Marriage Advice from an Engaged Person

So being an engaged person, I find myself getting huge heap of unsolicited (but granted welcome) advice from every married person I encounter.  It’s all a mixed bag really but I appreciate any advice that comes my way. Some people give referrals, others advice on how to go about shopping for certain things and my favourite are money saving tips ‘cause weddings be expensive and I’m more than content to be drinking beer on my beer budget.

The one that keeps coming up is to choose my photographer wisely. Here I was thinking I was going to choose everything wisely – I’m a bag of anxiety! Of course, I’m going to research everything ad nauseam and compare to make sure I’m making the right choice.   The reasoning for this repeat advice: because you’re going to have these pictures for the rest of your life. Woooshh let that sink in, deeper, deeper, side-track slightly and stop – I thought I was going to have my glorious fiancé as a husband till death do us part. Where’s the advice on that?

I mean great pictures are nice to have but a great marriage is better. Both my and my fiancé’s parents are divorced, and we both know all to well its not so much the divorce that’s painful, it’s the years living with someone that its just not working out with. Needless to say, we’re both very invested in having a healthy relationship and the advice we’re getting from people around us is seemingly absent. Is it possible that no one has good advice or they just can’t articulate it?

We’ve been together almost 6 and have been living together for 3 of those years. Since moving in together we’ve made it a point to analyze our relationship pretty often; like scientists in a laboratory. We google a lot.

So far, we’ve pinpointed things that cause us to fight: not spending enough time together, having a dirty apartment, leaving laundry where it doesn’t belong, and running late. As the cliché goes “knowing is half the battle”. I don’t believe it’s half, but it certainly helps in knowing and acknowledging what our stressers are.

Next, we both agreed to try to avoid our pre-programmed fighting styles, I come from a family who yells and says hurtful things in a rage, he comes from a family that runs on passive aggressiveness and the silent treatment. A yeller and a mime – our first arguments were fun. We agreed to avoid yelling and passive aggressiveness as proved by our parents were unproductive. THIS WAS NOT EASY. THIS WAS NOT EASY. I REPEAT. THIS WAS NOT EASY. Emotional reactions, and that’s what fights are, emotional reactions, are difficult to control but over the past 3 years we made great strides in communicating effectively during arguments. It’s cheesy but often recommended in leadership work shops and marriage counselling to use the words “I feel” instead of you “You did”.

For example:
Instead of saying: “What the fuck?!?! You’re always late for everything its like you don’t even care!”
You say: “I feel like when you’re late its like you don’t care that my time is being wasted waiting for you.”

In short, explain how the other person’s actions made you feel, rather than taking the accusation stance. It’s a relationship not a witch trial, unless it’s Halloween and you’re into that. The other person will be more likely to empathize instead of being defensive which in theory will lead to a faster, easier resolution with less hurt feelings and less sleeping on the couch.

That’s my inexperienced marriage advice for the other engaged people out there seeking it out. Cheers!