January 6, 2013

How to Be Mistaken as a Newlywed Ten Years Later: Staying Happily Married After the Honeymoon

By Zoie
Introduced by Amy

Zoie is married to my crazy little bro, Aaron, and thank goodness she is so cool!  I always worried about who my little bro would end up marrying, cause he and I were always close and I wanted to like his wife...let me tell you, Zo does not disappoint!  I affectionately call her Zo Zo, and she kindly puts up with it.  She is fearless--example: she up and moved to China for several months to improve her Chinese and to experience the culture...she probably learned how to be a ninja on the weekends.  Seriously, she is cool and so fun.  We talk art and blogs and life and family, and I love her!   

My biggest pet peeve is pessimism about marriage.
Fun fact: Marriage is the greatest thing ever.
Not-so-fun fact: People are people; sometimes marriages fail or even just become dull.
However, there is every reason to be optimistic about marriage. It is so much fun and so rewarding. However, like most good things, you have to work for a good marriage.

So, I would like to share some of the best marriage advice that I have received that has kept my relationship with my husband strong and rewarding.

Divorce isn’t funny, so don’t joke about it unless you want it to happen.

Pretty self-explanatory. You don’t need to go blabbing all of the things your spouse does or doesn’t do to the whole world, especially friends and parents. Just keep it to yourself.

There’s nothing more awkward than watching a couple constantly contradict each other in public, especially if it’s something stupid like the date and time they met (and they just have to resolve before they can finish the story). Also, there’s nothing more embarrassing than telling your friends something cool you did only to have the spouse jump in and say that you’re exaggerating or lying.
It’s wrong to lie; I’m not saying you should let your spouse be a chronic liar. I’m just saying that if your spouse exaggerates a little bit or tells a story wrong on accident, don’t freak out. Just go with it and let your spouse be cool for a little bit. Correct them later, but don’t embarrass them in front of friends.

If you had a fight and it’s over, never, I repeat, NEVER, bring it up again. Your spouse probably feels guilty about it and doesn’t need to be reminded about it, and you don’t need to use it as leverage for the rest of your marriage. That’s a terrible thing to do. So if your spouse scratched the car backing out and you forgave them, let it be over, don’t hesitate every time you give them the car keys. That’s not fair to them.

If your spouse is going to Wal-Mart to grab some milk or headed over to talk to the neighbors real quick, go with them if you can. Chances are you’ll have fun and you’ll end up spending a little more time together.

Caught in a downpour in downtown Chicago

One of the most attractive* things I’ve ever seen a person do is praise their spouse. We were over at their house and the husband was talking about what a good job his wife did teaching her workout classes and how talented she was. Contrast this to a spouse who tells everyone how off-key she sings or how messy the bathroom is.
This is some of the advice that I feel the most passionate about. Don’t make fun of your spouse in public. Just don’t. Praise them and trust me, it will strengthen your marriage faster than anything else.

*(I don’t mean to say that I was attracted in a romantic way, just that it made me really respect them as a person.)

Friends are important, but avoid having close friends of the opposite sex. This one was hard for me when we first got married, because all of my friends were guys, but I can see how much it has strengthened our marriage. Don’t text members of the opposite sex or do the Facebook thing. If you do have these kind of relationships, make sure that they are very public. For example, if your friend from high school got married or had a baby, go ahead and say congratulations on their Facebook wall or something. That’s fine. But constantly texting someone of the opposite gender or things of that nature can get you into trouble very quickly. So many marriages are ruined this way. Having couple friends or friends of your same gender is the easiest way to avoid this problem. However, if you have friends of the opposite gender, keep it public and keep the appropriate distance.

There’s nothing that can pull a couple apart faster than different ideals and values. For my husband and I, our religion helps strengthen our marriage a ton. Reading scriptures and saying prayers (with and for each other) helps our marriage stay strong. I am so grateful for a husband that shares those same beliefs and ideals. So, if you’re religious, be strong in your religion. It will pull you two together. If not, find a common goal or practice; the consistency and working together will help your relationship.

Sometimes I’ll go to ask my husband to do something or pick something up, but I’ll replace the request with “I love you.”
Studies show that expressing anger does not actually relieve it, but increases your feelings of anger. So leave it unsaid unless it’s a really big deal. Kind words are so much stronger than criticism.

A few months ago, I read a book that described a woman’s quest to be happier. One of the things that helped her was to play “Extreme Nice,” a game she made up. It’s about like it sounds. Make the bed, do the dishes, write a kind note, call them at lunch. Be as nice as you possibly can. Your spouse will reciprocate and you’ll find yourself happier every day, not just from their deeds of kindness, but because you are serving them.

