Marriage is not easy, but nearly everyone will tell you that. They’ll tell you to remain devoted to your partner in body and mind. They might tell you active and open communication is key. Others might suggest you should always retain time for yourselves, like going on dates even after you have kids. The point is, there’s lots of advice floating around, and a lot of it feels very samey.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the cliche advice isn’t valuable. Anyone who’s married knows a lot of this stuff holds weight. But what are some of the things people don’t talk about it?
More specifically, what are some things the man should bring to the table? What should you know before going in?
1. Learn to Cook
You might have dabbled in the past with cooking a meal here or there, and that’s cool, it’s good practice for what lies ahead. But when you’re married, you’ll need to know how to cook, or more importantly how to cook substantial meals, apart from heating things up on the stove or in the microwave. Besides, women get turned on by watching men cook — it’s a thing.
This seems incredibly cliche, but it’s true that a lot of men retain the idea that only women in the household should cook. Even if that sentiment were true, it’s simply not going to be possible all the time. Just wait until you have kids running around and your spouse or partner is busy. Heck, there will be times your partner doesn’t even feel like cooking or have the energy. In those cases, if you want to eat you have no choice but to make food yourself.
Point being, learn to cook — the earlier, the better. Start with smaller simple recipes and work your way to more advanced stuff once you feel comfortable. After all, it’s not hard to toss some pasta in boiling water or grill up some sausage, onions and peppers.
As a bonus, learn how to clean effectively too.
2. Learn to Fly Solo
Just like with cooking, there will be times you need to step up and handle your responsibilities. If your partner is away for the day or evening, you’ll need to watch and spend time with your kids, alone. If your spouse is taking an extended trip, you’ll need to clean, do laundry and wash your own dishes.
It’s funny because this sounds so ridiculously simple until you’re in the moment and you need to handle your business. Don’t become dependent on your partner no matter how easy it is to do, because there will be times you need to step up.
3. Learn How to Fix Things
If you’re not a tradesman or handyman, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can always call a repairman for help. While that’s certainly true, there are always factors that limit support. You may not have the funds to pay for a professional service. During emergencies, you may not have the time to wait around for a handyman to get things under control.
Advanced plumbing and electrical projects should be left to the professionals, obviously, but there are things you can and should learn how to do. For example, learning how to turn the main water valve off is crucial, especially on long trips away from your home. It’s also vital if there’s ever a major leak or failure somewhere. The same is true of the main electrical breaker — you must know where it is and how to turn off the power to certain areas.
If you don’t already, learn how to hammer a nail. Learn how to hang up pictures and mount things to studs in the wall. Learn how to fix holes in drywall and plaster. Learn how to paint.
4. Learn to Budget
It helps if your partner knows how to budget too, but you must absolutely know how to yourself. Budgeting is key to a healthy, happy lifestyle. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, without a budget you’ll spend frivolously and the money disappears fast.
That also means you’ll need to learn how to save money, and when not to spend. Needs should always take priority over wants, especially bills.
5. Learn to Be Selfless
This is not a drag on men, in general, nor is it a drag on any one individual. Before serious relationships, we are all used to doing things for ourselves. It’s hard to change that pattern when you enter a lengthy companionship or marriage, but if you wish to survive, you must. You cannot always think of yourself, your wants and your time.
If you love binge-watching shows and movies, great, but you’ll spend a lot of your time watching content that your partner wants to watch as well. Love playing games and your partner doesn’t? You’ll find you need to spend time away from your favorite games and instead do things they love to do too.
This is something that seems obvious on paper but is not immediately apparent in real life until you experience it. The earlier you learn to be more selfless for those you love, the better.
6. Know When to Get Help
Sometimes, you need to seek professional help. It’s important that you understand your own capabilities and limitations and that you know exactly when it’s okay to get assistance. It’s not just about practical things either. You might need to visit a doctor or mental health professional. You might need to take the car to an auto repair shop, seek help with your diet or visit a marriage counselor.
The important takeaway is that it’s okay to get some help — that doesn’t make you weak — and it’s both smart and necessary to know when it’s time to get some.
7. Learn True Romance
Blame rom-coms for the many misconceptions about love and romance. A strong relationship will look nothing like it does in the movies, and neither will displaying that love to your partner. Sure, the occasional bouquet of flowers or expensive jewelry is always welcome, but that should never be the only way you display your affection.
Spend time learning what true romance means for your partner. Maybe they would prefer if you cleaned the house for them. Maybe they want some help with the laundry or the kids. Maybe they want a day to themselves away from all the normal stresses of life. Romance is different for everyone, as is what people value and appreciate. Spend time learning your partner and understand what they want out of the relationship. It will help you big time in the long run.
8. Learn to Share
Naturally, your marriage will require you to share a wide variety of things from finances and physical space to your free time. It’s nearly impossible to keep things completely equal, so that’s not what you should go for. But it’s not impossible to share and remain considerate of your partner.
This tip has far-reaching boundaries. You might share the last of the ice cream. You might spend time doing an activity your partner prefers over what you want to do. You might sacrifice a purchase you wanted, to make room for your partner’s wants or needs. Maybe you compromise and choose a vacation spot you’ll both love?
When you enter a relationship, you essentially agree to share yourself with that person, for as long as you live. That also means everything that’s yours is theirs and vice versa.
Learn These Tips, Now
If you plan to get married soon, you still have some time. If you’re not planning to get married soon, then you have plenty of time. Either way, learn these tips as soon as possible. The earlier you come to grips with what you have to do and make it happen, the better off you’ll be. These things are not just about improving your happiness and health, they’re also about making life great for the one you love.