Marriage is a beautiful experience, but let that not be confused as easy.
The highs are inevitable, like the day you say “I Do” or welcome your first child. The lows are equally predictable. You may fight over a boundary that someone crossed, or how one of you disrespected the other.
It’s beautiful and messy all at the same time.
So that begs the question: how do you make it work? Getting married is easy, but staying married is an entirely different playing field.
Allow me to help you out. The following pieces of advice aren’t my own, but as I’ve experienced in my own marriage, they truly stand the test of time.
1. Get angry at the action, not the person
Like I said, the arguments and disagreements are inevitable. When you commit to hanging out with exclusively one person for the rest of your life, you are bound to rub each other the wrong way.
When that friction occurs, do both you and your spouse a favour and extract the action as the culprit of your aggravation, not the person. It seems like there isn’t much of a difference between the two, but it’s important to notice that there most definitely is a difference.
If you point the finger at your spouse and attack them as a person, they are more likely to get defensive and put their walls up. If, however, you choose to examine and speak to their actions, they may be more willing to bring a level head to the conversation.
It’s natural for us to get upset and want to blame a person, but in doing so we’re going to do more harm than good.
Your spouse isn’t stupid, they just did something that was stupid. Finding the subtle difference in that statement can avoid plenty of resentment from both parties.
2. Communicate your expectations about everything
The best way to avoid a disagreement is to be clear about what you expect.
Ladies, if you expect your man to help out with the household chores, let him know. You aren’t allowed to get mad or irritated with him if you’ve never made it clear that you’d like him to give you a hand. Gentlemen, if you expect a little “me” time to watch some football or work on that car you’ve been fixing up, let your wife know that you’d like to set aside some time to make that happen.
In both cases, let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that you make demands as you discuss this stuff with your spouse. Just put the information out there so that it’s heard. The number one reason that any argument or disagreement happens is that someone violated an unspoken expectation or rule. As a married couple (I hope that), you wouldn’t intentionally make each other miserable. Chances are, you simply didn’t know where the other person stood on a certain topic and rubbed them the wrong way due to your ignorance.
Clear the air early by being clear about what you want for your relationship.
3. Do nice things for no reason
The “get your wife flowers for no reason” trick has become cliche at this point, but let me tell you something: it works. Small surprises are thoughtful and unexpected. Your partner expects you to get something nice for your anniversary or their birthday, but a random Tuesday afternoon? Probably not.
Now, this trick isn’t just for husbands. Ladies, there are plenty of small gestures that you can offer to your husband to let him know that you care. Most guys wouldn’t appreciate a dozen flowers after a long day’s work, but I can’t think of many that would turn down a good meal. Cook him dinner when he isn’t expecting it. Let him lay on the couch all day and watch football while you clean the house. Let him sleep in while you take care of the kids on your day off.
It doesn’t matter who you are, these little signs of love go a long way. The longer you are with someone, the more they get used to your patterns. By disrupting that pattern with a pleasant and giving surprise will have them head over heels.
4. Create traditions
It’s important to keep the sentiment of your love alive after your years together start piling up. Whether it be a yearly anniversary getaway, a holiday ritual, or numerous family vacations, create something that you will always want to come back to.
A lot of relationship experts will urge nuance and do new things to keep things fresh, but that’s not the only way to keep your love alive. By creating traditions, you’re giving your relationship or your family cause for yearly or monthly celebrations. Although it may just be repeating old patterns, it will remind you of how much love there is.
With every anniversary getaway, you can reminisce about your first dance or your vows that you shared. With every holiday ritual, you can look back on pictures from years past and see how much you have grown together. No matter the tradition you choose to create and come back to, the sentimentality will ring true and bring back the love between you each time.
So, there you have it. Four pieces of advice that will keep you and your spouse together for as long as your vows suggested. ‘Til death do us apart may seem like a daunting adventure, but if you keep these four things in mind, that journey will come with fewer bumps and more moments of happiness. Good luck!