I Wish My Younger Self Knew Before We Tied the Knot
Two weeks ago, my beloved triad invited me for a few cups of coffee at Charleston. Everything seemed normal – we tried to figure the origin of GoT’s latest dragon appearance, talked about battle ropes and praised the coffee shop’s scrumptious blueberry tart – when our only unmarried member foreshadowed her real intentions of summoning us.
“I think it’s the perfect time.” Those were the only sentence I can remember from her plethora of excitement.
When my other friend finished rendering her heartfelt pieces of advice, the attention instantly shifted to me – an avid life and relationships blogger. If you think of it, it would be a shame if I wouldn’t be able to shed some light on her visibly thrilled demeanor.
And so, I failed. I choked. Not because my relationship was perfect from the get-go, but because my mind immediately reverted to my own wedding day. I only remembered the cake, the flowers, the grand entourage, and the beaming faces of our friends and families. On that day, I had no idea what transpires after the celebration: the delicious meals I should cook, the early struggles we’ll face, the ups and downs waiting after the ceremonial kiss, etc.
For a moment, I felt like a newlywed being asked married life questions.
If I could just turn back the hands of time, these are five things I would’ve said to her, and to my younger self.
#1: Love isn’t the only pillar of marriage.
If it is, then divorce would never have been invented.
Majority of research articles believe that the “in love and obsession” stage of marriage lasts 2 years in average. After that comes doubt if they’ve married the correct person.
I believe that you just can’t unlove a person! If it’s settling differences that seems hard, then the pillar of UNDERSTANDING that should hold its fort.
If it’s fear of infidelity, then TRUST should ease it. If it’s a matter of honor and dignity, RESPECT. And if it’s fear that is unforeseeable, use FAITH.
Love, trust, respect, understanding, and faith – these are the five pillars of a successful marriage. Knowing the difference and value of each element enables newlyweds from unnecessary doubt and fear.
#2: Talk about money and finances as early as possible.
As early as when we’re lovers, I asked my husband his views on pre-nuptial agreement and if he thinks it’s necessary for us. Thank God, he didn’t flinch!
Finance is a vital part of the marriage life (just ask your wedding planner). The key is to be blunt and open about it as early as possible. If your soon-to-be spouse seems not very vocal about it, well, you should at least be.
Here are finance-related topics you should’ve discussed before the wedding day:
- What is our individual and combined income?
- Does each of us have existing investments or savings? If none, what saving and investing schemes should we immediately take as couples?
- What will comprise our household budget? Can we afford to have kids in a year, or are we better off saving for a house or a car first? Prioritize.
- Does one of us have an existing debt? Now who pays for it? Since marriage pools both man and woman’s assets and liabilities into one, you need to take on that debt together.
- How do we partition our income? On a personal note, my husband and I live on one income, his to be exact, to cover our monthly dues. We use my income to fund for the future (e.g., vacation, education, retirement plans, etc.)
Talking about finances is absolute fun! You’ll ascertain how much your partner trusts you, and of course, there are side surprises.
It’s either your spouse-to-be wants to surprise you the right way (e.g., he has long owned a blue-chip share) or you’ll be grossed out at how low his credit score is.
#3: Investing on in-laws is a must.
I’m not talking about getting your mom-in-law the fanciest bag there is, or your dad-in-law the trivial branded leather belt.
It’s about making an effort to connect with them personally.
Why this should be done before marriage?
Oftentimes, our partners live separately from their parents and has little to do with our relationships. But that changes in a whim after you’ve exchanged vows. His/her family starts to intervene with your decisions.
If you don’t know your in-laws well, chances are you’re going to misinterpret his/her words, intentions, or actions. Had you gotten along earlier, you would’ve avoided all possible altercations.
Getting along with them doesn’t have to be pricey. It all boils down to effort:
- Play hoops with her dad or brother.
- Help his mother prepare the Thanksgiving turkey.
- Remember all birthdays and important occasions.
- Have the initiative to call them first.
- Whatever it is, be the first mover.
You’re not only tying the knot with a man or woman; you become bonded with a whole family.
#4: Quit measuring and start doing.
“When we get married, I’ll take care of this and you’ll do that.”
Wrong! Uttering that statement gives you both the impression that you have predetermined roles that you have to live up to. And when someone fails his niche, what comes next? It’s blaming and pointing fingers, if not silently criticizing the other.
The rationale is that no couple chips in the same amount of contribution. Each partner should seek 60/40, 70/30, and even 80/20 in terms of giving effort in something.
For instance, if you’re a housewife, you can voluntarily do freelance work even if you’re not compelled by your husband to work. This puts his mind at ease that you’re genuinely concerned in helping pay the bills.
For working males, muster the energy to help in house chores in your own little way. The thought should always count.
#5: Treat the first day as the commencement of a journey
A wedding signifies the start of a journey, it always does.
It’s navigating and boarding a whole new ship, on which you’re both co-captains; two conflicting egos with one wheel.
When tornadoes and hurricanes come, you’ll be tempted to try to go back to where you were (i.e., that happy and loving memory). But resist that urge. Trying to get back to the exact way your relationship was can be damaging. Dance with the rain, for problems will only strengthen your relationship’s resolve.
Well, I think it’s not too late for my friend to apply these, considering her marriage will take place next month. Of course, I’ll be in the running for bride’s maid, but there’s no greater gift that I can give her than the aforementioned advices.
There’s no such thing as a spotless marriage. Even our ancestors had to quarrel about the apple back in their day. What’s real are two love-struck souls joined by marriage that are relentlessly trying to work on their differences.
David Webster is an Australian essayist and writer currently residing at Illinois, Chicago. He has massive experience in both freelance writing and blogging, enabling him to be the writer of choice for most of his clients. He also currently serves as webmaster and contributor for essaycorner.com