The Best Advice You Were (Never) Given?

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

…………….

I have a colleague who’s last day at work was today ..

At least for now.

We will see him again soon, only with one change.  Well maybe more than that.  He could come back with a tattoo somewhere we’ll never see.  Or have suddenly decided to become a vegetarian.  But one change that we’ll at least know for sure.  He will return to work in about a week and a half with a shiny new ring on his left hand.

He’s a great guy and he’s marrying a wonderful young woman this weekend, the two have been together quite some time, they seem like a great couple and they are excited to be getting married.

I of course, truly and sincerely wish them every blessing a lifetime of love can bring and the best in their marriage.  So do many, many other family and friends of theirs .. and of course all of our colleagues ..

Yet I heard someone say to him today, jokingly .. ‘it’s not too late.’

I might have said that as well a year ago.  But I would have meant it.

Quite honestly, I’m not so sure the relative newlywed that did say it today didn’t mean it. Actually, I know she did because she followed it up by saying just above a whisper but I was close enough to hear, “I actually meant it.”  Which makes me sad.  It wasn’t long ago she was that person rushing off, so excited to get married.  The wear and tear I already hear in her voice is heartbreaking.  (Perhaps I should show her yesterday’s blog.)

Anyway, a year ago for me, I was done.  Done dating.  For a very long time anyway.  That was my plan.  I had NO intention of even thinking about trying to connect with another person in regard to dating again .. and marriage?  Marriage was simply never again going to be a discussion.  The destruction I was witnessing in so many directions around me regarding other couples was enough to make me swear any of it off, I was almost certain, forever.

After focusing on my health and fitness, staying close to girlfriends I knew had my back and me theirs, working with a life coach and being faithful to pray and go to church, I put it all in God’s hands.  I told myself a year ago, ‘Focus on your daughter and your career because it is clearly a much better use of time and energy.’

I had had it.

Then along comes this cowboy.

…………..

My faith has honestly and genuinely (I am somewhat sincerely shocked) been restored that good marriages/relationships, heck even incredible ones do still exist.  That it is possible to connect with someone on a level so deep, that it’s okay to trust in it.  That it is safe to again, give another person (besides your child) .. everything you’ve got.

But I also believed that, the first go round.

A dear old friend of mine, one whom I miss terribly and have always looked up to, who I had no idea ever ventured to read any of these posts, left a comment today on yesterday’s post .. and the challenge I had linked to about being conscious to say only uplifting, positive things to your spouse and about your spouse to others, for 30 days.

She wrote:”I believe in love, family, marriage. I believe it. I know so many people of divorce did too at one point. Including my own parents. But if you really were honest….would those people of divorce have noticed flaws early on, red flags, where perhaps they should not have gotten married? My own mother said just that…..she always had a bit of a red flag moment in her, that said perhaps they shouldn’t. But it was the 60s…she was 22…EVERYONE got married.I feel awful hearing of friends’ marriages in trouble. Makes me so sad, yet its inevitable. Statistically, its going to happen. I will work every day to make sure that it is not me.

We don’t always see red flags as red flags.  We see them as challenges perhaps we can work through.  Troubles for one person, not you both as a couple, that might heal/get fixed in time.  Or with counseling.  Or that some red flags are ‘just stress’.  Or what I feel my ex and I believed, which was – that it was so great we were complete opposites – because somehow then we complimented each other.

In hindsight .. my ex says his family told him we would never work.

Maybe they did.  But we thought we knew better.  And, we loved each other so we tried.

But in trying, failing and throughout the years since, I have learned quite a few lessons.  Lessons I hope guide me well (they better or I’m going to be really peeved .. ) into the future.

Back to my colleague.  Knowing he and his beautiful bride were heading off into the great known, or dare I say, the great unknown that is marriage … I was pondering today, what possible advice would or could I ever give a couple just starting out, to help them succeed in love .. and marriage.

Would they care what I have to say anyway.

Probably not.  Most often we learn best by falling and getting back up on our own.

