The Marriage Manual: What You Don’t Learn While Dating

There’s just some things that you have to learn from experience. Like riding a bike: you can explain to someone until you’re blue in the face how to ride it, but until they get on and totter a bit, they won’t know how. Marriage is pretty much the same way. The things I had to learn I was aware of before I learned, but I had to be immersed to know.

1. How not to discuss arguments with other people

I know many of us girls love analyzing conversations in general with our girlfriends. We like having people on “our side” on things, and may discuss it with our friends, sisters, and mothers until we have properly scrutinized every twitch of his mouth and gleaned every meaning possible from the phrase “I don’t know.” But when you are married, that cannot happen. For the sake of your happy marriage, or of having happiness after a fight, do not post them on any social media nor discuss them with anyone. Except in the case of abuse, no one needs to know the details, and it will just drag the argument on longer. Beyond that, you are more forgiving of your significant other’s unpleasantries than your mother or best friend is, and she may hang on to it to use later in life.

2. How to both be in charge of your budget.

You may be great at budgeting for yourself or a family of ten, but when two cowboys are in charge of a rodeo, it turns into a circus. Learning to prioritize and manage a budget together takes work and compromising. No matter the techniques you end up using, make sure that you both are in it together. Don’t make him handle all the money and then blame him for late payments. It is both your responsibility according to the law, so divide and conquer it together.

3. How to cook for two

As for cooking, understand that he may not like your mother’s meatloaf, and she may hate raw steak. That doesn’t make you a bad cook, it just makes you both different. It is ok! Learn to embrace it. Learn new likes together and incorporate them into your weekly schedule, along with a few days for you both to enjoy your own likes. It’s good to be unique!

4. How to be ok with new (or no) routines

I am a routine person. I wake up at basically the same time every day, eat my breakfast at basically the same time, and the rest of the day goes similarly. I grew up that way, and in my parent’s house, both of my parents were early risers. So, naturally, when I got married, I expected my husband to wake up around the same time I did and follow a schedule I could kind of wrap my brain around. It turns out, however, that I married a night owl who hates schedules. Go figure. I had to quickly learn that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and cope with it. I made a routine for myself, and let Sean figure out himself. and when I relinquished my control on him having a routine, it worked out great for both of us. He since has even learned to develop a (sort) of routine!

5. How to be ok with uncomfortable/embarrassing things

People toot in their sleep- really, it just happens. When it first happened to me, I was mortified. I did not want to let Sean know I could even pass gas, because he wasn’t going to figure out that one sooner or later….But really. You both are going to have to get used to things that used to be private–that’s what happens when you get married. So expect it, and write it down when it happens! I know a couple of hilarious stories that turned out of embarrassing moments.

6. How to own your quirks

We all have them, so own them! Your spouse might look at you a little strange, but after a while, he may be singing into spatulas in the kitchen with you. Quirks are what makes a marriage fun. So whether it’s racing up flights of stairs, alphabetizing the DVDs, singing in the shower, or wearing socks to bed, be proud of those things that make you you.

Obviously, there is going to be more that you just have to go through in marriage to learn. I would tell them all to you, but that would spoil the surprise. If I could give you one piece of advice that would help you through it all, it would be to keep working at it, because you never learned to ride a two-wheeler by keeping the bike in the garage. 

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