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Open Thread: The Marriage Advice I Wish I’d Heard


by Maddie Eisenhart, Digital Director & Style Editor

Open Thread: The Marriage Advice I Wish Id Heard | A Practical Wedding

Something you guys might not know about me is that I’m the oldest of five children. In fact, most of my siblings are a good few years younger than me (the youngest are still in high school), which means that when it comes to conversations about love and relationships, I’ve elected myself as a sort of figure of authority and expertise on the subject for them. Mostly against their will, but, you know. Old habits.

Just this past weekend, I was chatting with one of my younger sisters (not still in high school) and the conversation turned to marriage. It was a casual discussion, but before I knew what was happening, I found myself haphazardly spewing marriage advice at her as if somebody’d uncapped a shaken bottle of Pepsi. I just wanted to tell her all the things I’d learned these past few years with the hopes that maybe she’d be able to take my knowledge and before it was too late use it to enter into the institution with a little more grace than I did. (Mom, if you’re reading this, Casey’s not getting married. We were just talking in generalities and I got carried away. What’s new?)

But you know what I quickly realized? It’s nearly impossible to try and give your kid sister marriage advice without sounding like a snobby know-it-all (or that might just be my particular problem, but again with those old habits). But the thing is, whether my sister needs it or not, I feel like there is a ton of marriage advice that I have stored up now that I wish I could go back in time and dole out to twenty-three-year-old Maddie. For example, I wish I’d known that therapy isn’t just for when things are bad. Or that if you have the funds, and if it’s not hiding a deeper issue, sometimes it’s okay to throw money at your problems just to make them go away (which is why we’ll be hiring an accountant for our taxes this year).

There is a ton of crappy marriage advice out there, I’ll admit. And it’s possible I’ve even given some myself. But for this open thread I want to ask you guys: What’s the marriage advice you wish you’d heard?

Photo by: Gabriel Harber Photography (APW Sponsor)

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.

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  • Moe

    I’ve been married six months.

    When I was growing up in church marriage had always been described as two people becoming one. I always thought of that in terms of legal, financial, living arrangements etc. I never understood just how invested I would become in my husband.

    When he has a job interview, I am the one in knots until it’s over. When he has a bad day with his grade school students I become stressed out. When he’s discouraged, excited, hopeful, anxious about anything I am too.

    I know some APW people have said that marriage changes everything and for some it doesn’t change anything. I think I am of the camp that says it most definitely changes something that I’ve yet to fully understand.

    • Laurel

      Funny, my advice is the opposite: you are still separate people even if you’re married and live together. Sometimes things feel hard in the relationship because one of both of us is having a hard time. Then it doesn’t help to try to work on the relationship — we have to work on the stuff that’s bothering us individually. It’s also been important to us to spend time apart and maintain separate friendships and interests. We like different things, sometimes, and trying to do everything together just makes us both cranky.

      • Sheila

        Laurel, I was going to say something similar. I’ve been married for five years, and I still have to remind myself that not all of my husband’s problems are my problems. He is putting off writing something for his grad program and I know he’s going to be majorly stressed doing it at the last minute? I can encourage him, help him find small first steps, but it is ultimately not my problem. Sure he might look bad to his grad advisor, but this doesn’t really have anything to do with me. Now, if he was jeopardizing his actual job, I would get more involved, because that affects me and our two kids… we’re counting on that income. But I do have to draw the line and not get too enmeshed in his issues. I am a very empathetic person and often have trouble with that, but it’s extra hard when it’s someone you love so much.

        In terms of good advice I DID receive (from our priest during pre-Cana and then read later on APW): assume good intent.

        • Kat

          I love assume good intent! That’s great advice.

          • Riah

            I’m not married yet, but assuming good intent is the most important part of keeping me sane during wedding planning.

          • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

            I think assume good intent is good relationship advice for every aspect of life. Mother being too controlling? Assume good intent. Co-worker behind in their work? Assume good intent. It makes the world a look a little brighter.

  • Tiffany

    I’ve only been married for seven months, so I’m still trying to internalize this, but I’m learning that every marriage is unique. While there are things to learn from others, ultimately my marriage is not theirs. That can be as simple as knowing that, for us, it’s not important to designate who takes the garbage out. It can be complicated as battling against stereotypes of name-changing and sex and knowing that just because someone else’s seemingly perfect marriage fell apart, it doesn’t mean ours will. We are different people and our marriage is different. Not every lesson that someone has learned about marriage can be applied to every one. The closer I come to internalizing that, the more content I am in my marriage.

  • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

    Another oldest child of 5 here! Woo!

    I wish I’d known how much of an adjustment it would be learning to live together. We didn’t live together before we got married, but we spent most nights together, so I wasn’t prepared for much to change. Oh, boy, was I wrong. The first month of marriage was fine, but then the next 2-3 were rough. Things seem to be better now, but we had lots of tearful conversations to get to this point.

    • Renee

      The advice I’d love to hear as an engaged person? How this moving in together business is complicated when you’re both over 30 and have therefore developed your own, individual ways of doing everything from taxes to cleaning. Some of which might not have to be reconciled, but many will.

  • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

    I’ve been married for five months. Best advice? There is no winning in marriage.

    • Maddie

      OOOHHH. LOVE.

    • Natalie

      Love this.

    • Erin

      Man. I think maybe that is the marriage advice I needed to /hear/ right now.

    • SarahToo

      corollary to this: in an argument I try to ask myself: would you rather be “right” or happy? In especially stubborn moments, this can really help me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, set my cussedness aside and let go of my need to “win” the argument. Besides, deep down inside, I know I’m right anyway, yes? No need to make each other miserable proving it ;)

      • Abby Mae

        I am SO glad I read this. I really needed to hear that. Thanks.

      • C

        ABSOLUTELY. This is one of the main lessons counseling has taught me. Sometimes I have to choose: I can be right… or I can be married.

        Especially helpful when I get annoyed about him not cleaning his spill in the fridge because “it’s the principle of the matter” only to realize that fridge cleaning is a dumb thing to have principles about.

      • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

        “deep down inside, I know I’m right anyway, yes? No need to make each other miserable proving it”

        Yes. This. Totally.

        Or, as a corollary that has served me very well over the last couple years: Just because deep down inside, I know he’s dead wrong? He doesn’t need to know that. It’ll only make him sad and angry.

    • KC

      Absolutely. And when it feels like winning is So Important, then that’s a really good time to step back and ask what the argument is really about for each of you; sometimes the argument really is just about what kind of canned tomatoes can be legitimately put in spaghetti sauce, sometimes it’s honestly *not*. (frequent candidates for me are self-esteem/respect and trust, with frequent squabble instigators being sleep deprivation, bad days, and hormones/stress)

      • Caroline

        It’s really never about what we are having for dinner for us. It’s either about us being hungry/tired, or it’s about deep expectations about what our life will be like. (We aren’t married yet, but we’re definitely learning this one already.)

    • http://townhousetohome.wordpress.com adria

      During my Father’s speech at our wedding he shared his advice to us on having a long, happy marriage…”When you’re wrong, admit you’re wrong. When you’re right, keep your mouth shut.”

      Because yes, there is no winning in marriage.

    • Denzi

      Corollary I got from another married couple in passing:

      When you fight, you’re usually not the only ones in the room.

      What they meant was that the way you fought with your family and your friends formed the way you fought, and often a fight is unconsciously fraught with feelings related to those fights. Or even just feelings related to things you are afraid of not getting in your relationship.

      I also take it to mean that your fights have implications beyond the two of you, because marriage isn’t an island, it’s a relationship within a wider community of relationships.

  • Natalie

    I have been married 8 months. This is what I have to say.

    1. Marriage is really, really hard. Be gentle with yourself, and with your partner. They are learning, too. It takes A LOT OF TIME to get used to living with someone else and taking on new roles and responsibilities within a marital relationship.

    2. If you decide to change your name, which I did, take some time to process this shift in your identity. Many women told me this before I got married. I DID NOT TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. Changing your name—emotionally, practically, and psychologically—is a very big deal. I had a deep emotional connection to my name and it took me some time to process my identity and get used to people calling me by a new name, especially at work.

    3. Some days, you are going to feel like total hell. Some days are going to be awesome. Some days you will fight and it will be really bad. Some days, you will fight and you will make progress. Some days, one of you might mess up dinner and you will have to get take-out. Your new blender might break and you might have a fight about it. You might fight about how to load and unload the dishwasher. (AM I SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE? YES.) The point is, it’s going to be ok. Things will get a little easier and more straightforward over time. Take a walk and cool off.

    4. Sex can be complicated, even within a marriage. I was naive. Try to discuss sexual preferences and expectations before marriage. Sex changes throughout the marriage, especially given some of the added stress in the first year. Take your assumptions and throw them right out the window. We discussed many of these items before marriage, but when we started living together, NOTHING could have prepared me for some of the emotional confusion that came with ‘you’re here all the time, which means I can have sex with you whenever I want. right?’ I was so wrong. SO WRONG!

    5. I am going to say this, even though it seems obvious, but try your best not to threaten divorce. I run very hot. I have a horrible temper, and marriage has been a very difficult transition for me. I am still struggling. I can honestly say, with shame, that I have mentioned the d-word in moments of extreme frustration, even though I did not mean it. Try your best not to do it, even though it’s tempting when you are very angry at your spouse. It has a tendency to create extreme insecurity over time and has really done damage to our barely blooming marriage. I am horrible at controlling my words. If I had to do it over, I would watch my words more carefully.

    • Grace

      Oh god, “EXACTLY!!!” all the way.

      We’re still ten months out from our wedding, but we’ve been living together for over a year. We’ve been running into a lot of this.

