Family

July 09 2013
37

This weekend, my family celebrated a much anticipated event…my little sister got engaged.

And so the exhilaration, the excitement, the cacophony, the insanity, the stress, and the merging of two families begins!

Though she is my sweet little sister, the one who I treated as my living doll, she will beat me to this particular milestone. I’m thrilled for her and can’t wait to call her man my little brother and her a wife, but there is one problem…

For the first time maybe ever, I have no advice to give. 

I’m not a wife, nor have I been through the experience of planning a wedding. The emotions she’s feeling are none that I’ve shared.

So, I need your help!

If you wouldn’t mind offering a couple of words of advice (things that have made your marriage strong, funny things, advice on how to avoid normal, everyday pitfalls, etc), I’d appreciate it…and I’ll enjoy sharing with her words of wisdom from my interweb friends!

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37 comments

  1. christina

    always kiss goodnight… something that my parents shared with me on my wedding day… surprisingly enough this single piece of advice has helped calm many a flaring temper at home! :)

    Reply
    • JenJ

      SO SWEET!!! And I love that a simple kiss can cool a temper. :-)

      Reply
  2. JeanS

    Bridal Magazines, pinterest, and the wedding machine all lie – don’t expect perfection when it comes to your engagement, wedding or married life.

    Talk about what is important to you and your finance in your wedding and marriage. Focus on those things. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else so long as you and he are happy with it. Eliminate the superfluous.

    Always talk through things honestly and without rancor. If there is a problem, approach it as a team.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Yes, teamwork and honest discussions about finances seem like the only way to go. I’ll be sure to share this with her!

      Reply
  3. Marie

    - If something is a problem for one half of the relationship, it is a problem for the whole relationship. If your husband hates it when you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle, take him seriously – regardless of whether it bothers you or not. If your wife hates it when you leave your socks on the floor, take her seriously. Take one another’s concerns seriously, even (especially) when you don’t share them.
    - When problems arise, fight the problem, not the person, with a view to finding a solution that works for both of you. Remember that you are on the same side – the side of your marriage!
    - Don’t criticise your spouse to third parties. Later, when you and your spouse have made up, those third parties may still be holding it against him/her. Speak well of your spouse (and his/her family) to others and he/she is more likely to do the same for you.
    - Don’t assume that your household will run the same way your parents’ household was run. Vocalise your expectations to avoid misreading one another. And sit down together (preferably before the wedding day, although it will not be the last time), to allocate responsibilities. Does the first person to get home do the cooking that night? Do you take turns, or specific days? Will one of you cook and the other do dishes? These things sound silly until one day a huge row erupts when it’s 9pm, neither of you has cooked and both of you think it’s the other one’s fault because that’s the way it was done when they were growing up.
    - Plan your finances together before the wedding day. Make a budget together, including provision for savings (hint: it’s worth saving or paying down debt aggressively when you’re newly married, because expenses tend to creep over time, specially when kids arrive). Allocate a certain portion per month for each of you to spend on personal, private stuff without having to run it by your spouse first. That way, if she wants to spend her entirely monthly allocation on shoes, it’s not ‘his’ money that she’s spending, and he doesn’t get frustrated that she’s ‘wasting’ his money.
    - Be gentle with one another. Give one another the benefit of the doubt. If you are the hot-tempered sort, take a walk to calm down before you raise your frustration with your spouse. If you are the silently-angry type, be kind to your spouse by saying ‘I’m upset with you, but I’m not ready to talk about it. I promise to be ready to talk about it tomorrow morning’ (or some other definite future time). Then keep that promise. This will prevent unnecessary hurt caused by lashing out on the one extreme, or shutting your spouse out on the other extreme.
    - Learn one another’s love language. This will likely be related to the way your parents communicated love (did they use hugs, or give gifts, or run errands unasked?). If your love language and your spouse’s are not the same, make regular checks (every month or two) that you are communicating your love in a way that your spouse will recognise. Bear in mind that unless you are intentional about this, you will naturally move back towards your own love language, which may leave your spouse feeling unloved.
    - Marriage doesn’t have to be hard work. But a GOOD marriage is hard work. And a good marriage is worth it. A good marriage will, at times, be the only thing getting you through the bad times in the rest of your life. Treasure it, and treasure him. Neither can be replaced.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Good stuff! Thanks, Marie!!!

