Take my wife, please: marriage advice
August 9, 2012 2:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married soon, and would appreciate your best non-clichéd advice.

If it's relevant, I'm female, spouse will be male, we've already been together five years, and are in our early-mid-30's.

Thanks, hivemind. If we get a lot of really good answers, we may turn them into an art installation at our reception.
posted by juniperesque to Human Relations (81 answers total) 179 users marked this as a favorite
Don't make to-do lists for the other person.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:07 PM on August 9, 2012 [12 favorites]

Buy a fire extinguisher.
posted by griphus at 2:07 PM on August 9, 2012 [17 favorites]

Best answer: Here is a phiolosophy that has served me well: Treat your spouse better than you would treat a stranger on the street.

So many people are disrespectful to their spouses, or mean, or snarky. Those little stings will errode even the strongest of relationships. Be nice, be pleasant.

Just this morning I asked Husbunny, "So, what do you think of the division of labor here?" He looked sheepish and said, "Yeah, it's a bit one-sided." No screaming, no crying, no mean words. I made my point. Now, when I ask him to scoop the cat litter, he'll just take care of it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2012 [39 favorites]

Sometimes it's boring being with the same person, day after day; year after year. When you find yourself thinking that the other person is boring YOU go do something interesting. Try a new hobby, do a groupon escape, take a class in something you've never tried. If your spouse wants to join you, GREAT - if he doesn't that's also great, you can share your experiences later.
posted by dadici at 2:10 PM on August 9, 2012 [13 favorites]

My marriage was made immeasurably better by owning a dishwasher and *two* computers.

Honestly, though, if you've already been together for five years, you probably already know that a relationship is built on daily kindnesses and not one-off sweeping romantic gestures or abstract rules. Remember to perform those daily kindnesses for one another and you'll be fine.
posted by Andrhia at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2012 [11 favorites]

Every now and then, during an argument, ask yourself, "Is my ego more important than this relationship?"
posted by Etrigan at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2012 [20 favorites]

Best answer: Be sure to grab each other's ass often.
posted by strelitzia at 2:13 PM on August 9, 2012 [46 favorites]

If you decide to have kids, don't let it always be about the kids.
posted by raztaj at 2:13 PM on August 9, 2012 [12 favorites]

My wife of 8 years said that her mother - still married after about 40 years - once gave her the following advice: "Some day, you're going to turn over in bed, look at the person next to you, and say to yourself, 'What was I thinking?' "

OK, that's more of an observation than advice, but it's still good to keep in mind.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:14 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Never go to bed angry with one another.
posted by Telpethoron at 2:15 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm getting married soon, and would appreciate your best non-clichéd advice.

Read and discuss this with your SO:Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying. Y'all should be on the same page about all the things mentioned.

Keep a bottom of high quality lube by the bed and in several locations throughout the house.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

You need to have your own (physical) spaces of some kind and your own lives independent of each other or you will drive each other crazy. Do things together, but do things individually, too.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Is it more important to be right or to be happy?" Sometimes this is just a reminder; sometimes it's a genuine riddle. The trick is figuring out which is which.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

When you screw up, apologize.

Remember that you are a highly annoying individual at times, so cut your partner some slack if they irritate the shit out of you every now and then.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:18 PM on August 9, 2012 [30 favorites]

You will not get to eat at the reception, plan accordingly.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:18 PM on August 9, 2012 [10 favorites]

Enjoy regular date days or nights, depending on your schedules. They can get you out of the home and into each other's interests.
posted by dragonplayer at 2:18 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't book your honeymoon flight to leave the following morning.
posted by grudgebgon at 2:18 PM on August 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know the best way to word this, but...