But for my own daughter’s sake…

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts so that she may look at this, someday, when she is contemplating any relationship of her own.

Love each other.  Speak kindly to each other.  More kind than is necessary where you can.  Date.. always.  Establish a good cache of babysitters.  Surround yourself with good friends and lots of family.  Know that sometimes friends are family.  But also know when it’s time for it to be, just the two of you.  Communicate.  And if you don’t do it well, find someone who can help you figure it out because it is perhaps the most important thing you can work on – for each other.  Laugh, a lot.  Listen every now and then to the tone of your voice and make sure it sounds the way you are hoping to be heard.  Hold hands.  Take walks.  Remember, it’s not always 50/50.  Chances are any slacking in one area by your spouse is being more than made up for by your slacking in another area.  Pray, together.  Don’t put a TV in the bedroom.  Ask each other about your day and mean it.  Spend less time worrying who is right and more time worrying about what is right.  Have one standing meeting each week where you can bring your grievances/frustrations to the table, talk about it and work out a solution together when it’s not in the heat of the battle.  (My ex and I learned this through years of counseling and thousands of dollars billing.  Don’t spend the money to hear the same, just do it.  It was one of the best things we did.)  Continue those standing meetings even if everything is going well and use it instead to celebrate all that is right.  (My ex and I failed on this part here.  Which may be among the reasons we are no longer together.)  ‘Let your love be stronger than your hate or your anger.  Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.’  (- Jane Wills)  Remind yourself each morning of why the person next to you is a blessing in your life.  And perhaps do the same again each night, before you go to bed.

I’m sure I’m missing a few big ones here.  But those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Thoughts that might someday be helpful to you, my beautiful daughter.  Who knows about anyone else.  Anyway, I never had a conversation like this with my own parents, in terms of what strengthens any relationship/marriage.  It’s one, in hindsight, I wish I had been able to have .. and still hope to with my dad, among others I know carry volumes of relationship wisdom from a life well lived.

Given I know a few people at least are reading this .. I am wondering, what advice would you give to newlyweds?  Or, to those even currently in a marriage but struggling.  What does it take to not only make a marriage work anymore, but work well, thrive and last?

You may now kiss the bride.  Or whoever has helped you learn those lessons.  🙂

Cheers.

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7 thoughts on “The Best Advice You Were (Never) Given?

  1. Beautiful advice for your daughter. Advice I’d give to newlyweds…it’s okay to agree to disagree. When communicating the goal is to leave the other person with an understanding of your personal perspective, your goal should not be to change their mind to conform to your own way of thinking. And lastly, always discuss matters of finance with the mentality of being on the same team. 🙂

  2. I heard this great expression recently “compassion and not control”. I think I would advise anyone to take that into their marriage. Also that control is an illusion, you cannot control your spouse or his behaviour only your reactions to any given situation. I love the advice to your daughter.

  3. After 15 yeas of marriage these are the things I think of first when I think of how things could have been better. Start your marriage off debt free. If you can’t be debt free but your house before you get married, work quickly to get to that point. As Dave Ramsey would say, “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.”

    Always remember that being married is hard work, but, if you point in the time and effort it’s totally worth it.

  4. I’ve been on the verdge of divorce twice! Twice, we almost threw in the towel, but at that heartbreaking tear inducing moment, neither of us could be the one to say “yes, this is really what I want” so we rolled up our sleeves and dug our way out of the hole. Now, we’re learning not to fall in the holes to begin with, but it takes a lot of work. You have to believe your partner is as important as your right arm, or your leg. How quick would you be to cut that off if it were giving you some trouble? Every time we hear of friends splitting up, I always say to them “are you really really sure?” I just hate to cut off a leg that might heal with a little therapy….

    • This is beautiful, Chris .. love the stories you shared, esp about your parents. Mine were much the same and my parents held hands and laughed until the day my mother passed, far too young. Love that you are doing what you can to carry on the example your folks set for you .. I think we all do. It doesn’t look as pretty in some scenarios. But we try .. and try again. 🙂 Best to you .. thanks for stopping in!

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