There’s nothing quite like the blissful, magical honeymoon phase. But when you finally come back down to earth, there are some practicalities you and your new spouse will have to face. We’ve compiled 15 stories filled with marriage advice to usher you into your new life together.
No. 1. Put your kids second to your spouse.
The relationship you have with your kids should never come before your marriage, said Jeffrey Platts, a relationship expert and men’s coach. The “your-spouse-should-always-come-first” philosophy may not sit well with some parents but Platts thinks it could help couples stay clear of divorce. Plus, your kids will grow up knowing what a strong, healthy relationship looks like.
Most of us step into marriage hoping for a lifetime of love and happiness, knowing far too little about what might give us our best shot at getting there. Many of us assume that because we’re in love, because we have common values and compatible dreams we’ve got everything we need to have a marriage that lasts.
No. 2. The annoying habits that drive you nuts before you’re married won’t go away once you’re wed.
“Your spouse’s annoying habits multiply exponentially after you’ve tied the knot. I’m talking about little things that gain annoying momentum as years go by. For me, it was abrasive quirks like these: tailgating at rush hour, interrupting me to correct me, calling every woman he met ‘sweetheart’ and twisting his napkin into a knot after every meal. Shallow and petty, I admit, but day after day took its toll. While dating, I wrote them off as changeable and cute. When the adrenaline wore off, those pesky habits became a problem.” - Kat Forsythe
Happy couples regularly say “I love you,” but those three little words alone aren’t enough to keep the spark alive through the ups and downs of a long marriage.
It’s not going to kill you to spend a weekend — or a few weeks — away from your spouse. In fact, it could benefit your marriage, especially if you’re experiencing a rough patch.
No. 4. “Stop talking.” (Or its uglier alternative: “Just shut up.”)
If you find yourself telling your spouse to “shut up” mid-argument, go directly to jail, do not pass go, and most definitely do not collect $200 — you’ve made a huge slip and don’t deserve it.
“When my husband gets home from work we hug for a good two to three minutes. It could be right when he walks in or after greeting our son and changing out of his suit. It’ll happen whether we’re upset with each other or not.” - Lindsay Herman
The Beatles were wrong when they claimed “all you need is love.” You also need the ability to navigate some truly rocky financial waters together.
Please follow the golden rule of marriage: If you make it dirty, you clean it. Nobody likes life-maintenance chores, but most of us like ― or can at least appreciate ― cleanliness. Nobody has ever complained about a bathroom being too clean.
No. 7. We speak different love languages.
Two people may love each other, but not ‘feel loved’ if they have a different love language. That means, if one spouse’s ‘language of love’ is to do helpful things or buy gifts, and the other’s love language is verbal affirmations, loving touch, or quality time together, the receiver doesn’t really feel love, and the giver doesn’t feel appreciated for the love they’re giving.
Don’t buy into the myth that a happy relationship is argument-free. Successful, healthy couples do argue, they just handle fights better.
How each partner feels about finances is often shaped by their experiences with money growing up. And knowing what that history is can give you a greater understanding of your significant other’s attitudes toward money — and help clue you in to sore spots.
Counseling may seem like a waste of effort when things are going smoothly, but therapists around the country say it’s always a good time to stop in; you don’t need a huge problem to be the catalyst. (A strong case can even be made for going to a marriage therapist on your own, believe it or not.)
A strong relationship is a marathon, not a sprint.
Some couples start off hot and heavy, but fizzle out over time. Others with a slow-but-steady burn can last decades or even a lifetime. We asked relationship experts to tell us what common threads they notice among healthy, long-lasting relationships versus short, fleeting ones. See what they had to say here.
Go ahead and go to bed angry. If you or your spouse are exhausted, it’s better to save that heavy conversation for the morning, when you have the emotional bandwidth to handle it. If you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to get emotional and less likely to respond in calm, grownup way. Indeed, studies have shown that the brain’s emotional centers are more reactive when we’re sleep deprived.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.