I had the pleasure of starting my day today by reading an inspiring blog post by a man who at the time had just gone through with his divorce and was now sharing a list of 20 things he wished he would have done in his marriage to keep it alive.
He ends his post by expressing his utmost regret that his list of advice were all things that he learned too late. That he should have known this at the beginning of their marriage instead of at the end.
Marcus and I celebrated our first anniversary this last Sunday. It has been a first year full of pretty much everything a first year of marriage can possibly hold. Job hunting, moving (out of the country), stressful university studies, long days at work, getting pregnant, planning yet another move. Though we haven’t been married long, I felt like I could read through that list this morning agreeing with every single bullet point.
What a relief! That I know those things now and that I can choose to work hard and never let our marriage down. Because I know how to and am trying already now to nourish it and to keep our love strong.
If I may add a point to said list of marriage advice… If there’s anything I find important to point out, being, as I am, in this early stage of marriage… it would be this
MARRIAGE BEGINS LONG BEFORE THE WEDDING DAY
It begins the moment you decide to commit to each other. You could argue that you technically don’t start really committing to each other until you’re married. Well, no, not on paper you don’t! This may be different for every couple, but not long after Marcus and I started dating, we decided to devote our time and efforts to our relationship, and to not date anyone else while we figured out if we were “meant to be”. I would say committing to each other starts the moment you become a couple.
This means you have all the time until you actually get married to start practicing being married. And especially after you’re engaged. During this time you can practice setting goals together, getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, learning to love each other and perhaps one of the most important things LEARNING TO COMMUNICATE.
Marriage is team work. Team work in an ‘us against the world’ fashion. I would assume that any couple who marries plans to be together for at least ‘as long as you both shall live’. So this team is going to be working together for quite a long time. For a team to work well together it is crucial that a game plan has been discussed before the game starts.
Marriage is a serious and high priority game that you don’t want to lose. You want to make sure that you have made a plan together as to how you are going to keep your love, relationship and marriage alive all the way.
Some things that I remember we discussed during our long months of engagement are being honest with each other. Not only not lying to each other but it also meant that I for one needed to get better at overcoming my weakness of giving Marcus the feminine silence treatment whenever something was wrong. We needed to be open with each other, no matter our moods.
We knew marriage may not keep being as newlywed pink as it was, so we had to keep the spark alive and keep our marriage fun. Marcus is way better at this than me! He loves planning surprise dates and gifts so much that he leaves me feeling like a creative train wreck. I’m still working on improving that skill, because a boring marriage is not something I dare experience.
Having a healthy and active sex life. Yes, we did talk about this before we got married, and I am so glad we did! I’m sure that our intimate relationship skipped ahead two or three levels just because we spent a little time here and there talking about sex and how we felt about it.
And last but definitely not least, one very important actual decision we made before marriage was that love is always more important. No matter what stressful situation we’re in, no matter what moods we’re in, no matter what big struggles and decisions we’re dealing with, we cannot ever let any of those things be more important than keeping our marriage strong. Never compromise love.
Now, I’ve talked a lot and I’ll let you go about your day. But just let me emphasize especially to you newlyweds and you engaged couples and you couples who are talking about marriage, that the pink fluffy early stages of a lasting relationship is amazing and sweet, but prepare for the color to change. Depending on your choices and your communication or lack thereof, you can choose to turn the color sickeningly green, boring grey or deep romantic red.