Pick one:

1. Ask me to do a thing.
2. Tell me how to do a thing.

Being asked to do something is fine. Being asked to do something differently is fine. Being asked to do something and then being told how to do it is bullshit.
posted by Sternmeyer at 2:19 PM on August 9, 2012 [64 favorites]

You probably already know this, but your relationship is going to ebb and flow. There are going to be times when everything is great and you are in love, there are times when things are kind of status quo and maybe a little boring, and there are going to be times (hopefully rare) you feel like you can't take one more second. In those bad times, try to have something to help you remember the good stuff. A list of traits you love about your spouse, a favorite picture, a really great memory. Take a breath and focus on that a bit, then keep showing up, keep communicating and try to be kind. The bad stuff generally passes eventually, and I've found that the good stuff on the other side is pretty great.
posted by goggie at 2:19 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

Find a way to remind yourselves, regularly, of the things you love about each other and your relationship. Post it on the fridge, write it into a poem you both memorize, whatever it takes. Refer to it often and especially when things get tough.
posted by thrasher at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2012

Best answer: 1: The person who is in charge of doing a chore gets to decide, within reason, how the chore is done. If you don't like the dishes washed that way, you wash the dishes. If you don't like the way your spouse drives, you drive. Etc. (On preview this is a close cousin of Sternmeyer's post.)

2: Be friends.
posted by willbaude at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

When I'm angry, I look at his forty-something face and replace it with the face of the elderly man I'd like to still be with in the last stages of my life. That way, I can get in touch with such deep love and compassion for him. And I think about what that elderly version of myself would tell me to do right now, in this moment, when I'm angry about the dishes or money or whatever. That version of me always tells me to be so grateful for every moment together and to relish in the person he is right now.
posted by mmmcmmm at 2:22 PM on August 9, 2012 [39 favorites]

At the end of the day, when you first come home from work, or in the morning, when you first get up, If one of you finds yourself getting annoyed over ANYTHING that your partner is doing or has done, stop for a second. Ask yourself, "Am I hungry? Tired? Stressed out about work? Frustrated by the guy who cut me off?"

If the answer to any of these is yes, then take care of that FIRST before "discussing" whatever's bugging you. A snack, a nap, and some relaxing music will prevent 9 out of 10 fights.
posted by muddgirl at 2:24 PM on August 9, 2012 [33 favorites]

Also, here's a comment I made on another thread about a time capsule my step-mother made for us for our wedding. That's been very meaningful to me, and I expect it to be a wonderful gift when we finally open it.
posted by mmmcmmm at 2:26 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I definitely agree with not making a to-do list for the other person. "Should" as in "You should ..." is a bad word to use, too. And definitely grab each other's ass often. ;-)

Give compliments freely and honestly. Sure, you've seen each other every day for N years, but if that shirt looks nice on him or he put some effort into his outfit or got you your favorite brand of cereal, notice it, acknowledge it to yourself, and then say it out loud. Try not to take him for granted.

And try to make his life a little easier, too, if possible. Remember that this person is your favorite person, so treat them that way.

Definitely remember the good stuff.

Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Be happy with yourself. It'll make it easier to love him (because you are happy) and easier for him to love you.
posted by jillithd at 2:28 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't have sex with other people. (Unless you both agree.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:29 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I always give the same advice(s) - use your words & never make the other person guess what you're feeling. This kind of transparency avoids so much conflict. Also, congrats & good luck :)
posted by heartquake at 2:31 PM on August 9, 2012 [10 favorites]

Distribute chores according to skills (the person with the green thumbs waters the plants, that sort of thing), negotiate preferences (I don't hate emptying the dishwasher, you don't hate carrying out the trash, keep it like that), divide the "both hate them" items 50-50 (cleaning out cat litter. One day he, one day she.)

Who cooks the food doesn't do the dishes. Switch.

With kids I: parents need three things: time with their kinds, (quality) time together without the kinds, and time alone. Be supportive when it comes to granting your partner any of the three, and ask gracefully for any of these three.

With kids II: try to agree upon educating policies, and evaluate. Don't do this in front of the kids. Be sincere about your own shortcomings. Do this in front of the kids (they'll thank you later).

Apologize if necessary. Say 'thank you' if appropriate. Say 'please' if you're asking for something. Do even this in front of the kids, and to the kids. If you get mad, check whether you're mad at yourself or at your partner. Throw plates only after you've sorted this out. Or don't throw them (this is the better solution).
posted by Namlit at 2:34 PM on August 9, 2012

Best answer: A snack, a nap, and some relaxing music will prevent 9 out of 10 fights.

QFT! I've started 90% of fights in relationships when I was just hangry/hanky (hungry-angry/hungry-cranky).

On those same lines, don't try to have serious conversations about your relationship after midnight or so.

