It was a sweltering Saturday in June when our closest friends and family gathered in Montevallo, Alabama. Storm clouds were brewing and I was running and yelling, “Everyone get in your places! We’re gonna have a wedding!”
During the past ten years, we’ve done a lot of living. We’ve learned some beautiful and some very painful lessons. We’ve each spent a week on a psych ward. We’ve had two babies. We worked in churches for a decade. We’ve nearly divorced at least once. And we have only just begun to learn what truly matters in life and marriage.
One thing is for sure, there are several things no one tells you before you walk down that aisle.
Choose your battles. Socks on the floor don’t matter.
Guys: she ain’t your Mama. Put your own dishes in the sink.
When the shit hits the fan (because the shit will hit the fan), hug each other tight and silently count to thirty. You’ll be surprised just how much that can fix.
It’s your marriage. If it’s great, it’s because you put in the work. If it sucks, put in more work. Only the two of you can make your marriage strong. So push away distractions, shut out negative opinions, and do what it takes to make it last.
Pick a date night and stick to it, come hell or high water. Even if you sit at home with a microwave meal, set aside time for each other.
Guys: flowers for no particular reason are always a good idea.
Don’t just hope for the best. Do something. Don’t avoid the hard conversations so long that resentment takes root. Address problems as soon as they come up.
Listen more than you speak. There is so much power in listening.
When life is stressful, look for opportunities to laugh together.
Girls: Don’t throw away his favorite t-shirt without asking first. No matter how many holes it has.
No more comparisons. You chose to be with your spouse. Not the guy or girl down the street. So love the one you’re with.
Love is give and give. Try to out-give each other.
Guys: notice the details. The new earrings, the shoes, the fact that she put clean sheets on the bed. And don’t just notice it, say something.
Compliment each other regularly. Let your words bring life to each other.
Girls: Don’t expect him to intuitively recognize a problem. It probably won’t happen. If something is up, tell him!
Guys: If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie. Girls, if he doesn’t, do it for him. This is not a hill worth dying on.
Sort out the chores between you. In our house, if she cooks, he cleans.
Fight fair. Stick to the present issue and do everything you can to resolve it. Don’t dig at old wounds.
Don’t be afraid to reach out when you’re in over your head. There’s no shame in seeking professional help when you just can’t fix it.
What would you add to this list? What’s the one bit of marriage advice you’d give to a couple in need? Leave it in the comments!
Photo by Hamza Butt