As this post goes live, my friend of 20+ years (G) is getting married to his fiance (possibly by now, his wife). G and I have been through a lot over the years. He’s the friend with whom I opened a short lived computer repair service. Back in High School, when I was getting mercilessly teased, he was my only sounding board to express my frustrations. When he saw the toll it was taking on me, he risked his own social standing in the school by talking to the bullies (with whom he was friendly) asking them to lay off. They did and I’m sure it helped preserve my sanity. We went to the same colleges and even worked in the same company for some time (though in different departments).
If you asked me back in college, I would have placed money on him being the one who would have gotten married first solely on the fact that I was so clueless about dating and G seemed so calm about such things. I was lucky, though, to meet B. She made things that previously reduced me to a twitching pile of nerves into a walk in the park. (Get your minds out of the gutter. I’m talking about simple things like asking her out, having a dinner with her, and stuff like that.) G met L after B and I were married.
G has been a great sounding board and advice giver through the years, and I wish him luck in his marriage. G, if you’re reading this, remember that any time you need marriage advice, just give me a call or e-mail. And when/if you two have children (as I’m sure your parents will begin asking from the minute you say "I do"), feel free to call/e-mail B and I with questions. Having two kids gives you some insight into these things (at the very least, it gives you knowledge of where online to look for answers ).
To start you out, here’s some unsolicited advice:
Know when you keep your mouth shut.
You’re sure to have arguments. All couples do. I actually think that any couple who doesn’t have any arguments at all has something seriously wrong with their relationship. Some arguments are bound to become heated. But know when to stop talking and just walk away. Yes, talking is important in a relationship, but so is knowing when to stop and cool off before more is said.
Know when and how to compromise.
A marriage is all about compromise. Two people cannot coexist without finding some middle ground. You’ll find yourself doing some things that your spouse wants to do that you (by yourself) wouldn’t do. Meanwhile, your spouse will find herself doing things that she normally wouldn’t do if you weren’t involved. Finding that middle ground will be easy in some cases and more difficult in others. Sometimes you will give in 100%, sometimes she will, sometimes it will be 50-50. The important thing isn’t who compromises more (no keeping score!), but that you both compromise.
Find some "you" time, Find some "us" time.
Many things will go on in your life. You’ll need to work on your house, pay bills, work, etc. It will be really easy to go about every day as if you were just two people sharing a habitat. Make sure you take time out every so often to have "us" time. Go out to dinner, see a movie, whatever you both enjoy. As long as you are doing it together (hey, minds out of the gutter!), it counts.
By the same measure, make sure you don’t lose yourself in the relationship also. The perfect marriage (IMO) is one where both people merge into one unit, yet keep their individuality. So you might want to have a poker night with your friends. Meanwhile, she can have girls nights out.
And a warning about your future. When you have kids, it’ll be harder to schedule "us" and "you" time. That’s natural (and you might not get any "us/you" time for the first few months),. Just make sure you keep doing it, even if it is at a reduced frequency.
What advice would you give to a newlywed couple?