I've been married for a long time and my marriage is nearly perfect so...
Jared and I have been married for a little over 2 years and our marriage is far from perfect. That's why these next tips are not coming from me. Lydia Netzer posted this list in April. I somehow stumbled upon it and I've gone back to it several times since then. I love it. Not because I agree with all of it (because I don't), but because it's real, it's funny, it's unexpected. I mean how many people tell you to go to bed mad? Anyway, I've listed each tip below and included my thoughts on each- but head over to Lydia's blog for detailed descriptions and reasoning behind each tip. If you don't learn something, you'll at least laugh.
1. Go to bed mad. I don't necessarily agree with this but I do think it's needed sometimes. When there's an argument you don't have to fix it at that exact moment. I struggle with that. I constantly feel the need to fix things and can't stand any tension. Sometimes it's just best to leave things alone until things calm down and everyone has time to think.
2. Laugh if you can. Always laugh. What's the point of anything if you're not having fun? Even in the toughest situations, laughter can make things not seem as bad. On one of our first dates, I broke the cooler at the beach so we lost our food for a picnic. Then, it started pouring rain on us. I could have cried. He could have yelled at me. But we laughed. It was one of the best dates we've ever had.
3. Don't criticize. Ever. Well obviously this is a hard one. Most of us don't think before we speak (especially around people that we love and are comfortable around) and end up blurting out when something is bothering us. While I do think that you should be open about something bothering you, I think that words need to be chosen carefully.
4. Be the mirror. Lydia wrote "Be a mirror that reflects something positive..". He values your opinion. He'll believe what you say. If you're constantly nagging and telling him there's something wrong with him, he's going to believe it. Tell him he's sexy. Tell him he's strong. Tell him he makes you happy. When he sees you, he'll start to see those positive things too.
5. Be proud and brag. This is easy for me because I am in fact proud of my husband. Besides the major accomplishments in his life, I'm proud of the little things that he does too. And I like to brag. Like I did here. I'll often post a facebook status or send a text to his parents bragging about something that he did that made me so proud. It used to bother him.. I think he wasn't used to the attention. But now, I can see how much he appreciates it.
6. Do your own thing. You're into blogging and he's into hunting. That's fine. It's ok to have different hobbies and it's ok if your spouse doesn't love something that you love. I love how Lydia said that her husband would say she is the "best writer since the dawn of time" because Jared would probably say the same thing about me, even though I guarantee he rarely reads anything that I write. But the point is that he supports me and the things that I love.. even if he doesn't love the same things. Anyway, how fun would your relationship be if you two like all of the exact same things?
7. Have kids. I would revise this one to "have kids or own a dog" or something like that... The original post listed this because kids tame you and don't let you get as crazy as you may without them. I think our dog did that though... and maybe older age too :)
8. Get really good at sex. I mean you're going to be having sex with the same person for the rest of your life. You might as well perfect the art, right?
9. Move. I agree with this. Keep things interesting. Even if you can't move homes, travel. See your spouse in a different light, in different cities, in a different setting. You might see him in ways you hadn't before.
10. Stop thinking temporarily. I'm getting better at this. I admit that at the beginning of our marriage I was worried at the slightest disagreement. We would disagree about something minor and I would think "oh crap.. what if this impacts our marriage? what if he leaves me because of this?". Stop. Don't think like that. Marriage is forever. Through the good and the (really really) bad, it will be easier knowing that your marriage will stay together, no matter what.
11. Do not put yourself in trouble's way. Delete your exes from your life. That guy at work who flirts with you? Stay away. That slutty single girlfriend that you have? Maybe getting trashed with her at a bar isn't a good idea. I'm not saying that all of these things are required for a healthy marriage. I am saying that if you smell trouble, stay away. Why make things harder than they could be?
12. Make a husband pact with your friends. He's going to piss you off and there are going to be days when you say things about him that you don't mean. You need at least one friend that understand that. She'll listen and agree when you bitch about him and then once you make up, she'll act like it never happened.
13. Bitch to his mother, not yours. I don't quite understand this one yet. Maybe I'm just not at that level with my mother in-law yet. I don't feel comfortable bitching to anyone about my husband really, not even my own mom.. I don't ever want him to be seen in a negative light.
14. Be loyal. You're a team. It's you two against the world. Make your partner feel that way. One of the most comforting things in the world to me is knowing that no matter what kind of craziness life brings, Jared will be by my side.
15. Trust the person you married. "If it all goes to seed, it's going to hurt either way. Better to have gone into it full throttle. Full throttle marriage is a thrilling ride." She's right. Sometimes it is harder to be loved than to love. Remember that he made a commitment too. He said those same vows. You expect him to trust you so it's only fair for you to trust him. How can you expect to love with your whole heart if you still have it guarded? Trust him.
Like I said, I'm not an expert on marriage. And I do think that all marriages are different which means that different things will work for different marriages. Here are some things that I would add to this list.
+ Do at least one thing together everyday. Jared and I eat dinner with each other and go to bed together every single night unless there's some weird circumstance. It might seem silly or small but it really makes a difference. It's at least one thing that I can count on happening everyday. It's when we can fill each other in on our day. These are my favorite times of the day.
+ Don't expect your spouse to read your mind. I am still learning to do this. Remember when I told you about our first Valentine's Day together? That's a perfect example. Instead of being direct with Jared about my Valentine's Day expectations, I told him I didn't want to celebrate it. So we did just that-- didn't celebrate Valentine's Day... and I was upset. It sounds pretty ridiculous now that I'm talking about it. How could I be mad at him for doing exactly what I said I wanted? What a girl-like thing for me to do, huh? He can't read your mind just like you can't read his. Be direct. You'll be surprised at how many times his response will be "ok, no problem. why didn't you just tell me?". Simple as that.
+ Find each other's strengths and weaknesses. And then, work with it! This goes back to what I said earlier about being a team. Birds freak me the eff out. And bugs TERRIFY me. It may sound crazy to other people but Jared knows how much it freaks me out. Anytime a bird or bug is near me, he comes to my rescue. Jared is introverted. He hates forced conversation and will often not be the first one to speak in a group setting. Because of this, I always try to take the initiative when we're around people that he's not comfortable with yet. These are just examples of how we've learned to work together- as a team.
Let's also note that although this list is called "15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years", I'm planning on our marriage lasting a lot longer than that ;)
What would you add to this list?
Jessica is a writer, marketing & public relations specialist, and the blogger behind Jessica Who?. At her home on the web you'll find a little sarcasm, a love of photography & fashion and most importantly, a new friend. She's a Texas girl her followed her heart to an island (a really awesome Hawaiian island).