Be kind and forgive and don't lie.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:34 PM on August 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

OOh I hate autocorrect. with and without the KIDS
posted by Namlit at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Male or female, people tend to have similar needs, though with different priorities. Make sure you and your partner know how you each prioritize the following needs and can tell at any time whether they're all being met. But also make sure the way you meet them is subject to compromise--they're not free passes to make unreasonable demands.

Admiration: a need for respect and praise from your partner.
Affection: a need for displays of thoughtfulness reinforced with regular physical contact.
Attractiveness: a need to see your partner making an effort at grooming and self-respect, ideally considerate of your polite input.
Conversation: a need for communication and engagement.
Family Support: a need for help dealing with all the people in life toward whom you have familial obligations, especially including but not limited to children.
Financial Support: a need for a partner who helps bring in or manage joint assets with a shared view of an ideal lifestyle.
Honesty: a need for a partner who finds polite ways to share the truth and who hides nothing you need to know.
Household Support: a need for a partner who does a reasonable share of the chores.
Recreational Support: a need for a companion and/or cheerleader who helps make life fun.
Sexual Fulfillment: a need for someone who understands what makes you happy in this dimension and who wants to do it with you in some proportion that works for you both.

You can probably think of a few more specific personal needs you each have, but if you cover these bases, you'll go a long, long way (18 years of marriage and counting).

Congratulations and good luck!
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2012 [27 favorites]

Find something that you're both about equally good at to settle arguments. For me, it's Tetris with the wife. This works for us because we both get to the point where either we're winning the game or we don't think playing another round is worth it.

It's really more of a way to force ourselves to concentrate on something else.

Also, you don't have to do everything together. I play Magic. She thinks it's stupid. Whatever, it just means I don't have to share.
posted by theichibun at 2:38 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

If your intended spouse is on Metafilter, probably don't mention an embarrassing/weird/creepy thing they do in a related AskMe without clearing it with them first.
posted by elizardbits at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2012 [10 favorites]

Don't hint at things you want: "Boy there's a lot of dishes to be done."
Ask for what you want "Would you help me with the dishes?"
posted by qldaddy at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

Get your insecurities under control. It is surprisingly easy to let "I feel bad about me because..." bleed over into "I feel bad about us because..." and that can easily turn toxic in a marriage.
posted by gauche at 2:44 PM on August 9, 2012 [10 favorites]

always think the best of your spouse - which is to say, never assume they're saying something to be a jerk or not doing something to annoy you. always assume they'd never upset you on purpose. in your head, during conflicts, try to win their side of the argument as a way to empathize with them. this will help keep you on the same side instead of adversaries.
posted by nadawi at 2:47 PM on August 9, 2012 [11 favorites]

Remember that the WEDDING is only one day; don't turn it into some humongeous shindig, and remember that it's the MARRIAGE that's the rest of your lives.

As someone above so eloquently phrased it, grab each other's asses, just for fun. Treat each other better than you treat other people. Don't make everything about your (future) kids: spouse comes first. The words "I'm sorry" and "please" and "thank you" make all human interactions easier. Date nights are a great idea.

My parents used to joke that they stayed together (53 years!) because they made a pact: the first one to walk out had to take ALL of use kids.... they claimed FEAR kept them together! ;D
posted by easily confused at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Make a will. Do it now, even before you are married. Then update it after you are married. Insist that he do the same. Probate can be an absolute nightmare. It is probably worth spending a few bucks on an hour or two of a lawyer's time to make sure it's right, especially if you own a house (individually or collectively).
posted by Etrigan at 2:49 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

So, I've been married 23 years, and here's what comes to mind:

Concentrate on the marriage, not the wedding. By which I mean: don't romanticize the wedding, don't place too much importance on the ceremony itself, and don't stress about everything being perfect. Definitely don't go into debt over your wedding ceremony!

Talk about the important stuff BEFORE the wedding: how you'll deal with finances (This is HUGE), if/when you want kids (also HUGE), how you decide conflicts over big issues when the two of you disagree, etc. It will really pay off in the long run.

Remember that the two of you are partners, and you are both committed to that partnership's success. Sometimes, times will be tough. Sometimes, one of you will pick up the slack for the other. Sometimes, one of you will disappoint the other. That's how real life works. Don't keep score.

