These happily married couples from Ask Reddit have some advice for the younger generation.
1. You can have a good time with almost anyone. Don’t marry someone unless you know that you can have a bad time with that person. Marry someone who will have your back during disasters and help you clean up, pick up all the pieces and laugh together. Marry someone who will help you clean up puke, poop, and pee (especially if you plan to have pets and kids) and who will run you a hot shower when you’re done. Marry your “partner in disaster” and you’ll end up having a good laugh while you’re using the wet-vac to clean up an exploded fish tank together.
2. Remember that you are going into marriage not for funsies, but in order to be a better person.
Occasionally, this will happen because your spouse is inspiring you to greater heights of idealism and love.
Much more often, it will happen because your spouse is giving you ahem an opportunity to be loving. (Because she didn’t have time for dishes, or didn’t notice the milk on the counter, or really needs some times tonight regardless of your headache, or is just in a bad mood tonight.) A great deal of marriage is sucking it up and doing unpleasant things lovingly, recognizing that you create plenty of ahem opportunities for your spouse as well (whether you notice or not)… and never, ever keeping score.
Once you’ve stopped keeping score and made your whole life about the good of the family, marriage ironically becomes a lot more fun than it is if you go in just expecting it to be fun!
(Obviously, there are lines to be drawn here. “Loving your spouse” does not mean tolerating abuse or failing to communicate your needs. But marriage is mainly about giving up your life to caring for somebody else — that’s what the vows say, after all — and I think we lose sight of that too often here in the early 21st century.)
3. The point of arguing is not to win, it is to understand where they’re coming from and why this issue matters to them.
4. Anger is neither a reason nor an excuse for bad behavior. You will get angry, you will fight, but you should never insult, indulge in name-calling, throw things, or hit them. If you cannot or choose not to control what comes out of your mouth when you are angry work on that first, get married second.
5. Someone once told me “once you get married your wife becomes your family and your family become your relatives.” Really helped me through any stressful family gatherings, knowing we had each other’s backs, being our own team.
6. Be prepared to date each other forever. The second you stop courting each other, it all falls apart. No reason to not go on one date a week just the two of you.
7. You can’t fix everything. If someone has a bad day, there may not be anything outward that can be done to fix it. Sometimes they just need time and to know you’re there.
8. Be weird with each other. Everyone is odd in someway. Stepping back from the stresses of life and being goofy is the best part of my day. Your spouse should love every part of you so be yourself and have fun! Marriage is not as serious as people make it out to be.
9. Humans are stupid – me and you included. Happiness isn’t getting everything you want. It’s the habit of being happy with what you have. Mad at your spouse for something stupid, like forgetting clothes in the washing machine? Stop being mad, make a cup of tea for both of you, then laugh at it.
It’s a habit – so you’ve gotta create that habit. But once that habit is created, you stop getting mad about stupid things. When you’re with someone for years and you get rid of stupid fights, it becomes quite easy to be happy (assuming overall compatibility).
10. Try to be mad at a behavior, not at your partner. Telling someone that this form of communication isn’t effective for you, can we try another way. This action creates a problem for me, leaving us unbalanced would this way work better. Communication is everything. You’re going to be together forever, please be comfortable sticking up for yourself, your marriage, and your partner.
11. It’s not a 50/50 partnership. Each partner has to be ready and willing to put in 100%, when the other partner cannot. Sometimes you have to give more and the books may never balance out AND that’s OK!
12. If you have any doubts DO NOT GO THROUGH WITH THE WEDDING IT WILL GET WORSE.
13. Have each other’s back. Be loyal. No shit talking the other person to outsiders, or ESPECIALLY to family. You need to be each other’s best friend. If you have a problem, work it out. Don’t go airing your dirty laundry to other people.
14. If you can do a little thing to make your spouse’s day better/life easier, do it. Bring them coffee. Buy that cheese they like. Remember to set up their favourite shows to record. Grand gestures are great, but little things daily remind each other why you’re together.
15. The marriage is more important than the wedding/reception.
16. Separate bathrooms. No, not kidding.
17. Stole this from Dan Savage: establish s***al compatibility early in a relationship. I don’t mean on the first date, but before you get married because it’s only going to get more difficult later.
It can be something as simple as, s** isn’t that important to either of you. It can be talking about what’s acceptable in terms of dealing with fantasies and fetishes. Heck, just finding out if you’re both willing to have an honest conversation about it is worth knowing.
18. You don’t have to blow $30k for your wedding. That’s a down payment on a house! No one is going to remember what color your brides maids dresses were, or what flavor your cake was. They’re going to remember how much fun it was, who got the most drunk, who had the worst dance moves, and how happy you (two) were that day.
You are going to want to strangle each other during the planning process. Just relax, have a glass of wine or something, and talk it out.
19. Make sure you agree on the big stuff
Do you want kids, how many?
Who is going to be a stay at home parent if any?
If we both get the job of our dreams and both require moving, what do we do?
What is okay in case of unplanned pregnancy?
How should our money be set up and spent?
Is religious belief important? If so what religion? What if one of us changes/gains/loses religion?
