21 Years of Learning
This is part two to the post I started yesterday and as promised here’s my top twelve tips about being married and how to get along as part of as a married couple.
I must point out that I am by no means the authority on this subject, but I have made some of the classic errors that most people face at some time or another, and I have made a few more on top of that as well, so I feel I am in a position to share a little bit about what I know in the hope that it might help someone else in the future. Obviously other people will have their own thoughts too and I’m really keen to know what your thoughts are on my list. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have any tips you’d like to share and add to my list? Let me know your thoughts!
1. Learn when to shut up. Sound defeatist? Not at all. Sometimes you just need to let go of whatever it is and let your partner have their way or their say. You may well be in the right but sometimes, keeping your trap shut is the best way to clear the air, heal disagreements etc, and move on. Your partner might just be wanting to let of steam or vent some anger and not necessarily be looking for you to give advice or a solution to something so learning when to not speak is a valuable lesson to learn.
2. Pick your arguments. Some things are just not worth falling out over so be wise about what you argue about. You will only let bad feeling and discontent fester inside you and inside your marriage if you insist on thrashing out every single point where you differ. Like number 1, learn to let some things go. Not everything is worth arguing over anyway so choose wisely what you do argue about.
3. Your Wedding Day is totally different from Married Life. Yes your big day is an important event but it is only the first day of a very long and sometimes rocky road. Don’t lose sight of what the day is all about by investing everything you have into having the “perfect” experience on the Big Day without much thought about the life afterwards. You are only setting yourself up for failure if you put your all into the day and nothing in to the days after it.
4. The grass is not always greener… Well, it might appear to be but trust me it’s not. It’s still grass. It still needs mowing. It gets bare patches and is full of weeds, but it is still grass and it is not yours. Stay at home and invest in looking after your own grass.
5. Wait, wait, wait. Don’t react immediately to everything. Take your time. If he annoys you with something he says, or can’t see your point of view, or leaves his shoes where you can fall over them (again), or refuses to see your point of view just give it time. Don’t blow up straight away. You’ll be forever living a life on the edge of a row if you pick up on every single thing that annoys you. Chill out and wait.
6. Share your yoke. You are a team so share things. Share the happiness, share the troubles, share the doubts, share the work. If you think of life as a field that needs to be ploughed, sown and harvested, then think of yourselves as a team of oxen that are yoked together to get the job done. You might not be equal in strength, but together you are invincible.
7. Ebb and flow. There is a natural ebb and flow to your relationship and there will be spells where you feel so wrapped up in each other you exclude the outside world, and there will be spells where you can’t stand the sight of each other. You might feel like ships in the night where you don’t share a decent conversation for days on end and you are just two individuals sharing the same living space.
It’s normal. It’s natural. It’s healthy. Don’t panic!!
You cannot possibly live a life of intensity and passion so make the most of each end of the spectrum and be patient for the wheel to turn again.
8. Compromise. You might want to have yellow wallpaper, he might want to have blue. He might want a leather settee, you might want a fabric one. Don’t argue about it, find an alternative that you both like. Same with holidays, choice of car, choice of food, games to play with the kids…..the list is absolutely endless but compromise is the key. If you can’t find an alternative where you both agree, is there really any harm if he wants a particular car that you don’t? Or if the couch you sit on isn’t exactly to your liking?? If you compromise by letting him have his way now and again the same compliment will be paid back to you. If it can’t then one of you will always be harbouring resentment and it will only fester. Compromise is the middle ground and is totally different from always giving into what your partner wants.
9. Say “sorry”. Very, very difficult to do and to mean it, but vital. If you are in the wrong or you’ve done or said something to hurt your partner, or you’ve made a mistake or a wrong decision about something, be big enough and adult enough to apologise to them. You might well feel foolish or small, or vulnerable and weak, but this is your spouse you’re apologising to here and they deserve it. On the flip side, allow your partner to say sorry to you in return. Don’t use it as a point scoring exercise. Accept their apology, forgive them and move on.
10. Say “Thank You”. We teach our kids to say please and thank you but we don’t often do it as an adult. Appreciate the things your partner does and thank them when they put themselves out for you. Big or small, whatever they do, say thank you and mean it.
11. Laugh. Learn to find the humour in the situation, even in the bad times, and laugh together. OK so you might not both like the same comedy show on TV, but finding the funny side of life can save you a lot of heartache and soul-searching in the long run.
12. It’s not all hearts and flowers. In fact, it’s bloody hard work!! Things will go wrong, disasters happen, money or health troubles can dominate your life. Kids come along and pressure is put on you to take on a whole new skill set that you never imagined was possible. Learning to compromise – on EVERYTHING – is a massive hurdle. After all, you’re an adult aren’t you? Free to make your own choices? Live life the way you want to?? But being married means that you are one half of a pair, and it’s not all about you any more.
Well that’s my top 12 tips and it is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s the advice I would like to pass on. I think it could be summed up with a few key words really:
Let me know what you’d add to the list and what you would take off. I’m interested to see how other married couples see their life together and what you would advise anybody contemplating married life in the future.