As I get older I become more and more like my mom. She would offer her opinions and advice- ahem- freely. Me? I used to think and think before I talked. Made sure I had really earned the right to give my thoughts or was directly, explicitly asked for my opinion. Then I would offer it.
Not anymore! And you guys can reap all of the benefits!
As I approach my ten year anniversary, let me tell you a few things about how you should live your married life. Based on an entire decade of wedded bliss including (but not limited to) six homes, nine jobs, and four kids. Fortunately we’ve made no mistakes or poor decisions during this decade, so rest assured this advice is sound.
1. Live off of one income. Even if you’re DINKs (double income, no kids) and rolling in it. Even if you’re DINKs and poor. Save and give generously with that second income.
One day, one of you might lose your job. One day, you might have kids and want to stay home. One day, you might have an unexpected health issue that, even with good insurance, runs you (tens of) thousands of dollars. Practice living on one income and living well within your means.
This applies to buying a house! Don’t buy what you are approved for; buy thinking about what you can afford month to month WITH a financial buffer in mind. The bigger house is not worth it if you are barely scraping by every month. I have tried to talk my husband into purchases like this before and thankfully he has talked me out of it.
2. Talk to other people about your marriage. And pick people who will be pulling for your marriage to win, and not just you.
We have had seasons where we have spun our wheels on particular topics. We have talked about it nicely in calm, kind voices. We have yelled and been crappy to each other. We have thrown things. (Well, I have anyway.) Sometimes we just cannot get on top of an issue, and we need to talk to someone else. We’ve paid counselors, we’ve taken friends out for beer and dessert, and we have met with our pastors. We bicker and fight and try to listen to an outside, unentrenched perspective. It has always been a good decision.
3. Resist the temptation to reduce your spouse to his/her lowest form and leave him/her there. We are all prone to bouts of jackassery from time to time. But don’t keep your spouse pigeonholed in the jackassery. Chances are, you married a decent person. Remember that.
Here is an example, because I am talking a little abstract right now. I come into the kitchen and see my husbands’ late night snack dishes on the counter. Inner thoughts: “Gah. Lazy husband; couldn’t even bother to put his dishes in the dishwasher.” That could be an accurate statement. Maybe he was being lazy last night. Or maybe the dishwasher was already running so it made more sense to leave the dishes on the counter. Either way- I need to resist categorizing him as “lazy” and just leaving him there to rot in my mind. Lowest form- see?
(Lazy people don’t get up at 4:30 a.m. to commute to work for two years. Lazy people don’t run ultra-marathons. Etcetera etcetera.)
I mean, maybe you did marry a lazy person. Maybe you picked the laziest s.o.b. in the state of Virginia and now- dangit!- you are yoked to him forever and ever. (Which does beg the question- why did you choose such a lazy person? That’s an interesting choice to make, don’t you think?). But, more likely, your spouse is pretty okay as far as spouses go. Right? He did not leave those dishes out because he is scum of the earth and intent on making you work your fingers to the bone until you die under a pile of his ice cream bowls.
My husband is much, much better at this than I am. He sees me much more broadly and kindly than my lazy/selfish/angry moments. I think I am getting better at this, but every once in a while I still write him off as the lowest form of himself. Eww. I do not like when I do this.
There you go. All you need to know for a happy, blissful marriage.
What would you add to my list? I am all ears.