Written by Allison Duggan
I got some really great advice from one of my favorite professors while I studied at WIU. Upon congratulating me on my engagement, he told me to make weekly date night a priority in our marriage (especially after having children). He said that for at least one night out of the week, get out of your normal routine, whether that is going out or doing something different at home. How wonderful is that? It might not sound revolutionary to some folks, but at this point in my life and my marriage, it totally makes sense. Regularly reconnecting with each other is so important.
My professor also suggested NOT making movie-going an option for the weekly date night because you end up spending two hours sitting side-by-side staring at a screen... not talking and not even looking at one another! If you go out to dinner, you are forced to look at each other and talk! I thought the recommendation was great and as a result, we have gone on fewer and fewer dates to the movie theater since getting that advice.
But you know what? I realized recently that my husband and I are movie people! In our history, we have always gone to movies together. We bond over our favorite movie franchises and favorite actors - and after our date night the other night we talked more enthusiastically after the movie than if we would have gone to dinner! And I loved it. Another thing I loved about our most recent date? We kept it low-key! No makeup & sweatpants for me and hoodies for both of us. We rushed out of the house without worrying about any of it - just EXCITED to be going on a date and taking a breather as just the two of us for a few hours. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for getting dolled and fancied up for a special occasion or date night with your significant other, but it was also so great to just be us. I don't remember the last date we took together and we really should do it more often and make dating each other a priority.
So, I think if I could give a useful piece of marriage advice, date night would be something I would suggest.
It also got me thinking about how much each of us really has to share with the world. So I asked some of my marriage-minded friends to share some marriage tips and this is what they had to say.
1.) "...Marriage is work. It is so true that marriage may not always be glamorous or romantic. We have known too many couples that end up getting divorced within a few years after getting married. We feel that too many married couples forget that a marriage takes a lot of patience, sweat, and persistence, so they give up when they hit a hard spot, and end their marriage. A marriage is not meant to be easy. If it is always easy then we won't thrive as individuals and as a couple, and learn how to love each other even in hard times."
2.) "Communicate no matter how uncomfortable or unsavory the topic may be, always find time for date nights and special little trips alone without the kids, and find things you love to do in common. I always hated the idea of watching football because all the rules confused me. But when my husband told me how important it was to him that I watch a game with him, I caved. Now I love it! Yet another little 'date' we can have. Never fight about disciplining the kids in front of anyone. And I know this piece of advice may be a tad controversial, but it's honest. Sex is SO important in a marriage. My mother gave me this advice long ago and it has served me well. It doesn't matter if he took out the garbage that day, or catered to your ego, or if you 'have a headache,' or you're just not feeling it that night. Do it. Even if you just had the worst fight ever. It will reconnect you. It will soften you to listen to your husband's side of an argument. It will make you a more confident woman which makes you better in your job, as a mother, in life in general. And if you aren't doing it ladies, I hate to say it, but someone else will. So get your groove on and do it regularly! I listened to my mother and I am a happier woman for it! And I am more in love with him now than I ever have been. Oh, and a little counseling never hurt anyone. I believe everyone in the world could use a little tweak here and there. It's a lot of work, marriage...but the work to get back to the good place in your relationship isn't so hard if you know that you wouldn't ever want to be without your spouse."
READ: THE BEST MARRIAGE ADVICE AROUND
3.) "The other day my boyfriend and I were at my parents' house and I got rather snippy with him about something dumb, but something I had asked him not to do a few times before. When he left the kitchen, my dad looked at me and said 'Don’t sweat the small stuff, babe. All that is, is little things. Life is going to seem a whole lot longer and tougher for you two if ya keep that up...' and he is SO right! I keep going back to that advice when I want to be annoyed or want to correct my boyfriend. My boyfriend is an AMAZING man, why bring him down about dumb things that mean nothing compared to us?
That advice came from my father who has been with my mother for 36 years, so I think they know what they are doing!"
4.) "Honesty is the best policy. We are always brutally honest with each other. We never keep secrets or hide things from each other. If you want a marriage to work, you've got to be 100% honest with each other, and not be afraid to tell the other person how your feel."
5.) "Do not use your wife's brand new decorative towels to clean up paint."
6.) "Marry your best friend, learn to compromise, and never go to bed mad at each other."
7.) "Lee Brice said it best: 'Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse "I love you." Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common sense. Never let your praying knees get lazy, and love like crazy!'"
8.) "No matter how many times you ask, they will ALWAYS throw their dirty clothes next to the basket. Don't even waste the energy asking them to pick the clothes up."
READ: 7 WAYS TO SHOW YOUR HUSBAND YOU LOVE HIM
9.) "Communicate at all times and try to use a calm tone. (Definitely hard sometimes, so it takes practice!) I've found throughout my husband's deployments (Been through almost two deployments now.) that writing letters to each other is a fun and an easy way to get what you need to say out. Give yourselves time to miss each other. If you work opposite shifts, try to grab lunch together so you can at least have one meal/alone time together a day or more often during the week. I have found that trying to catch up on the weekends isn't enough, so make sure you equally make an effort to spend time with each other, even if it is only for a little while. Work out/stay active and eat healthy together! You will feel better physically and mentally, and you can both work out any frustrations in the meantime (and if you're upset with each other it's a good excuse to not "talk" and just run or lift it out!) Love each other deeply in the toughest of times, and have both of you place your spouse's needs before you’re own and you will never fail."
10.) "It's so important for both spouses to go into marriage believing that it is a forever commitment. We've been married 2 1/2 years, and already there have been times where our faith, endurance, and belief in each other have been tested. When it comes down to it, almost anything can be 'divorce-worthy.' But when you approach marriage truly believing that divorce is not an option, it changes the way you view things. When a person is at their most unlovable state, that's when they need your love the most.
Also, find your spouse's 'love language' and try to speak it (from the book by Gary Chapman). If words of affirmation make your spouse feel most loved, try to show your love by regularly using words that will build him/her up and avoiding ones that don't. The same idea goes for the other 4 love languages. Build trust by doing what you say you'll do."
What is the BEST marriage advice you've ever received about how to make a marriage work? Please share in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Crooze Photography
This article was originally published on Allison's blog here.
“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
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