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Last weekend I was driving to the place where I ride my bike. It beautiful. I get out there, relax, and enjoy nature.
This week I was driving and I passed signs for Brian and Linda's wedding, and then the reception. I thought of how happy Brian and Linda must be on this day. It was an awesome day to sweat 20 lbs off in a tux. I thought of how I felt on my wedding days. Yes, there have been two. With this in mind, you can learn from people who succeed at something, or you can also learn from people who fail at something so I feel I have some good advice from a divorced guy.
Pick Your Battles, and Your Battle Times
Your spouse is not perfect. This you need to learn right up front. Your life will not be perfect. How you handle the reality of that is HUGE part of how your marriage will go. This doesn't mean you become a welcome mat for your spouse to walk over, but you do need to set realistic expectations. With this in mind, let some things roll off your back. Wait a day or two to see if it is still bugging you. If it is, then start thinking about how to bring it up, and more importantly when to bring it up.
There is that whole “Don't go to bed mad at each other” and it's next to impossible if you bring up stuff AS YOU ARE GOING TO BED. For me, when my head hit the pillow I had two things on my mind, and if we weren't doing the first thing, I wanted to sleep. This is NOT the best time to bring up serious subjects. Your spouse is exhausted and wants to sleep. I know, let's dump some serious discussion on them, and see how they make decisions when their brain checked out hours ago.
In the morning before work is a crappy way to start the day. As soon as you get home from work is awful because you want to relax. How about after dinner. Another tip I would add is give a warning shot. Maybe some time during the day send a “I need to talk to you tonight” text to let them know. While a “we need to talk” used to mean you are breaking up, now that you're married that option is off the table. Don't panic.
Reinforce Your Commitment
Let's face it, there will be times when things are said or done, and you are royally cheesed off. This happens. Remember, it's not going to be perfect. So if you are going to bed angry, try to remind your spouse that while you don't like them at the moment, you do love them. I know that's weird. Buy can you love a child who just spilled chocolate on the carpet? Sure. Well then, remember that you can be upset with someone and still love them.
State that, “You know that really hurt me, and I'm upset. I want you to know that I still love you, and I'm sure we can work through this.” Why I feel this is important is when you get into a bad situation, it may feel like everything you do is not good enough, that all you do is wrong, and that your relationship is doomed. A reminder that you are a team, and you will work through your problems might be a key to having a dialogue vs an argument.
A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down
If you need to point out something that needs work, the “bad news” might go down better if you add something positive to it first. “I love that you are such a (hard worker, good mom, etc) and I can see that when you (whatever they did) and I deeply appreciate it. Here is a way that take that great action and maximize the impact would be to ____.
Don't Be A Buthead
Be careful saying something nice up front if it is followed by “But…” as everything before the word But gets erased when you use it. This is really hard to do. I the love the way you do this, and that BUT when you…. that doesn't work.
Know Your Schools of Thought on Marriage
There are two schools of marriage (for me).
- Two complete people who choose to be together.
- Two incomplete people who choose to be together to complete each other (the Jerry McQuire Marriage).
People Can Change But It's Never Easy
By the time you get married, you are who you are for the most part. People can change, that is true. It's a bit like steering a giant cruise boat. Sure it can turn, but it takes time, and it is slow. If you are marrying someone and thinking later that annoying thing they do will change, you might want to reconsider. For one, if they do change it may be something that comes naturally, and consequently, it takes effort to not do something that is just like a reflex. So if you marry someone who drinks, and think later you can talk them into giving it up, you may be not so presently surprised. If you want someone to give up something they truly enjoy, it may happen along with this thing we call resentment.
Have Something In Common
You are going to be spending a lot time with this person, it would be nice if you could do things together that you BOTH enjoy.
Be The Person Your Spouse Wants to Hang Out With
You never get any time together. You finally do, don't spend that time telling your spouse they you never spend any time together. Instead tell them how much you miss them, and how great it is to spend time together. Give them something to miss. Nobody likes a no it all. Nobody wants to be around a person who is always complaining. Be someone your spouse wants to hang out with.
Women – Sex Makes You Stupid
Don't sleep with someone. I know that women are independent and strong, but thanks to movies, romance novels, etc when you have sex with a man you become blind to their faults (in most cases). Typically, it is harder for women to have sex with a man without having emotional ties.
We are busy, so come up with dedicated times to spend together. There are no exceptions. This shows your dedication. If you do need to use a Date Night for a non-date night activity, be sure to appreciate the other person for letting you go off the plan, and make it up to them. To the person who is “giving permission” do it with a smile, and you will be the coolest person on the planet. A person people (your spouse) will want to hang out with.
If Needed, Schedule Sex
You're busy, I'm busy, you're tired, I'm tired. Sex is important to everyone in the marriage. I know it would be great if violins started to play and “it just happened” but it doesn't. Here again, it's not going to be perfect. But if you put it on the calendar, all expectations are on the calendar, everyone knows what is expected. Sure it's not as romantic, but are you going to tell me that when it's done you're going to say, “well that was awful.” There is no bad pizza; there is no bad horrible sex.”