      Reply
    • Jean

      “Fight the problem, not the person.”

      Yes! This is what I was trying to express earlier.

      Reply
    • Kari

      My mom’s favorite advice is also to speak well of your spouse to others. I’ve heard her give it at countless bridal showers.

      Reply
      • JenJ

        Yes, totally…someone else gave similar advice. It’s golden!

        Reply
        • When Walker and I were fairly newly married, I went to a bunko party with some neighborhood ladies. At one point they all began bashing their husbands – all of them. It sounded so, so bad. I imagined my husband going out with his buddies and sitting around talking about me like that – horrifying and heartbreaking. It was a good good lesson.

          Reply
          • Marie

            Absolutely. It’s so comforting to know that my husband would never do that.

  4. lis

    Remember, you’re planning for the marriage. The wedding is one day of forever.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Absolutely! I’m confident that they’ll keep their eyes on the prize, but being her big sister, I’ll be sure to give her a nudge if she becomes “all about the wedding.” :-)

      Reply
  5. Advice for the wedding day: Something will and must go wrong. If everything goes off completely as you planned it, with no hiccups or last minute emergencies, your mind (which has been thinking about and planning this day for MONTHS) will have nothing to hook onto to differentiate the day from every time you’ve thought about it. Think of the thing(s) that go wrong as the “nail” on which your memory of the day can hang it’s picture. When something happens, think to yourself, “There it is! That’s the thing that didn’t go as planned! Now I know I will experience this all fully, and I don’t have to be in control.”

    Advice for the marriage: Read Mike Mason’s “The Mystery of Marriage”, especially the section about vows. We don’t keep our vows—our vows keep us.

    And, really, just love each other. Let go of the little things that just aren’t that important. And love.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Ooooh, that book sounds interesting! I’ll definitely pass these recommendations along!

      Reply
  6. Jimmie lee

    For marriage
    Anything can happen! (Even if u think u have no expectations, you do) my husband had to have a minor surgery 4 months into our marriage which required me to pack his open wound… Blood makes me faint… Be ready for anything :)

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Oh my goodness! Anything CAN happen! Glad you’re there for your hubby…and maybe dealing with the gross stuff early on so there won’t be too much of that down the road. Ha!

      Reply
  7. Emily

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in 10 years is be ok with change. Our careers have changed, our living arrangements have changed, our plans changed but we talked it through together and made it work. Just because you’ve talked about it now doesn’t mean plans wont change. Some times things get hard but it is worth it to tough it out (because in the end you love each other right?)

    -Oh and wedding wise. Don’t buy your dress too soon! I thought I had found the perfect one and then ended up buying another a few months before the wedding. What we thought would be a more formal wedding morphed in to a garden wedding and it just didn’t make sense any more. Venue first and everything else will follow.

    -Find out early on what your must haves wedding wise are and plan around those. You would be surprised at what your significant other cares about. (for us it was limos. He thought they were the biggest waste of money and I realized I didn’t care that much to fight about a 10 minute car ride) Unless it is a hill you want to die on, let them have it. I’d rather a happy husband than coral tux vests any day.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      “Be okay with change.” That is some GOOD ADVICE!

      And I’ll definitely pass on the wedding advice, too!

      Reply
  8. Angela

    My advice is pretty simple. Be kind & courteous to each other. Sometimes we are kinder to strangers than we are to our own spouse. Say thank you often. It goes a long way. My husband comments to our friends about how he appreciates me saying thank you for even the littlest task, like wiping down the shower glass door. :)

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Such good advice! Thank you can probably smooth out a lot of wrinkles before they’re even noticed!

      Reply
  9. Kari

    The marriage advice given to me that stands out verbatim is “Forgive, forgive, forgive”. I’m sure she already knows that, but marriage requires a lot of true forgiveness.

    My wedding advice is to take some time to just enjoy being engaged. Don’t dive into the details for a week or so. Just have fun saying “We’re getting married!!!”. And secondly, don’t listen to everyone’s wedding advice. People have too many opinions. Do what you two want.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      “Forgive, forgive, forgive.” What a great mantra!!!

