Now I know what you’re thinking. What does this lady know about marriage? Why should I listen to her?
Well I absolutely agree. I am not even thirty. I’ve already been divorced once and remarried. I don’t have any degrees that would help on this topic. So don’t listen to me.
Listen to all of the couples I’ve spoken to on this topic. I’ve talked to couples that have been together 60+ years. I’ve talked to divorced couples on what went wrong. I’ve talked to couples of different ethnicities, sexuality, and religions.
The most surprising thing that I discovered was how simple the advice was that was given. I kept hearing the same few things over and over again.
Here are some of the things that were repeated most often:
- Spend time together and apart. It’s wonderful to try to understand someone’s passions. It’s great to want to share things with your partner. If you like bowling, go bowling together. If you like video games, play together. If you like a specific tv show, watch it together. But also spend some time alone. Read a book, listen to music, join a club with some friends. Have a girls/boys night. If you like different things, it’s okay. It will make things more interesting and give you stories to tell.
- Communicate Never let things fester. Discuss problems while they are still small and you will have an easier time solving them. If you don’t speak up, the person won’t know it’s a problem they will continue to do it. The anger will grow inside of you and soon you will be so angry and coming at your oblivious partner guns blazing. They will feel attacked and be less likely to listen.
- Be too honest. Obviously don’t cheat, manipulate, or do any of the other “big no nos”, but it’s more than that. If you lie about the little things, it adds up. Getting caught in little lies about buying clothes or eating something not on your diet can cause big problems in a relationship. Tell the truth. Your partner will respect it. (This was advice more from divorced couples).
- Show appreciation. If your partner always makes dinner, let them know how much you appreciate it. If they take care of the finances, occasionally mention how helpful it is. If they see that you’re stressed and make an extra effort to help out, thank them. Whether it’s something that they do every day or something special they’ve done to show they care, let them know that you’ve noticed. Don’t take them for granted or they will stop putting forth the effort.
- Be a team. You need to discuss important things like finances, how to raise the children, and major life decisions. Talk to each other. Listen to each other’s ideas and points of view. Communicate. Try to see it from the other persons point of view. Especially with children, you need to be a United front.
- Adding on to the last one, compromise. You won’t always agree on everything. That’s when it’s a good idea to compromise. Find a middle ground. If it seems like there is none, get creative. He wants to go somewhere historic for your vacation, you want to go to someplace warm with beaches. Try to find something close to both and spend some days going to museums and some days on the beach. You want tacos for dinner, they want burgers, either have both or say you’ll do one today and one tomorrow. Big or small, try to find some way to make it work.
- Everything above falls into one piece of advice. What I hear the most is that relationships are hard. You can never stop working at them. You can never get complacent. Never stop trying to learn more, understand more, grow more as a couple and an individual. Sure the original excitement might wear off, you might switch dress clothes for sweatpants, you might switch going out dancing for staying in and cuddling on the couch watching Netflix, but that doesn’t mean that you can stop working at your relationship. The minute you stop trying, things will fall apart.
Now I’m not an expert, and neither are the couples I talk to, but their advice seems pretty sensible. Communicate, appreciate, Be honest, And never stop trying.