Congratulations on your wedding, Wills and Kate. I must admit that I wasn’t all that interested in your wedding (it’s only one day, after all, and you have a lifetime to focus on.) But having woken in time to catch your kiss, the “mommy” in me stirred and wants to offer you some advice. Some of which is probably the exact opposite of what others have told you. Oh well, I’m an American divorcee, take it or leave it.
DON’T COMPROMISE (do make choices.) People will tell you that marriage is about compromise. It isn’t. If something is important to either one of you, you must let it happen. Whether it’s weekends with your friends, early morning yoga, or a favorite TV show, you cannot deny your partner the things that make them happy; doing so will breed resentment.
Compromise also leads to an unhealthy commerce in relationship. “I let you do this, so you owe me.” Emotional debt is not a good thing. Let them do things freely, and enjoy that same freedom yourself. (Unless, of course, what you are doing is unhealthy or dishonest.)
When it comes to things like the toothpaste cap, toilet seat, or coffee grounds on the counter, if you even care about those things, then you are focused on the wrong things entirely. This is where you have a choice to make, and it’s simple. Just ask yourself, “which do I want more, her, or a counter with no coffee grounds?” Make a choice and stick with it. If you want a clean counter, admit it and say good-bye, or clean the counter yourself. Likewise, if you would rather have a closed tube of toothpaste than a husband, then admit it and deal. But remember that it’s not a compromise, it’s a choice that YOU made.
DON’T HIDE ANYTHING (except poop and pee.) Keeping secrets means that you are ashamed of something. Shame has no more place in a marriage than emotional commerce. You must trust each other with everything – fears, mistakes, regrets, desires, dreams, all of it. That’s where trust is used and grows. That’s what breeds the security that make anything possible.
Dreams unspoken will never come true. Fears unspoken will grow in the dark, where all monsters thrive.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS (except your spouse and kids.) Your marriage is YOUR marriage. It is not your parents’ marriage, your friends’ marriage, or even the marriage of the millions of people who are watching you. Do it your way. The happier and more secure you are, the easier it will be to make it last and grow into the royal joy we all deserve.
The circumstances of your life and marriage are unique only to you, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Do it your way, with integrity, honesty and joy.
DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME TOGETHER (but never miss things that matter.) The more time you spend with your friends and doing the activities that make you happy, the more time you will have to grow into the strong and engaging individual that your partner fell in love with. Your individual growth and development did not stop when you got married. If anything, it got even more important.
The more “you” that you let yourself be, the more “you” you can bring to the relationship. If you give up on yourself, you will eventually be empty, have nothing to share, nothing to bring and have nothing but a whole lot of nothing.
That said, if something is important to your spouse, you have to be there for it. Whether it’s a weekend away, a movie, or meeting a friend; if they tell you it matters to them, it should matter to you. Same choice as the toothpaste tube and coffee grounds: “Do I want this other thing more than I want my partner to be happy?” Make the choice honestly, and stick with it. (And deal with the rewards or repercussions of your decision, you earned them.)
HAVE LOTS OF SEX (even if you don’t think you’re in the mood.) Sex is like brushing your teeth: you need to do it daily whether you want to or not. (Twice is even better.) It doesn’t have to be long, drawn-out, fancy or even creative. But the eye contact, the kissing (you must kiss and look in each other’s eyes) and the touch are very grounding things that unite you. There are loads of medical / scientific reasons to have sex – the hormones, endorphins, physical activity etc. But the most important is that it keeps you together, and NOT having sex is far too easy a habit to fall into. Once there, it’s hard to get out of, and that’s just not good.
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU Take responsibility for things that frustrate you rather than assuming they are shortcomings in your partner. If she doesn’t understand something you said, then it’s because you did not communicate with her effectively, not because she’s stupid. If he is insecure, it’s because you didn’t give him what he needed in order to be secure. And so on…
However, do not confuse this with taking responsibility for how the other person acts and feels. You will always be responsible for the results of your actions. You cannot, however, control how other people deal with their feelings. Let your partner react honestly, and help them talk through it without taking it personally. These moments of frustration are the greatest growth opportunities in your relationship. They are where you become clearer, stronger, more secure and closer. Usually, if you dig down, you find fear. Fear, like monsters and anger, generally grows in the dark. Talk through it, you’ll be fine.
Good luck kids. You looked great, but this was just one day. The rest of your life is a long time. Go in with honesty, bravery, trust and joy – you’ll be fine. It’s a roller coaster, but so totally worth it.