      Reply
  10. 1. Read Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. Let it seep into your soul. It will change your marriage.

    2. One of the best things I read was to remember that the things that will bother you the most about your spouse are the very things that make them inherently male or female. Oftentimes that has caused me to realize that I am not irritated at my husband, I am irritated at the entire male species, because he is simply being a guy. And if I didn’t want to deal with the toilet seat up/the inability to find a laundry hamper/the impossibility of putting things in the right place in the fridge, well then, I shoulda gone to California and married a girl.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      2. That’s an interesting insight…I’ll DEFINITELY be passing it along!!!

      Reply
  11. Take regular (read: a few times a year) vacations. Even if those vacations are just a night or two in a hotel only a few hours drive away, it will make a world of difference in your marital happiness.

    Since getting married almost 3 years ago, my husband and I have gone on a lot of weekend road trips, which are an excellent time to have long conversations and generally rejuvenate.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Sounds like a great way to reconnect and get away from the daily distractions of life!

      Reply
  12. You are on the same team.

    Reply
    • JenJ

      Yes, good one! I see far too many couples constantly locking horns over the smallest things. It makes me so sad…

      Reply
  13. Being in a marriage is like being in a river. If you aren’t actively swimming upstream, you are drifting downstream. There is no such thing as being static. So when you realize that you are drifting in a direction you don’t like, it is time to start swimming. Whether that means reading help books, getting counseling, going to conferences, going on vacation together, or just being intentional, DO IT!

    Reply
    • Marie

      Yes! Absolutely. People expect to see entropy in their cars and houses, but forget that their marriage requires input of energy just to keep it together.

      Reply
  14. If it works for him and you, and you ran it by GOd and he is down too, then screw what everyone else says and do it. Do whatever works. there are as many ways to have a good marriage as there are people who are married.

    Reply
  15. Becky

    Always take an active part in your finances. Review what is coming in and out – whether you make all, half or none of the cash. It helps be on the same team.

    Reply
  16. Kreine

    Wedding planning: don’t be afraid to delegate.

    Wedding ceremony: keep it short & expect at least one thing to go wrong.

    Marriage: go into it with zero expectations. Your marriage is unlike your parents’ marriage, his parents’ marriage, or your friends’ marriages. Allow yourselves time to explore & define your marriage without placing unspoken or unreasonable expectations on each other.

    Best wishes to your sis & her fiancé!

    Reply
  17. Handsfull

    Be kind to each other – kindness received makes it easier to forgive a multitude of minor irritations!
    Also, if and when children arrive, somehow get away by yourselves for at least 24hrs at least once a year. We have no family who can/will babysit children, and have fairly limited finances, so we have to go to a lot of effort to make this happen, but it is an absolute marriage-saver!

    Reply
  18. Kathy Trosclair

    Communication, communication, communication. Take a shower together. Not to just get clean, but to talk. That way there is no possibility of electronic devices getting in the way. A preacher’s wife once told me, “When you fight, fight naked.” Good Luck and God Bless. This October will mark our 9th Anniversay. We almost go divorced this year. It’s not easy, but we are working on it.

    Reply
  19. Vicci

    I’m getting married in a little over 8 months and I have to say the advice I would give to any couple married or not is that “it’s about the little things” What this means is that even though large things happen in life and often those are remembered in a relationship it’s the little things that can make a huge difference. Don’t go all out every day for the person you are with it doesn’t show that you care. Do the little things. Get his or her coffee ready for them and set the automatic timer for just before they wake up so its nice fresh and hot at the right time. Leave a little love note in their lunch box for them as a surprise when they sit down to eat. Text a simple I love you and can’t wait to see you in the middle of the day or towards the end so they know you love them and are thinking of them. Put a nice fresh towel on the towel bar in the bathroom right before you know they are going to take a shower. These little things might not mean a lot when you do them but it definitely shows that you love your partner and remember the things they love and like and it shows deep appreciation. These little things won’t be forgotten and are often thought of as “big” things by the recipient.

    Reply

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