I always say that the people most experienced to give advice are those who have walked in your shoes. If you’ve never been married, how can you give marriage advice? If you’ve never been divorced, how can you know what it feels like to get back out there? If you’ve never lived in a blended family or haven’t raised one, then do you really understand where I am coming from? The best advice comes from those in the trenches, living it everyday. I’ve been married before and like the saying goes, you need to learn from your mistakes. Here’s my two cents.
1. Forget Date Night
I know it’s sacrilege. Forget date night, that’s crazy talk. Here’s why I say to forget it. Some couples get stuck in the we have to do something one night a week rut. It usually becomes dinner and movie. Every week the same old thing for 30 years odd years and half the time there’s no conversation. No wonder people get bored. Am I saying forgo spending time with your spouse. Absolutely not. What am I saying is, make it meaningful. Turn on some music and dance in the living room for no reason at all. Make every night a date night. Resolve to do something every night for your spouse. No matter how small it won’t go unnoticed and soon, he will start doing it for you.
2. Find Out What Makes Your Spouse Happy
The easiest way to find out what makes your spouse happy is by learning their love language. When I read the book, The Five Love Languages, I had the Ah Ha moment. The whole idea seems silly but when you really sit back and let the idea marinate. It makes perfect sense. If it makes your spouse happier that you take out the trash every night without being nagged to do it, why wouldn’t you do it? To them, taking out the trash is akin to sending her a rose everyday. For women, if making him a steak for dinner after he’s had a hard day at work is twenty times better then getting a new Xbox game. Wouldn’t you make him that steak? For me, happiness comes in the form of my husband remembering what I like and getting it at a later date. It can be as simple as a Snickers bar or a bottle of Merlot after a long day. It’s the little things that add up.
3. Never Put Your Spouse Second
Now I know some of my more religiously affiliated friends will say, you should always put God first. I don’t disagree with them. Without some sort of faith, of any kind, where would we be? But your spouse shouldn’t come second to your Facebook/Twitter updates. They shouldn’t be second to your children because if you didn’t have him or her you wouldn’t have any children. I have neglected this rule on many occasion but thankfully, I have a spouse who will tell me when I’m doing it again.
4. Spend Time Doing Stuff You Hate
I hate Baseball. Among my friends that makes me a communist, as un-American as they come. Just for the record, I also hate Apple pie. My husband loves Baseball. This year, I sucked it up and went to a game with him. It was a fun experience and even if I didn’t really enjoy the game. I found things to enjoy about it. Like watching drunkards make fools of themselves. Point is, even if it’s something you hate to do you’re making a memory with them doing something that they enjoy. They know you hate it but they appreciate that the sole reason you’re there is for them. That goes a long way. Even long enough that you might get an Opera or a Ballet out of the deal, if that’s your bag.
Yes, you knew I would have to bring up sex eventually. It’s important to a marriage. Here’s the deal about sex. It should never, I repeat never, be used to get something. Once you start withholding out of anger, its a hard habit to break. Sex is the jelly of the marriage PB&J. Without the jelly, its all choke and no slide. My advice is, if you’re angry – have sex. If you’re sad, depressed or even happy – have sex. If you’re tired – have sex. That’s a big one, go back and reread that last sentence. If the kids got on your nerves today and you’re frustrated – have sex, just use protection so you don’t make any more. If you take nothing else away from this paragraph it’s this, when in doubt – have sex.
6. Play Together
A lot of my favorite memories come from playing with the kids together. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “honey can you take the kids while I do x.” Sometimes, it’s a necessity, someone has to watch them so you can make an important call or do some work. Other times, it’s just good to have a break. Our kids need to see us interacting. They need us to be role models, to show them this is what a good relationship looks like. To show them it’s okay to be adults and be silly. To illustrate in our every action, that relationships are supposed to be fun. So from stuffed animal fights to throwing snowballs, get out and have fun together with the kids.
Honesty comes in many forms, but what I am talking about is the ability to be honest about your feelings. The more you keep things from your spouse the bigger the divide becomes between you. They know something is up. The longer you’ve been married you can sense it like how a scar itches when a storm is brewing. You just know. The more you ask them to share with you, the more they retreat. This chips away at your quality time. It starts to chip away at your partner’s desire for sex. Then they stop doing the little things that kept things light and happy in the first place. Without honesty and the ability to communicate freely and openly with your partner, all other things fall apart. Honesty is the foundation on which everything is built and without it, nothing will stand.