Speak up if your needs aren't being met, and encourage your partner to do the same. Little problems become bigger ones if you keep that stuff bottled up inside. And for heaven's sake, don't go comparing your relationship to anyone else's!

Enjoy each other. Compliment each other, laugh with each other, spend time just being a couple. Don't lose sight of the love you have for each other. That's especially important after you have kids (if you are going to have them).

Congratulations, and best wishes!
posted by misha at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2012 [11 favorites]

Two things that have worked well for us: chores are divided by whoever gives more of a shit about whatever particular thing. mr. ambrosia hates clutter on tables and counters and always puts dirty dishes in the sink. I hate having dirty dishes in the sink and always load the dishwasher. Result: happiness.

Also: the last person out of bed has to make it.
posted by ambrosia at 2:51 PM on August 9, 2012

You reach out first, in every situation. Anger, bad situations, ego driven conversations, forgiving situations, you name it. YOU make the move first and never begrudge that.
posted by pakora1 at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Being a wife is different from being a girlfriend, even if you live together before getting married. There is a lot of cultural baggage attached to "wife," and you might be surprised by how that affects you and/or your spouse. I definitely was. If you discover that something is really different after your wedding (for us it was sex and going out), consider whether you or your husband are thinking of you as "Juniperesque" or as "Wife" and what affect those thoughts might be having on the situation.

If you find this happening to you, or you're just curious, pick up a copy of the book What no one tells the bride, by Marg Stark. Much of it is stupid (skip the sex chapter entirely -- it's ridiculous), but it gave me a way to think and talk about these feelings.

I suppose there is similar cultural baggage associated with "husband" but that has never been an issue for us. It's something to consider though.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

Someone up thread said it but I'll repeat it. Have separate spaces that you can chill out in. So many couples make the mistake of thinking that once they get married they have to be joined at the hip. You don't. Go out alone, let him go out alone. Hell, some of the most happily married couples I know take separate vacations. They're secure in their relationships, which is what makes them happy. It's fine to be apart just as much as it's great to do things together.
posted by patheral at 3:06 PM on August 9, 2012

Don't wait on each other - carry yourself own glasses, plates, etc; serve your own helpings, tidy things you use, do small chores yourself as much as you can. Being married doesn't mean you suddenly won't get up to get a spoon just because your partner is up.

If you wait on each other then each time you get up to do something the other person can ask you to also do it for them or get something on the way, and this will start to suck after a while.

Rather take care of your own stuff, and occasionally (not regularly or all the time) do unprompted things for your spouse - this works so much better!

Plus you never feel bad for asking for help for the things you really actually need help and your spouse knows you are not just frivolously using up their time when you do ask. Lean on each other for the things that matter.
posted by meepmeow at 3:06 PM on August 9, 2012 [12 favorites]

I was about to say that marriage is no different than any other relationship - you need to work at it, etc., etc., etc.

Then it occurred to me that's totally wrong.

You don't get to choose your parents. You don't get to choose your kid(s). You mostly don't get to choose your co-workers. You DO get to choose your friends. You DO get to choose your spouse. That's an important difference. You chose to have them in your life, and they chose you - behave in ways that honor each others' choices.

Also: you should both be doing 75% of the work - cause your initial estimates will always short the real effort.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:12 PM on August 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

Be prepared for post-wedding blues. We had a house full of people after our wedding reception, and when the last one left, I sat on the couch and cried. My life had been about nothing but the wedding (and we had a tiny wedding and super-casual reception) for so long that I just didn't know what to do with myself after that. I wish I'd seen something like this beforehand so I could have prepared better for things to do to avoid the post-wedding blues.
posted by whatideserve at 3:18 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't pretend that the other person is the 'one'..however they will be the 'one' who was there in good times and in bad and knows you better than anyone else.

