Normally, I wouldn’t offer any advice about marriage. God knows I don’t know what I’m doing, let alone have enough authority and experience to give anyone else tips and tricks to a successful union, but a blank line on a digital RSVP to a bridal shower got me thinking. The question posed was, “Do you have any advice for the soon-to-be-newlyweds?
Boy, oh, boy, my brain whirled and twirled with all kinds of advice but so much of it was negative that I felt I needed to get it all out in a post and keep the response to the RSVP as positive as possible.
Before I go on to the list, I must admit I am a huge proponent of marriage. I believe in the institution wholeheartedly. I cannot imagine being out in the world dating right now. The stories my girlfriends tell are horrifying–I’m not interested in what is considered normal nowadays, and I never will. I mean, I thought that the more educated and the more money someone had, the better chances there were for a classy dating experience, but alas, I was wrong. There must be some kind of mystical magical draw of the camera phone that makes men love taking pictures of their manhood. Cough, Jeff Bezos, cough.
Anyway, here’s my practical advice everyone should think about prior to getting engaged and/or married.
- How he behaves now is likely how he will behave 30 years from now. Although women seem to grow and change over decades, men don’t appear to change much, if at all. If he doesn’t help with the housework now, trust me, you’re not going to be able to get him to pull out the vacuum cleaner next week, next year, or even the next century. Accept this fact and hire a housekeeper or wait for Mr. Clean to come along. If he stays out all night drinking with his friends and comes home at dawn, he may not stop after you’re a Mr. & Mrs. If he’s not romantic now, he won’t be until probably after you’re dead–it usually takes a man the loss of his wife either through death or divorce to change.
- If he has a habit that drives you crazy, have a frank one-on-one discussion about it now before the big day, otherwise you will be biting the inside of your cheek for many years to come until another equally annoying habit takes its place. Trust me on this one.
- If he is constantly (or even frequently) correcting you, what you say, or your behavior, RUN now while you can. He may be keeping himself in check prior to the wedding, but after you whisper those two little words, ‘I do’ in front of your friends, family, neighbors, and God, you may have a bigger problem on your hands. He may feel the need to control you.
- Know how you both are with money. I cannot stress enough how important this tip is. If he’s a saver and you’re a spender, there will be plenty of fights. If you’re a saver and he’s a spender, you’ll be stressed. And if you’re both spenders, well, hopefully you both have very high paying jobs, otherwise you’ll both be stressed when it comes time to pay bills. My only suggestion is this: money and how it’s handled should be ironed out prior to marriage. So many of my friends ended up with incredible control freaks–grown women who get ‘allowances,’ and the amount given is frequently not enough money to cover everything.
- It is imperative to know how many children (if any) both people want. My husband wanted one and I wanted five. That’s quite a difference, and something I should have known prior to standing in front of the minister.
- There are times when not responding to a spouse’s verbal challenge is a conscious and smart choice to make. Sometimes I ask myself prior to replying to my husband, “When I am on my deathbed, will this matter?”
- Is he accusing you of cheating? Is he yelling that you don’t love him or something else weird? Sometimes that can be projection. He’s accusing you of things he may be guilty of himself.
- And the most important tip of them all. Do not settle. Never say yes to marriage out of fear that no one else will ever ask you. Don’t say yes because you’re afraid of being alone. If you’re lonely now, just wait until you’ve married the wrong person. There’s nothing lonelier than living with someone you shouldn’t be with.
You can see that many of these tips are negative. I’m sure this comes from my nearly 26 years of marriage. However, I responded to the RSVP positively. I said that you should always greet each other at the end of the work day how your dog greets you–enthusiastically, with unconditional love, and tons of big, wet, sloppy kisses. As the bumper sticker says, “Wag more. Bark less.”