20. Have separate blankets. Nothing builds resentment like a freezing butt at 3am.
21. Admit when you’re wrong. Ask open-ended questions when you’re right.
22. Don’t cheat. There is pretty much no coming back from that. Something will always be lost.
23. Assume nothing. Your spouse is not in your brain, cannot read your mind and cannot interpret passive aggressiveness with the intent that you’re trying to deliver.
24. You are your own self. When you’ve been together a long while, its easy for all your hobbies, interests, values and beliefs to become exactly the same. That doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to do things for yourself or have a differing opinion. Have at least one ‘thing’ that is your thing to keep yourself sane and interesting.25. Never rush marriage, at the end of the day it’s really nothing more than a piece of paper, what really matters is in your heart.
Second piece of advice, they better be your best friend or it most likely won’t work out.
This is someone you’ll be spending the rest of your life with(if all goes as planned). And the older you get, the less friends you’ll have and the more you’ll spend with your significant other.
26. Disagreements happen. Find a middle ground. There is always a middle ground.
Ignore the people who say, “never go to bed angry”. A lot of times the middle ground presents itself after a good night’s sleep.
Have two comfortable places to sleep. It will come in handy during disagreements but they’re a god send if someone is sick, has allergies and snores.
27. You’re a team. Act like it. Especially in front of the kids.
28. When fighting, think of your entire relationship and ask yourself, “Is this going to matter over the course of the relationship?” Probably not.
29. F**king clean up after yourself.
30. Gratitude is key. This sounds easy, but let me explain.
The key is that gratitude is not a balancing test. Don’t just be grateful the ‘extra’ things your spouse does, be grateful for every.single.thing.
If you shop for food, then prep it, cook it, then clear the table, then load the dishwasher, then clean all the pots and pans – and then later your spouse empties the dishwasher, thank them for doing that, and feel it.
To me, this is a hard thing for people to do, and it is such a huge part of the happiness in marriage. It leads to a feedback loop of appreciation for the little things as well as the big.
It makes it more likely that your spouse will appreciate you and (unless you married a terrible person) far more likely that they will do more.
You will also see more of the things they do.
This isn’t just ‘stuff,’ but anything. Grateful for listening, for sharing, for sitting on the couch, for having your child etc. etc.
31. The biggest transition is if you weren’t living together before. Getting used to sharing everything can be difficult for some but good communication is key to making things work.
Discuss finances, once married you take on each other’s debts and responsibilities. It’s important to know what those are before the wedding. Finances are one of, if not the, biggest reasons for failed marriages, so get on the same page early and stay there.
32. Create a budget before you merge finances and make sure you’re both on the same page.
33. Do a lot of those “questions to discuss before marriage” quizzes. You may find trigger points you never would have thought of on your own. It’s better to hear these things in a theoretical, not in a time you need to make a decision or are under emotional stress.
But most importantly: MAKE SURE YOU AGREE ON WHETHER TO HAVE KIDS! Don’t assume he/she will come around to the idea. If you’re pushing your significant other to have kids, you will basically be a single parent. They won’t feel responsible for the child because they didn’t want them to begin with and were being nice to you in having a baby. On the flip side, if you convince your significant other NOT to have children, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of resentment if they had to choose between you and a future they’ve probably built up in their mind for most of their life. The decision of whether or not to have children impacts Every. Single. Moment. of the rest of your life. Don’t try to convince someone they really will come to love the opposite outcome.
34. F*** first. If there’s an expectation or hope of s** after a wedding, birthday, arbor day, Valentine’s day etc… Do the s** part before to avoid getting too tired, full, or bloated to have s** after.
35. Just keep doing what you’re doing, marriage is really no different, it’s just paper. Keep doing what made you two fall in love in the first place, continue to be honest, and open, loving.
36. If you have a problem with your partner, no matter how small it is, talk to them about it. They may not realize they’re doing something that bothers you (like squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube not the end, like some kind of savage).
37. Feelings fluctuate. Some days you won’t want to look at them, other days you’ll wonder how you found such a wonderful person. It’s normal and the bad times will pass as long as both of you actively want to make things work.
38. It’s gonna get boring. Remember that your spouse is probably as bored as you. Just tough it out.
39. Always be polite: Clean up after yourself. Say “please” and “thank you.” Remember that your spouse is a whole person and not a prop in your life.
40. Give each other at least 30 min a day without phones/TV.
41. Even if you aren’t having troubles, going to marriage counseling of some sort can be a solid idea. It can help to have a voice from outside of the relationship giving perspective to potential issues that can arise.
42. Treat your spouse better than you would a casual acquaintance. For example you would never tell Betty from the office she looks fat or Joe your bowling buddy his new haircut is ugly. Basically be kind. You and SO are the home team. Take on all comers and have each other’s back.
43. Pick your battles! Who cares if they never put on a new roll of toilet paper. Just do it and move on. There are much more important things in life than nagging your partner for menial shit.
44. Accept that you will change. They will change. Change is growth and growth is human.
45. You are a team. Either you both win, or neither of you do.