Also it's hard work, but a labour of love...
posted by therubettes at 3:21 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best two pieces of advice I got when I got married were:

1) It is ok to fight. Just be sure to fight fair.
2) Hold Hands Always.
posted by teamnap at 3:23 PM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

One of the happiest couples I know, married 40 years, gave me some really great advice a long time ago. My father, on his second, much happier marriage, swears by it. And now I, also on my much happier second marriage, also swear by it:

Get up and out of bed together every morning. Go to bed together at the same time at night.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:23 PM on August 9, 2012 [25 favorites]

Things I strongly believe are key to a successful relationship:
1. Value the relationship more than you value being right. Sometimes it just isn't worth it to try to convince the other person.
2. Discuss issues BEFORE they become big issue. Discuss them AS they happen and while they are still small easy fixes. I think you kind of lose the right to complain if it has been going on for a long time and you never said anything.
3. Do something nice for the other every day. And always acknowledge when they do something nice for you. Every morning my partner makes me tea and puts it in my travel mug to bring to work. It is a small thing but it means a lot to me, so every morning at work while I am enjoying it I email him to thank him for my yummy tea.
4. Farts are funny. Laugh at each other's farts.
5. I don't care how long it takes for you to realise when you're wrong, I don't care how embarassing it is to have to eat crow and admit you were wrong, just ADMIT WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT YOU ARE WRONG. And don't rub it in their face when they admit they are wrong.
6. Don't keep score. Everything comes out in the wash eventually. And chances are your partner is doing things to help you that you forget/don't notice/take for granted.
7. Make a point to hug each other often, hold hands, snuggle, etc. You're never too old to enjoy closeness to each other, it isn't just for teenagers. Emotional closeness is fostered through physical closeness. True facts.
8. When in doubt, write it out. Sometimes issues are too emotionally raw/touchy to be able to have an in-person talk about it. Sometimes it is better to just write out exactly what you want to say and email it to them. It gives you an opportunity to say exactly what you mean without the emotion and heat, it lets you say everything you want to say without interruption, and it gives the other person a chance to read and process the WHOLE message and then (hopefully) respond calmly.
9. Have a date night at least once a month (preferably more often though). It can be out to a restuarant or out bowling, or just a night home with a movie. The point is to have intentional time where your focus is on each other, not kids/family/your jobs/chores around the house/etc. Make time to be a couple.
10. Fuck like animals, just because it is fun. Never be ashamed of enjoying sex. Relish in each other's bodies and just screw the hell out of each other.
posted by gwenlister at 3:29 PM on August 9, 2012 [13 favorites]

John Gottman has done some amazing work on marital stability and divorce. While his models aren't 100%, they are better than trite assertions like "living together before you get married means you're more/less likely to divorce"

from the wikipedia page


Gottman found that the four negative behaviors that most predict divorce are criticism of partners’ personality, contempt (from a position of superiority), defensiveness, and stonewalling, or emotional withdrawal from interaction. On the other hand, stable couples handle conflicts in gentle, positive ways, and are supportive of each other.

So basically. Don't yell at each other, don't be snide or curt. Be gentle and patient and proactive about conflict. I don't mean start conflict, but recognize disagreements for what they are instead of what you fear they mean. This makes conflict easier to overcome.

Second, remember that sliding vs deciding does not just apply to relationships. Choosing one thing means choosing against any number of other things. You are choosing your partner, and your partner is choosing you. Talk now about what this means you are both forgoing.

Third, Dan Savage gives us the concept of the Price of Admission. Remember what those are about your partner now, because you decide that they grate on your in the future. Whether it's chewing with his mouth open or leaving his socks on the floor, or something else. Because he has those things about you that he ignores, and hopefully he will do the same for you.
posted by bilabial at 3:31 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Last year, I asked MeFites to describe what changes when you get married. There were some fantastic lessons in the answers.
posted by charmcityblues at 3:53 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't play games.

Be sweet to each other (this may include ass-grabbing).

Respect each other (this doesn't mean not sharing your problems with your friends, but it DOES mean being respectful and kind about your partner if you do).

Remember you're in this together, it's not a contest.

One thing that works really well in my marriage is that we both try very hard to be reasonable - neither of us puts our foot down about something unless it's really important.

And nthing don't be joined at the hip - you are engaged in a cooperative endeavor, you are not conjoined twins. It is okay to have your own hobbies and interests, and it is okay to spend time away from each other.