      The name change is the thing I’m starting to feel weird about. Don’t get me wrong–I have complete conviction in my decision to change my name–but I’m starting to have a bit of an identity crisis. I sort of feel like I’m saying my goodbyes to an ailing family member.

      And the “threatening divorce” thing… I never thought of that. But it’s totally something I would do out of anger.

      Thank you for the great advice. I’m going to have to write it down somewhere. Maybe I’ll start a marriage journal.

    • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

      OMG #2 YES. It was a million times harder than I expected it to be. I’m still adjusting 5 months after the wedding.

      • Parsley

        If you are relatively new to APW, go look for the posts about changing your name. There have been a bunch of them, and they’re incredibly helpful.

    • E

      My partner and I live together and we had some bad fights early on (mostly due to my working out old feelings, he was patient through it…) but we made a promise at one point never to threaten to break up. Wow, has it ever changed everything.

    • Trena

      I’m 5 months from that name change yet, but I have taken a lot of time to think about the name change. And frankly, I can’t wait! I come from a very broken and disfunctional family, so changing my name almost feels like a relief. A break from my past, and a chance to symbolically ‘start over’, even though I physically did that a long time ago. Bring on being a Mrs!

      • Hannah

        Right there with you, sister.

      • Liz

        Thank you for this perspective.

    • http://sparklemotiondecor.com Megan Good

      I can 100% relate to #2. I was planning on changing my name and didn’t think much of it….my maiden name is easily mispronounced and misspelled, whereas my husband’s last name is Good. But when I actually made the change it was very emotional! My name – my identity – of almost 29 years was changing to match the last name of a man I knew for 5 years. It’s been about 5 months since I changed my name and about 9 months since I said “i do” and my new name feels more real now and I’m happy with my decision…..but it’s good advice to take time early on to process this change!!!

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      My “exactly” was about the dishwasher. Because no one knows how to load it but me, apparently. *grumpily picks the wooden handled steak knives from the silverware basket*

  • Army Amy*

    Sometimes you won’t feel like having sex. Have it anyway.

    • KC

      Unless you’re going to resent it or it hurts a ton. In which case, get that sorted out.

      • Shiri

        Or, unless it’ll make you cry.

        • Amanda

          Provided the crying is bad crying and not good re-connecting, emotional crying.

          • Riah

            Yes! It took a while to get my fiancé to be okay with the fact that sometimes me crying during sex isn’t a bad thing. I just have emotions, and sometimes they come out.

    • Remy

      Nope, I’m going to disagree with this one. (Which is fine; all marriages/relationships are not the same, and we do what works for us.)

      Sometimes your partner won’t feel like having sex. Masturbate instead. See if they’d be willing to cuddle, if you’re wanting closeness. Make out and put sex off the table for the night. Do not make your partner feel guilty, resentful, or less-than because of a temporary or ongoing incompatibility of libidos.

    • Caroline

      For us, I think it is more: see if you can get into the mood anyways, give it a try anyways. But if it isn’t happening, then masturbation with cuddles is best, don’t push it too hard.
      I think the point of this advice, though is that sometimes you get in a non-sex rut and if you decide to have sex and do foreplay, you’ll often get in the mood even when thought you weren’t.

      • Copper

        Plus, if we know our partners generally try to get in the mood for us, then the times when they say “it’s just not going to happen tonight” are doubly respected because we know they aren’t just brushing us off for no reason.

      • Grace

        I just keep up a regular “schedule”, so to speak, even when I’m busy and not necessarily feeling all that sexy. Because I know that the more I have now, the easier it is for me to get in the mood later. The less I have, the more it becomes like pulling teeth to get me interested… and that’s how ruts happen. Ruts are bad. :(

        • Alyssa

          I think it was Ariel at Offbeat Empire who likened sex to inertia…a gonad in motion stays in motion, a gonad at rest stays at rest. I often get into ruts, but when I’m feeling ready, I just go for it and see where the mood takes things….often leading to good spurts in our sex life.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu Carolyn Moir

      Yeah, this advice needs a caveat.

      I used to hear this all the time and so I forced myself to agree to sex when I HATED it. When it was painful. When it was traumatic. All because I thought that’s what you had to do for a relationship.

      Now I now that there are definitely times when you should have sex even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes I feel a little blah and like I’m not sure I really want to go through the trouble, but then once I do it anyway, I really enjoy it.

      Those times are way different from doing it when you actually dread it for some reason. In those times, I’d say talk out your dread and fear and don’t force anything.

    • Anon

      But sometimes you have the right to say no to sex when you don’t want sex. Especially if you’ve survived rape/abuse/coercion.

      • Remy

        Underscored, with a bit of the equivocating chopped off. You always have the right to say no to sex when you don’t want sex. Always. No matter what.

  • KATE

    My mom gave me really good advice when I was deciding whether or not to get married. She said that you don’t have to be 100% sure that you’re going to be happy with your partner for the rest of your life, you just have to be sure that you want to try.

    • Ashley

      Wow. That is so…perfect.

    • Marie

      This is an absolutely gorgeous way of putting it. You can’t imagine the ease of mind you just gave me. Sincerely, thank you.

      As for my contribution, I heard somewhere that the secret to marriage is never falling out of love at the same time.

    • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

      Thank you for this one, Kate. This is beautiful and going up on my inspiration wall.

    • L Dub

      Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s perfect advice.

  • SarahToo

    That bit about “therapy isn’t just for when things are bad”…I really wish that was on my radar earlier. My partner and I were together for almost 6 years before we got married, and while things were mostly pretty good (in some ways absolutely great, in other ways somewhat shakey) it never occurred to me to get couple’s councelling until I started having panic attacks about getting married in the months leading up to the actual wedding. After being on a waiting list for months, we finally started seeing a councellor only three weeks before W-day, and it helped me get over my anxieties. But once we were safely hitched, we agreed to keep going because it was helping us learn to communicate better, work as a team, understand each other more. and do everything in our power to become the most powerfully supportive allies for each other we could possibly be. All of which will undoubtedly put us in a much better position than we’d otherwise be in case life ever deals us a real tough hand.

    • Parsley

      Someone once told me that the point of marriage/couples counseling is that sometimes we don’t have the skills to keep our promises to each other, and marriage/couples counseling is where we go to learn the skills to keep our vows. I have always liked that way of thinking about it. I want to keep my promises, for example, to communicate well with my partner, but sometimes I need help figuring out how.

    • C

      I love counseling (we’ve done some couples and I’ve done some individual). I’m not ashamed to admit it, because it’s a sign of hard work and commitment to wellness. For the most part my life was okay pre-counseling… but I’ve achieved a higher well-being now. I want everyone to have the opportunity to explore that path, so I’m pretty open about my love of counseling.

    • Crayfish Kate

      Yes, this, so very much! I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do premarital/couples counseling, and when I suggested it, Fiancé totally balked. He agreed to go, but not without some heel-digging and questioning (Why do I have to go when it’s only YOU that wants to? This sort of thing doesn’t always work, you know, I don’t believe in some of this stuff. Etc, etc). We’ve had several sessions, and it’s helped me immensely. On the way home after our last session, he said “You know, I’m glad we did this. I have to admit, it’s been good to talk about these things.” TA DAA!!!

      Moral of the story: It might help, even if you think you’ve got it all sorted out already.

  • Amanda L.

    Remind yourself not to try to change your partner. Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘I wish he’d do x not y.’ But I feel in love with him while he was doing x, so why should I try to change him now that we’re married? My goal is to only fight the big battles and to let the little ones slide (including how he loads the dishwasher).

    • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com erin

      Yess. I’m so bad about picking fights (or letting little things get to me) when I’m tired and stressed. And 90% of the time they are dumb fights that I wouldn’t care a bit about tomorrow. So going to bed angry is sort of my barometer. When I wake up, is it still worth fighting about? Usually it isn’t.

      • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com erin

        Ha! Sorry, this was actually for the advice below!

        (But yours is also awesome.)

    • Celesta

      OMG, THIS! So many people go into relationships with the aim to change the other person. I feel that if you can’t accept your partner with all their idiosyncrasies, even if they annoy the bajeezus out of you sometimes, then you shouldn’t be in the relationship.

    • http://www.hungrybruno.com Adrienne

      I definitely needed to hear this today. Such a good point. (But also arrrrggh the dishwasher!)

      • ANI

        if there is something (like the dishwasher loading/unloading) that really really irks one person, and the other person doesn’t have strong feelings about it, then let the person with the strong feelings just handle that item alone. give them control and dominion over the dishwasher — all the responsibility, all of the power! ;)

        • MDBethann

          That’s me! While we both try to be energy-conscious, my DH would lightly load it and run the dishwasher every day if he could. I arrange things so it is full but the surfaces get clean – was a bump when we first moved in together, but then we decided: we split cooking, I do dishes, and he takes out the trash & recycling. It works and now the dishwasher gets loaded properly ;-)

        • Not Sarah

          But what about if one person has strong feelings about absolutely nothing and would happily live in a dirty pigsty and the other person has strong feelings about everything? Should the person with no feelings get to sit around on the couch and read the internet while the other person does the dishes, cleans the kitchen, cleans the bathroom sinks, the toilets, the shower, and the mirrors, vacuums, washes the sheets, towels, and clothes?

          • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

            There’s compromise. The pigsty person should at least have strong feelings about their Person’s happiness and contribute in some way.

            I’m the pigpen person in my household, but I do what I can to not drive my husband nuts. I try to keep clothes off the floor, and I pick up my used coffee mugs that I leave lying about every other day. I try to keep the clutter to a minimum, so he has the ability to do the “real cleaning”. I can’t figure out what chemical or sponge to use on what surface to save my life, and I always miss a spot. But I can do my best to look around and go “what will make husband sad about this picture?” and spend five minutes puttering around picking up after myself.

