The other night, Thomas and I met a couple who are getting married soon. They are the exact age we were when we got married, 23 and 24. Knowing we had 20-some years of marriage under our (somewhat expanded) belts, they asked us if we had any advice for them. We gave them a couple nuggets off the top of our heads. On the ride home, we talked about more tips – an exercise we highly recommend for other couples! So with our Parent Tango audience in mind, we offer you these tips and hope you’ll pipe in, offering your words of relationship wisdom in our “comments” section:
- Be nice to each other. It’s so fundamental but it’s probably our single most important piece of advice. Your partner is, basically, the ONE person in life you choose to be with. Parents, co-workers and children are all put into our lives, regardless of personality or common interests. Yet, in the comfort and security of that chosen relationship, it’s all too easy to get snippy and even rude to our loved one because, hey, they aren’t going anywhere. Well, they might very well take a hike if you keep talking to them as though they were an annoyance! Be kind, courteous, respectful and loving as you talk to your sweetheart, whether it’s about something major or about passing the sugar.
- Do go to bed angry. Forget the old adage saying otherwise. If you’re stressed out and in the heat of the moment, the worst thing to do is push it to the limits while you’re both exhausted! Sleep on it and it’s almost guaranteed that clarity and calm will come to both of you by light of day.
- Be intimate. This can mean sex or just holding hands, giving an occasional squooge, or cuddling. Humans need physical contact with each other!
- Be vulnerable. Only by taking a chance, exposing yourself and putting your trust in that other person, can intimacy really be built – and we’re talking both physical and emotional intimacy. In saying (or showing) what you’re a little unsure of and having that other person accept, honor and protect in return, that’s where layer upon layer of trust, love and friendship are built.
- Get together and be apart. That whole “you complete me” thing is bunk! It’s more like “you augment me” which doesn’t have the same romantic ring to it, but it is better. Find things you can share in, whether it’s interests or activities. But allow each other to do their own thing, finding their own passion, even if it holds absolutely no interest for you. Shared interests are great for bonding but differing interests make you a more interesting person to each other (and yourself). There’s a saying that goes “if you agreed on everything, one of you wouldn’t be necessary.” So true.
How about you? What words of wisdom would you give to a couple just starting out?