How to be married

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Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

Say good morning, and mean it.

Say goodnight.

Try to remember things that are important to them, even if they aren’t important to you. Use sticky notes, calendars, and phone alarms as needed.

Hold hands for no reason at all.

Welcome people of all sorts into your lives and love them well, preferably over meals. Marriages need rich community. Communities need rich marriages.

Laugh at their jokes in company with others, even if it’s the thousandth time you’ve heard it.

Kiss or hug hello and goodbye. Whatever your custom is, connect.

Remember to play.

Don’t yuck their yum. Nobody wants to hear—for the thousandth time—that you think their choice of pickles with cocoa is gross.

Get them a glass of water when they ask for it, even if they could easily get it themselves.

Try to keep your mental list of things you appreciate longer than the list of things that annoy you.

Save things for each other: a good joke, an interesting article, the last cookie.

Enjoy your friends and kids: talk them up to each other.

Be kind to each other.

Be kind about each other when you’re talking with others. Even when you’re angry. Especially when you’re angry.

Do the thing/fix the thing/get the thing they mentioned.

Ask for what you need. Even the most loving spouses aren’t mind readers.

Ask for what you want – even if it can’t be granted, sharing things we hope for is sharing ourselves.

Adopt a “garlic for one, garlic for all” policy.

Help them to love their families well: to stay in touch with their parents and siblings and honor their communities of origin. School reunions and great big family reunions matter: cheer for those opportunities if/when they come.

Go to their dumb work event. Show up and be a team.

Say I’m sorry. You will say this ten thousand thousand dizzying times. Possibly more.

Learn how to respond graciously when they say they’re sorry.

Small connections throughout the week beat grand annual romantic getaways.

But getaways are nice, too.

Even if work is crazy and the kids are wild and you’re drop dead exhausted, take five minutes to put down your book/phone/tools and be present with each other.

Make eye contact.

Share problems. If it’s a problem for you, it’s a problem for us.

Buy the smooth peanut butter. It’s the little things.

Say please.

Say thank you. Say thank you every time – even for things done over and over again like meals made and trash taken out. Say thank you especially for these things.

Point out the beautiful sunset, the brilliant song lyric, the best slice of chocolate cake to each other. Help each other notice the Where’s Waldo of joy and surprise around you.

Be a good neighbor to your spouse.

Be a good friend to your spouse.

Serve together: volunteer somewhere, donate something, put your sweat equity into a project shoulder-to-shoulder, and you’ll leave hand-in-hand.

Be honest about money.

Girl friends are great, and guy friends are great – but choose friends who are friends of your marriage and don’t let you say or do dumb marriage-threatening stuff.

Find a way that works for you to say what you need to say when you’re hurting.

Be kind to one another’s bodies. In word and in touch. In public and in the bedroom.

Celebrate one another’s victories: all the better if you do so with gusto!

Acknowledge one another’s hurts: all the better if you do so with gentleness.

Tell your spouse important things first: let them hear about your job change, or a medical test result, or what you really want for your birthday before you text a friend or tell your kids.

Laugh at yourself. It helps.

Laugh together. There’s nothing better.

* happy anniversary, my love.*

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8 thoughts on “How to be married”

  1. Deborah Priest Brown

    Just completed the 6th anniversary of my cherished husband’s death. What a privilege it was to belong to someone who made these ideas relatively easy.

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