I got married for the first time when I was really young, still a teenager. I did it for the wrong reasons and I didn’t really have any models of healthy relationships in my life. I wish that someone would have shared this advice with me then, but who am I kidding? I was REALLY stubborn and I probably wouldn’t have listened. I did the opposite of every single one of these rules, and it’s really no wonder that the relationship didn’t work. But I grew from those mistakes and by doing the absolute wrong thing, I learned what the right thing is. I’m happy to say that I now have a healthy and loving relationship modeled on these principles, but we definitely work at it every day since we have both seen the flip side.
Here Are the 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married
1. Choose wisely — Obviously this is the most important piece of advice. Choose a partner who is kind and supportive and who brings out the best in you. Two good people can just be bad for each other. Marriage will not “fix” serious problems in your relationship and shouldn’t be a step that is taken lightly or impulsively.
2. Discuss important things before you say “I Do” — There are a lot of things couples struggle with over many years of marriage. Avoid this as much as you can by being proactive and having the hard talks BEFORE you get married. Do you both want kids? Do you agree on a financial plan? What about where you will live? Do you see eye to eye on helping out relatives, like with loans or having them live with you? Is your religion important to you? How will you handle holidays?
3. Be on the same team — When you do end up having a struggle with your spouse, always remember to be on the same team. It isn’t you versus your spouse. It is you AND your spouse versus the problem. When my hubby and I argue and things get heated, one of us will say our code phrase “same team” to remind us of this.
4. Love them even when you don’t like them — There will be days you cannot stand your spouse, when they’re driving you crazy or you’re super angry about something. Remember to love them even when you don’t like them. Love is a commitment, not a feeling.
5. Be their best friend — Always treat your spouse as well if not better than you would treat a friend. Be courteous and supportive. The goal is to be the first person they think of calling when they have either good or bad news. Be each other’s support system.
6. Prioritize couple time — This gets harder once kids are in the picture, but it’s SO important to continue to “date” your spouse no matter how long you’ve been together. Get out and do fun and adventurous things together. Try and share a hobby. Do date nights and away weekends. The kids will leave someday and you’ll be left with each other, so it’s important to continue to nurture the relationship.
7. Don’t keep secrets — Secrets are the death of any relationship. If you’re doing something that you wouldn’t want your partner to know about then you shouldn’t be doing it. Once you crack the mirror, it never reflects the same way again. Some secrets are scratches and some secrets are cracks, but it’s best to avoid all of them.
8. Always answer their call — If you want to be the person your spouse comes to when they’re in need, you have to answer their call. It shows you’re there for them and you prioritize them and your relationship. I’m never shy or embarrassed to tell business associates, clients or friends that I need to step away to take a call from my hubby, and he does the same for me — what if it’s an emergency?
9. Apologize and accept their apologies — We are all human and we all make mistakes. It’s inevitable we will screw up during our relationship. When you make a mistake or hurt your spouse, even unintentionally, be quick to apologize. Say you’re sorry and mean it, and take steps to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again. And when they apologize sincerely to you for something, forgive immediately and never bring it up again. I always assume that the hurt was not intentional because I believe he has my best interests at heart and I give him the benefit of the doubt (this goes back to #2 and #5), which makes it a lot easier to forgive him when he makes mistakes.
10. Protect each other — You should be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader in public, not their critic. Don’t complain about your spouse to your friends or online. Protect them by keeping your relationship issues private. Make your marriage a sacred space and only speak positively about them to others, even in a joking manner.
What are some major life lessons that have helped you become stronger and wiser? Anything you’ve learned during the challenging relationships you’ve had in your life? We’d love to hear from you.
More From The Things I Wish I Knew Series: