Well, we’ve made it to five years! It’s been a truly wonderful five years despite the challenges. It’s funny. Looking back, I realize that all of my “problems” were not due to marriage. A lot of the challenges are just the growing pains of becoming an adult. We’ve bought a house, we’re preparing to start having kids, we’re paying student loans, I could go on and on. I have learned a lot over the years, about myself, about relationships. It’s amazing how similar I am to my parents and how behaviors I’ve learned from them have affected how I act in so many facets of life. Becoming aware of those influences and learning how to behave the way you want despite your first impulse can be really freeing.
I realize I’m not really a newlywed anymore, so this will most likely be my last post on this blog. I don’t really have regular readers, that I’m aware of, and most people happen upon this blog for my post on Post-Nuptial Depression. That said, I’d like to give you some general relationship advice that I’ve learned through my five years of being married. I hope you’ll find it helpful and that you’ve enjoyed the few posts I’ve written. If you’d like to get in touch or follow me in other avenues, you can find my email on the Contact page.
- Compromise: One of the first things I learned after getting married is that compromise is essential. It’s almost impossible to do anything together unless you’re both willing to give in, even if it’s just a little bit. Every time we make big purchases, it takes us weeks or months (or more!) to make a decision, because we both have to like it. If you just go along with whatever your spouse wants, you’re not going to feel a sense of ownership, and you might be setting yourself up for either resentment toward your spouse or disappointment in yourself for not being strong enough to fight for what you want.
- Communication: I have always found that it’s better to communicate how I feel even if it’s silly. I feel like this one should be self-explanatory, but in case it isn’t: talk to each other, and listen to each other. Talk about sex, talk about the future, talk about having children, talk about finances, talk about your biggest fears, talk about your insecurities, just talk!
- Expectation: Lose it. I’ve learned that you cannot expect someone to behave how you want them to behave just because you want them to. Expectation only leads to disappointment, especially if you haven’t fully communicated what you expect out of someone. Recently I had a talk with my husband about something trivial (it seems like it’s always trivial…). I think it was something as little as putting his dirty clothes in the hamper. I asked if it’s just a waste of time for me to keep asking for him to do it, and he said it was. He knew I wanted him to do it, and he was just choosing not to. My nagging literally didn’t matter. I don’t even think the nagging bugged him, he just totally ignored it. So, I sort of just realized there’s no point in even bothering. He’ll do it if he wants. If he doesn’t put his socks in the hamper, they won’t get clean! And, as weird as it might sound, it’s almost like a relief. If I’ve already told him to do it, he knows. Then it’s just up to him whether or not he wants clean socks, and I can just kick back and let it go.
- Roles: As egalitarian as you think you are, there are always roles that people fill in relationships. I’ll give you an example. We go to a movie theater that’s technically a bar, and they serve food and drinks. When the pizza (or whatever) is ready, your number comes up on a little thing next to the screen. My husband always goes and gets the food during the movie. I don’t know why. It’s just always been that way. I would never want to do it. I never have to ask him to do it. He just does it. In the morning, I always put the blinds up in our front room. I always do it. He never does it (ok, if I ask, he does it). But, it’s not something he would do by himself. I even tested it. The other day, I just left them down, and he didn’t even care. We went through the whole moring with them down, and it only bugged me. So, since I care, it’s like part of my role. It just works. Also, I take out the trash. He has an aversion to taking out the trash, and I have an aversion to smelly trash being inside the house. So, it’s easier and faster if I do it. I’m sure there are other ways we fill “roles” in our marriage… (get your mind out of the gutter…).
- Fun: Have fun together. Find something that you both like to do, and do it regularly. I did ballet when I grew up, so I was never allowed to ski. So, I had this totally irrational thing against skiing. And then I married a ski-obsesso. He was basically born skiing. He thinks our kids will come out of the womb with skis on their feet. Eventually, I decided to learn to ski. I didn’t do it to make my husband happy, I did it because it’s something he really likes to do and maybe I would also like it. Well, it was a rocky first couple of years learning, but now it’s something that we do together most Sundays during the winter and totally love! Doing something together that we both really like has made us closer as a couple.
I’m sure this list could go on and on, but that’s probably a good start. Best of luck to all you newlyweds! Hang in there. The beginning can be tough, but if you’ve found your perfect mate it can only get better!