Marriage advice to my sons
This year has been busy for my family. My middle son got married in May and my oldest son just got married earlier this month. I think back to when I got married. I was young and really didn’t feel like I was ready to be married.
And honestly, I wasn’t. I hadn’t sat down and thought about what being married means. I figured it was just like dating except we were living together. Wow, was I wrong.
There is a reason why divorce rates are so high. Being married isn’t easy and most people just are not ready for the time, effort, and commitment it takes to be married.
Marriage is work.
Marriage is saying your sorry even though you don’t feel like you did something wrong.
Marriage is bringing your partner a soda home from the store even if they didn’t ask for one.
Marriage is holding your loved one tight after they lost a family member.
Marriage is crying with your spouse in a doctor’s office when you were just informed your spouse had a miscarriage
Marriage is picking up the slack around the house because your spouse is so sick they can’t get out of bed.
Fortunately, my wife has put up with me for 24 years now. But I would like to think the reason we have stayed married that long is because we work hard at it.
Here is some marriage advice for my sons:
One of the first things you will fight about as a married couple is finances. I would guess that just paying for things for the wedding and planning life after the wedding has already started the conversations about money.
Debt will drown you. As you get older you will get bombarded with companies wanting you to take out loans. At first, you will think that you have it under control. A credit card here and a car loan there don’t seem too bad. But then that emergency happens and your credit card is maxed out, so you need another card.
Just avoid all debt if possible. I would go as far as to even say don’t buy a house. Rent while you can to avoid a mortgage. Buy the cheapest car you can afford with cash. The less debt you have the more money you can save.
Have a joint account
When you get married two things are becoming one. And that should include your finances. It’s ok if you both have separate accounts, but you should have a joint account for paying bills and keeping a budget.
Having a joint account is a way to avoid playing blame games or starting arguments as to why one person doesn’t pay a bill because they have more money in their account.
You should either have one joint account you both have access to or add a joint account that you both feed money into automatically after you get paid and then pay bills out of this joint account. If you still want to keep separate accounts for “fun” money I don’t recommend doing that but it could work.
Never stop dating
When we get married sometimes we get the idea that we don’t have to try so hard anymore. Nope. I would say that now that you are married you need to work harder. You signed a paper, and you made vows. You now must do everything to keep those vows.
Take her on dates regularly. Walk by and tell her how beautiful she looks. If she is wearing an outfit that makes her look good then let her know.
Grab her when she is least suspecting and give her a good kiss or even just a hug. Don’t let the idea of getting married make you think you don’t have to work at it anymore. Keep the romance alive.
Silence is better than fighting
I’m not big on fights. Especially if you have kids in the house. I’m not talking about physical fights. I’m talking about arguments that tend to get out of control.
You will know when your spouse is pushing for a verbal fight. They will say something to trigger you and your first response will be to say something hateful or say something that wasn’t well thought through.
Avoid this at all costs. Take a step back and think about why your spouse said what they said.
Were they trying to be hateful?
Did you forget to do something important?
Is there a misunderstanding?
Is there something deeper going on that has surfaced (bad day, lack of sleep, hungry)?
Make sure you understand the situation before you respond. And sometimes not responding at all is the best option. If they are looking for a verbal fight, don’t give in. Let them cool down and approach it at a later time.
Pick your battles
I have learned over the years that the old saying “not going to die on that hill” is wise and sage advice. It means that something is small or doesn’t really matter and in no way should you make it a big deal.
Maybe you don’t like the way your spouse does laundry. Doesn’t matter.
Maybe you don’t like the way your spouse cleans the kitchen. Doesn’t matter.
Maybe you are afraid for your life when they drive. Doesn’t matter.
Little things should never bubble up and make you have an argument. Make sure the things that really matter to you are the ones you will be willing to fight for.
Never forget dates
My mom every Christmas gives us all a calendar with all the birthdays and anniversaries printed out on them. She is a bonified genius. Why? Because I can never remember dates.
I struggle to remember my own kids’ birthdays at times. Let alone remember everything else. When you are first married remembering your anniversary is an easy task. But by year 15 you might start forgetting. It’s not because you don’t care. It’s because you have 15 years’ worth of other stuff to remember.
