Last weekend I officiated a wedding. Because apparently, it’s all the rage to have a totally unqualified person marry you.
Which is kinda perfect because people who get married are usually equally unqualified to do so.
I decided that I wanted to marry my husband on our first date. While that sounds romantic and all, it makes no sense whatsoever and is totally insane.
Most of us can hardly decide what to order at Starbucks let alone who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.
(Caramel Frappuccino or Pumpkin Spice Latte? Hmmmm…..)
But we do it all the time. In Las Vegas alone, there are more than 300 weddings a day, which indicates to me that getting married seems like a super-great idea when our cognitive functions are impaired.
We know the statistics. Half of all marriages end in divorce. And I would wager for the fifty percent who stay married, most would agree that things didn’t turn out quite the way they’d expected.
Which is why I wasn’t surprised the topic, “Marital Advice No One Gives You,” got the most votes for my Friday blog.
What did surprise me, however, was that all of the people who voted for this topic were currently married.
So the advice I’m giving is not really meant for the doe-eyed couples who are engaged or newlywed. There’s loads of advice for them out there, nonsensical stuff like, “Never go to bed angry.” Which in my opinion is actually a very good idea when the alternative is stabbing your spouse with a fork.
Or my personal fave, “True love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Which in my opinion is a very bad idea unless you want to wake up with a fork sticking out of your forehead.
Rather, this post is for those of us who are in the trenches, slogging it out. Married for a while, maybe with a kid or two. Because this is when we need marital advice most of all.
Marital Advice No One Gives You
- Make fun of everything, especially each other. Develop a dark sense of humor for the hard days, delight in the absurdities of the good days, and whenever possible, laugh at yourself and your spouse because honestly, you’re both jackasses. I once told my husband that when he gets angry, he looks like a silverback gorilla and should maybe try thumping his chest for dramatic effect. We both started laughing and that was that.
- Rather than trying to change your spouse, accept who they are and get on with it already. It’s hard enough to change things about ourselves that we don’t like, let alone change things about other people. Your energy is better spent figuring out a way to appreciate and live with this imperfectly perfect human. Every morning, I get up to write, sometimes as early as 4 a.m., which means I pass out around 9 p.m. every night. Rather than getting grumpy about it, my husband uses the time to play video games with our son or watch war movies, both of which are frowned upon by me. But I’m unconscious, so there’s no frowning. It’s a win-win for everyone.
- The stuff you hear most couples fight about (money, kids, chores, and sex) is totally 100% true. You can’t avoid the conflict these issues bring up, so if you find yourselves struggling, go see a therapist (individual and/or couples). They have graduate degrees in this stuff and actually know what they are doing. Between the two of us, we’ve had three therapists going at the same time on various occasions. Rather than seeing it as a sign that your marriage isn’t working, see it as proof positive that you are committed to your marriage. And if you think it’s too expensive or too emotionally difficult or too much time to go into therapy, the alternative (divorce) is that times 1,000.
- There is no such thing as 50/50 except when you’re sharing dessert. Rather than performing long division to figure out if you’re both equally contributing to your marriage, parenting your kids, etc., rewrite the equation to You + Spouse = 100%. This puts you on the same side and shifts your mindset to getting through this life, together. As much as I’m a feminist and believe in equality at home, I am the primary go-to for all things related to our kids. For one thing, I’m better at it, but secondly, I like doing it much more than my husband. And for us, it works. Find your 100% together, and as long as it’s working for you, it’s working.
- A good marriage is not about being “soulmates” or “living happily ever after.” It’s about being able to look at your spouse and think, “This is my ride-or-die homie, the one person on earth I’d want in the trenches with me.” A few years ago, we were out shopping and I saw an elderly couple going through the store. The wife was in a wheelchair, and she was clearly disabled by a stroke or something else awful. As her husband pushed her through the store, he pointed out the pretty lights and the artwork on the wall, whispering in her ear. And I thought, “My husband would do that for me someday, too.” If you know in your soul that your spouse is your ride-or-die, then you are rocking this marriage thing.
I am no expert on marriage. Just ask my husband. After seventeen years, we’re still figuring out how to “fight fair” and not stab each other with forks.
But here’s the deal. No one is an expert at marriage. And perhaps that’s the last piece of advice I’ll leave you with.
So keep doing your best, keep slogging it out, and whatever you do, keep trying.
Sharing is caring. Send this post to your
soulmate ride-or-die homie. (Or a newlywed, just for kicks). They’ll thank you for it.
Oh, and send me a suggestion for next week’s topic! It’s a write-in ballot this time.