  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

    Go to bed angry. Most fights can’t be resolved immediately, and you’re only going to feel worse when you’re tired. Go to bed, try and get some sleep, come back to it the next day with a clear head. Nothing wrong with taking a step back – and everything looks better in the morning anyway.

    • Jaya

      Oh god so true. So many times if we get into a fight at night I just start saying things I don’t mean because I’m tired and I’m not thinking correctly, and it makes it worse. Sleeping usually lets us wake up refreshed and 90% of the time we forget what we were fighting about, so it wasn’t that big of a deal anyway.

    • Susan

      My favorite trick? I dwell on things for ages, and my partner is the opposite, so going to bed angry just makes me angrier (he peacefully falls asleep immediately while I continue to argue in my head and resent him for “not caring” enough about this argument to stay awake and hash it out with me, however incapable of having a rational argument I am at the time). So we have angry sex, I feel better, I don’t resent him as we fall asleep (and am then reminded that he is someone I love, as opposed to a debate parter I am dueling with), and the next morning we can either come back to the argument if it’s an important one, or we can skip it entirely if it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

      Sometimes I even stop arguing a little earlier than I would normally (and I am nothing if not an eternal argue-to-the-death kind of person) just for the sex. Works surprisingly well!

      • Riah

        I love this.

      • Maddie

        I love everything about this.

      • Nicole

        This is awesome advice.

      • http://becomingbrown.wordpress.com Jennifer Lyn

        OMG this is brilliant. Must share with partner now.

      • Copper

        Also being an in-my-head-argument continuer, I may have to try this.

      • Another Anon

        So I like this in theory, but in practice I find angry sex, hate sex, makeup sex, all the sex in that category totally baffling. Whenever I fight with my boyfriend, I am totally turned off. And all the times I have gone along with sex afterwards, it’s just…..bad.

        So, ladies who love fight sex, can you give me some tips? Like, are you still mad at your partner, but you just kinda push them against the wall and start going at it? Do you announce that you will table this later and then proceed to make out with each other? What if he or she starts touching you and you’re like, “Get away from me, you selfish idiot who doesn’t understand the concept of taking the garbage out”?

        I mean, seriously. I’m an adult in a long-term relationship and I have NO idea how this works.

    • KC

      YES! Also, in some cases, it helps to schedule a time-to-hash-things-out (later in the week, after some sleep, when you don’t have tight schedule constraints) so you can just table the disagreement until then. Sometimes agreeing together that this argument is important enough to work out at X scheduled time is enough to get the relationship-feelings back on balance.

    • Maddie

      YESSS. Can I also add to avoid arguing when you’ve a few too many glasses of wine? Or at least…I’ve heard that’s good advice. Never done it myself. Ahem.

      • Emily

        Guh, we just had a HUGE discussion about babies after LOTS of wine. There were tears.
        We’ve scheduled a time to continue the discussion sans booze, hopefully to better results.

    • Nicole

      I couldn’t agree more! Going to bed angry has probably improved our marriage (… or prevented me from saying really horrible things that I really don’t mean) more than most other things combined.

    • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

      ha – can i put in “never go to bed angry” as my advice?

      i don’t really do angry, but i have a bad case of internalization and a mild case of insomnia, so going to bed upset is just code for “stay up all night spiraling into further distress.” i can see how it works for some folks (see: my wife), but it is not for me.

      as an alternative, and more seriously, i advise not finishing distressing conversations – just stop in the middle with a promise to talk about them when they are not imminently relevant – much more likely to reveal actual solutions, and almost guaranteed to curb the amount of sobbing (or screaming, if that’s your thing).

      • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

        This is my trick. If I go to bed upset, I’ll be upset for days. But we’ve figured out that we can stop in the middle of an argument, both say that there is a problem and that we want to fix it. Suddenly I can sleep and the next day we can talk about it again. Win win!

    • Kelly

      I often start big conversations which turn into fights right before we go to bed and I completely agree with the advice to go to bed angry rather than hash it out when we’re exhausted and irrational. BUT I’m definitely the type to dwell on it while he drifts peacefully off to sleep. It’s helped me a huge amount to plan a time when we’re going to have the conversation the next day and write down whatever I’m upset about- that way I don’t have to think about/remember it all. Once its on paper I can release it for the time being, knowing I’m allowed to still be upset about it later (if it seems like as big of a deal in the morning).

  • KC

    If a piece of lingerie is funny, he is not laughing at you-trying-to-be-sexy. He is laughing at the lingerie (unless he is a jerk, in which case, avoid marriage to jerks). Try early on to either avoid wearing legitimately hilarious lingerie (definitions may vary, but sequins plus animal theme plus chiffon plus lace plus wavy purple ruffles was a bit too much going on in one item on me, and if I had looked at myself rather than just thinking “all lingerie is sexy, therefore this will make me Serious and Sexy unless something is wrong with me”, I would have laughed too) or try to avoid taking it personally. A year or two later (or whenever your sense of humor/self-esteem/togetherness/trust moves to that point) you can wear the hilarious stuff and pose ridiculously with duck lips and laugh together.

    (similarly, your partner being too tired/stressed/etc. to be interested in sex means that your partner is too tired/stressed/etc. to be interested in sex. Not that you are less-than in any meaningful sense.)

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      In the theme of sexy undergarments:

      Do not take it personally when your partner completely ignores any sexy garments you spent a lot of time pondering and an obscene amount of money on, and definitely do not drunkenly yell at them for it. Take it as a compliment to your innate sexiness, and a lesson to invest any future Sexy Undergarment Funds to something they’ll appreciate. Or a pedicure.

      • KC

        Yep. I think this can probably be generalized to: do not assume that because you spent a lot of time/money/effort on something for your spouse, they will automatically appreciate it in the “correct” proportion or manner. If if is important to you that something you give or do be appreciated in a certain way, *warn them first* that this is important in this way to you and try to lower your expectations, generally. (hey, communications and expectations!)

        (And I totally agree: if a particular attempt/genre doesn’t work out, use your time/money/effort on something different that’s nice for them and/or you instead of beating a dead, but sexily-undergarmented horse. :-) )

  • http://turningtoward.blogspot.com Kara H.

    1) Take care of yourself (because your partner can’t fix you), and as a corollary…
    2) As someone beautifully put above, in marriage two become one, which means that everything affects both of you

    At this moment, my partner and I (married for a couple months now) are struggling through the process of finding a system that works to manage my anxiety disorder, and, to be honest, it’s really shitty. See, my health affects both of us: when things are good, they’re really really good, but some days the anxiety’s flaring up, and I feel terrible and crazy and guilty, and he feels helpless and overwhelmed. He is an amazing support, and getting this disorder under control would be so much harder without him. But though he can help and love and support, he can’t fix me or my anxiety disorder- I have to take the necessary steps to manage my own mental health. If anything, taking these steps becomes all the more crucial because this anxiety affects both of us. And while I always knew that my partner couldn’t fix me or complete me or be responsible for my complete happiness, I don’t think I fully realized how much adding another person to your life in this way affects the decision calculus and stakes of the choices you make.

    Oh, and 3) Good sex takes time.
    My partner and I were a couple that waited to have sex, and at first few weeks of sex were a little rough (not in a good way). It took us about a month to really start to figure each other out, and since then it’s been pretty great. So, if you choose to wait, give yourself some grace at the beginning.

    • Not Sarah

      I think that this is the hardest part about having someone around all the time. I can manage just fine by myself, but balancing with someone else. OMG HEADSPLODE. Do you have any tips on how you guys are managing it?

    • Brenda

      My husband struggles with anxiety, and it helps me to hear your perspective, which is pretty much how I think he feels. It’s really hard to know the line between supporting and enabling, where I’m changing my life in ways that are unnatural to me in order to accommodate his anxiety instead of helping him work through it.

      • SR

        Yes. Well put! The line between supporting and enabling is so tough.

    • http://doomedforhappiness.Blogspot.com Shana

      Yes! #2

      At first I thought I haven’t learned anything yet, but after reading that I realized I’m in that same dang boat boat

  • LaLa

    Learn how to make your partner laugh. It’ll help when arguments are getting too heated (read: stupid) and need to be brought down a notch.

  • Rachael

    Go to therapy every. single. year. No matter what. Our pastor said this in premarital counseling and I was like, “yeah right.” But we go to the doctor every year for a check up of our bodies, why not get a yearly check up on our marriage with a professional?

    Sometimes it will be a quick visit, and sometimes you might find something worth investigating further. Its about investment in the future.

    • meg

      Oh! I love this. I might take this advice.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I don’t really have “advice,” but here are some surprises as we approach our 3-month anniversary:

    *It was totally possible to avoid talking about wedding planning (among friends, co-workers, etc.), but everyone wants to talk about being a newlywed.

    *Name-change issues are inevitable, even if you’re not changing your name. The Curate decided I’d hyphenated, which I never even considered, and now I have to get that fixed.

    *Going to the gynecologist isn’t that bad. Sex is awful.

    *Talk about babies hasn’t come from those actually close to us, but from people it’s even harder to shut up.

    • Hannah

      Sex is awful? :(

  • Shiri

    Someone actually did tell me this, though not in the context of advice. She said, “there have been good years and there have been bad years.” Meaning, it will go up and it will go down, and it may stay up for a while, and it may stay down for a while. It’s ok – and important – to know when things have been bad for too long.

    And, the relationship that you build with your partner is just as important as the partner you choose.

    • Maddie

      The best advice I’ve ever seen on APW was from an earlier post, I think where Meg was quoting her grandmother, maybe? Anyway, basically said the same as what you’ve said above and BOY has this been the best thing for me to repeat to myself during particularly rough patches.

      And of course, especially important to pair with knowing when things have been bad for too long. It’s all a fine line, but such a good thing to live by.

      • meg

        That’s my mom’s advice.

