First, get rid of the romantic comedies.
Just kidding. Sort of.
I am the last person to preach about romantic comedies being bad for your relationship. Look at my movie collection and it is full of gorgeous men and women falling in love after some bizarre situation puts them in the hands of fate.
Well, Greg was all too happy to tell me a few months ago something he learned from a Jenna McCarthy TED talk (What you don’t know about marriage): after watching a romantic comedy, you are likely to be 64% less happy with your relationship than you are before the movie. I’m sure respondents were husbands or boyfriends whose wives or girlfriends had watched The Notebook one too many times and were therefore subject to Ryan Gosling-esque expectations.
Either way, marriage can be fun but it can be dang hard. A laundry list of reasons for misery could easily follow for anyone who has been married for any period of time. But, as my good friend Beth Hess told me, what you focus on expands. So, three things follow that we’ve learned in our short 6.5 years that we try to focus on, so that it expands into every aspect of our relationship. We have 60+ years to go, and 10 times that many lessons. But, for what it’s worth:
(Disclaimer: If there were truly a formula for a “perfect” marriage, 1) people would still go after the formula and not the better marriage, and 2) our divorce stat wouldn’t be so unfortunately high).
1. Pay attention:
Men, ask why she likes the rom-coms. It could give you wonderful insight into what makes her tick.
Women, you’re not married to the man on the screen. You’re married to the man sitting next to you, the one who loves you but doesn’t have a screenwriter on tap to say all the right things. He’s trying.
2. Speak now, or forever hold your peace:
Don’t let things fester. A festering wound on the flesh could turn into an infection, which could turn serious enough for amputation. Take that (admittedly extreme) metaphor to heart. A bitter heart does not a happy marriage make.
3. Stand on solid ground:
Know what you want your marriage to look like, and create a foundation that helps build into your vision. Ours is built on a shared faith, and a daily attempt to live out the following Bible verse: Ephesians 5:33 – Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. I learn how to respect Greg, he learns how to love me.
I’m young but not dumb. It’s not that easy, and some days are (much, much) harder than others. Sometimes you say to yourself, “I would NOT have this headache if I weren’t married.”
But you wouldn’t have a best friend, either. A real, cook-you-dinner-when-you’re-sick, serve-you-like-a-spouse, save-the-last-french-fry-for-you kind of best friend. And, between you and me, it’s a pretty amazing thing.
You tell me:
What’s one piece of advice you would give a newly married couple?