As someone who’s been married for over 22 years, I frequently get asked about the secrets to a successful marriage. So in honor of the historic verdict by the Supreme Court, and in honor of my 10th anniversary of owning The Dandelion Patch, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a happy MARRIAGE verses a pretty WEDDING.
Please know that I am no expert in the field of therapy, nor do I run some marriage boot camp. However, after being in the industry celebrating the unity of a couple in love and witnessing thousands of couples share their stories at our wedding tables- I do think there are a few issues that everyone should address before making a lifelong commitment.
1. I think one of the most difficult and personal issues that a newly married couple will face is that of combined financial spending. Everyone has a slightly different vantage point on spending verses saving, and a different tolerance for debt in general.
Once you are married, it’s not wise to hide new purchases (unless they are gifts for your spouse!), nor to have a secret savings account. Anne McCabe Triana from Curo Private Wealth explains, “My advice to newlyweds is to agree on money roles in the relationship. Who is going to be responsible for the day-to-day bills, investing, and long-term planning? Discuss your personalities- are you a spender? A saver? Having a candid conversation about habits and expectations will save you a lot of financial stress in the long run!”
I started my business while married and I’d be a liar if I told you that I always paid myself a salary. And when deciding to expand and take on a business loan, my husband had to co-sign on the loan. So whether you believe it or not- a married couple certainly shares all financial responsibility.
2. I also strongly believe that religion should be discussed- even if you think you are not super observant! When you are young, decisions about faith seem easier than when you get older because you are only responsible for yourself. However, tradition sneaks into most marriages at some point. Trust me. Between raising kids and burial decisions, life has a way of demanding decisions on religion.
My husband of 22 years is of the Jewish faith and I have two kids that went through the ritual of becoming a Mitzvah. Conversely, I am a believer in Jesus. And although I wouldn’t change my experience for any reason, agreeing to raise our children in the Jewish faith was probably the hardest decision I made going into our marriage. Don’t skim over this discussion when dating. You won’t be sorry.
3. Finally, I think understanding that marriage is not about keeping track of points, or a tally of “who does what” is often easier said than done. Joel and I have most definitely gone through rough times where each of us had a post-it note with hash marks of how often one of us did chores, said thank you, or sacrificed our needs for our spouse. It goes without saying that this is not healthy and not a recipe for a strong marriage.
At some point, we discussed why we each felt the need to keep track and basically it was clear that we were both feeling under-appreciated. So now when we argue, we both try very hard to focused on WHY we’re challenged and we look for solutions to the issue at hand. It’s super difficult to keep egos in check and to “fight fairly” by not bringing up the past. When we feel that the conversation is getting heated or rough, we agree to begin every sentence with “ I feel” rather than “you did.” Honestly living with my best friend (my husband) is the best gift I could ever give to myself and I’m willing to make compromises, sacrifices and constant improvements to myself to make this happen.
Just like friendships, marriages need boundaries, celebrations and lots of TLC. Next time you feel overwhelmed with a friend, spouse or family member try start each conversation from a place of sharing how you feel instead of attacking the other person, and hopefully it will improve the outcome. No passive aggression allowed.
Fawn Weaver once said, “A great marriage isn’t something that just happens; it’s something that must be created.” So true. I hope that you will find some part of my experience and sharing worthwhile and helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts and techniques on how you achieve a healthy, happy marriage!
Until next time, here’s to big wishes and pixie dust.