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Sunday, January 5, 2014

For the Newly Engaged: A Marriage Manual in 15 Steps

Well, it's January, which means that there are quite a few ladies and gents sporting some new bling and diving into the wedding planning pool. But, before you get those wedding binders bedazzled and sign up for The Knot, I'm here to share some rules for the road for the transition from wedding day bliss to the everyday of marriage. These are tips gleaned from the marital trenches of the brave men and women who have gone before you and will be there to support you on your journey, so here goes!

  1. Hire a maid or Shut Your Mouth: Nagging isn't pretty, and neither is suffering in passive-aggressive silence while you clean up after your messy partner. So, hire a maid and make the messy partner pay for it! 
  2. Rent an apartment for the first year or so (preferably with a gym and a pool): This seems counter to the prevailing culture, but owning a house means taking care of a house. That means shoveling snow in the winter, cleaning gutters, repairing/replacing windows, sealing driveways, power washing decks, removing carpet, replacing carpet, polishing hardwood floors, and so on, and so on! Think of the time you could be using to do something more interesting like traveling, or taking salsa lessons, or reading so that you'll have something much more fun to talk about than tile grout!
  3. NO HOME RENOVATION PROJECTS!!!!: Listen to me because, obviously, if we're discussing this then you've completely ignored my advice in #2 (above), or, you moved into a home that your beloved already owns. And, as often happens in these situations, the partner with the home has graciously offered to change whatever you'd like changed in the home in order for you to put your stamp on the property. Sounds sweet, right?? Don't do it! It will eat up your time and your patience. You two are figuring out your rhythms as a couple, which includes how you make decisions. If you hate the kitchen, hold your nose for at least another 2-3 years and then you have my permission to demo the dang thing!
  4. Avoid Home Depot: Need a screw for the light fixture in your hallway, then let the DIY half of your marriage go inside and don't feel guilty for simply not caring about home improvement projects. 
  5. Write the thank you notes as soon as the gift arrives, or during your honeymoon or immediately after you return: You'd be surprised at how quickly the time gets away from you after the wedding marathon finally ends. Create a wedding gift spreadsheet so that as the gifts arrive you can log in the name and address of the sender, the date it was received, and a description of the gift. 
  6. Buy a subscription to a local theatre/symphony orchestra/museum: This will encourage you to carve out space on each other's calendars and allows you to both experience something new together:)
  7. Accept the fact that one of you will always remember to buy postage stamps and that one of you will always ask to borrow those postage stamps!
  8. Roughly 50% of your time will involve hauling grocery bags into your home:(
  9. The other 50% of your time will be spent returning to the grocery store because you forgot something:( :(
  10. Don't buy or ask for a coffee maker in your wedding registry: Sometimes it's nice to have an excuse for one or both of you to leave the house.
  11. Avoid getting a pet: A pet is like having a child and you may discover dramatic differences in your child-rearing philosophies. Pets can also block opportunities for spontaneity. It's hard to whisk your spouse away for a surprise evening of dancing and fine food when you have to worry about your four-legged friend sitting cross-legged in his dog crate awaiting your return! Take a couple of years for yourself if you can before the pets.
  12. Accept the guilt: Feeling guilty when you get married is the norm, and not because you've done something bad. You feel guilty for spending an afternoon with your girlfriends when it's your husband's first Saturday off from work in months. You feel guilty wanting to read alone in the guest bedroom when your honey wants some "us" time. You feel guilty preferring a weekend at home to a weekend camping with your in-laws, or for eating the last danish, or for not liking the Dr. Who bra and panty set he buys you for Valentine's Day. Over time, you'll figure out how to live your life with the guilt. Oh, and don't think you can trump guilt by simply giving in to your significant other's needs all of the time, because that can lead to resentment!
  13. Exercise and Get Enough Sleep: Sometimes married couples say the most hateful things when a 40-minute walk and 8 hours of sleep would have solved the problem. 
  14. Face each other and say "I love you" at least once a day: It's always nice to hear, always:)
  15. Turn off the gadgets: Do you know the secret to a good marriage? Eye contact, so stop staring at the screen and, instead, look up and focus on that person you vowed to love, honor and cherish. 
Happy wedding and happy marriage to you:)

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