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Today is Part II from my blog yesterday. Again this was a blog I had shared back in November when my wife and I were celebrating our first year of marriage together. I welcome all your comments and feedback either above, below or via twitter: @ACSloss @BetterMenNow
6. Spend Time Together
This might seem like an obvious thing for someone to “learn” about being married. However, I have learned that some of the most basic lessons are also the easiest to forget after a while. I mean on the honeymoon you get all of this time just the two of you and that is so awesome. Even more so if you are able to go to a nice relaxing locale for your honeymoon.
When you come home from your honeymoon (or if you have postponed your honeymoon, right after the wedding) reality sets in and suddenly there is work, deadlines, social activities, thank you cards etc., that all have to get done. Leaving openings during your week to spend time together can be difficult. If you aren’t careful a month (or more) has gone by and you realize you haven’t spent as much time as you would like together.
It wasn’t quite so drastic for Sharlay and I but there was a point where we really weren’t spending as much time together as we wanted. She would work late (and far from home) and so we would get maybe two hours a night for 5 days at a time to spend together. At least thirty minutes of that would be making and eating dinner and that generally left only a little time to talk about our days, have sex or whatever.
Eventually we had to be sure to carve out time for just the two of us. If that meant sleeping in on a Sunday and not going to church one week we did that. If it meant I would go to work an hour later than usual I would be sure I communicated I was coming in late to my supervisor. It also just meant we needed to prioritize ourselves over our families during that first year. We agreed (Sharlay did so reluctantly) that all the major holidays would just be shared between her and I. No family, no friends, just her and I. It was beautiful and just what I needed to start my marriage. The families weren’t too happy, especially hers but as we will learn tomorrow sometimes you have to tell your family “no.” The rest of our lives we would have to share holidays with family and friends but that first year we simply wanted to share those moments with each other. A kid, family and friend free holiday was awesome.
Everyone is different and how you and your wife spend time together will also be different. However, I believe for every couple you cannot forget the importance of spending time together AFTER the honeymoon. No matter how long you have been together something changes when the marriage becomes official and making time for one another is important.
7. Set Yearly Goals
This was something totally new for Sharlay. While she in the past had “set goals” she had done so mostly in her head and by the end of the year had forgotten most of them anyway (no offense babe!). Instead what we did is we created a vision board (still trying to come up with a more manly name for it) using clippings from magazines, newspapers etc., from around the house. We purchased a cardboard display board from Michael’s and then spent one entire day (New Year’s Day I believe) working in it.
The idea was to cut out images, words and the like which represented things we wanted to accomplish for 2013. We then pasted them to the board, talked about what they represented and prayed about them. We then left the vision board up in our apartment where we could see it for about 6 months until we had to make room for other things.
During the course of the year we have pulled it out to look at it and chart our progress. Something things we have accomplished, some are still in progress and others will likely be on our board again in 2014. You don’t have to use this model for setting your goals but you should at least spend time discussing (and recording) them, both individual and family goals.
It helps you feel like a team and encourages you during the course of the year as you slowly see those goals become a reality. It also serves as a good kick in the ass if you aren’t moving as quickly as you would like towards those goals. It is never a matter of determining at the end of the year if you were or weren’t successful during the prior 12 months. Rather it is all about casting a vision for you and your family to pursue and go after.
I realize most of you are thinking this is a stupid thing to learn during your first year of marriage. Granted everyone should realize the importance of communication before you get married. However, now that a year has passed, I have realized there were some areas that require communication because I took for granted Sharlay and I would be on the same page.
Everyone has different experiences in relationships. Some people never date mean people. Other people never date nice people. Some men don’t feel comfortable talking about finances with their wives and some wives have no problem discussing finances with their husband. Even more people find it weird that a couple would ever have to communicate anything as it relates to sex.
The bottom-line is you need to communicate about everything in a marriage. This is especially true with two people who have had completely different experiences and thus two completely different set of expectations. In order to have a successful relationship we have to be willing to discuss every area of our life and relationship if necessary. I am not saying every little thing requires a sit down meeting with an agenda and a slide show presentation. What I am saying is that if one of you is feeling frustrated, angry or like you aren’t getting what you want out of the relationship or a certain aspect of the relationship the only way you will ever get it fixed is to talk about it.
It might make you (or your spouse/partner) feel uncomfortable, weird and even nervous to discuss but if the goal is to have a successful relationship you both have to be willing to get things out in the open. Life and relationships are about compromises and only through communication with each other can those compromises be reached. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t feel disrespected or insecure. Just be an adult and talk things through.
9. Walk The Line
Yes this is a Johnny Cash reference. I am a tremendous fan of the Man in Black, his music and even his bumpy journey in life. He was a man who had plenty of demons when he was younger and paid the price for many of them. Yet, he did the best he could after making a lot of mistakes to straighten his life out and get right with God. He even managed to fall in love with his dream girl and have the fortune to share a career with her. I would never defend the things he did earlier in his life including cheating on his wife, drug and alcohol abuse and at times being a celebrity diva to the max. Yet despite all those things Johnny tried to do a lot of good in this world especially later in life.
I am not writing about Johnny Cash though.
There is something about getting engaged and later getting married that seems to set off a chain reaction in this universe. Temptation will always come our way as men but there is a Tsunami-like wave that is generated around the time of our engagement and wedding. Women you never thought you would ever hear from again (some you don’t even remember dating or talking to even) suddenly are blowing up your phone. The bizarre thing is they don’t even know you are engaged or married! I know this because they aren’t friends with any of my friends. They aren’t on Facebook as my friend or with any of my other “friends.” I have no other social media connections to them. Just out of the blue they call and say “Hey Andrew! It’s ‘Sally.’ Long time no talk, do you want to meet up and get drinks?”
Sally who? Didn’t we have one date three years ago and you never called ME back? Why do you still have my phone number? That is just an example of the “clean” version of random messages, texts or emails I received as I got closer to getting married. It’s like somehow all these women knew without knowing they had a short window to try to re-connect with me. I know Sharlay also experienced the same phenomenon. Her and I were both shocked and said the same thing one day “Where are all you people coming from?!” Is there a database people subscribe to or what?
My point is this men, be careful. You have to keep your head on a swivel. Keep your heart protected (and your penis in your pants.) You will be tested. You will be tried. Do NOT be found wanting. Weird shit is going to go down and I promise you at least one of those women who come from out of nowhere are going to know EXACTLY what buttons to push to tempt you.
Ladies, don’t get all crazy if this happens to your man. It probably will happen to you as well. There is an 80% chance that your guy did nothing to bring this on himself.
10. Do Nice Things
This one is pretty simple. Don’t stop doing nice things for each other. They don’t have to be super romantic or over the top (although they can be!) focus on doing things your wife will enjoy and that make her smile. Sharlay loves it when I send her a video message (usually innocent but not always) or leave her a note before I go off to work in the morning.
I have found it is the simple things like this that make me think more often about my wife during the day and keeps me motivated on those days when work and life is more challenging than usual. Your wife will appreciate knowing she is top of your mind most of the time and it will make her feel loved. In return she will help make you feel respected. In both situations batteries are recharged, life goes on and people are having fantastic sex. Who doesn’t like fantastic sex? So do nice things and don’t make it complicated!
That is it for today’s blog! I hope, as always, you were able to find something helpful on this page to help you just a bit better today than you were yesterday. The goal is never perfection, only improvement. Don’t forget that if today you weren’t better, you can be tomorrow so don’t give up!
Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy here.