  • Teresa

    I have to say thank you to all the posters for the wonderful advice!

    I have been married before, and will be re-married in almost 3 months. I may be in a different boat this time since I’ve been married before.

    One major change I made when I first started dating my fiance was “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” because really, are you going to let dirty socks left on the floor, and weird noises after eating beef jerky ruin your day? No. Just get over it and get over yourself.

    Also, LAUGH.

    • meg

      Laugh. I think that’s key. Keeping a sexual relationship going (up above a conversation sort of implied that intercourse is the only kind of sex, and that’s totally not true). And keep up laughing. If you’re doing both on a pretty regular basis, it makes everything else easier.

  • Allison

    On our wedding night, our caterer gave us a piece of advice that I think of almost daily : Don’t keep score.

    • Michelle

      My husband’s reaction to this advice was, “Or score as much as possible.”

      • Jasmine

        My favorite advice is “Do more than your fair share, and don’t keep score”

  • Beca

    After 3.5 years married, 10.5 years together, this is my biggie:

    When you get caught doing Something You Shouldn’t Have Been Doing– no matter how big or small– own up to it. Explain why you did That Thing, if you can. Own up to Doing Wrong. APOLOGIZE. And mean it.

    Man, it can be really, really hard– but admitting mistakes immediately instead of denying The Thing, or trying to hide The Thing, only makes it worse. Put on your Big Girl Pants and be an adult.

    • One More Sara

      Chronic problem hider here!! I’m learning (very slowly) that my partner wants to help and support me through my problems. After I told him about the first Big Thing I had been hiding, he actually said he was sorry to me. (SAY WHAT!?!) He said he was sorry that I had to deal with it for so long by myself. If I had told him sooner, he could’ve helped me sooner. What a concept! I’m still working on asking for help, but slowly I’m getting better.

    • Natalie

      Big girl pants. Heck yes! I need to wear those more often. Man, I have felt sorry for myself in these first months of being married. I feel like I need to grow up sometimes and just face the music: I AM A GROWN WOMAN AND I AM MARRIED. Time to take responsibility for it, and stop whining about how I don’t want to try sometimes.

  • Olivia

    I’ve been married a year and a half…time flies! Here’s my two cents:

    1. I didn’t feel any regret changing my name and that’s ok too! It doesn’t need to be a world-shaking thing. I was so happy to do it and felt 100% good about it the whole time.
    2. The best piece of advice my aunt gave me (she’s 30 years married and going strong!) is that when the other person pulls out a book to read, that is not the moment to start talking to them. And this is so true! Give each other quiet, calm moments. Let them breathe, let yourself breathe. Even if everything is wonderful and great, quiet is wonderful. Quiet does not equal bad.
    3. Make sure your partner knows how to cook. Mine does not (he’s learning!), and I feel a lot of stress deciding what to cook and cooking (sometimes, sometimes I love it!).
    4. Keep the bathroom door closed when you go #2. Seriously.

    • Maddie

      Brilliant. All of it.

    • Margret

      #3 is why we just implemented a system of divying up cooking nights. I’m Sunday-Tuesday, he’s Wednesday-Friday. I’m here for advice if wanted, but other than that, he’s in charge on his nights and I’m in charge on mine. After a few misadventures, he’s learning quite quickly what works and doesn’t, and gaining confidence quickly. A couple weeks of oddish dinners are going to pay off big time!
      and THANK YOU #4. Gross. That is not a line that needs crossing.

    • One More Sara

      Re: #2. Also try to be aware of time spent in books. I tend to read a book cover to cover as fast as humanly possible, and as a result lose the ability to do much of anything else. On one particularly long reading binge, my partner told me it was really getting to him that I wasn’t paying attention. He’s also not much of a reader, so we can’t really have co-reading bonding time or something… but we’ve compromised that while he watches soccer (and the soccer talk shows), he can’t complain about me reading. Other times that I’m reading, it’s okay for him to ask me to put the book down. (It sounds like a silly problem, but it’s one that we definitely needed to sort out)

      • Mary

        This sounds like me and my husband. He loves soccer and i love books :) And I totally understand putting the book down sometimes (even when it’s so tough to do!!)

  • http://proofitgood.tumblr.com Rizubunny

    We’ve been together for nearly 8 years and married for nearly 2. We try really, really hard to do the things below, although it’s not always easy. It seems like most relationships go wrong not from the big stuff, but from the little things that build up over time until you just can’t take it any more but don’t know how you got there, so we try to not let things build up.

    1. Always respect each other in public (in private too, obviously) – even in little things like not quibbling over a fact or something unless it’s *actually* important, and not making snide little comments that sound like teasing. Apologize when you don’t.

    2. When the hard, crappy times come, and you don’t like your partner, or maybe don’t even feel like you love him/her, it helps to remember that you don’t have to love him/her all at once. You just have to choose to be with and love and keep trying for the next second (sometimes even a minute is too long to choose to love somebody that you want to strangle). But you can endure pretty much anything for just one second – even sticking your hand in a fire. I think a healthy relationship is made of people who keep choosing to love, second by second.

    3. Talk about things that bother you while they’re little. It doesn’t have to be right away, but don’t wait til there are twenty things that pile up. Articulate what you’re feeling and ask for the validation you need, even if it feels like a stupid tiny thing – e.g., “When we were watching TV and you said that that girl’s hair looked stupid it made me feel like you thought my hair looked stupid because my hair kind of looks like her hair. I know that’s not what you meant but can you please tell me that’s not what you meant?” It goes both ways – be willing to hear what you did/said and not defend it, but just provide the validation/affirmation your partner needs.

    4. Acknowledge what the other person does – a LOT. E.g., “thank you for folding the clothes. I really appreciate it.” Ask for acknowledgement when you need it – again, even if it feels like a stupid thing that you shouldn’t need to be recognized for. “I would like to be acknowledged for changing the cats’ water.” It really makes an incredible difference.

    • carrie

      Wow, to the second point. Beautiful. And an amen to three!

    • Suzzie

      Number 4 is what we really work on in our marriage at the moment! Sometimes I have a tough time with it because my husband’s definition of what is clean and mine are totally different! Being slightly anal retentive, you can imagine what my clean looks like versus “I wiped most everything down, who cares if it isn’t totally shiny or smells like cleaning product”. So I’ve learned to appreciate that he actually took the effort to help out around the house (especially during my fibro pain flares). Now instead of pointing out what doesn’t look exactly clean, I give him a big hug and tell him how much I appreciate that he took the time to help me especially with his busy work schedule (he is a contractor, so works a lot and long hours). He’s also learning how to show his appreciation when I do things, like dishes, that I don’t normally do instead of saying how much he wishes I would do it more often (hehe).

    • Car-ita

      Oh #3 for sure. That is exactly what I need to hear and take to heart. I hold those little things in until they are big things and then I just explode with emotion. Recently we were making save the dates, and I kind of wanted to be in charge of that part, but he wanted to give them a try. I didn’t realize it bugged me until he was working on them, and then I didn’t say anything because he deserved a chance to design them too. But after while, I was bawling because it felt like he didn’t like my ideas and like the designs I had done were terrible, when in reality if I had explained that I had my heart set on designing them, it wouldn’t have been any big deal. It’s hard, but I need to communicate earlier and more.

    • Ashley

      Yes to #4. We say, thank-you to each other all the time, for everything. Big and small. Thank you for loving me. Thanks for being you. Thanks for always taking the garbage out. Thanks for being the kind of guy who doesn’t expect me to do all the laundry, literally everything I appreciate I thank him for. I think I actually get more out of thanking him for doing things than when he thanks me. I feels so good to appreciate and value him, and on the reverse it’s so nice to be appreciated too.

    • Caroline

      Number 1 is such a biggie! And it can be really subtle. It’s something I’m working on, realizing that there are certain things I say about him or to him in public that feel like no big deal to me but really disrespectful to him. I’ve gotten better, and we’re working on the “always talk your partner up not down to others” thing. It’s so important.

      • Stacy Lynn

        #1 is my problem area as well. Seriously

        Sometimes I vent about my BF and I don’t think that I necessarily overdo it but its important to remember to also talk up the positives. I’m not much of talker in general so I have to be aware that giving more weight the negatives makes them appear disproportional.

        I use to be terrible about making snide comments about my BF in social settings with really close friends. For me it was a situation where I was trying to be funny with this deprecating humor directed at him and it was really shitty. Initially I would catch myself in the middle of saying something and I would feel SO bad. But I have made great strides to fix this.

        The last and most difficult way this affects us is that I can be mean and pick on him. I know this is a learned behavior modeled on my parent’s relationship. Also my extended family is terribly snarky and ornery. Teasing and picking on each other IS affection in my family. So the closer I am to someone the more teasing they get(?) to endure.

        After meeting my parents for the first time he picked right up on the fact that they “are always picking on each other.” Conversely after my first holiday with his extended family I described them to my mother as being “so nice to each other.” (While many people might think this is the norm I meant it as a surprising and notable characteristic.)

        Of course I don’t think this is a healthiest way to treat each other but it has been sooo hard to unlearn. Really hard. Even though it’s something I feel bad about. Even though it created a difficult relationship with my father from age 8-20+. I HATED the teasing especially because I got NO conventional expression of affection from him.

        To make things more problematic I’m usually oblivious that I am picking on my BF. And its worse if I missed him or haven’t seen him all day or all weekend. My BF is a wonderful person and is really good about telling me nicely and simply when I’m “feisty” or picking on him, which helps tremendously. If I recognize what I am doing I can apologize, shift gears, and refocus my affection in other ways.

    • meg

      We’ve also been together 8 years, and THIS.

