Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Stay Married (For at Least 2 and a Half Years)

I love Pinterest.
Mainly because it's filled with lots of brownie recipes.  But also because it actually has some pretty solid advice out there.
I've probably read about 10 thousand blogs about marriage.  50 ways to impress your spouse.  How to make a marriage that lasts. 10 ways to love your husband.  How to stay married forever.  7 ways to knock the socks off your husband.  65 things to do once your married.  7 ways to be your husbands best friend.
And I read every single one of them.

Big S and I have only been married for 2 and a half years.  But in that time, I've seen 3 couples get married...and then divorced, in a time frame of 2 years.  It's really devastating to see my friends and people I knew in high school make such a huge commitment and take it so incredibly lightly.  I know marriages fail, and I know serious things can happen to ruin a relationship, but seeing people I know go through something as terrible as a divorce at my age is absolutely awful for everyone involved.

I'm no marriage expert, but I can share with you the few tidbits about my very young marriage that makes it work.

1) Be your spouses number one fan.  I got this advice from Mike Bradley, a family friend who was basically a second dad to me growing up and I've tried to apply it every day.  Every single time my husband gets a promotion, award, raise, or works over time I make an effort to show him and tell him how proud of him I am.  I write about it.  I tell other people about it.  I express to him, and to our kids how incredibly proud I am of him.  I love bragging about my husband.  He's awesome.

2) Get together with other married couples.  It isn't easy being 22 and married.  Big S and I are in a VERY small percentage of the young 20's who are married or in a committed relationship.  And we have kids, which makes the percentage even smaller.  But I'm really glad we decided to step out of our comfort zone and meet other couples.  Even though they aren't the same age as us, they are in the same stage of life as us, and the age difference almost becomes obsolete.  I say almost because I still can't hang out with them without being referred to as a baby.  But that goes both ways, because I can totally refer to them as old hags, right?  Right?  No?  Oh well.

3) Know how to fight.  Fighting is inevitable.  You say you and your significant other don't fight and I KNOW you're a liar.  Fighting to me is a good sign.  It means you care.  Big S is glad when I get mad when he works late.  It means I miss him.  But when those times do arise, we're figuring out what's fair game and what's not when it comes to arguments.  And we know what is and is not appropriate to say and when to say it.  We try to not fight in front of the kids, I NEVER want Little S or Rae to remember their childhood and think of a time when we let our irrational anger interrupt their carefree lives.  Also, we know when to say sorry.  There are lots of peace offerings of wine and foot rubs.  Also cupcakes.

4) Take the 5 love languages quiz. THIS.  My love language is acts of service.  If Big S can do laundry/dishes/change the kids without being asked I AM IN HEAVEN.  Big S's love languages are words of affirmation and (big surprise) physical touch.  So we make out and I tell him how awesome he is.  It works out pretty well.

5) Choose happiness.  Could I get mad every time Big S leaves his clothes on the floor?  Or leaves his half full (I'm an optimist.) cups of coffee on the counter every morning?  Or puts his wet towels on the end of our bed so our bed is MOIST?  SURE I COULD.  But I try to let these things go, because in the long run, these things don't matter.  Before I get mad I think "Will this seriously matter to me in a day/week/month?"  And the answer is almost always no.  So I let it go and choose to think of all the awesome things Big S does for me instead.

Like I said, I'm not a marriage expert.  I haven't studied marriages and what makes them work, all I know is that when we got married we made a vow of a lifetime.  Life is hard, things get complicated and marriage is hard sometimes.  But knowing that both Big S and I are committed and in it forever and learning from our mistakes and how to make things work without uttering the word divorce is working for us.

I never understood when my dad would tell me love is a choice until I got married myself.  And I choose to love my husband every single day.  He is absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me.



Jasmin soon to be McEntire said...

Ahhh!! This is great, thanks Melissa! I'm 22, by fiance is 24 and you give us hope! We're one of many within our friend circle who are in a long, commited relationship, but the first to get engaged-they all think were crazy! However, we too follow many of the lifestyles choices you explained (we're each-others biggest support, for example) and your blog is inspirational!

Melissa said...

Thanks Jasmin! Good luck with the wedding plans and congrats! :) :) said...

Great List. My wife and I were 20 and 22 when we got married. 18 years later. We're still here. You're well on your way.

Melissa said...

Thank you!! I appreciate it! :)

Mariah said...

This was so great! And you can call me old hag anytime you like. ;-) You two are off to such a great start!!!

Christine T said...

Awesome post! I'm getting married next summer. We'll be 21 and 22. I've heard the "You're too young" speech about a million times. But your blog really shows people how even at a young age we can all take marriage seriously.