Don't over-emphasize the importance of things that other people consider important unless they are actually also important to you. F'rex: if my husband and I believed (as some people do) that the only way to have a happy marriage was to sleep in the same bed every night, we wouldn't have a happy marriage, because I am a stupidly light sleeper and an insomniac, and he snores. Further to that, remember that it is YOUR marriage, the opinions that matter are yours and your spouse's.
posted by biscotti at 3:58 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

1) Remember this person is your lover. Read books together like "Lovers in marriage" and "The joy of sex" or even massage books. Do sexy things together, more than just screwing.

2) Remember this is a private relationship between the two of you. When in doubt, everyone else needs to butt the hell out. If sis, mom, cousin, best friend, whomever just cannot refrain from telling you that you MUST stay or you MUST divorce his sorry ass or you MUST take a stand on a particular issue, ignore them, tell them where to stick it or similar. They don't have to live with it forever more like you do and they can't possibly know everything that goes on between the two of you which impacts your decision to put up with certain things. If necessary, during make-or-break times in the marriage, be unavailable to buttinsky friends and relatives. Work it out between the two of you.
posted by Michele in California at 4:00 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Are you looking for advice about the wedding or the marriage?

I've got lots of wedding advice but it only applies to pig & beer type weddings.

The marriage - and this has all basically been said:

* If you're arguing, know what you want out of the argument. If you find yourself in an argument and you realize that you don't have a distinct outcome you're arguing for, admit it to yourself and your partner. This requires setting ego aside.

* Recognize that you're on the same side. It's cliched but I consider my partner and I a unit. There's "us", and "everyone else". This also encloses not telling people about our temporary disagreements; you can't un-tell these things to your friends and family. This is colored by my perspective that my partner is the absolute far and away #1 in my life. I mean, I love my family, but I chose my partner.

* If you're doing #1 and #2, you really should be able to do the biggest (and rightest!) cliche - don't go to bed angry. If you don't lose your temper, and you have a goal, you should be able to pause an argument.

* Don't plan/hope/wish to change something about yourself or your partner after the wedding like flipping a switch! If things aren't right before the wedding, they ain't gonna be right after. Make them right now or find a way to be right with them.

* Trust is something you DO.

* Love, to an extent, is something you DO.

* Someone or some folks mentioned Gottman. I couldn't get into the book, but one thing - if you find yourself feeling contempt for your partner (we all do, at times), jettison it IMMEDIATELY. I think it's one of the most poisonous things because of the way it grows and festers. Just be deliberate and stop it, or get them to stop the behavior causing it.

You're getting a lot of advice - it always takes work - but if you found your person, it's probably not gonna be all that hard!

Oh, sweet jesus, one more to agree with a previous poster. Don't keep score, and don't be passive aggressive! My example is someone I know that was frustrated that his partner never offered to pay for dinner. One day when I was with them, she happened to offer to pay, and he made this big passive aggressive show of acting all shocked. I was like, what the shit? Your partner did the very thing that you were hoping they would do, and you repay her by being a big jerk about it? What kind of reinforcement is that? That's an extreme example but it happens in more subtle ways too.
posted by ftm at 4:01 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't expect that marriage changes the other person, it only makes the stakes higher. Work out any money issues you have (or make certain you're on the same page on money).
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:14 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

1. First one home gets last one home a drink.
2. Separate toothpaste tubes.
3. Weekends, take turns bringing the other breakfast in bed.
4. Toilet set AND LID down. Both parties have to move something up then down - equal, and no surprise bidets.
5. Find a comedian/sitcom/kind of funny video you both find hilarious. Share often.
6. Respect phone/email/computer/friendship privacy. Trust, and be worthy of trust.
7. No sneering. Ever. No contempt.
8. Laugh at each other and at yourselves.
9. Kiss good morning, goodbye, welcome home and goodnight.

10. Fight fair.
posted by likeso at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

You will be glad in a few years if you hire a photographer to record the event in an album. Depending on random cell phones will not produce the memories you should have.
Other than that, there is some good advice upthread. Did anyone mention no sulking or pouting? If either of you has a grievance, discuss it like rational people.
Much happiness to both of you.
posted by Cranberry at 5:13 PM on August 9, 2012

Best answer: Use the magic words. Please, thank you, sorry, I love you, and oh crap (as grandpa Gunn used to say).
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:26 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

A wedding is not a ceremony honoring you, it is a party you are throwing for your friends and family.

