Marriage advice for the modern couple no longer involves the best way to broil a roast or how to douche with Lysol (For real. Google it, I’ll wait). Because the times, they are a-changin’, and your grandparents’ old-fashioned perspective on marriage is so out of touch with modern life that it’s practically its own form of satire.
The success of a modern marriage is now widely recognized as being a joint effort (and thank goodness for that), and that means there are universal rules every partner should follow. This is not your grandmother’s marriage advice. This is real advice for modern couples.
1. Social media is not marriage counseling.
The best way to undermine the strength of your marriage is to invite a random person’s opinion into it. It’s one thing to go to a trusted advisor privately and another entirely to post a relationship Gallup poll on Facebook.
After all, you only met your little sister’s boyfriend’s great-uncle Jim that one time at the boyfriend’s birthday party last month and friended him out of pity. There’s no way he knows you well enough to offer any sort of valid advice. Same goes for the frenemy from high school, your ex-boss from that one job you quit three years ago, and yes, even your best friend. Marriages are not saved in the comments section.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
There is a universal truth to all relationships that hasn’t changed at all since your grandmother’s day: Communication is key, and your partner doesn’t have mind-reading abilities (probably). Your needs, desires, and opinions are all things that live inside your head, and no one can get to them unless you speak them out loud.
Get comfortable with the idea of putting your thoughts into real, actual words. That can be heard. With real, actual ears. When something happens in your relationship, don’t expect your partner magically to know why you’re reacting the way you are (good or bad!); the only person who knows why is you.
3. You aren’t in a threesome with your phone.
Yeah, I said it. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE and focus on the person you chose to spend your life with. Now, having said that…
4. Don’t touch your partner’s phone.
Why is it that people are so afraid of privacy? Privacy is not the enemy; it’s a sacred right afforded to all adults. Your spouse has the right to his privacy, and so do you. (We can discuss opinions on whether kids have the right to privacy or have to earn it later.)
Think about it like this: you go to the bathroom and you shut the door. Does your spouse know, more or less, what’s happening in there? Yes. Does that mean he (or she) has the right to come in and watch? OH, HELL NO. Some goes for the phone. Is he texting people? Playing on Facebook? Yep. Do you have the right to read those messages? NOPE.
If that makes you uncomfortable, or if you have reason to believe your spouse is hiding something from you, you two need to have a conversation about the foundation of trust in your marriage. There are bigger issues at play here. You don’t need to prove that you have nothing to hide in order to justify your right to privacy.
5. Go to bed angry.
Anger is an uncomfortable emotion, and being in a committed relationship doesn’t change that. But the idea that going to bed in any emotional state other than blissful euphoria is bad for your marriage is, quite simply, absurd.
That mentality comes from a place of fear — the fear that your relationship isn’t strong enough to withstand a true argument. (If you’re not confident it can; no amount of internet marriage advice is going to help you.) So go ahead and give yourself permission to be upset with your spouse, and just as importantly, for him to be upset with you. Sleeping on it might just let cooler heads prevail in the morning.
6. Polyamory is healthy.
Well, not like that. Humans are complex emotional beings, and the weight of those emotions is too much for one person to bear alone. Each member of a marriage needs friendships, and not just for your own personal fulfillment (though that’s the most obvious benefit).
It’s not a sign of strength in your marriage if your spouse has the responsibility of being your “everything.” You’re eventually going to see that burden begin to wear him down like Atlas with the world on his back. Be a good spouse: Spread out the weight and make loving friendships outside your marriage.
7. Self-improvement will strengthen your marriage (if you let it).
Here’s a basic fact about life: Humans are in a constant state of evolution (even if you think humanity is not). The person you have married will not be exactly the same 5 years from now, or 10, or 50. Neither will you.
Embrace these changes and you will grow together, like vines on the same wall. Choose to stagnate and you can watch in resentment as your spouse’s vine continues to grow without you. Reject them, and one of you will find a new wall.
8. Don’t Netflix without your partner.
HA! I know, I know. It seems like such a fluffy thing to discuss, but there’s a real basis for having Netflix on a list of modern marriage advice: When you agree to watch a show together, you’remaking a small, seemingly innocuous promise. It’s now your “thing.” Netflix (and other things you do only as a couple) represents that undefined, unique bond between spouses.
It’s a trivial but accurate representation of how seriously you take your commitment to each other. Show that you’re trustworthy by keeping even the tiniest, silliest of promises.
9. Kinky is good.
If Urban Funk has taught us nothing in life, it is that “if you’re freaky then own it.” Maybe actualkink isn’t your thing, but that’s not really the point. What’s important is to identify the intimate details about you that you wouldn’t share with anyone else, and then share them with your spouse. That’s how deep, long-lasting bonds are formed.
10. Learn to give good apology.
Saying I’m sorry — and meaning it — is an acquired skill that shows two things. First, that you don’t value your pride above your spouse’s feelings. Second, that you’re capable of recognizing you’re not perfect. Because, while self-respect is a requirement in all healthy relationships, ego is not.
Go ahead and plan on trying some of these out tonight. Put on the Bruno Mars, fire up the Netflix, and put down your phone. I promise, your marriage will thank you in the morning. No Lysol required.
This article originally appeared on YourTango. For more like this from YourTango, try:
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