My oldest son is getting married this summer, which got me thinking about this whole business of marriage. He’s been with his fiancée since college. I am certain that they have what it takes to go the distance—similar values, respect for one another, etc. After seven years, they still look at each other with adoration; it’s lovely to see.
It’s pretty easy to be happy on your wedding day and honeymoon. But as most of us old married couples know, there’s a lot that goes into staying happy. My husband and I have been married for thirty-two years and together for thirty-eight. I don’t have an exact recipe for marital bliss; if I did, I’d be a gazillionaire. In fact, I’m fairly certain that there is no exact recipe.
But after all this time, I do have some thoughts (for my son and almost daughter-in-law as well as anyone else who might need it) on to how up the odds of remaining content long after the “I do’s” are have been done.
Advice for Newlyweds
1. Bathroom etiquette – flush, replace the toilet paper roll (yes honey, I know I forget to do that sometimes), cover the toothpaste tube, wipe around the sink, etc. A few small things can say to your spouse “I care that you are not grossed out or inconvenienced when you enter the bathroom.” No one likes to reach for toilet paper and find it’s not there. ‘Nuff said.
2. Stay off your devices – this one can be tough. With work and social obligations and those darn funny memes, our phones and other devices can be addictive. Carve out a little time to actually BE with each other without the distraction of electronics. That tiny device can create an incredibly large wedge between you.
3. Fight fair –Never bring up similarities between your spouse and your mother-in-law during an argument. Don’t talk about past digressions. Keep the discussion about the here and now and keep the disagreement constructive. Contrary to popular wisdom, I think It’s okay to go to bed angry, but it’s important not to let fights drag on too long.
4. Schedule play time – I think millennials do this better than my generation, so I don’t think this one will be a problem.
5. COMPROMISE COMPROMISE COMPROMISE – In a marriage no one gets their way all the time. That’s not how it works. When my husband and I got married, he liked Crest and I liked Colgate. We use Colgate for everyday and Crest when we travel. He was a Mets fan and I was a Yankees fan.
Our kids are all Mets fans and I gave up on baseball. I gave in on this one because it was way more important to him that it was to me. Choose the things that matter most to you and let the other things slide. You come from different homes with different traditions; you can’t pass down everything.
6. Be kind – They say a little kindness goes a long way and it’s true. If your partner is sick, make them tea and bring them soup. If they seem sad, cheer them up! It can be tough out there in the world. It’s up to you to bring a little compassion and understanding into your spouse’s life.
7. Always remind your husband to call his mom—Okay, in the interest of mom of boys solidarity I had to slip that one in. Having said that, remember to put each other first. Even before Phish or the Mets. Or as much as it pains me to say it, your mom. Ouch.
8. Encourage each other – Be a one person cheering section. Nothing says, “I love you” more than “You can do it” or “I believe in you.”
9. Laugh. A little bit of humor makes everything better. Even my blog posts—What do you call a fake noodle? An Impasta!
10. And last, but not least, when the going gets rough, remember all the reasons you chose one another in the first place. There will be rough patches; that is a guarantee. Life is capricious and even cruel sometimes. But together, you can get through those rough patches.
Oh, and when you have kids…Well that’s a whole other blog post, and since my son and his bride are not quite up to that stage, I think it can wait.
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Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mother of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire, blogger and college essay editor. She attended Brandeis University, from which she graduated cum laude with a degree in English Literature. A Founding Contributor and Advisor at CollegiateParent, her work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Her View From Home, Parent Co., Kveller, Grown and Flown, MockMom, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Better After 50. You can read more of Marlene’s work on her site, Thoughts From Aisle Four or on Facebook.