn’t take this until a few years into our relationship. Turns out, we both have 2 love languages and none of them are in common. After reading the results, it was like a huge beam of light shined down on us. You tend to treat your significant other how you’d want to be treated. However, after taking the test, I realized why that didn’t really seem to have a knock it out of the park success rate. Our love languages were different!
For example, one of my love languages is physical touch. I’m constantly touching Matt. Whether my hair is on him as we’re laying on the couch or I require a kiss before he leaves for the day (studies show this improves a man’s health so added bonus for him), I want to always have some kind of contact with him. I also would try to console him or reassure him in the same way. But that wasn’t really what was important to him. So, I’ve changed my approach to using words of affirmation (one of his love languages) instead. And now Matt knows that using words of affirmation on me when I’m struggling with something or have had a bad day aren’t as effective. All I really want is a good long hug and I’ll feel better!
Do you have any marriage advice? What are your tips for making a relationship work?