Get a calendar and write down important dates. Most phones have a calendar app that will give you reminders, use it. Put in important dates and make reminders so you never forget.
Never compare your spouse to someone else
Just don’t do it. There is rarely a moment in your marriage that you should ever compare your spouse to another person. Just because it’s true doesn’t make it any safer.
Avoid not only bad comparisons but good comparisons can be taken the wrong way. You might say wow you made those cookies almost as good as my mom makes them. Even though that could be a huge compliment. You left the door open of “almost as good as”.
Be mindful of your circle
When you are dating you may have friends that would be considered questionable. Friends that you enjoy being with, but you know that more than likely they will get you in trouble.
After getting married it may be time to move away from these friends. I’m not saying you have to get rid of all your friends at one time, but just be aware that some of those friends can be a burden to your marriage.
And it isn’t reserved to just friends. Maybe your workplace is toxic towards married people, if you have to quit and find a new job then do so. Your marriage comes first.
Don’t let work consume you
Work should never consume your life. Even if you aren’t married you should never let work be in your face all the time when you are awake.
Take time off. And that doesn’t mean take vacation days. If you are allowed personal days and you know you won’t use them for being sick, use them to do something with your spouse.
Taking time off also means when your shift is over you put work away. With so many people working from home it is hard to escape. Make sure your work is done at the end of your day and leave it there. And if you are not working from home then make sure any issues from work are checked at the door. Don’t bring work issues home and make them family issues.
Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader
There will be times in your spouse’s life they will want to achieve independent goals. Not everything has to be a joint thing. Maybe they want to start their own business, or maybe they want to get an advanced degree.
Whatever that thing they want to do be completely and totally supportive of it. Remove roadblocks so they can achieve their dreams.
If they want to go back to school then watch the kids at night so they can get homework done.
If they want to start a new business tell everyone you know about what they are doing.
There shouldn’t be anyone in the room talking more about your spouse and how proud you are of her.
Be the head of household
This isn’t so much about gender roles as is it is just taking care of your household. Being a husband and eventually being a dad means you need to take charge of your domain. It means that if something needs to get done, don’t rely on others to do that, especially your spouse.
If something needs to be fixed, don’t wait around until your spouse calls someone or tries to do it herself. If you don’t have time, then hire someone. If you don’t know how, then find someone who does know how to help.
This also means you should be out working and trying to be the top income earner. Yes, it is ok if your spouse makes more money than you, but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass and can just be lazy in life. Work hard and be the one to take the lead in your household.
Admit your mistakes
As a husband, you will be wrong. You won’t like to admit that you are wrong, but it will happen more than we like. You will make a bad assumption about a situation and you will piss your spouse off.
Just own up to your mistakes. Tell them your sorry and move on.
Do not hide anything
We hide things from our spouses sometimes because we are embarrassed. Or maybe we hide things because it makes us look like a failure. But I have found that hiding things just makes it worse.
Just like being a kid, we thought we could hide things from our parents. But somehow they always knew and it came to bite us big time.
If you are hiding something, even if it is small, you lose a lot of trust. And there could be a long road ahead to gain back that trust.
Always hold hands
You never get too old to hold hands with your spouse. Whether it is sitting on the couch watching TV or walking into the store. Just hold her hand. That intimate contact says so much.
Here are some non-verbal things that holding hands says to your spouse:
- I love you
- I want to be close to you
- I don’t want to let you go
- Nothing will separate us
There will be bad days
And wow will those bad days suck. There will be days someone gets a dreaded call about a loved one who passed away. There will be days you will get a bad diagnosis at a doctor’s office. There will be days where someone will lose their job. Bad days will come.
It’s how you respond to those bad days that will matter. When you get married most vows include a line that says the following:
“for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”
If this was part of your wedding vows it isn’t just some words that the preacher says. It is a commitment that no matter how bad the days get, you have to stick with your spouse.
Never say “That’s not my job”
If your spouse is busy in life and can’t get to things that she would normally do, pick up the slack. If she normally does the dishes and there is a sink full of dishes. Don’t ignore it. Don’t say “that’s not my job”. Just take the time and do the dishes.
