From the moment the ring hits your finger and news of your engagement spreads, you will likely begin to receive all kinds of advice on how to make your marriage last. Great Aunt Millie will likely corner you at Thanksgiving and your best friend (who’s been wed for six long months) will impart all her favorite tips for wedded bliss. Some of the advice will be helpful and some will be terrible. Far be it from us to keep silent on this very important topic. We asked some friends for their very best advice for a long-lasting and loving marriage and are happy to pass their wisdom onto you.
COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS: Keep in mind that your spouse cannot read your mind. Clearly communicate your feelings, needs and expectations and remain open to receiving and responding to those of your partner.
FAIR DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITIES: Agree ahead of time to always seek a balance in household tasks. If one person is forced to shoulder more than their share of the burden, resentment will be the inevitable outcome. Keep in mind that what is fair will change depending on your season of life. Adjust as needed.
TALK IT OUT: Keep in mind that there are always two sides to any argument. Assume your partner has good intentions and hear them out. Take a deep breath before speaking…you can’t take ugly words back.
ACCEPTANCE: Go into your marriage with eyes wide open and don’t expect to change your spouse. If you can’t imagine spending a lifetime with your partner just as they are now (warts and all), think twice before tying the knot.
HAVE A FINANCIAL PLAN: Many of the fights in marriage center around the issue of money. It’s imperative that you decide before your wedding how you’ll handle all things financial. What debt does each of you have going in? What are your attitudes about spending and borrowing? Will you keep separate accounts or go for a joint one? What will your household budget look like? These are important decisions that should be made before walking down the aisle.
SEEK HELP: Issues may arise over the course of a marriage that may feel insurmountable or threaten, if left unaddressed, to shake the foundation of the relationship. Agree ahead of time to seek the help of a counselor if you ever find it is needed. There is no shame in seeking professional help to learn tools for navigating life together.
NURTURE OUTSIDE RELATIONSHIPS AND INTERESTS: Your spouse is not equipped and should not be expected to meet every one of your needs. Neither is it reasonable for your partner to expect it from you. It’s important for emotional health and wellness that each of you has friends and hobbies outside your marriage. Investing in these, within appropriate boundaries, will make you both happier and more balanced.
Erica Shier is a married mother of four who loves reading, scrapbooking & thrift stores. When she’s not driving her small pack of children around, she spends her time volunteering, writing & trying to keep on top of the laundry.