A friend recently got engaged and coyly asked if there was any advice I could offer her with regards to being married. I promised I would write something for her and even though I haven’t been in this institution too long, I thought I could offer my 5 cents.
As there are numerous books published on the topic, I thought I would write my top 5 married life tips.
1. Marriage is a long-term relationship- so enter it knowing that you are in it for the long run. I understand that there has been a steady increase in divorce rates worldwide, but ideally, that shouldn’t be an option as you enter your union. “In good times and bad, in sickness and in health,” implies that it won’t always be rainbows and unicorns and that it sometimes does suck *ss, but you have to always be ready to fight for your marriage if it’s worth fighting for that is.
2. Choose your marriage partner well- to do that, one must know who they are and what they want in life. This includes knowing your non-negotiables and negotiables in a relationship. If you really don’t want to deal with other people in your relationship or potentially playing second fiddle in your significant others’ life, it might be wise to reconsider marrying someone who already has children as it might mean their ex-partner will always feature in their life, and by association your life, and their children will probably always come first. Additionally, don’t choose a partner you plan to “fix” or that you plan to make your lifelong project because when you finally realise that they may never change, you might be too far invested in the relationship.
3. Communication is key- this is one of the pillars of a great relationship. As you plan your wedding day/new house/names for your children, it’s important that you actually communicate with your partner every step of the day. That means talking AND THEN listening to understand NOT to reply. Communicate when you are happy/sad/upset and all other emotions because if you only communicate when you are mad, you are not doing it right.
4. A marriage is a union of two people and together they unite their families. Genesis 2:24- For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. I understand this bible verse to mean that when you choose to unite in marriage, you choose to put each other, and your new family first and your respective families second. It can be difficult for either party to cut the apron strings, especially if your family is close-knit but essentially the aim is to have a functioning INDEPENDENT new family and not merely a subset of either party’s family with other people being consulted or being in charge of decisions they should not be privy to. Setting these boundaries and having everyone understand what they mean is paramount to having a successful marriage.
5. Love like its going out of fashion- Try and dedicate time to spend with your partner and try and show them every day that you truly are grateful to have picked them for the life journey and you want to grow old together. This can be difficult when you both work fulltime, no nanny/babysitter, or the weather doesn’t cooperate for example but it really doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top kind of stuff. Hold hands, kiss each other hello/goodbye/I miss you, go for a bike ride/walk, have an indoor picnic etc. All these are free or relatively inexpensive and the sentiment they impart is priceless. We are never informed how long we have on earth with our loved one, and having counselled widows and widowers, most regret not cherishing or celebrating what they had with their loved ones. Like belly buttons, people will always have an opinion about whatever you do in life so dance in the rain and let them talk.