As I get older and move out of my hometown, I meet many new people. When married women find out you are also married, the conversation changes. They become bold and share complaints about their husband/life, always in jest but you know the ones that are serious.
Funny how I announced to the world that marriage isn’t for me and I end up being the first married out of my friends. In the dirty south timeline, I married OLD. In west coast timeline, I was a child bride. In both timelines, I have learned that age is just a number. No matter how old you get married, a good 80% of the people I’ve spoken to were not ready to make the jump. It became apparent when I would be asked for advice on how to be more chill, or how to bring things up to their husbands, or if their reaction is appropriate, etc.
I am sure I repaired many a marriage troubles. And I’m happy to help - because I am a firm believer of divorce. More on this later, but the gist: life is too short to stick it out with someone you aren’t 100% invested in.
Society likes to romanticize marriage. Even outside of the wedding, it’s this romantic sharing of life. It can be. But it’s mostly not. I was lucky enough to take the heathen route and half lived with my husband prior to taking the plunge, so we worked out the kinks prior to.
You think you’re ready? Read on.
Do you spend money the same way? This was a duh one for me, but I’ve come to realize it is not the case for everyone. Do you both save? Do you put value on the same things so that ‘splurging’ doesn’t cause a rift? Lots of people make fun when couples have to check in with each other before making large purchases. Single, unmarried folks don’t realize that us married ones promised a life together. We have set plans to be together and have goals on where we want to be. Checking in is a sign of respect. It helps greatly when you value the same things.
What is your life like after the wedding? You’re over here daydreaming about the wedding, planning, scheming. If the wedding happened tomorrow, what is your life like the next day? People get caught up in wedding details. Planning takes time. More importantly, planning distracts you from the humdrum of regular life. You wake up, you go to work, you come back home, you eat dinner, you go to bed, and repeat as directed. Remember that in real life, fun distractions are not the norm.
Look at your partner right now, today. Are you happy with what you’re seeing? Ladies, and potentially some gentlemen, fall in love with the potential. They believe the things the other person says they want to better at, and fall for that pretend person without realizing that’s a completely different person. When you marry someone, you validate him or her as they are. They won’t suddenly turn athletic and get all beefcake. They won’t suddenly become secure and self-assured. What you see is what you get. If they do change for the better, that’s a happy bonus that probably followed a big lifestyle change – which leads me to my next point.
Are you disciplined enough? Obviously, couples influence one another. After spending so much time together, you’re bound to pick up a few habits. I have yet to see someone level up into better habits. If one person is into lifting weights and the other is a couch potato, more than likely the one lifting weights will ease up, as it’s the easier route. Is this okay with you? I ask because I’ve seen it happen and the one that got influenced down blamed the lazy person for gaining weight when it’s all them.
Do you improve them as a person, and do they improve you? There are those couples (and friends) that stew in hate, complain, or generally be miserable together. I guess if that’s what you’re into, you can be miserable together. Typically, the couples that last (happily, not just in total) help each other be better versions of themselves. Does your partner encourage you to go to cooking classes? Do they help you see the bright side of a terrible event? Are they comfortable calling you out when you’re being a touch too bitchy for your own good? Are you comfortable having someone you love call you out?
Do your roles match up? I once knew a couple where the woman liked to mother, and the man liked to be taken care of. Obviously, this is a perfect match. Your roles in life must match. One of you must be able to take care of the things the other cannot, or just not good at. It can be as simple as one person handling all activities that involve phone calls and field complaints, while the other handles increasing everyone’s credit with timely payments and making sure everyone is alive *ahem*mymarriage*ahem* What do you want out of life? Do you want to be traveling gypsy while he wants to settle down and have kids? This has to match.
Did you fix yourself yet? Don’t look at me like you’re confused. I know all of you have issues. Remember how your father was too busy working so hard to put food on the table so he couldn’t give you the right attention? Did you fix your daddy issues yet? What about you, the one that’s been cheated on multiple times over? Did you drop your insecurity baggage at the door? Or hey you that always hates to be alone for fear of anxiety creeping in? You worked on your self-confidence yet? Because it’s not your partner’s job to make you feel secure – that’s ALL on you. Sure, they’ll help you. But it’s up to you to realize your own shortcomings and help yourself.
Are you ready to be on the same team? This is the HARDEST lesson for every single couple I’ve met to learn. You and your spouse are now a team. It is you two vs. the world. It is not you two + your family + his family vs. the world. It is just you two – and whatever children you might have. The simple lesson is easy: when your family attacks your spouse, you defend your spouse. I know blood ties are important, but when you marry someone, you switched teams. Sorry, your parents did it with you and your other parent. If you can’t handle that, you shouldn’t get married. More importantly though, people forget the details. You do not talk trash about your spouse. Yes, you can complain that your husband is forgetful and your wife keeps nagging on you about hanging the towels. But there are things you should never share with others. You do not talk trash about your spouse to anyone, because the marriage is between you and your partner. You’re on the same damn team. You can talk about how to help them improve whatever it is they’re having trouble with, but you don’t get to put them down in the name of Girl Talk. Full stop.
Is that a lot? I hope so. I learned a lot from being married almost five years, and being with Chris for (smh) 8.5 years – and from listening to every woman on the planet that seems to think I have a face meant for secret keeping.