Newlyweds? Now what? After the last family hug and “We Are Family” stops ringing in your ears, we move into auto-pilot of the relationships we have seen and the lame outdated advice we have received.
But, one of my favorite things about attending weddings is meeting the older couples who have been married a long time. I love when the “how we met” story brightens their mood or provokes banter between the pair. And, yes, we are there for the bride and groom, but big moments have a way of forcing us to reflect on our own lives and path.
Love, marriage, old age — we tend to take it all for granted and assume a level of non-existent certainty.
After years of unofficial research, hours of Esther Perel during a concussion from my two-year-old (different story), and anthropological curiosity, here’s an updated list of tips I have personally collected:
1. Old advice: Marriage is 50/50.
Better advice: No it’s not. It’s 90/10 or 40/60 or 70/30, but rarely is it ever split down the middle in a beautiful harmony of balance all the time. Assuming any relationship is 50/50 can lead to major disappointment and frustration. I’m all about balance, but try being married.
2. Old advice: Never go to bed angry.
Better advice: Angry? Go to bed. And grab a snack on the way. H.A.L.T (Hungry Angry Lonely Tired) is no joke. When I call my best friend, my photo that appears on her phone is “forgive me for what I said when I was hungry.”
3. Old advice: You become one after you get married.
Better advice: You don’t. Live your own life. Do “you.” Otherwise, it doesn’t take long before you and your spouse are in a co-dependent spiral. “I can’t believe I canceled pilates to go to the movies with you and you are running late.” Don’t cancel pilates. Go. The greatest irony about marriage is that if you are in a happy marriage, your partner just lets you be you and doesn’t get in your way. I have single friends who say, “I can’t wait to get married,” as if there is some new you waiting to be discovered. You are still you! Don’t burden your pretend future ex-spouse with “fixing” you. You probably don’t need fixing, and if you do, you’re in charge of that.
Also, if you want something from your partner, just ask.