Absent a prenup properly prepared and strictly obeyed, marriage is a complete financial merger -- anything you do to keep your finances separate is a dangerous, and not infrequently destructive, illusion. Act accordingly. (Money problems cause most divorces, and they can make post-divorce life miserable even when they didn't cause the divorce to begin with.)

Do not get married if you do not agree now on whether or not to have children, and also that you agree that if you currently both don't want children, that you'll nevertheless have them if one person changes his/her mind.
posted by MattD at 5:35 PM on August 9, 2012

Best answer: The silent treatment always makes things worse. If you're too angry to talk about something say "I'm too mad to talk about this now" and then do what you have to do to calm down about it enough to have a talk. Try to keep the cool down period to an hour or less. Don't leave your spouse hanging.
posted by Alison at 5:57 PM on August 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Jumping off from what Alison says above, never play games by making your spouse feel uneasy about the solidity of the relationship. "I can't take this, I'm leaving!" is very, very different from "I need a walk to clear my head, I'll be back in an hour."

I disagree with the cliché about "don't go to bed angry". It's much better to go to bed angry and then continue the discussion after a night's sleep than it is to stay up, growing increasingly tired and irrational, trying to resolve something that may look quite different in the morning.

For chores, specify desired results, not how they're to be done. Washing dishes? Acceptable means clean dishes with no grease or smears or bits of food remaining. If the dishes get clean, it doesn't matter if spouse uses a sponge when you prefer a dishcloth, does the glasses before the flatware or after, etc.

If you feel like you've won an argument with your spouse, that's a bad sign.

We found that it was a good idea to avoid conversations about anything delicate or sensitive while in the car. The driver's attention is distracted, and it led to arguments and misunderstandings with an uncomfortable frequency.

If your spouse tries a food they've expressed distaste for in the past, bite your tongue if that's what it takes not to say "but you hate that!"
posted by Lexica at 6:27 PM on August 9, 2012 [10 favorites]

In cases of minor disputes (and many major ones, too), whoever cares the most wins.

Bargain with each other when necessary--then uphold those bargains, or renegotiate when needed.

Never tell the rest of the world your problems with your partner without discussing them with your partner first. (AskMe possibly excepted as long as you're not both active here!)
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:34 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I couldn't agree more with Ruthless Bunny. So many people [mostly women] that I know don't respect their husbands and talk down to (or about) them. I have a few friends who actively belittle their spouse in mixed company.

Be kind. This is such a simple, small thing, but it makes such a difference.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:44 PM on August 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

One must always have a small area that they can keep as they like. No one can say any thing or nag about the other persons spot.
posted by Sweetmag at 8:33 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

The best advice I can give to anyone during your wedding day is to remember this day is about you saying to your husband that you want to spend the rest of your life with him, and he with you. Everything else is just window dressing.

As far as marriage:
Know what success means to both of you. Ideally, your definitions are the same, or similar. Let those goals guide how you approach life's challenges, big and small.

Go to bed angry. Seriously, fighting things out when you're tired and potentially have had a few drinks is the dumbest advice ever. Sometimes you just need a little time to get over it. Obviously, don't ignore the big things, but don't wait until bedtime to address these issues.

I feel like I need a third point, but I don't really have one. So instead I'll say--have some great sex!

posted by fyrebelley at 10:40 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't do anything the first three months of marriage you don't want to be doing for the rest of your life. It is crazy how tiny things become habits for life - you probably already have sides of the bed. It helps to be aware of this phenomenon so you don't get stuck being The One Who Does Chore X when you revile said chore.

Obviously things can be renegotiated, but it's harder than you'd think to change relationship patterns.

Along those lines, do things (within reason) that are out of character once in awhile. Keeps you both from getting bored.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 10:43 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

No one ever said " I wish my wedding was bigger and more expensive"
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 PM on August 9, 2012 [11 favorites]

As my husband and I were leaving our reception, an older couple stopped us. They said that seeing us get married was very special because that day was their 50th wedding anniversary. My husband asked them if they had any advice for us. The wife said some "don't go to bed angry" thing. The husband said "Be deaf in one ear."

