Marriage Advice: 3 Keys To A Successful Relationship
I've been trying to get my gusto up to be consistent here, but y'all see how that's been going. Fortunately, my life is beginning to get a little more active which will yield much more to talk about than would my leisurely couch-bound weekends with my fur babies.
Most recently I had the pleasure of attending a close friend's wedding, and they messed up and allowed me to make a toast at the reception. Y'all... I'm not the quietest person. I have a lot of opinions (mostly good) and lots of love to give (worked in their favor), and I wanted to give a little marriage advice. Which is precisely what I did.
Now, I know I don't look much older than 18 years and a day, BUT, I'll have you know, my friends, that I've been with my man (THE man) for just over 10 whole years. Yes, please hold your applause.
And having been together for a decade, I think I've earned the right to share what I think are a few acceptably sound tips on relationships. Y'all ready? Here's the gist of what I said, plus much more.
I'm a huge proponent of marriage.. Well, relationships. I'm a huge proponent of relationships, but I recognize the weight that marriage holds in our society (though, that seems to be shifting.) It's a huge step that people should properly prepare for before signing those papers. Anyways, I'm always excited when young couples (but not too young) enter into what I like to think of as a really fun club.
I think there are a ton of keys to success to living a healthy relationship, but my top three are these:
- Think partnership, not party of one. I come from a history of athletics. I've always played sports, so I think and compare lots of things in life to aspects of being on a team. Teamwork is the best way I like to explain marriage. Fuck all the "two become one when you get married" stuff. You become one unit - one team, but you are still very much an individual who should be actively working on growing yourself to constantly bring things to the relationship. Don't get so wrapped up in the other person that you lose sight of yourself. That person married YOU for a reason. Don't lose that. Also, there might be a captain (or two co-captains), but it takes the two of you to make this thing float. One should not dominate the other. Know each other's strengths and weaknesses and attack life with this knowledge. That person has your back and vice versa. You are their biggest cheerleader and vice versa. Two is better than one.. I could continue, but I think you get it.
- Communication is so underrated. I probably unfairly assume that lots of young people (mostly women who grew up playing castle and princesses who liken their wedding to that child-like make believe) disproportionately focus on the wedding versus the real life-long marriage that comes after the 5 hour party. You dream and plan and stress and glorify the wedding day only to realize the day after, "Holy shit! I'm someone's spouse!" (I still get this way from time to time after almost 3 years.) I get it, weddings are exciting and fun and filled with food and free booze - that's why I attend them. They are fun! BUT, my fear is that we might not put in the hard, soul-searching, uncomfortable work to ensure we're (1) marrying the right person, and (2) being the right person to marry. Which brings me to communication. Lots of communication should be happening prior to the big question, but it should never end. Even after knowing each other for over 10 years, there are still things me and The Man don't know about each other. And as helpful as it would be, we still haven't mastered the magic of mind reading. Communicate! Don't assume anything. Figure out each other's communciation styles, learn how to use this piece of information, and communicate your assess off. Even when the other should know something, they still might not. Be compassionate and speak up. Set expectations so no one is disappointed AND so you two can effectively meet each other's needs. Finances, work-life balance, raising kids, having kids in the first place, saving money, sex and intimicy (which are not necessarily one and the same), vacations - these are all things that should be talked about before the wedding and throughout the marriage. Things change. Stay on the same page... I could continue but, you know.
- It's a journey, not a destination. Once you get married, your journey has just begun. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, because it's gonna be a helluva ride. Be mindful of your vows and what you have signed up to do and be for yourself and this other person. Marriage is like a shiny trophy or a sparkly ring. You put in a lot of work to get it and it's beautiful and seemingly perfect at first, but then with time and sunlight and activities, it gets tarnished or dusty. You have to polish it and take it in for repairs on a regular basis to maintain its integrity. Marriage is the same. It's hard work filled with ups and downs, peaks and valleys (the same thing as ups and downs), and sacrifices and give and give and graciousness and forgiveness and all of the things! It will never be perfect and rainbows and sunshine all of the time, but that's also not what you want. The upkeep is what makes it special. People don't generally cherish things that are easy. If you guys never have hardships you're either aliens or not digging very deep into the relationship. I'm sure even the Obamas have differences, which probably enhance their love and respect for one another. The work is in the journey. The growth is in the journey. The love and fun are in the journey. Be realistic - people are not perfect, even your perfect mate. Approach it with realism, and enjoy it.
Well, I hope you were able to get through all of that. Me and The Man are great partners. We are opposites, which makes us have to work harder in ensuring that we're taking care of each other. We bicker. I get on his nerves because I'm obsessed with flipping houses, and I talk too much. I over-communicate. He gets on my nerves because he obsesses over sports and under communicates. On the same token, we also have a shit ton of fun together, he makes me laugh, and I often think about him when I'm in social situations and cute little things remind me of him. He does sweet things like orders a 2-topping pizza with pepperoni and pineapple instead of The Works so it will be easier for me to pick off the meat. He writes one thing about me every day in a notebook, then shares it with me a few times a year. It's really sweet, it's nobody's but ours, and it's beautiful.
And because I'm assuming (hoping) you guys are interested, here are some beautiful pictures of us during an anniversary shoot. And yes, I'm a frugal hippie who wanted a beautiful but comfortable dress that made me feel sexy but wouldn't make my (then) broke ass go into debt. :)