During my wedding shower, my brides-maids set up an advice jar for me to keep handy after my fiance and I were married. There were tons of pieces of advice, some were funny (like always keep beer in the fridge) and some were more serious, given in the hopes of helping our marriage survive.
Now that I’m married, I find myself sharing these same words, and my own lessons that I’ve learned, with friends and family who are engaged, hoping to help share advice that can help their marriages be strong. In a world where divorce is unfortunately all too common, advice from people who are married is never anything to roll your eyes about, it could just help save a marriage.
So here are 12 things married people want the world to know:
1. Never stop dating your spouse
A few months after my husband and I married, I surprised him by sending flirty and funny texts, and asked him out on a date. We spent the whole night pretending to be on our first date and at the end it made us feel rejuvenated and more connected. This lessons is as old as time but it’s always completely true. Once you stop dating your spouse, some of the magic fades away. Keep taking each other on dates, either planned or spontaneous, and it will help keep the romance alive!
2. Some fights aren’t worth it
It drives me crazy when his shavings are left on the bathroom sink. I used to get on his case about it constantly until I realized, it took more time and energy to fight with him about it, than it did for me to take a tissue and wipe it up quickly. Sometimes you are going to feel completely annoyed at something your spouse said or did and you’re going to want to explode. But before you do, think about if it’s worth the fight. Sometimes, it is better for both of you to take a deep breath and consider if the silly annoyance is really worth the fight.
3. But if you don’t talk at all the problem will never go away
My husband can tend to be a workaholic, and it can really create some tensions between us when I’m expecting him home or when his work interrupts our weekends. In a marriage, there will be silly problems that aren’t worth the fight, but there will also be problems that need to be talked out. When I voiced my concerns about work coming in-between us, my husband was willing to work with me in setting up some work boundaries – such as no calls during dinner. But if we hadn’t communicated, then the problem would have persisted until it became too big for us to handle.
4. Take turns doing chores
Because I’m the better cook, I used to do all the cooking. And because I can’t stand picking up dog poop (iew) my husband always used to be in charge of that. We thought it made sense to split up the household work that way. But what it actually did was cause us to get frustrated with each other, secretly wondering why we had to keep doing the same thing all the time and our spouse wasn’t helping. I still mostly do the cooking and he mostly pick up after the dogs, but we’re more willing to take turns, and share the marriage responsibilities so that neither of us becomes frustrated with the tasks.
5. Use please and thank you
One time, after we were married, I asked my husband to do something quickly. I thought I said please, he insisted he didn’t hear my say it, so he felt as though I was commanding him to do something while I thought I was asking. We don’t know who was actually right, but his frustration turned into a fight and we realized how important it is, especially after you are married to continue to use manners with each other. You never want to make your spouse feel as though they are being taken for granted or unappreciated. Using manners ensures that they know you are thankful for what they do for you.
6. There is no greater feeling than sharing a bed with your spouse
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One of my absolute favorite moments of the day is that moment when I wake up before the craziness of the day begins, I lie in bed and think of how lucky I am to be married to such a wonderful man. Starting your day and finishing your day with your favorite person is a luxury in life that is not to be taken for granted. Unfortunately, you never truly know how long you have on this earth together, so savor the realization that every day begins and ends with the one you love.
7. Sometimes you don’t like your spouse
Once when I was watching an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, character Marie Barone gave some of the best marriage advice I’ve ever heard, and I’ve believed it fully ever since she said it. “There’s going to be hate. Hate is real. Marriage is real. We might fight, but…we’re okay with each other. And do you know why? We’ve endured.” Married life is real, every emotion you feel is real. You’ll love each other more than you could ever know is possible, and you’ll hate each other sometimes too. But you work through all the positives and negatives together and together, through all of the emotions, you will endure.
8. Continue to make yourself attractive
I had to have surgery a few short months before my wedding, and unfortunately again less than a year after I was married. In the meantime, working out was very difficult and I was able to do very little. As a previous dancer, working out is very important to me and keeping my body toned made me feel healthy and attractive. Losing that ability took a very large toll on how I viewed myself and how I thought my husband viewed me as well. I worried about him finding someone else who was more attractive. I learned that “letting myself go” just because I’m married simply isn’t an option. Working out and dolling myself up once in a while gives me more confidence and I feel sexy. While my husband has always found me attractive, confidence IS sexy and my husband sees that in me too.
9. Keep the intimacy alive
I’ve found that it is natural, after time, to have those burning fires of love cool. What used to be a “Netflix and chill” kind of night slowly turns into actually watching Netflix and eating ice cream. While this is a beautiful part of being married, it can also be a little dangerous. You need to make sure that those fires of love keep burning by stealing kisses, lighting candles, and making an effort to turn off the Netflix and head to the bedroom! If the intimacy falls away, either one of you may be tempted to go find it somewhere else.
10. Let them do their own thing
I love spending as much time as I can with my husband. Weekends are the best days for my because I get a whole two days of quality husband time, even if it is just running errands. But you need to make room for your spouse to do their own thing and for you to do yours. As much as I love spending time with my husband, I also enjoy reading and writing and love taking time for myself to do that. He loves playing his guitar and watching Sunday football, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from him. He needs his space just like I need mine. Just because we are married doesn’t mean we have to have all the same hobbies or likes. Give each other space to be who you are and it will make everything more interesting!
11. Don’t forget why you married them
Every day when I’m talking to my husband, I’m reminded of what a great person and husband he is and I smile as I think about all the amazing reasons why I married him. I do this especially on my hardest days. In the hustle and bustle of life, spouses sometimes forget why they married each other in the first place. Don’t! It’s so important when things get crazy, to keep in mind all of the great qualities you married your spouse for. If you keep these things in mind, you can keep your relationship strong with the knowledge of all the things you love about your spouse.
12. Your spouse will be your everything
As soon as my engagement ring was placed on my finger, I knew that not only did our relationship status change, but his place in my life had changed. I knew he’d be my best friend, my number one cheerleader, my adviser, and my business partner. In every aspect of my life he was going to be there to be my partner and help me make major life decisions. Your spouse isn’t just your spouse, they become your everything.
Being married comes with many lessons of life and relationships. No matter how long you’re married, you continue learning. There will be mistakes, celebrations, hard times, and pure joy. But being married isn’t an ending where you live happily ever after, it’s a never ending journey that you take together.