      I’d add to #1, don’t bitch about your partner (close friends and family members on a confidential level totally, and healthily excluded). This ramps up once you have kids, apparently. Whenever I’m around women just BITCHING about their partner and his ability to father (or mother, but I haven’t been in that situation), all my red flags go up. What does it say if that’s how you treat one of the people closest to you in public?

      • C

        Exactly. We all want to feel loved and respected, so few things are more embarrassing than having your flaws highlighted in public. Nothing shuts my partner down faster than feeling disrespected. Yes, I’m honest with my friends about the imperfections in my marriage, but I try never to speak negatively of my husband. Those are two different things.

    • Carolyn

      Yes to all of it, especially #1! I definitely have a sarcastic sense of humor that can slide into snark which slides into totally accidentally kind of mean. But you know, I’m working on it.

    • Elisa

      Number 4 is so important! I was surprised I made it this far without someone mentioning it. I think if I had to choose one thing that keeps our marriage going strong and keeps us happy, it is showing each other gratitude for even the tiniest or most mundane things. “I see you scrubbed the toilet. Thank you, it really needed it!” It keeps us from feeling resentment toward one another and we each feel appreciated.

      Number 1 is something I have had to work on and I think it is huge. I would tell stories that embarrassed my husband and he didn’t want people to hear. I just thought they were funny, but I should have checked with him before I blurted them out because I do understand where he’s coming from.

      I also try not to complain about him to others. If something bothers me, shouldn’t I bring it up with him so we can work it out? What is the point in complaining to others? It only gives them in unrealistic negative impression of him. That’s not fair!

    • Emma

      I know this is a year late, but yes to 4! Especially the asking for acknowledgement when you need it. One of the biggest fights I had with my boyfriend ended with me figuring out that I was upset because I always thanked him for what he did around the house, but what I did was not acknowledged and it created this dynamic where I felt like it was assumed that all the household tasks were my responsibility and anything he did was a favor to me. When we both realized that I just needed him to acknowledge and thank me for what I did, it eased a lot of tension and resentment!

  • Hoppy Bunny

    When you fight, fight with kindness in your heart. Try not to say things JUST because you know they will hurt. Even though arguments stem from frustration, you have them because you want something to be different–more positive, and using nasty words won’t make that happen any faster. Plus you’ll feel bad later. Plus mudslinging is just lazy.

  • http://townhousetohome.wordpress.com adria

    I would say to only aruge face to face, while making eye contact.

    I’ve found that if I’m actually looking at my husband, I can’t be mad. There are times that I’ll be enraged about something and then he’ll catch my eyes and I’ll start laughing. If something is truly upsetting me, sometimes I’ll have to talk to him from the other room so I get the words out before I see his face…and sometimes I do it through e-mail, just to clear my mind and say what I feel I need to say. But actual arguments (which do happen, even though some people will say that they “never fight”) should be done respectfully, in person, and you should be looking at one another so the focus is on the discussion, not anything else.

    • Christina

      This is good! My husband says ” please look at me when you are talking” and that helps me to refocus and not say things that are mean.

    • Christina

      This is good! My husband says ” please look at me when you are talking” and that helps me to refocus and not say things that are mean. Sometimes I don’t feel like it though its hard!

    • sarahmrose

      Definitely agree with this. I would also add: DO NOT start/continue an argument over text/online chat/email…it never ends well. Believe me, I’ve given into the temptation before. At the very least just pick up the phone so you have to listen to their voice.

    • Jaya

      I realize this is a few days late, but I had something to add!

      I’ve actually found that in certain cases, arguing over email/IM can be incredibly helpful. If you’re like me and get flustered when fighting and tend to forget what you’re saying. Sometimes when we fight in person I just get angry and start crying, and have a hard time remembering why I felt so hurt, or what he may have said to upset me, which just leaves me feeling hurt and him feeling confused and nothing resolved.

      Over IM or email however, I can take time to craft a thoughtful response and really think about what made me upset. And I can go back and look at things he may have said to upset me, and quote him on it, instead of just saying “You know, that thing you said before, that was mean.” And he can do the same for me. Obviously it has its cons, but it can be really great to have the time to sort through your feelings.

  • Anon

    Just a couple of things I didn’t realize would be SO HARD – making big decisions together (like buying a house or even buying a fridge) and my family’s adjustment to my new family situation. Learning how to adjust to being married and trying to help other people adjust to you being married now is a constant process.

  • carrie

    Married for 1.5 years, and I read a comment (I think) on APW that said if she and her partner didn’t have a big belly laugh at least once every few days, they would do a check to make sure everything is okay. I have found this to be a fantastic gauge in our marriage, because the laughing is a big part of us.

  • Suzzie

    Not sure it was advice, but when my dad spoke to my husband (at the time he wasn’t my husband, he was calling to talk to my parents about us getting engaged) for the first time on the phone, my dad asked, “I know you love my daughter, but do you LIKE her?” He explained that there are times where you may not love the person. That those feelings of “love” will ebb and flow but actually liking who you are with knowing faults, etc will help keep a couple together. My parents are coming up on their 40th anniversary and growing up I do know they had their hard times, so I always remember that as well during marriage. That there will be hard times where you don’t get along, have fights, work takes up too much time, someone gets sick, etc but that it is possible to work through those things together!

    • Shiri

      This is awesome. I always think of it in reverse, that sometimes I may not like him (or my sister, or my best friend, or whoever I’m arguing with that I love) but I know I love him.

      • Suzzie

        In context, I think my dad was more so thinking along the lines of “infatuation” that can get confused with “love”. We’ve seen many people over the years fall apart because they fell in “love” and put their blinders on to serious issues in the relationship and when they fell out of “love”, they found out they didn’t even like the person. But with the kind of love that keeps people together, I think those definitions of like/love change. So your way totally works as well =)

        When we’ve had hard times, I have to remind myself that I chose to be with the man I married and why I chose to be with him (the things I like/love about him and about our relationship together).

      • Kelly

        “This is awesome. I always think of it in reverse, that sometimes I may not like him (or my sister, or my best friend, or whoever I’m arguing with that I love) but I know I love him.”

        THIS. I’ve been trying to make a point recently of saying “I love you” or “I still love you, you know” when we’re in the middle of a big fight. It’s important for me to say it and him to hear it- this fight doesn’t change anything about the core of who we are as a couple, and once we get through it we will be fine.

  • anonforthis

    I wish someone had told me that sex changes over the span of a relationship, and more important that that’s OK! I had this idea that when sex changes in a marriage it’s always in the direction of “sex death” i.e. less sex or less good sex, and if that happens then it’s a TERRIBLE thing and you’ll probably divorce and spend every night in a bar sobbing to strangers about needing to find yourself, I don’t know. So when our sexual frequency and inventiveness decreased during stressful times, I completely freaked. I’m still working on relaxing about that, and we’ve been together 11 years and married for 3.

    So what I wish someone had told me: There will be times when your sex life will be great. There will be times when your sex life will be crappy. A great sex life does not necessarily mean your marriage is great, and a crappy sex life does not necessarily mean your marriage is crappy. If your sex life is crappy now, that does not mean it will always be crappy. If you feel and express desire for each other, if you spend plenty of time cuddling, if you kiss each other just because it makes you smile, you’re probably just fine.

  • http://Weehermione.blogspot.com Hayley

    I’ve been married almost three years and I wish someone had confirmed what I felt: the people you are when you get married are still the people you will be the next day, and the next day, and you’ll change together, sure, but the wedding won’t change the core of what makes you who you are. It will add to it. So many people are like ohhhh as soon as you get married you’ll do x or he’ll do y and…no. That was not true for us. We might do things differently or think differently about some things but that’s due to time, not some magical Wedding Voodoo. the way our minds work and the way our hearts beat are the same.

  • Amanda

    Something we wrote into our vows was that we would “fight fair” (because all couples fight, the difference is in whether it builds up your relationship or tears it down) and this has been hard but soooo good. We fight (and communicate in general ) SO WELL as a married couple. We both feel this way, we are committed to it. For us fighting fair means not bringing in history that’s already been settled to a current argument, not driving spikes into your partner’s heart as only family knows how to do so well (Calling him that one thing he hates, playing on his deepest insecurity to boost your security, Acting the victim, basically anything that entails being a manipulative bully), allowing each other time apart to think/write/clear our heads so that we can address things honestly, being honest with each other, owning our own issues, lovingly communicating what your partner has done that hurt you and why.

  • Margret

    We’ve been married for a rollercoaster two and a half years, and the best think I can think of is that we’re a team. We picked each other, and we’re in each other’s corners no matter what. So when 3 weeks into our marriage my parents were arrested and we suddenly became guardians of my 15 year old sister, we did it together. When my parents were sentenced to 5 years determinate time and I was given the durable power of attorney, he had my back while I made some tough decisions. When his alcoholic father quit rehab and cut off all contact with us, I was in my husband’s corner. As we’re facing the end of our schooling, I was nervous for him when he went on interviews, and he is nervous for me as I submit internship applications. My successes are his successes, and my failures are his failures. If one of us is unhappy, our team isn’t doing well. Just like a shortstop and a pitcher play different roles but both are essential to the success of a team, sometimes we have different roles to play, but when he is financially supporting both of us next year, I’ll know that my contribution to our lives and marriage are just as important as his, just like when I financially supported us in our first year of marriage. Looking at us as a team has really helped me keep perspective as we’ve faced some pretty tough stuff.

    • Rymenhild

      I’d love to see your Reclaiming Wife post, if you were willing.

