When people ask me about my personal journey and what led me to the place I am today, I am reminded of my own experiences. What I went through may not ever happen to you (I pray it doesn't), but I still think my story matters. I think all of the stories of those who have experienced divorce matters. I once heard that there is a winner and a loser in every divorce. Whether or not one is solely to blame for the divorce - which isn't always the case - there is a winner and a loser. I don't think I agree with that statement. How can anyone "win" in divorce? Both spouses are hurt. Both spouses are devastated. Both spouses are left picking up the pieces of the life they once had.
My advice for married couples (or married-to-be) is to stay married. If at all possible, please, please, stay married. Easier said than done I know. Here are a few pieces of unsolicited advice.
1. Have the hard (read: essential) conversations.
Don't wait until after you're married to talk about the big stuff. Be honest with one another and tell your secrets. You don't have to necessarily give detail for detail your entire life story, but don't leave out things that are going to come back up one day and potentially hurt your spouse or betray their trust. Get it all out on the table.
2. Talk about money, sex, and kids before you walk down the aisle. The three biggest things in a marriage are money, sex, and kids. How do you plan to organize your finances? Are you a spender or a saver? Joint bank accounts or separate? Talk about sex. Frequency, expectations, past partners (seriously), and what you hope to gain from your sex life. Lastly, children. Do you want kids? How many? What kind of parents do you want to be? How do you see yourself raising the kids? Will one parent work and one stay home? Will both work? These conversations may lead to some eye-opening issues that are definitely worth exploring.
3. Spend time with each other's family.
Family is HUGE in a marriage. Even if you have the craziest family in the world, your future spouse needs to meet them and get to know them better. When I was engaged (for a hot minute) I spent so much time with my family and fiancee together that we all became really close before the wedding. I think its important to know what you're marrying into. It may not be all roses and group hugs, but at least experience his/her family for who they are.
4. Talk about your hopes and dreams for the future and help each other get there.
Nothing is better than a supportive spouse. When you express your dreams and aspirations your spouse should be there cheering you on! If they tear you or your dreams down, I would re-evalute the relationship. Nothing is more detrimental than an unsupportive spouse (or worse a selfish one).
5. Accept your spouse for who he/she is.
I can't tell you how often I hear conversations between married couples where one is trying to "train" the other. Training to me translates as "trying to change my spouse". Your spouse should never have to be trained. Just as you have your own little quirks and things that you may do that bug him/her, so does your spouse. If you like things a certain way, have a conversation with your spouse and explain the importance of why you like something that way. It could be the method in which you clean or do laundry, or it could be that when you get home from work you need some time to decompress and be quiet. If could be that you like to have dinner going and ready by 6:30 p.m. Whatever it may be, don't simply "train" your spouse to accommodate you, but talk through it.
What tips do you have for staying married. Comment below!