I was over at my brother’s house a few days ago. While doing all the things that brothers do (drinking beer, reminiscing about growing up, and goofing around) we got to talking about our current lives. He and I both got married within the last five years and honestly, both of our wives are everything that we could ask for:
I’ve often been told that hindsight is 20/20. Believing that, I wondered what life would be like if I had known how to answer all the questions that I have had to answer while being married:
- Does this look good on me?
- What have you planned for date night?
- Are you even listening to me?
- What did I just say?
In talking to other men, I realize that I am not alone in wishing I had known the answers to these ahead of time. Saying that, here are eight pieces of advice that will make your life easier.
Learning to recognize the signs
Just because you haven’t been verbally told something doesn’t mean that it isn’t an issue. To avoid upsetting your partner, you must learn to read them. It sounds simple in theory, but I assure you it is more difficult than reading a Sanskrit document. Pay attention to everything. This includes, but is not limited to:
- an eyebrow raise
- tonal switch in the voice
- arms crossing
Your success hinges on your ability to read your spouse.
A good love story
Yes, the “chick-flick”. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you will have to endure one or two of these in your lifetime. My advice is to either learn to become very good at hiding the fact you are sleeping or, pay just enough attention that you can answer the pop quiz at the end of the movie.
There is a good chance that your favorite t-shirt will also become their favorite t-shirt. Accept this and understand that there is no point in asking where it is. Instead, teach yourself to become automatic enough to walk over to the laundry basket and pull it out. Don’t bother checking it with the smell test either. It will usually lead to a series of questions that you don’t want.
Don’t laugh. On occasion, the dog did it might actually be the truth. In fact, in my experience I know that my two are proud when they do, but that’s not the point. Know that when it wasn’t the dog, how you bring it up directly reflects how the rest of the night will go. You must decide how often to bring it up and under what circumstance you do. Fyi: the answer is “as close to zero as you can make it”.
I shovel the snow. Period. Do I enjoy it? Doesn’t matter.
Relationships and marriage are built on sacrifice. It could come in the form of freezing in the middle of winter, or not watching your team play on Sunday. If you want your marriage to last, learn to make sacrifices.
Confirming the grocery list
Whenever you go to the grocery store, do not forget your phone. Without fail, you will have to make a phone call that goes something like this, “Which brand of ______ do you want me to pick up?”
Take notes and don’t forget what she’s said. It only makes it worse if you have to call back or bring home the wrong item.
How/when to pick your battles
Before engaging in any sort of battle, ask yourself, “Is this really worth it? What benefit will come to me because of it? What will I be giving up later down the road if I fight back?” Contrary to what you may believe, you can’t always win. You must learn to either:
- Humbly accept defeat.
- Create an outstanding reason that you are correct.
My suggestion would be to go with the hidden third option. Learn to compromise as much as you can.
Chocolates and flowers
According to Gary Chapman, each of us has a love language. It is:
- receiving gifts
- quality time
- words of affirmation
- acts of service
- physical touch
While it sounds a little too corny to be true, I can promise you that it is in your best interest to figure out which one your spouse is. It will make things a lot easier for both of you.
This list isn’t foolproof. In actuality, it is only a brief guideline for the challenges that lie ahead of you. However, while marriage is hard work, its rewards are worth every moment.
The only other piece of advice that I can give you is to make sure you take some time to let her know that you appreciate her.
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