      • Margret

        I’ve thought about it, but there are still a lot of unprocessed emotions. Of course, writing it out might be helpful…

    • Natalie

      Wow. That is an amazing story of strength. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  • Kerry

    Almost two and a half years after the wedding, I am very glad to be married, and also finding that marriage is sometimes what I expected and sometimes very different. My two cents:

    1. The first year might be hard. It might not, but if it is, don’t let people shame you when they joke, “What, the honeymoon’s over already?” There’s a lot of change to adjust to, at least for some of us. My husband and I were not living together before we got married, but even beyond the logistics of sharing a home and combining finances, something shifted in our relationship. It took a couple months of my feeling like he was pushing back way more – about every decision we tried to make together – before I asked what was going on. He said, “It feels like every choice we make now is setting a precedent, so it’s more important to get it right.”

    2. As a result, you might have to do a lot of negotiating in that adjustment period. Decision-making changes when every calendar item, every spending choice affects someone else. Figure out what’s worth discussing every time, and what general guidelines you can set up to prevent hurt feelings or unnecessary conflict.

    3. Make time for fun. We found that if we waited to do things spontaneously, including sex, they didn’t happen as often as we wanted them to. Planning ahead, even just from one day to the next, gives you time to anticipate and look forward to a date night, whether it’s bowling with friends, a Saturday picnic, or just dinner and a movie at home.

    4. As much as marriage is about two becoming one, it’s also about being two-in-one, not losing your identities even as you identify more closely with each other. You take each other into consideration more fully, but that means honoring your own needs and values equally with your partner’s, not subjugating yourself any more than you would have your partner give up his or her self, personhood, identity. It’s a balancing act, or a rhythm, never static, often challenging, always worthwhile.

    • Sarah

      My husband and I have very different sex drives, and we found that scheduling sex nights helped us a lot. We picked two days of the week that are designated, and probably 90% of the time we stick to it. We have a day-before exception, so if we want to spontaneously have sex the day before a designated day, that “fulfills the requirement”. If one or both of us are really tired, we can defer, but we try to really keep that to a minimum because going too long without will subtly add tension to our relationship (in ways that are now more predictable, but took a lot of sorting out). Maybe we’re the boring types, but cutting out the suggestion/dread/rejection/guilt cycle has really done wonders for us.

    • Meg

      woops , I reported you when I meant to thank you. Meg&co! Don’t remove it! The two in one thing is perfect !

  • Anon

    Marriage advice no one gave me: if you decide to get pregnant on your honeymoon, you’ll be dealing with new marriage and pregnancy hormones all at once. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to space out those major life transitions a little bit more.

    Still happy we did it this way, but I had NO IDEA it would be this hard! I’m sure my partner had moments of wondering who the F he married in the first few months….

  • Elizabeth

    Be nice and say “thank you” – even for things you think he/she should be doing anyway. (You know, thanks for taking out the garbage. Thanks for washing the dishes.) I find when I do this for my husband, he tends to say it back to me, and we are both happier when we feel appreciated.

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    That your marriage is only yours and your partner’s, which means you can decide what marriage means to you. And those rules are always up for discussion, if need be. You’re not trapped in anyone else’s marriage – your parents’, your siblings’, what you think society says – but your own. And you won’t feel trapped in your own marriage if you embrace this rule and make it what feeds you, what works for you, and what you dream up.

    Nobody told me, and I caught on pretty quickly after our wedding that this was the deal, but I would have had a little less of a freakout during my engagement had someone said it straight up.

    • Jaya

      This is perfect.

    • Marina

      Oh, hear hear.

  • Remy

    I’m finding that when things go wrong in my/our life, or if I’m having a bad week/day/month, I’m afraid to talk about it because I don’t want people to assume that our marriage is having trouble. (4 months post-wedding now.) For me, it’s all the OTHER stuff (school, work, health, etc.) that’s changing and going through upheaval, and my relationship with my wife is pretty much the bedrock of good and normal even if it’s evolving (which I think is fine and expected).

    I’m not sure I can form that into advice, but perhaps: Things will go wrong and they may affect your married life (because, as was pointed out upthread, just about everything does now), but that doesn’t mean your marriage is the problem or that it was a bad idea to get married.

  • lmba

    Define your sex life for yourself.

    Don’t label your sex life as “bad” just because it doesn’t fit an external ideal you have in your mind. (In our case, this meant me letting go of the idea of intercourse as the most “full” expression of sexual intimacy because of health conditions that made it impossible.) Don’t assume you are failing just because one aspect of your sex life is weaker. Look inside yourselves and figure out what you want from sex, then talk to each other about how to get it. You can have a really satisfying sex life AND have areas of difficulty at the same time. The issues don’t get to steal your sense of success!

  • http://fianceesarehumanstoo.tumblr.com/ fianceesarehumanstoo

    I would add to this already great advice:

    – Don’t start arguments with “You always….” or “You never….” If your partner has annoyed you, say so, acknowledge it and move on – that means forgiving them. Don’t stack up arguments or count up the number of times they didn’t take the bin out, just to explode at them when things get a bit too much.

    – Respect that your partner thinks you are great. I have a really, really great husband. So great that sometimes, his successes leave me feeling a bit lacking, and I get all down on myself. But…he loves me! I’m not rubbish, because I know he makes good choices…

    – Celebrate that you are a team. When you do something together, celebrate that you did! Enjoy that you made it all the way from Shetland to Delhi without getting stressed, or that you worked on your deadlines and helped each other out.

    – Don’t argue when you are tired, or running late. The real issue may seem like “You don’t affirm my identity as an individual enough!” but it is actually that you are running late.

    – Talk about sex. As someone who waited until the wedding night, can’t give better advice than that. Talk about it before you are married, and at Day 1, Week 1, Month 1…etc. You need to be on the same page and understand each other’s desires and expectations.

    Finally – make an effort to include other people into your marriage. Make people feel welcome, make sure you don’t ditch your friends, support people who need a bit of help, using the stability that you are lucky enough to have.

    The end! All out of advice.

    • Amanda

      Love the last two!
      I honestly think of our sex life as the physical manifestation of our communication. If we’re open and honest with each other and able to communicate our needs and desires and fantasies this is reflected in our sex life.
      And welcoming others into our marriage is something I’m working on expanding right now :)

  • Jeannine

    We will celebrate 19 years married in August. These are the things I wish I was told before getting hitched.
    1. Keep and treasure your girlfriends. They can fill in the blanks where your husband fails to.
    2. Never expect him to be “The Hero”…he is a man, nothing more. He will make mistakes, bad decisions and act like an ass occasionally. this is normal..being a husband does not make you a saint.
    3.As sex becomes less often , you must still keep your intimacy. Even if it is just a kiss on the neck in passing. It does make a difference.
    4. Most importantly… NEVER say that ONE thing you can’t take back. You know what it is.The sore spot. We all have them, whether its bad teeth, a pot belly and stretch marks, or the darkest secret you have. NEVER use that ONE thing in an argument as leverage.You can never go back after that cat is out of the bag.

  • Katrina

    When we got married, we actually didn’t get much advice, all I got was, “Marriage is SO HARD.” and “The things he loves you for he will eventually hate.” I’ve learned so far that it’s hard when you keep things to yourself, when you cloak your thoughts in shadow and say nothing.

    My advice to anyone, either getting married, is married, thinking about getting married, in a relationship, what have you, I would say to be open and honest with your partner, and with yourself. Don’t hide things, it’s not going to make it better. When someone you love asks you what’s wrong, tell them, because you really will feel better, and your loved one may surprise you with how much they can help!

  • Amanda

    Best marriage advice I never received: helping him pay off his student loan debt isn’t scary/annoying/terrible. In fact, it’s exciting and liberating. Because when he clears up this debt, he will be free. And THAT means WE will be free. Free to increase retirement savings, education accounts for (future) children, world travel, etc.

    • Hillori

      Thank you for this, Amanda. We are fighting about this right now, except it is my debt. He has your attitude about the situation.

  • Marie

    I’ve only been married 7 months, but for me I needed to give my self permission to sometimes wish I wasn’t married and that I still loved alone or with my best girl-friends. I love my husby and our marriage is very strong, we’re both very chill personalities and living together came naturally, just sometimes I miss how my life used to look. And that’s okay, it doesn’t mean we’re going to end up in divorce court. We’re both independent, me fiercely so, and sometimes I miss being responsible only for myself. Quit everything and go live in Hawaii for a year? my single self would have jumped at it, not I can’t without serious repercussions to a relationship I greatly value. And I miss that, AND it wouldt’ trade it for my husband.
    Also I learned it’s okay to not have marriage and being the best wife be the biggest part of my existence. I grew up in conservative Christian circles where the woman is expected to have marriage, wife-dom and motherhood be the end all be all of her life, and though I don’t believe that way anymore, many of my friends have some of those leanings and when they ask me how married life is, I honestly say “it’s about the same” flatly, because it is. I am still myself, my husband is still himself. We’re not “one” we’re very invested in each other and provide each other with profound comfort and support I have never gotten anywhere else, but out day to day life and identities didn’t change. When describing myself “wife” dose not make the top 10 list, maybe even the top 20 list. And that’s OKAY. I used to feel like something was wrong with me, for not feels “so different” and so jubilant over being a wife, but now I know every marriage and every relationship is different and my and my husbands relationship is authentically “us” and it looks different in some ways from “conventional” marriage but it’s “us” and that’s what matters.

  • http://mylifeasherbst.wordpress.com AutumnE

    My mama always said that marriage is compromise, but that doesn’t mean 50/50 all the time. She said some years it is 70/30 and some years 40/60 and all sorts of variation over the many years of marriage.

    I like to add that while one year may be 70/30, it is important to make sure some of the day to day stuff ends up 50/50. Supporting a partner is hard work too!

  • Renee.S

    Our priest told us if a fight is getting too hot to handle, fight naked.

    • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com erin

      Ha! I love it!

    • Shiri

      Even better that it’s from a priest!

    • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

      Ours said to go into the bathroom.

  • Bethany

    This is another great open thread! I really enjoyed the one on sex last week.

