Although I’ve been married since 2003, I had some marriage revelations a few years ago. You can learn quite a bit about a person when you spend that much time with them. You also learn a lot about them that you didn’t know before you got married which gives you a lot of insight on them as an individual but also what it takes to stay in a long-term marriage.
If we’re all honest with ourselves, we have no idea what we’re doing in this thing called marriage. When we get married, we try the best we can and hope everything turns out okay. But, it can be more than just okay!
Before we got married, we had a lot of people that invested in us and our relationship. We went to pre-marital counseling, read books, and had mentors speak to us. But even with all of that preparation, getting married, living together, and developing a solid relationship required more than we knew.
I want to share 10 bits of marriage advice that I wish I figured out earlier in marriage…or that was specifically told to me in our marriage counseling.
1. You Are A Team
When you live together you learn a lot about one another. Sometimes things happen in life that cause you to disagree and fight against one another. Remember, you are a team, and working together is a win for your marriage. I wish I made the decision early on to keep this mindset.
It was actually Austin that coined this term in our marriage, “Go Team Reason”. By nature, I’m more of a fighter. Not only that, I tend to say things in a way that sounds like I’m in opposition to someone even when I’m not. He is the one that really pushed us to act as a team.
This is an approach we have taken in our marriage and with our kids. If we have a ton of things that need to get done in a day, we tell the kids we need to act as a team so we can knock it out and spend time together.
2. Sexual Responders Have to Make An Effort to Initiate Sex
Early on in our marriage, I rarely let my husband know I wanted sex. I basically waited for him to make the move. Now, several years later, I understand the importance of both of us making time to get excited about making love.
But, I also didn’t know that I was a sexual responder when I got married either. This wasn’t even a term until recent years. Now, you will hear a lot of bloggers talk about sexual response. I’m a sexual responder and Austin has a spontaneous desire.
Sexual responders feel aroused when something sexual is going on. And a spontaneous desire is when you feel turned on when nothing, in particular, is happening. Not to say that if you generally are a person that is a sexual responder that you’ll never have a spontaneous desire. But generally, you will need to make an effort to become sexually aroused.
3. Sex Isn’t Just About Making Babies
When you both feel you’re ready to have children, it’s easy to make every moment all about making babies. Although it’s a special time for both of you, this mindset is a quick way to take the fun out of making love.
I remember when we were trying to get pregnant with our last son, we were definitely in a rut. It was hard. Getting pregnant with the first two kids happened within a month of trying. With our 3rd, not only did it 6 months or so to get pregnant, we actually lost that baby. And we lost a second baby about 6 months after that. It took another 5 to have our last child.
When we were in the midst of trying to have the babies, sex felt very chore-like. It was my fertile time so we needed to have sex so I had a chance of getting pregnant. If you’re struggling to have kids, I know the tendency is to do everything you can to get pregnant, but be careful that you don’t forget that sex is about intimacy with your spouse as well. Don’t make every session a baby-making session.
4. Put Some Distance Between You and the In-Laws
This is one I actually did right! We never lived near either set of parents. This made it easier to avoid drama or unannounced visits. I know this is not going to work for everyone and if you do live near your family there can be huge benefits. If you live near your family, make sure you establish real boundaries with them.
5. Don’t Let Anger Turn to Resentment
I don’t find it difficult to forgive so I did not think holding onto anger would be an issue. Through the course of our marriage, we both did some things that resulted in hurt feelings. I struggled with some anger and held grudges that I shouldn’t have.
Being angry or upset with your spouse is not the issue. But not resolving the problem will lead to resentment. Sometimes the problem is solely with you and you need to work through it. Other times, it is something you and your spouse need to address. either way, don’t push down your feelings of anger or hurt, because it can breed resentment towards your spouse.
Next thing you know, you’ll be fighting over very petty things that destroy your marriage. Also, don’t think that one or two conversations are enough to fix the issues between you. Your resolutions will often need to go on for years and years.
6. Consider Your Spouse’s Thoughts
It’s easy to think that your spouse is intentionally causing you some pain. But the real issue is that you may have some things you need to work through. Sit down and talk it out. Your spouse may not realize they did something to offend you.
We have a saying around here, “It’s not about the socks”. This stems from when we were first married and Austin would leave his socks by the bed at night. Every morning, I would get up and put them in the hamper. He never said thanks to this or picked them up himself to keep me from doing it.
Eventually, I took great offense to him leaving socks by the bed because I thought he was actually just leaving them there for me to pick up. In my mind, he never intended to put them in the hamper because he knew I’d take care of it. I was the primary person in charge of running the household at the time, so I saw this as a form of disrespect. Once I identified how his actions made me feel, I explained it to him and he told me he never felt that way. I don’t pick up his socks now, and he eventually handles it.
7. Indulge Each Other’s Daydreams
Even if you’re not a daydreamer, it’s a good idea to encourage your spouse if they enjoy doing that. While it may sound unrealistic to you, it’s important not to squash their hopes and dreams. Instead, really listen and come up with other ideas that complement theirs. You never know what those types of conversations will spark in each other.
8. Flirt With Each Other
When we were first dating, I made googly eyes at my husband quite often. When we got married, I didn’t do it anymore. Years later, I realized that it’s so important to find little ways to flirt. It’s important because it builds intimacy with your spouses and reminds you both how much in love you are with each other.
Sometimes flirting is just innocent banter that is fun. Other times, flirting is very sexual and leads to a night of passion. Both types of flirting are important in marriage.
9. Tackle Finances Together
I handled the finances for several years after we got married. My husband didn’t have a desire to do any of it. Now, we both take part in the responsibility and it’s made us aware of how we budget and save.
He is a spreadsheet person and he took the main responsibility for paying the bills. But, I’m still in charge of the everyday spending in the house. It’s important that we both understand how much we make and how much we spend so we can reach our goals.
I know some couples need to have a separate bank account from each other for one reason or the other. But, do the best you can to combine your income and spend from the same pot. The other reason that is important is that oftentimes, with money comes power. You don’t want to get into a power struggle with your spouse because one of you wants to spend money on something and the other doesn’t. But because you have your own money, you don’t check in with that person and end up making decisions for the family they were not ok with.
There are a lot of challenges with money in marriage, so make sure you don’t ignore it. Work together and both have a responsibility in the budget.
10. Say Thank You Every Day
It’s easier to go about your day and settle in your routine without thinking about it. Saying two simple words “thank you”, makes a huge difference in your relationship. It’s encouraging to both of you and strengthens your relationship.
Especially if your spouse is someone that needs ongoing validation, saying thank you can be very important to them. Not saying thanks or acknowledging the work they do can actually become a source of contention. But also, when you say thank you, you’ll be more thankful for your spouse and it will help your marriage.
These are 10 of the most important pieces of marriage advice that I wish I knew before I got married. They’re simple things that strengthen your marriage and bring you closer together.
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