Gnomes for Halloween!  Hah!

For the Girls:
- Treat Him Like a King
- Let Your Hair Down- Be an attractive woman! Take care of yourself. Your hubby will love it and you’ll feel happier. It’s worth the effort.
- Be a Happy Wife- Stop complaining about little things. Greet him at the door with a kiss and some good news. Make your husband want to come home to you, or be excited when you get home.

For the Boys:
- Treat Her Like a Queen
- Ditch the Video Games- Come on, stop playing video games and be a man. One of the most unattractive things a man can do is play video games while ignoring his wife and kids. Addictions are extremely detrimental to a relationship.
- Encourage Beauty- Tell your wife she’s beautiful; notice when she does her hair nice, or she may lose the motivation to impress you.

What marriage advice do you have? Feel free to post in the comments!  Thanks!


  1. I've been married 19 1/2 years, and I have to say that all 10 of these Wisdoms are spot-on. To add a little more to #1, my husband and I were told early on in our marriage by a friend who was also a marriage counselor to Never speak of divorce. Simply remove it from the table and from your minds as an option. If you always know in the back of your mind that it's an option, there will be times when it seems easier than working through the current crisis - and all marriages seem to have crises now and then. As my Grandma Ruby always said, "This too shall pass." No matter how terrible you are feeling because you find that you have married a man with whom you have nothing in common -- or at least less than you had assumed -- unless he is involved with something illegal or dangerously addictive or abusive, have faith that he is basically a good man and you are basically a good woman and the two of you Totally have the power to work things out! Be patient with yourself and with him, and don't consider divorce. You'll thank me later. (I love Mr. Monk.)

    The second pearl I would offer from my experience is to Remember why you married that man in the first place! Get all tingly all over again as you consider that you love how he's ambitious or friendly or a great handyman or a beautiful singer... Don't let yourself take his great qualities for granted. And regularly add to the list as he becomes an even greater man, as he will over time, just like you will become a greater, more experienced, more Christlike woman. A note of caution: most great characteristics also have a negative side. For instance, that ambition I love in my husband turned out to mean that for several years he was a work-a-holic as he learned to balance his ambition and love of hard work, and his family. That was really hard for me to be patient with as the mom of little children, and we had numerous discussions about it over the years. But, because he is a good man, and wants to do the right thing, and because I stuck it out and didn't consider divorce as an option (while he was sticking it out through my less-than-stellar housekeeping abilities) we found our way through that along with lots of other issues and grew closer to each other through it all. And it turns out That's what it's all about!

    1. I completely agree with all of Zoie's tips and love yours too, Michelle! I take my marriage seriously, and really appreciate anything that will help me strengthen it.

      Along the lines of the first part of your comment, I wish more people would tell engaged/newlyweds that you will have moments (usually during a disagreement/conflict) when you think something along the lines of, "I made a mistake marrying this person". This is normal. Just because you have a conflict and questioning thoughts doesn't mean that you married the wrong person, or that your marriage was a mistake.

      I think knowing that these thoughts/moments are a natural part of marriage (especially early marriage when you are still learning expectations and conflict management skills) can prepare you for them so that when they happen they don't make you question your entire marriage, you can deal with the conflict, and then let them go and move on. Divorce is not an option. Learning and fixing things until they work, is.

  2. Love all this advice. Michelle, your house is fun, happy, and full of love; that's what I call excellent housekeeping!

    I'll add: Appreciate! Try to notice and thank your spouse for all the things they do, big and small. It feels to good to give (and receive) gratitude. I want my husband to know I appreciate all he does, and hey, when I purposely look for those things, I notice a lot more! Plus, he returns the gratitude. It's great.

    Second: When in a conflict, DO NOT silent treatment each other. (JR. HIGH tactic: pout till he asks what is wrong...Shoot, if he doesn't take a hint, you could be pouting all day!). If you are really bugged, bring it up in a calm way. If it isn't big enough to bring up, then get over it.

    Third: put yourself in their shoes. It is darn hard, especially when you are really hurt/mad, but try to see the situation from their perspective; it will help you have compassion to validate how they re feeling. It doesn't mean that one person is right or wrong, it means you both understand the other a little better. Apologize when you hurt them, even if you didn't mean to. It helps heal an argument SO much quicker when you can just talk it out, understand each other's point of view, then both apologize.


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Thanks, friends! :)