I read an article several months ago about giving marriage advice to newly married / engaged couples. It got me thinking about what lessons I’ve learned in my going on 3 years of marriage…what my advice might be.
So for what it’s worth…here’s a bit of my advice. (And no worries about copy-cats…it’s been so long since I read that article that the only thing I remember is the topic.*wink*)
The Thompson’s Top 10
10) Keep it in the family…aka – don’t go spreadin’ your business to everyone with an ear
Chris and I have made a promise to one another to try not and involve our parents when we are upset with one another. It’s been a hard lesson for us, because we are both very close with our parents and go to them often for advice and support. After a few over shares which led to added drama and hurt feelings, we decided that the best route was to try our best to not call our parents in a moment of anger to complain about one another.
Another strategy we use (which carries over into a lot of areas) is very direct requests. Chris can’t read my mind (THAT is an incredibly important realization to come to!) so when we are working through something that I’m not ready for him to talk about with his parents, I tell him that. With words. In a sentence. And I usually have him repeat it back.
It doesn’t always work.
But most of the time it does. 🙂
9) Ditch your way and his way…”our” way will lead to a happy marriage
Assume nothing. Seriously.
When Chris and I first got married I thought “How different can we really be? Both of our families are middle-class, nuclear families. We’re both Baptist…surely we can’t be that off on things.”
Bahaha. It just makes me laugh now.
The big things are obvious…holidays have been very hard for us to come to an agreeement on, and it’s still a work in progress.
But let’s move past that. I’m talking about little things that you just take for granted that everyone else in the world does it just like you do. Loading the dishwasher. How to fold towels. What type of spaghetti sauce. <In fact, one of our weirdest “that’s not how you do it” moments is when one of us has an upset tummy. I want sprite, he wants ginger ale. Once when he was sick I brought home sprite and you would have thought I had sprouted 3 horns and was covered in polka dots…it was like he didn’t even know who I was.>
So hold onto your preferences with loose fingers. It doesn’t really matter if you put the milk in the door of the fridge or on the shelf…and it’s definitely not worth battling one another over. Give grace, compromise, and find a way you can both be happy with.
<Side note: Another thing that I especially have tried to be really mindful of, especially when Chris is helping with housework, is accepting and being thankful for his help. If I complain about how he does it, he doesn’t want to keep helping…you’ve gotta think smarter here people!>
Probably the biggest piece of marriage advice I got when Chris and I were preparing to get married was “don’t go to bed angry.” I’d like to amend that statement a little.
When you are just going round and round about an issue, staying up into the wee hours of the night for rounds 3,4…7 isn’t exactly doing anything to help the situation. You certainly aren’t going to solve anything.
So hit pause. Call a truce. Agree to sleep on it, and set a time to revisit it when you are both more rested and with it.
Then put on your big girl panties and kiss your husband. Do some deep breathing or put a wet rag on your face or put on your favorite pajamas, calm yourself a bit, and force yourself to touch him or snuggle up or at least face him when you lay down. (None of that back to him on the very edge of your side business.) Tell your husband you love him, and pray, pray, pray.
Then go to sleep for goodness sake.
What I’ve come to learn is that “don’t let the sun set on your anger” is a PERSONAL thing. You control the state you are in when you go to sleep, and your husband controls his. I don’t believe for a second that the message God is implying with this verse is “duke it out until the break of dawn if you’ve gotta, but don’t you dare go to sleep with an unresolved issue.”
Um-um. Not buying it.
But even more than that (because I can honestly only think of a few nights were the arguing just wouldn’t stop) Chris and I have made it a practice to go to bed at the same time on weeknights and most weekends. On our best nights, we go to bed about an hour early and just spend time hanging out. When we were into “Words with Friends,” we would play against one another. Often I’ll read for a bit while he watches YouTube videos…it gives us a chance to talk, snuggle up, and reconnect.
It seriously is the sweetest part of my day.
7) Surround yourself with healthy marriages…and get real.
When Chris and I got engaged, it became like my mission to find out the secret of all the successful marriages around me. I am an avid reader, so I got my hands on tons of really great Christian marriage books as well…I just wanted to do everything I could to prepare myself to become a wife and ensure that we set the foundation for a lasting marriage. There is/has never been a plan B. Failure is *not* an option.
It has only been within the last year and a half of our marriage/courtship that Chris and I have found a group of Christian couples to grow in Christ and our marriage(s) with. I didn’t realize what we were missing up to that point, but now it is something I pray we’ll always have. Sharing life with other couples has been such an encouragement to us. Marriages are lifted up, not bashed…prayer requests are actually prayed for (gasp!)…and we have declared a no-judgement zone in regards to our husbands sometimes outrageous behavior. 😉
It is amazing how God has brought us all together…because there are a lot of strong, and not always agree-ing, personalities. We get real honest, real fast. We also talk about things that aren’t normally talked about in christian circles – politics, living counter-culturally, and yes…even sex. <Not talkin’ dirty details here or anything that should be left between husband and wife only…mostly our personal struggles & successes. The girls were great sports when I was looking for tips on how to be/feel sexier!> I have received encouragement in every area of my life from these girls, and my husby has found men who challenge him to get involved and lead our home.
It is soooo nice to be able to go to church and homegroup and be reeeeaaaallllll about what’s happening in our marriage. Much better than “Fine, thank you!”
6) Pray together…and get real x 2!
Chris and I go through seasons of praying together. The first time we really, truly tried…beyond the basic churchy stuff…it was more than a little awkward. We must have done the whole “you go first”…”no, you go first”…thing for like 5 minutes. Sometimes Chris still laughs at my “prayer voice.”
We really experienced a breakthrough when we were facing some scary potential-infertility based issues. As part of my “let’s get real” campaign, I just laid it out there in our prayer time together one night. Prayed for specific body parts and functions using the real words. No beating around the bush here. Needless to say we were giggling before the prayer was over, but it was more comfortable from then on. When we go to the Lord together, it is casual…snuggled up and talking to Him about what we’ve got going on.
I’ve also gotta say…I have never experienced a stronger feeling of love from Chris than I do when he prays for me by name to the Lord. To hear him thank God for me out loud, pray for me and my days…even ask the Lord to keep us on one another’s mind throughout the next day…it completely melts my heart.
There are nights (which have on occasion turned into weeks, and months) when we fall out of this habit. It is, however, what we strive for…and it is a *huge* recommendation I have for anyone who is getting married. 🙂
This post is getting to long…let’s take a breather and go squeeze our husbands. 🙂 Part 2 to come!
KEEP CALM & STAY MARRIED