Eat, Play, Sleep, Love

Marriage Advice I Wish I Knew When I Got Married

It’s almost June and that means wedding season and we’ve already started going to wedding receptions. Many times there are places to share wedding advice with the new couple. A lot of times it’s trite or maybe not that helpful to everyone. Some people say never go to bed angry. Others say always go to bed angry (sleep on problems and they’ll seem smaller and more manageable after a good night’s sleep). To me that marriage advice depends on your personality. Some people can’t sleep when they’re upset and others need to sleep so they can approach problems with a cooler head.

Above all, marriage isn’t a fairy tale, it takes a lot of work but it is worth it. There are a lot of practical issues that need to be discussed and worked out. I feel like with the marriage certificate there should be a list of questions to ask/answer before you tie the knot. Money, how you divide work, how you spend your time and how you resolve differences are factors in marriage and divorce rates.

This is a great list of things that contribute to divorce (wish it was sourced) and while it helps to avoid things that break up a marriage, I think it’s best to study what makes a marriage happy.

Marriage Advice: Divide Household Chores Fairly

“The risk of divorce was said to be almost doubled – 97 per cent higher – when the mother went out to work but her husband made a “minimal contribution” to housework and childcare.”

Start Habits Now that You Want to Keep Later 

My favorite advice to give isn’t that romantic but it’s a big one: divide up the housework and other responsibilities from the start. It’s easier to cook and clean when you’re newlyweds and before you have kids. So sometimes women just assume that role without even thinking about it. She’ll start making dinner every night to show love and because it’s not that hard to cook for two. But gradually, especially when your family grows, it gets harder to change habits and you can get stuck in bad habits that are more difficult to change. So start out your marriage how you want it to be long term.

Don’t slip into habits of doing things for your husband now that you’ll hate later. Sometimes it helps to talk through expectations and how you grew up to help you decide what you want. Otherwise you go into default mode and assume things that can lead to resentment over time.

Find out what each of your parents were in charge of when you were growing up. For example – my mom did the cooking but never cleaned up dinner! I mean, she cooked right? The other family members could clean up after. This was NOT the case with my husband’s family. His mom cooked and cleaned dinner so this was something we had to resolve (or at least acknowledge it ?). Before we got married we asked “What was your mom in charge of? What was your dad in charge of?” it helped!

Most of the mom Facebook groups I’m in have the most complaints about this issue – their husbands don’t do a lot around the house even though there’s much more work to do as the marriage progresses and you add kids. This puts a lot of strain on a relationship, especially for wives who more often take on most of the household work. Some marriages are built around a deal where he works and she cooks/cleans and if that works for you, great. But I prefer when it’s all shared to some degree. I bring in money, even though he’s working full time and I’m part time for now.

Stephen and I have the division of labor down pretty well after about 10 years of marriage. In our case, he’s more likely to do housework because he’s far more picky about it than I am. We fought a lot about it until we divided up things. Every Saturday you’re either on floors or bathrooms. Floors includes vacuuming/sweeping and mopping. Bathrooms include dusting the blinds and furniture. We trade off on other, larger chores like cleaning the oven. If you make the mess, you clean it (and we try to teach the same thing to our kids).

The work is not necessarily divided in half but it’s divided fairly (and what’s fair depends on what you decide, it’s not a 50/50 thing). However, he does make half the bed every morning and I make my half. We trade off every other night putting our daughter to bed and we both cook meals. Everyone does their own dish and the person who cooked the meal is also in charge of cleaning it up. We both do laundry.

Marriage Advice: Start Investing for Retirement Immediately

Money issues are another big factor in marriage happiness. I think it’s so important to establish a habit of investing each month, no matter how small or large. Start separate investment accounts so you each have your own. Also, get life insurance (term is great because it doesn’t run out when you most need it and probably can’t qualify due to health issues or expense) separate from your job so you have it even if you quit or lose your job. We have both term and whole life insurance. Stephen is a financial planner so he is really good at making sure we’re saving for retirement and plan our money. Still, the longer you have before retirement the more time your money has to grow. Getting in the habit of contributing every single month is important to the foundation of your life together. It’s also smart to put money in savings every month for emergencies. Seriously if all you can do is $25 in each partner’s account and $25 in savings, it’s a start! It’s more about establishing the habit at first.

I saved for retirement for some years and then sporadically. Now we invest monthly but we would be much further ahead if we started sooner.

Marriage Advice: Read the book together: Boundaries in Marriage by Townsend and Cloud

Boundaries in Marriage is the best marriage book about what each person’s responsibilities are and what they’re not. For example, you shouldn’t parent your spouse (that kills passion because healthy people don’t have romantic affections for someone who they parent). It’s written by Christian psychologists who have also written Boundaries in Dating, Boundaries with Kids and Boundaries. All fantastic books that have had a big impact on my life. I also love, When Parents Disagree about dividing up the work of life after you have kids.

This is a lot of marriage advice! It won’t fit on a card – maybe you should share this post with couples you know who are going to get married. Or get them the book!

Also, check out these random facts about long lasting marriages, including what you spend on a ring, how big your wedding is and more. How about you? What’s your best marriage advice?

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