In November this year my wife Jessie and I celebrate five years of marriage.
I'm lucky to be able to say it really has been the most amazing five years. During these first few years of our life together, I've learnt what I now consider the essential lessons of marriage. These are the things I wish I knew a long time ago. I wanted to share them with you.
- Read The Five Love Languages When Jessie and I started dating, I freaked out that that I might wreck the great situation that I had found myself in, so I started researching how to 'get good' at relationships. In the process, I came across Gary Chapman's 'The 5 Love Languages'. Dr Chapman says that each of us have two more dominant love languages; physical touch, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time and words of affirmation. If you feel like your partner doesn't recognise all you do for them or how much you love them, it's probably because you have a different love language. It's an absolute must read! If you want to do the test, you can do it here. If you want to read other life changing books, join my newsletter.
- Know each other's Enneagram type The enneagram is one of the most profound, powerful guides to understanding your personality and how it works. Developing an understanding of you and your partners strengths and weaknesses gives you a greater appreciation for each other. I'm a Type 7 which means I can be busy, spontaneous and scattered. Jessie is a Type 3 which means she adaptable, excelling, driven and image conscious. Our personalities are so different to one another, but they work together beautifully.
- 50/50 is complete rubbish I originally thought that when we get married, we both had to put in 50/50. That is an absolute lie. Some days I am tired, stressed or grumpy and I'm contributing about 10% to the marriage and Jessie has to take the 90%. Other days Jessie is acting like an absolute....actually. It doesn't matter. Nothing.
- Don't say "You" during an argument This is so hard. When you're frustrated, it's easy to want to highlight all the stuff your partner is doing wrong. The fact is, this just makes things worse. Focus on how you can improve what you have control over. If you both focus on how you can improve yourself, you take steps towards progress. I wish I had already mastered this, but it's a work in progress.
- Date nights Date nights are a great way for you remind yourself what you have and spend some quality time together. Ours is on a Monday. Sometimes we go out for coffee or dinner, other nights we just chill out together. It's a big priority for us.
- If you want sex at night, be nice all day I learnt the hard way that you can't just come out of the bathroom playing Flight of The Conchords 'Business Time' and expect to get lucky. If you want sex, be nice all day. Here's a tip to increase your chances: Find out her love language and focus on doing things in line with that. Buy her flowers, chocolate and wine (As long as she's not allergic to any of them.) Tell her she's pretty, wash the dishes, offer a massage. You'll figure it out.
- Feelings change When Jessie and I first got together, I blushed every time I saw her. I finally started to understand all the love songs, movies and ridiculous things I'd seen my friends do for the people they loved. When we got married, people told me that these feelings wouldn't always be there. I didn't really believe them. Here's the thing. I love Jessie more than I ever have, but I don't blush when I think about her anymore. I don't get nervous holding her hand or kissing her. Sometimes I get annoyed at her and vice-versa. Don't rely on feelings to prove that you love something. Commit to it and watch how your behaviour drives your emotion to follow.
- Speak life A few weeks ago Jessie told me she thinks I have a photographic memory. Ever since that day I am convinced I do, and my ability to remember everything has improved dramatically. Tell the person you love what you love about them and watch that area of their life continue to flourish. The opposite is also true.
- She want's you to listen, not fix it Every time Jessie speaks about a problem I'm convinced I have the solution. I am slowly learning that she doesn't need my 'super wisdom' on what she's speaking about. She just wants me to listen. Guys, trust me. If you're single or just entered a relationship (or forgot) this is a GOLDEN rule.
- Think about what you love about your partner Don't let familiarity stop you from appreciating the person you fell in love with. After a while, when feelings of 'being madly in love' calm right down, it gets easy to notice and only mention the things that frustrate you. Take a couple of minutes each day to think about what you love most about your partner. It's amazing how quickly our emotions toward a person can follow our minds.
- Don't joke about her period. It's never a funny joke. Period.
- Your wedding is not the best day of your life Yeah it's a nice day. Hopefully it's an amazing day. But it's sad to think that so many of us label that first day of being married as the best day of our lives. Find out what you're both passionate about and do it together. Travel. Exercise. Write. Paint. Sing. Drink coffee. Go to movies. Make your best days after the wedding.
- If you're fighting over something ridiculous, change the rules Have you and your partner ever found yourself arguing over something absolutely ridiculous? Most of us have. If you can't stop yourself arguing over dumb stuff here's what you can do. Do a handstand and continue the argument. If the issue is more important that how ridiculous you look at that moment, write it down and come back to it later.
- Combine what you enjoy What do you both love? Do it together.
- Be present Give each other the time you deserve. A great way to do this is to set boundaries on when phones, laptops, iPad's etc go away for the evening. Put them on airplane mode and don't touch them until the next day. This forces you to take the time to actually chat with each other and not be so distracted. Maybe you leave everything that can distract you at home and go out for a coffee together? Sometimes these dates can be awkward when there's nothing to talk about. If you don't have time, maybe you need to create a more simple life.
- Difficulty breeds strength Yeah there will be a few difficulties ahead. What great relationships haven't had to work through a few issues? Being around someone so much is bound to bring out your not so pretty side from time to time. Work through this stuff together, it you can work through it well, you'll be much stronger and have a far better understanding of each other than before you entered it.