Even though you may be the head of the household, this doesn’t exclude you from doing chores or tasks that your spouse may typically do. Suck it up and just get it done. You are a team now.
Make decisions together
This will be a once a week conversation in your house now:
What do you want for supper?
I don’t know?
Well, how about [SOME AWESOME RESTAURANT]?
No, I don’t want that.
[Repeat forever until you die]
Don’t make decisions without involving your spouse. If it is something minor you might be ok, but you need to sit down and discuss what is minor and what is major. If one of you makes a big decision that later turns out to be something you didn’t agree on. Then that is going to be a major long-lasting resentment.
Check on your spouse’s mental health
Your spouse may be open to what is affecting her physical health. But there are going to be times where her mental health is awful. And because your wife is resilient she may never let you know that she is struggling.
If you notice she is off or maybe says something to give you pause. Sit down and talk to her to make sure her mental health is good.
If you notice a major change in behavior or a withdrawal of affection that is missing then ask about her mental health. And do it in a concerned way. Saying “are you crazy” is not an effective way to ask someone about their mental health.
You can start by asking how they are feeling and if anything is bothering them. Encourage them to be open even if YOU are the problem.
And don’t be closed about your own mental health. If you are feeling stressed or anxious or depressed. Let them know. It’s ok for everyone to have these types of feelings. It’s not ok to keep those feelings buried down. Because more than often you will express those feelings in the wrong way that only drives away your spouse.
Every couple needs guardrails in their lives. They need a code of conduct that will dictate how you act and how to keep yourself out of trouble.
One of the biggest guardrails to establish is a never be alone with the opposite sex policy. This means you will never be in a situation alone with another female. And she will never be alone with a male. It doesn’t matter if you are best of friends with this person. Just don’t do it. Make sure there is another person with you at all times.
Why go to such extreme measures? To prevent situations where you confide in somebody that could cause her to lost trust in you and/or possibly have an inappropriate relationship with you.
You can establish guardrails for other things in your life like money. Perhaps you have a rule that when you go shopping you stick to only spending the cash you have with you. This prevents you from blowing your budget and having financial issues.
Find those things in life that you know you both struggle with. And then set up guardrails early to help prevent you from going down the wrong path.
Communication is key. But not everyone communicates the same way. Maybe you enjoy talking face to face but your spouse would rather leave you a note or send you a text. This may seem weird but there are times when you have to convey your feelings but saying them out loud is scary and causes deep anxiety.
Determine a safe and effective way to communicate. If you need to convey something that is bothering you and saying it face to face will lead to an argument. Both of you need to determine how you can communicate and how to respect each other’s feelings.
Don’t let other people’s drama affect you
When you marry someone you don’t just marry them but you marry their families, their friends, their work, and their drama. But don’t let that drama affect your relationship with your spouse.
Just because your spouse has a family member that can’t keep her husband happy and everyone knows what they are doing wrong. Don’t let that drama affect your marriage. You could actually use situations like that to see what not to do.
We all deal with enough drama in our own relationships. We don’t need to add any extracurricular drama to what we already deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Getting married doesn’t mean the end of freedom, it is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. It means that instead of thinking about what YOU are going to do with life, you start thinking of what WE are going to do in life. You are no longer two people but one working for a common goal.
You can still be an individual but you always have to keep your spouse in mind when making your decisions. What you do in life no longer just affects you. Be respectful and loving to your wife.
And always remember to say I love you. Always. Even if you are mad at her. Because if the love is gone then the marriage is gone. And always keep working on being a better husband.
Do you have any more tips or marriage advice? If so leave a comment below or let us know on our Facebook page.
These are some really great tips! I’ve been married for nine years. Not all wonderful but definitely worth it. I think picking your battles is a big one people should learn. It took me a little while to learn this but I’m so glad that I did.
Never stop dating is great advice! It was one of the pieces of advice my parents gave me before I got married. Life can get busy, but it is important to keep your spouse your number one priority.
Even though this was directed at you son I feel like these all really apply to everyone! Thanks for giving your insight on marriage. I especially liked the part where you mentioned checking in on your spouses mental health. So important
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