    My husband and I have been married a little over a year, and we lived together for five years before getting married. We had bought a house together, and we decided to keep our finances separate for a few years after we got married. So I figured not much would change when we got married. What I didn’t realize was how making a lifetime commitment to one another would change the way we talk to each other and feel about each other. It’s not just that we use the words “husband” and “marriage” now. We’ll casually mention plans for retirement together or what we want our grandchildren to call us. It’s a major mental shift that happens over time. You aren’t just together; you’re together forever, and you’re both going to work to make sure it lasts.

    Also, for us planning a wedding was actually less stressful and less trying on our relationship than buying a home together. It could be because planning a wedding only took one year and buying a home took us two years (with 8 offers on foreclosed homes), but more likely it’s that we felt much less in control of the home-buying process.

  • http://dylanandsarah.com Sarah T

    No cursing at each other. I’m not against curse words in general at all, but having a fight with cursing directed at you escalates it so much faster than necessary. Also they tend to go hand in hand with “you always” kind of statements, which also do no good.

    • Caroline

      Yes, so much. We are both total sailors in day to day life, but we make a huge effort not to swear at each other. That would make our fights a different level on nasty that we don’t want to go to.

  • Margaret

    I realize this is wedding advice, not marriage advice, but I wish I had gotten Miss Manner’s advice on guest lists: determine who you want to have there before you determine what to feed them.

    I have never met anyone who took this advice, though.

    • Laurel

      We did! It’s very good advice. But we were also lucky that it worked out pretty easily. We have small families and similar preferences about who should be invited.

    • Newtie

      I took this advice, too! We had many a sleepless night figuring out the menu, but the guest list was a breeze. :) I’d definitely recommend this to anyone planning a wedding – I’d rather shed tears over cutting an appetizer than over cutting a cousin.

      (It should be noted that my mother probably cried way more over appetizers than she would have ever cried over cousins. But this advice made things much easier on my partner and me.)

    • alyssa

      We did this too! We ended up with a LOT of people, and a GREAT dessert bar. We didn’t miss dinner at all!
      And I have to say, it’s amazing how many people volunteered to bake/make/ and bring desserts without pay. Your “people” love you!

  • Jen

    My advice would be to make intamacy a priority in your marriage. That means actively thinking about ways to be more intimate with your partner but also thinking about whether your actions or words are creating a more intimate environment, or whether they are inhibiting intimacy.

  • http://hodoeporicon.blogspot.com Stacey

    “I love you” isn’t enough, on its own. Yes, it’s the reason you’re there – your reason for living – your reason for being. BUT. “i’m sorry” and “can we talk about this?” and “i’m listening” and other such phrases are way more important than just the I love you’s.

  • Natalie

    I thought of another phrase that I read in a marriage advice book. It reads:
    “Do more than your fair share, and never keep score.”
    Our priest told us when we were engaged to make sure that we saw our marriage not as 50/50, not as 60/40 or 70/30, but as a contract in which we each gave one hundred percent of our love and devotion to each other.

    When I want to stop trying, and when I am feeling REALLY discouraged, I try to remember this point.

    All of these are so good! I have been weeping on and off at my desk all day about some of these.

  • Hintz

    so much wonderful advice! I love it!

    to add my own… while we are not married yet, we’ve been together for 9 years and serious for most of it. One of the most important things for us is remembering to close the laptop and put down the phone – pay attention, it will make a big difference. Also, a well timed pillow fight to break the stress of a crappy day/week/evening can do wonders, it might not dispel the negativity, but at least it might lift for a moment.

    • http://www.unabodaconvencional.blogspot.com Miss Chloé

      A simple and high-effective advice!! Sometimes our partner just needs some of our attention. Put down the TV, the laptop, the phone; and simply stay there. This is so difficult in our normal lives sometimes…

    • Anon

      We’re not married yet, but this is so important! I’d go further, and say keep all the technology out of the bedroom, if you can – that helps us to chat properly once we’re in bed, and it helps us to be intimate, rather than distracted by a screen.

  • https://www.etsy.com/shop/thecraneheart Beth

    My husband and I were together for 6 years and lived together for 4 years before we tied the knot. I thought nothing would change. So much changed. You find yourself thinking “forever?” sometimes and you think it’s bad to think that. It’s SO okay to think that. We drive each other nuts sometimes. He does things that get me fired up and believe you me, I fire him up. He had vinyl letters made for the toilet that say “PLEASE FLUSH” because when he took a piss at 3am once the toilet overflowed. He had just about had it with my “yellow, mellow” rule at that point. But ya know- I laughed my ass off when I saw that and I almost always flush now!

    My advice:

    1. Talk it out- always. It’s okay to go to bed without having all the answers but we never do without a hug and kiss- and maybe even a snuggle. I love him to pieces even when he totally pisses me off!
    2. Commit to date nights. Life goes by and day to day obligations sometimes get in the way of spending quality time together. Make plans to eat at the diner, walk in the woods or play some rummy. And it’s okay to do things together that you don’t totally love equally. Take turns sharing your joys with each other!
    3. Have sex even if you don’t feel totally ‘in the mood’. Being tired is okay, being cranky is alright….once you get into it, it almost always rocks your socks off- literally! Just don’t be a lazy sex partner ALL the time!
    4. LAUGH- always laugh. It’s so much fun to have a ‘buddy for life’ so enjoy it and be silly, do silly things.

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    The one thing I wish I’d been told was how contradictory all the advice out there is. Marriage is work, a good marriage shouldn’t be work. The first year is hard, the first year is easy. Schedule sex, be spontaneous. Don’t go to bed angry, give yourself time to cool off. Merge your money, keep things separate. Find what combinations work for your own unique relationship and make the two of you happy and fly with that.

    As long as you can treat each other with love and respect? So much of the rest of the prescriptive advise is just suggestions on how to do that, and only you and your spouse will know what works for the two of you. The rest is just keeping some perspective about life.

  • Carolyn

    Remember you’re on the same team.

  • Natalie

    This is advice my uncle gave me, the day after our wedding: stand 100% behind your decisions made as a couple. Even if you were initially not in agreement. Once you decide something together, you close ranks behind it. Basically, to the world, you are a team. Alone, you can fight about stuff and disagree and whatever else. But when you come to a decision, you stay with it, even if it doesn’t go well. No, “oh well that was YOUR idea” if it tanks. We don’t have children yet, but I can see this being SO important as a parenting team. It’s already been helpful to keep in mind in other, smaller decisions that we make.

  • http://www.amid Lisa

    Figure out how much money you need to live happily. Make sure you both feel happy in a similar lifestyle.

  • Rebecca

    Our personal shared rule, in it’s non-p.c. short form, is “no passive aggressive b.s.” In nicer terms- don’t expect the other person to be a mind-reader, and if you find yourself thinking “why don’t they just ___,” you either say something or you don’t get to complain. Or you can complain, but the other person is under no obligation to feel guilty. Of course, this means that when the other person asks for something, you do your best to make it happen (within reason). Asking nicely is still required.

    This is particularly useful with socks/ dishes/ other things you might be inclined to leave until the other person notices you are leaving them on purpose.

    • Brenda

      Yes to the No Passive-Agressive BS! This was something I had to learn in my relationships with friends, when I was single and bitter (not that single is inherently bitter, but I specifically was single and bitter about it). I tried to make my mantra “say what I mean, and mean what I say” – meaning, don’t expect people to read my mind, and stop doing the “but you know when I say this what I REALLY mean is that!” crap that I used to pull.

      It helped me to have better relationships with my friends and family, and with myself, so that when my husband came along I was in a much better position to be in a relationship with him than I would have been a couple of years earlier.

  • 39bride

    Married six months and we’ve discovered that two ideas we had before we got married (don’t think they were advice we got from anyone specific) turned out to be very good.

    1. Keep the electronics out of the bedroom (unless you’re sick). We’re both very plugged-in people, but following this has allowed us to make the bedroom a kind of sacred space where we are always “present” to each other. It has also turned the last few minutes before sleep into a guaranteed time to reconnect physically and emotionally, a real treasure in our busy lives.

    2. When your partner is irritating you, stop and think about how much that irritating action/habit really means to you and why it upsets you. If it matters enough, OWN IT and tell him/her: “_________ drives me nuts. I know it’s not a big deal to you, but it’s really upsetting to me because __________. Is there anything we can do to make it easier for you to do this differently or for me cope with it?” If you can’t do this, you don’t get to complain. Relatedly, watch out for the potential for these kinds of things to develop, and try to head them off at the pass. For example, I noticed while we were dating that somehow my now-husband manages to instantly fill any soap dish he uses full of water, making a disgusting slime. I have never mentioned it to him, but maybe someday I’ll tell him why our bathroom soap dish (facial bar) is the type that has a grid with a drain under it, and all the other soap dishes in the house are actually pumps… ;)

    3. Ask questions (don’t assume)! Especially if your partner is the quiet type.

    • MDBethann

      I completely agree with #1! We don’t have our computers or a TV in our bedroom. Our phones go in there at night, but they are “dumb phones” and do double-duty as our alarm clocks in the morning. That way, our only distractions are sleep, the stupid stuff inside our heads, or an annoying cat meowing outside the door because she’s nosy (and wants attention).

  • Kris

    My mom gave me this advice when I was a teenager, and it has stuck with me, including now that I am engaged, and have been living with my partner for 4 years: “Love is emotional and hard to control. You can LOVE someone even if you can’t stand them, or they are bad for you. The more important thing is to LIKE your partner; like who they are and what you are together. When you wake up everyday and still LIKE the person who is beside you – still want to spend time with them, etc., that is when a marriage is solid.”

  • okiram

    if you (or your partner) feel angry, frustrated, annoyed, about to scream…take a moment to see when the last time you had something to drink / eat was. Sometimes physical hunger or thirst can cause you to be overly sensitive to minor things and blow things out of proportion. Get a glass of water, have a cookie, and discuss calmly.