That's really good advice - sometimes you don't have to fight over every little snit or ill timed comment. Unless it's a really big deal or it's going to blow up into a big deal, be deaf in that ear and let it pass.
posted by 26.2 at 11:43 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two of the biggest lessons that I have learned from my marriage so far:

Making each other laugh is half of weathering any situation together. And being happy is more important than being right.

posted by anonnymoose at 12:47 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and from my great-grandparents, crazy in love for decades: if a discussion is getting feisty, stop and try it again holding hands. It really works! Hand-holding defuses feistiness and reminds you that you're both on the same side.
posted by anonnymoose at 12:53 AM on August 10, 2012 [20 favorites]

Decide whether or not you would be willing to move very far away for one person's Job/Anything. How much would that person need to make to make it worth it? not abstractly like a bagillion, but a real number like "enough to retire in 10 years"

This happens more often than you would expect and it can ruin people.
posted by French Fry at 6:45 AM on August 10, 2012

It's okay to be assertive. Sometimes Mrs. VTX and I try so hard to let the other make the decision that no decision gets made. For example, when we've decided that we want to go out for dinner, we used go back and forth trying to allow the other person to decide when one of us really wanted Sushi and the other had no opinion and just didn't want to have to make a decision.

Now, we're better about declaring what we want. "I want to go out for dinner but I don't care where we go." "Good, I want Sushi."

If we disagree, we negotiate. It makes for far less stress when making any kind of decision together than when were both saying, "I want to do whatever YOU want to do."
posted by VTX at 7:54 AM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

Don't lose a ton of weight so you look awesome in the wedding photos if you have no intention of ever looking that way again during the marriage.
posted by jabes at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you say you're sorry, don't follow it with "but [anything]." This is true for any apology. If you have to qualify why you're sorry, or why what you did wasn't that bad, it's not really an apology. Stop at "I'm sorry," even if you want to elaborate.

If you're upset and your spouse asks what's wrong, don't say "nothing," even if you're upset over 1) something minor, or 2) something unrelated to your spouse. That "nothing" sounds a lot like "something," and it will probably bother your spouse, making him think that he did something wrong.

When you fight, keep it to the topic at hand. If you start branching out to other topics, the argument will only flare up further as your spouse could fire back with something else, or you could raise another past grievance.

Make sure your signs of affection are not beyond what your spouse thinks is appropriate in the given context.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:24 PM on August 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

Don't use the computer or talk about money in bed.
posted by amitai at 4:42 PM on August 13, 2012

If you want help with something, either because you could use an extra hand, or because you feel like you always do that chore or thing, ask for help. This is doubly true when it comes to baby/child care, or any time you are exhausted. You are a couple, and your spouse is around to assist in making life easier (as you are for them).

And get comfortable calling (and being called) on attitudes, actions, or phrases that come across as negative, passive-aggressive, or selfless to the point of martyrdom. A common saying in my wife's parents house is "oh, get down off your cross." It's said in a way to be joking, and even though it might sting a bit, it can help break the mental state for the other party. Laugh it off, talk about it, and move beyond that moment.

Do all that is in your power to let go of anything that could become a grudge. That might mean outbursts and heated arguments, as long as the issue can be resolved and the heat can then dissipate. Don't avoid arguments because they're uncomfortable.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:55 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Set a 'discretionary spending threshold' that requires no approval from the other party. For example, if I want to buy a new shirt, I don't have to call my wife to ask if I can spend the $50 on a new shirt. If I want to buy a $1,500 set of golf clubs, we both know that I won't do it without a conversation first.
posted by jmevius at 9:26 AM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

Realize that the recurring arguments about the "small" things - he won't replace the toilet paper or you won't fold the towels right - are usually not really about the small things. Often there is an underlying larger issue that hasn't been resolved - often involving issues of power in the relationship, feeling unappreciated, etc. That's what needs to be worked out.
posted by cherrybounce at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2012

Take time to do fun, short trips together at least once a month to get away from your everyday lives and reconnect. Kanaan Minks
posted by kanaan_minks at 7:18 PM on August 19, 2012

Response by poster: I wish I could favorite all of these. Thank you, MeFites. The wedding was amazing, but the marriage is going to be even better. <3
posted by juniperesque at 6:59 AM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

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