Rules of Engagement- and Marriage

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In spite of the fact that newlyweds and almost-weds get almost as much unsolicited advice as first time parents I feel compelled to add my own two cents, perhaps in part because my cousin Jake and his awesome girlfriend Molly are getting married in a couple of weeks.

First things first- While some folks may point to my divorce as proof I shouldn’t offer any advise on this topic, I believe the exact opposite to be true.  the lessons I learned during that relationship have made me a much better spouse to my current husband and helped me grow as a person.  My ex and I are close friends and we have had candid conversations about why we are better off as friends than lovers, and about the mistakes we made while we were together.

Yes, I am aware I have talked about some of these points in previous posts, but they bear repeating.  So, without further ado:

#1 Getting married isn’t going to change your partner.  Your relationship will change, but they are still the same person they were before you wed.  Getting married isn’t going to magically make someone stop cheating, being abusive, being a slob, having a drinking problem, being bad with money, nagging, etc. (NOTE- I am NOT stating that any of these specific items were issues for me and my ex.  I’m just listing common ones).  You are marrying them as they are, and if you don’t can’t accept that idea don’t get married.

#2 Go to bed angry.   I cannot stress this one enough!  Being tired and angry isn’t the proper mindset to solve anything.  Sleeping on it will give you new perspective it’s amazing how often sunlight makes last night’s huge disagreements seem small.  Also, as my very wise husband says “I never have to apologize for the things I didn’t say”.

#3 Give your partner space- lots of it.  If you two do everything together what the hell do you have to talk about?   Sure, you enjoy being together- that’s why you got married- but it’s healthy to have separate friends and interests.  You are married- not conjoined twins.

#4 Talk about how your money will be handled before you get married. i.e. how much can one person spend without talking to the other first, how much should we be putting into savings each month, do we get a joint account or keep our money separate , etc.    Not a fun or sexy topic, but it’s the number one cause of marital strife so you better be on the same page.

#5 Don’t let anyone tell you your wedding day will be the happiest day of your life. This is terrible advise for two reasons. First, weddings are stressful.  Something will go wrong.  But it will be OK as long as you let it.  Second, the wedding is not the marriage.  The wedding isn’t the pinnacle of your relationship but just the beginning.  Thinking too much about the wedding and not enough about the marriage is a recipe for disaster.

So, go forth and be happily married forever!  Especially you Jake and Molly!

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