    • Stacey H.

      I am at my worst when I am hangry. Thankfully we both recognize this and always have snacks available. :)

  • Anon

    1)Our priest told us- never let your spouse misinterpret your feelings. If your spouse is too mad to communicate, communicate for them (paraphrase your feelings back to th). Slamming a door could mean a bad commute or I want a divorce. Never let your spouse know there IS something wrong, but not what. So in our house, the alarm is raised when I say, ” the priest made me promise to tell you, I’m mad about -……..” this is code for “I am f-ing pissed”. Cause I can talk when im moderately mad, but I have to summon my promise to a priest to communicate when I’m volcanic mad.

    This has always solved the go-to-bed-mad problem or not. If we both have communicated why we are mad, we can go to bed. Resolving the problem can wait until morning. I need time to simmer down.

    2)Which is why my advice also is -get thee to a therapist (priest, counselor, etc). Just once, just annually , just weekly . whatever. My marriage is forever better because we went to premarital counseling. We learned how to talk to one another in a new way. And I learned not to whine about my husband to my mother (she’s biased)

    3)Whenever I think a good thought, I say it out loud(or text him, at work) a day full of I love you sweetums sugarcake hot tamale does wonders when you come home bitching about the dishes.

    • Remy

      Yes, acknowledging the moments of goodness during the day is important. Sometimes I’ll leave work thinking, “I can’t wait to get home and kiss my wife!”, and then I have a crappy commute, someone harasses me when I get off the bus, the key sticks in the door, and when I walk into our apartment I trip over the shoes she left in the hallway and twist my ankle. So the very first time I see her since I left that morning, I am in a FOUL mood. But she has a couple of schmoopy texts and an email full of romantic lyrics, and eventually after I’ve gotten some food into me and put away the shoes, we can snuggle.

  • Naomi

    We asked people to give us tips for marriage in our guest book- my favourite few are:
    1. Always talk- if your sad talk, concerned talk, unhoppy talk- and if you can’t spell get spelling lessons (or drink less)
    2. Laugh a lot together, cry a little if you must but always remember this day and how much you love each other!
    3. When you are so cross you can’t say anything nice- don’t say anything.
    4. When the going gets tough (as it will!) be kind to each other and wait for things to Improve, as they surely will

    I’m trying to remember these ones. Love some of the bits of advice above too- might add some to the back of the guest book!

  • Alyssa

    Talk to your partner when you get home, even if you’re tired. It can be quick, but it really helps to check in, and sometimes when you thought you weren’t up for talking, it can help to get things off your chest.

  • Victoria

    My mom always had one piece of advice that I think really helps…

    “There is no 50/50 in marriage. You have to give 100% every day, every time, no matter what.”

  • http://independapotamus.com Kamille

    My favorite piece of advice: “Always make the bed.”

    It actually is good advice. I always feel better when it’s made. I’m not sure yet what exactly it has to do with our marriage, but maybe I’ll figure that out someday.

  • Sarah

    We’ve been married almost a year, and while I wouldn’t call this ‘advice’ (Because everyone’s relationships are different, and what works for me might not work for you, my triggers are not yoru triggers etc…) I will say: This works for us, and I hope it helps someone else.

    1. Laugh. A lot.
    We have had a tough first year of marriage, mainly because of finances. Even in those hard moments…even in the moments when we’re fighting…laughing makes it better.
    2. Have sex even when you don’t ‘want’ to.
    I realize this one is going to be touch a lot of nerves, and frankly, I feel like a terrible feminist when I say it. But: Sex is wicked important. It’s not always about orgasms. It’s about closeness and intimacy. And, for me, my marriage is so so much better when we have sex multiple times a week.*
    3. When all else fails…do the huddle.
    When were just barely married, my husband and I devised this for when our fights were right on the edge of getting out of hand. Either party can request a huddle. You (lovingly) wrap your arms around each other, and hash it out. For us, the act of touching each other makes it harder to be mean and say things that we’re going to want to take back anyway. It takes the “fight” out of the fight and just leaves the issue. When you’re done fighting, you say break, kiss and separate. Now, I’ve heard other versions of this “Hold hands when you fight” etc. But physically touching while fighting makes it…cleaner.
    4. Be honest with each other.
    Above all, I think this is super important. If you really really want your partner to send you flowers on Valentine’s Day…tell them. If it’s super important that they do something with you…tell them. Even if it’s just something you WANT them to do. No one can read minds, and it’s unfair to expect your partner to “just know”.

    But really? It boils down to this one thing. Wake up every day and choose to love your partner. There are days when my husband drives me batty. When I have to physically remove myself from the room to calm down and when I want to cry out of frustration. But I remember in those moments that love is a choice. And I choose him. Every day for the rest of my life. I don’t have to like him, but I choose to love him. And I think that’s such an important distinction to make. Love is a choice we make every day when we wake up.

    * Clearly, people can bring a lot of baggage into sex. And the reason I said ‘want’ is that I don’t mean you should have sex when you’re pressured to or sick or pissed at your partner (though sometimes that’s fun too) I mean when you’re feeling kind of “meh” about it. Clearly, this could be a post in itself.

  • http://www.doomedforhappiness.blogspot.com Shana

    I’ve only been married a month, so this is what I’ve learned after dating long distance 3 years + living together 3 years (we’ll see if anything changes after being married)

    1) Be nice to each other. Be polite (please and thank yous). Do nice things for each other.
    2) Communicate. Discuss things. A LOT. Don’t assume things. Talk about everything.

  • vanesssa

    My husband and I have been together nearly ten years and married for nearly three. Here are a few things that have helped us along the way:

    1. Communicate in a way that works for you: we have a lot of inside jokes, and an inside manner of communication. We’re blunt and honest. We know each others deepest fears and flaws and thus can joke about them sometimes. We have gentle ways of calling each other out, and pushing each other to our best selves. Find a spot of total comfort, which is different for every couple.

    2. Remember that you are not your past: I worry that I’ll repeat the mistakes I see in my parents relationship. They are divorced, and it had been a rocky road to that decision. Obviously, we learn things from our parents, good and bad. However, we’re not doomed to repeat everything we’ve experienced.

    3. You don’t have to do the same work (unless you want to): the balance of chores is something we squabble about occasionally. What helps me is remembering that while I cook and do the dishes, he’s happy to do things like calling customer service representatives. It’s great that we’re not roommates. We’re not tallying chores. We do our best to help eachother in the ways that suit us.

    4. You are not the same person: continue to develop yourself and your relationships outside of your marriage. Do what’s needed to pursue your dreams while keeping your partner in mind. There’s no need to settle just because you’re “settled” in a marriage.

    5. Have lots of fun and lots of afternoon sex (with naps afterwards, if yr into it, highly recommended).

  • Ale

    Nobody ever told us that passive-aggressive behaviour is not a good communication strategy. We had internalized it from observing married couples around us, sitcom couples, couples involving stand-up comedians who then wrote hilarious monologues about their relationships… It was like the done thing, and, at the beginning of our relationship, we would practise it with dedication.

    One of us would get mad at the other and, instead of telling them, would huff and puff and slam doors, expecting the other would notice. When the other noticed, they would either get defensive or start their own huffing and puffing and door-slamming. When they didn’t notice, the first person would get even madder. And, what was even worse: when one of us got mad at something outside the relationship (work, asshole drivers, dog poo on the sidewalk), the other person would assume the huffing and puffing and slamming was about something they had said or done, and the process would start all over again for no reason at all.

    One of my proudest moments in our ten-year relationship was the moment when something clicked and we came to the realization that this behaviour was toxic. We sat down, talked about it, and made the conscious decision to “not do passive-aggressive”. When one of us gets mad at the other, it is their responsibility to say it out loud in unequivocal terms. This way, if one of us is huffing/puffing/door-slamming for no apparent reason, the other person will not immediately assume that it is about them, or about the relationship, or about something they did or said. The toxic cycle of “I thought you were mad at me so I preemptively got mad at you” is stopped in its tracks. Our mantra for healthy communication is “do no passive-aggression, assume no passive-aggression”.

  • http://www.deluxecelebration.com/ Janet D. Gardner

    Marriage advice? I think, spending quality time like going out on a date is still important even after the marriage or even after having kids. Appreciate and value each other all the time.

  • Taylor

    My partner and I will be married on our 10th anniversary this year. We’re still very young, starting busy careers and developing our own identities. Here is some of the best advice we’ve gotten from parents and friends:

    1. Tolerance is never a substitute for respect- this one’s a biggie for me. Respect your partner for the whole person they are.

    2. Just because you can shower together all of the time, doesn’t mean you should. – Savour alone time, and keep some things (read: bathroom things) private

    3. Dream really big, and try a little harder

    4. If you say something more than 3 times, you’re nagging. Stop.

    5. Be quiet together. Sometimes words get in the way of other forms of self expression. Lounge together, stretch out and read together, rub your partners feet while watching a movie, or dance while cooking dinner. This was the best advice my mother could have given me. In my busy life, I’ve really come to cherish the quiet moments.

  • Daisy

    I’ve been married about ten months and my biggest take away besides go to bed angry (which doesn’t work for every couple) is to verbalize what you need. Expecting your partner to be a mind reader is unfair. Getting mad when they are trying to help but don’t know what’s wrong is just mean. You will save tears, time, anger, and frustration if you just tell your partner what it is you need. They will eventually learn over time how to handle your moods but until then, cut them some slack.

    Now if you tell them what you need and they still don’t do it, then you can reserve the right to be a little angry :)

    The best piece of advice given to me was, not everything will always be 50/50 but if both parties give 100% all the time, things will even out over a lifetime.