As a writer and former journalist, I think that list-articles—infamously known as ‘listicles’— are in no way, shape, or form a correct method of journalism. They are pretty much trash, that don’t require much thought or skill to compose and removes any need for critical thinking.
Personally, though, I quite enjoy reading listicles. Sometimes to unwind I read through Buzzfeed’s endless list of them, taking note of advice columns, amazing Tweets, Amazon recommendations, and product suggestions for acne-prone skin. I’m only human.
So, here’s a treat on me:
Tips to Succeed in Your Marriage, as Written by A 23-Year-Old Wife (lol)
1. Have a goal every weekend
People like to talk about the importance of communication (they’re 100% right), but sometimes it’s unclear how that looks and translates into every day life. Well, here it is.
We have found that it’s important to discuss what we want our weekends to look like. It’s usually as simple as a mid-week text or a reminder of an upcoming commitment; by talking about wanting to stay inside all weekend with Netflix, hoping to spend Sunday watching football, wanting to go out with friends on Saturday night, or hopes to get stuff done, you are able to accommodate each other’s needs while also making the most of your time together.
2. Run things past each other
This one is pretty similar: communication is key, always and 5ever. At some point during the plan-making process, it’s just really cool when you can run things past each other. It doesn’t necessarily have to be before, but it shouldn’t always have to be after.
For example, whenever I’m invited to go get drinks with someone, I’ll quickly text Chad and say “hey, I was invited to grab drinks at x time with x, and I think I’m going to go.” I’m not asking permission, but I am being considerate and letting him know during the planning stages.
When it comes to big decisions, that should definitely be a larger conversation. Like weekend plans. “Hey, my parents would like us to come see them this weekend. Does that sound like something we can do?”
Running things past each other doesn’t always have to do with making plans. It can also involve things like finance and making purchases. You should let them know that you got a few items off of Amazon, but definitely consult each other for larger purchases that are either more expensive or would effect the both of you. Example: a new TV. That one calls for a talk beforehand. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Figure out housework sans the patriarchy
Cleaning is stressful, and we are not immune to that. However, it’s something that needs to be done, and done equally.
This is the best advice in this area: figure out how to split things up equally, without any sexist bullsh*t.
Seriously. A husband is not “helping” his wife with housework when he does something productive. He is simply doing housework, and doing his share of the work. The wife is not in charge of housework, so he is not helping her out by doing his basic responsibilities.
We have this approach in our modern and feminist household, and it is not an extreme perspective. It also helps to get things done without the weird layer of sexism creeping in. Maybe it’s self-awareness. Maybe it’s just being a modern family. It definitely is, however, one way to keep all hardworking partners happy.
4. Give each other attention
When I was 16, I never thought that there would ever be a time when I wouldn’t want to be all over Chad, showering him with love and cuddles and hand-holding and kisses at all times.
Here we are now, married and tired from the realities of adulthood, and more times than not, I’m perfectly content keeping to myself. But it’s really important to give each other regular love and attention. That is an essential piece of intimacy: giving and receiving love.
So, when we are on separate couches watching a television show and also scrolling through our phones and I hear, “hey, is it alright if I can get some love?” I’m going to go ahead and jump over there will all the power I can muster. And I know he’ll do the same for me when I’m in need of a little extra loving. Sometimes surprise attention sessions are clutch, too.
5. Nail down a routine, but don’t get stuck
In my very introverted opinion, routines save lives. They can help us achieve our best lives, by giving us structure and allowing us to feel a sense of dependency.
In our marriage, our routine can help us to get sh*t done. I’m talking taking out the trash on Wednesday mornings, ensuring I get in my hour of exercise, and knowing that we have certain days that require going to the store or we’re toast for the week. It can also help us have things to look forward to, like an hour of watching our current show together before bed.
However, this comes with a disclaimer: don’t get stuck in your routine. Issues will arise if you are unable to mix things up or adapt as you go. A routine should be an outline or a guide, not a must-do. Don’t resist changes when they pop up.
Build a beautiful routine together, but don’t let it take over the romance of spontaneity.
6. Hold each other accountable
It’s 2018, and we’ve got serious goals. So, do your part as a teammate and hold your partner accountable for their goals.
I want to workout every day after work. Chad can help me by asking how things are going, and encouraging me to exercise even when I don’t want to (oooohhhh, there are plenty of nights like this), because I made a promise to myself.
When we have financial goals and Subway sounds like a delicious meal, I try to remind Chad that a house and a dog sound better. Sometimes it doesn’t work and we end up caving, but the support is there.
We made vows to help each other be the best versions of ourselves. Hold up your end. Help your honey out.
7. Fold the god damn laundry
This one is self-explanatory. And, while you’re at it, also put it away. You and your spouse will welcome eternal harmony into your home this way.
8. Money, honey
There are many things to be said about money and finances. Here are a few key take-aways for a successful marriage:
- Don’t fee guilty for spending money on memories or fun things. This is an investment, just like any other major purchase. You are building something together that is worthwhile. Memories matter.
- Have financial goals. Keep a budget. Go through it every month, together. And, make a savings plan that isn’t too restrictive or guilt-based; even if you’re adhering to an 80/20 plan, you are still saving and putting money away.
And as with everything else, a large key component of finances is communication. It’s important to discuss your future and how, realistically, you want to get there. If that means putting away $1,000 a month for your future home, more power to you. Talk about it first.
9. Play off of strengths
This one especially relates to housework and productivity. We have found that it’s super helpful to play off of who likes to do what.
For example, Chad likes to cook. And I do not. So, Chad has been the primary chef in our house, and will often take the lead in that department.
And since he’s done that, I try to over compensate in other areas, that can help make his life a little easier in other departments. While he cooks, I’m usually working on a freelance writing story. Or, he might cook the meal, but I’ll plan it out by finding the recipes and deciding what’s on the menu that night. I’m still contributing, but in a way that matches my strength.
But don’t completely rely on this routine. I will still cook every once in a while, so it’s not all on Chad to do it all the time. That can really turn a fun activity into a dreaded chore with enough pressure and repetition.
10. Communicate everything
If you haven’t gotten the gist by now, here it is one final time: communication is really important.
In general, a marriage will go smoother if you are both openly able to talk about many things, from expressing feelings and emotions to giving a heads up when you won’t be able to give your partner any attention. Let each other in. Talk about your days. Yap during Netflix shows. Turn down the music on drives so that your thoughts are expressed loudest. Tell bedtime stories as you cuddle. Ask questions, speak your mind, and listen best you can.
It’s not always easy. After nearly 10 years together, I still struggle with summarizing how I feel when I’m upset and sharing it in a timely matter. My instinct tells me to sit on my feelings and put them away until later. At first, Chad didn’t really know how to give updates regarding his time and schedule. He left out a lot of details that he didn’t consider important.
Now, I’m always trying to be open with my feelings, while Chad has improved leaps and bounds with letting me in on things.
Communication, like anything else in marriage, is a work in progress.
Maybe, above all else, you’ve just gotta remember to love each other enough to keep trying.