Saturday, August 31, 2013

Some Unsolicited Thoughts

This seems to be the wedding year for the sons of long time friends. First up was our friends in Sacramento that had a gorgeous wedding on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Today is the big day spent celebrating and exchanging vows in front of their family and friends for the son of some long time local friends and his lovely bride.

So, with the 20 plus years (21 years, 3 mos and 13 days, to be precise) of marital bliss that I have experienced, I thought I would share some unsolicited advice for newlyweds. Hope fully this might help some of you just a little in avoiding some of the myriad of mistakes that I have made. This could even be helpful for, not just newlyweds, but those that have been married for just a little longer. Maybe even for me.

****** Interlude******
Sometimes when people ask how long we have been together, I let them know that we have been happily married for 7 years now.......which means that we have now been married for 21 years.
Now, here are those unsoliceted thoughts:

1. Decide to stay together.
Sometimes not separating is as easy as that. Just saying that we are going to stay together and work this out together no matter what happens. Obviously, there are exceptions. But too many people are too ready to entertain the option of giving up on each other if they are unhappy, uncomfortable, unexcited about their relationship. usually those feelings have more to do with you than with the other person. Work through them. Stay together.

2. It's not always as fun as you planned.
Our first year of marriage was just about the worst. Mostly because I was used to living alone and living with and for someone else was kind of a culture shock. If things seem less fun than before, that is ok. Just refer to item number one and things will get better.

3. Read the book Love and Respect.
Early and often.
Their are plenty of good books on marriage, relationships, etc. This is a great one about the differences, needs and how to motivate and care for your spouse and have an exceptional relationship. This one is one of the best, in my opinion.

4. Find some things you like to do together and do them.
When we first get married, it is hard to even fathom that we will ever be apart. But as time passes, we find that work, other people (friends, family, kids) and even differing hobbies can interfere with that time. Find things you like to do together and make sure you make time to do them.

5. You two are now your primary family.
As important as parents are, when you get married, the relationship with them is supposed to change. They are no longer your primary providers, emotional support, immediate family members, etc., etc. That is now the role of your marital relationship. It is better if you figure that out early. You probably won't tho, and it will make things more difficult until you do.

6. Communicate
I have heard that communication is 80% listening and understanding (and probably active type listening), 40% sharing your thoughts and feelings, and 20% being patient. Whatever the formula, learn to do it and do it well. My inability to do this has caused untold difficulties in our marriage.

A corollary to this.....try to make your communication polite. People with manners are more fun to be around. Even if they are your spouse.

7. Stay Fit
Healthy people are happy people. Happy people are better to live with. Some health issues are beyond our control(refer to item #1), but do your best by eating right and exercising regularly. Exercise is a great stress reducer that God gave to us. Take advantage of this gift.

8. Remember Item #1

I know, I am supposed to say put God first in your relationship and things will be dandy. Yes, he is important. But I didn't say that because - everyone else will, - you should be doing that anyway and - without taking some practical steps (see items #1-8) things will be worse than they have to be, whether or not God is with you while you are miserable.

So there you go.

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