A self-proclaimed veteran of marriage, musician and #RockYourLife advocate Amy Edwards shares five truths about marriage she’s lived and learned.
Maybe someone like me, who has been through a few go-rounds of marriage, knows a thing or two others can learn from. I would most certainly take parenting advice from many people who would label themselves not-the-best parents. I would definitely take business advice from someone who had two ten-year businesses.
We all make mistakes and we all have things to learn. So, let’s call me a two-time “marriage veteran” at this point, and these are five nuggets of wisdom I can share as we dive into tying the knot and all that means.
- Stay true to yourself. It’s easy to suppress or rationalize away the little nagging issues that can come up. But those are our innermost selves making clear what we can— and, more importantly, cannot— live with. It’s all too easy to see in hindsight. I can look back and see those moments so clearly now, those times when I allowed myself to go along with what didn’t feel right. For both of my weddings, I allowed others to make decisions I didn’t agree with in my heart. But I thought, oh, I trust that person; it’ll be fine. But it’s those we must listen to, talk about, and ultimately deal with to gain clarity. Because those are the things that can eventually grow into the insurmountable.
- Change is inevitable. You and your partner will change. This is a fact. Embracing change is integral to life and to growth as a human being. In a 2017 New York Times article on marriage and change, several couples were quoted with the same line: “I’ve had at least three marriages. They’ve just all been with the same person.” Respecting that person means allowing them to grow and change as an autonomous being. Unfortunately, sometimes, as in my case, the choices and changes the other person makes might not end up being something that you want in your own life. And that’s fine to recognize, too. We all grow, we all change.
- Forget compromise. In a compromise, no one gets everything they want. In a negotiation, both parties get what each wants, and no one has to give up anything. As Charlotte Howard, a therapist at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy in Austin, advises: “Instead of one person nagging, “Why do you never do the dishes?” and the other person nagging, “Why aren’t we more intimate?” a couple may try an alternative: “Hey, if you do the dishes, I’ll see you at the pool, clothing optional.” Then both people are happy because the person doing dishes doesn’t feel like, “Ugh! My partner wants me to do the dishes and I hate doing the dishes,” but instead they’re thinking, “Yay! I’m about to be intimate!” This interchange creates the space and energy to share intimate attention, which is a benefit to both partners.
- Keep your friendships close. This is twofold. One: treat your partner as you would your favorite, best friendship. No exceptions. When you catch yourself slacking off, you know it’s time to reevaluate and make sure you’re respecting this friendship as you should. Two: When your close friends offer insight into your relationship, listen. Don’t push them away. I have been surprised at how clearly my friends have seen aspects and issues in my marriage(s) that I didn’t see at all until it was too late.
- Talk it out. Whatever it is, just bring it up straight-up. The older I get, the more I know how crucial this is. Recently, I went out with someone new and after a few dates, something was bothering me between us – so I flatly asked about it. I told him I just wanted to know for my own expectations and to know how he felt. It was a little hard, but in the end, he said how glad he was that I asked. It gave me more confidence to do it the next time.
I raise a toast to you and look toward your many years with the utmost optimism. And who knows? Maybe the third time is a charm.