Cutting the Sh*t: How to Have a Marriage That Doesn’t Suck in 2019

As my anniversary approaches this month, I can’t help but take time to reflect on how far my husband and I have come in our relationship. We have grown immensely, and our connection remains as passionate as it was when we first met. It’s safe to say that he feels like my soulmate, and that we just “get” one another.

Yet, I would be lying if I said that our marriage has just passively been successful, with little effort from either party. Between having to adapt to our growing family after having my daughter, and dealing with several other major life and career changes — we’ve had our fair share of hurdles to overcome. My husband and I have a fantastic marriage, not because of luck or chance — but because as lovers and partners, we are very intentional about putting in the EFFORT to ensure that it stays that way.

Whether you are still single and looking, newly engaged, or fresh out of the courthouse — here are my very best words of wisdom to offer.

Remember that in addition to love, marriage is also about lifestyle compatibility and business.

I figured I would go ahead and get this out of the way first. This may seem a bit redundant, but maybe it should be. Perhaps the best way to help avoid feeling “stuck” in a marriage you don’t want to be in down the road is to realize that marriage encompasses a lot of complexities beyond the mental and physical attraction and fireworks. It’s important to think very long-term.

Do our interests and lifestyles mesh well together? Does this person seem open-minded and capable of adopting a lifestyle that I would eventually like for us to have down the line? Do they want the same? How do they feel about work and finances? Are they a minimalist? A spender? A saver? What are their financial priorities? Future business ideas? Is there room for compromise? What am I willing to potentially live without, and what do I absolutely need?

Settling is not a good way to enter what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment, but sadly this is a route that many people choose.

Put in the time and work. Daily.

It is incredibly important to be present and communicate effectively with your spouse, day in and day out. Oftentimes, in the midst of our busy lifestyles, it is easy to inadvertently cause our partner to feel taken for granted. This happens when we are not cognizant of how we are allocating our time.

Let’s say Person A has been saying yes to one too many happy hours after work. Person B feels that they need more help around the house in the evenings. Whose job is it to fix this conundrum? The answer is both. It’s Person A’s responsibility to demand work-life balance so that they have time to show up for their marriage and household in the evenings, and it’s Person B’s responsibility to communicate their feelings in the very beginning in order to avoid long-term feelings of resentment.

Stay healthy, and ensure that your partner is healthy too.

The easiest way to maintain a peaceful home filled with love and kindness, is to prioritize your entire family’s health. A healthy lifestyle helps to create a healthy mind. Having a healthy, clear mind removes a lot of mental clutter that can often lead to unnecessary stress and bickering. In addition, being healthy allows us to remain looking and feeling our best, for both ourselves and our partners. When we’re confident about how we look and feel about ourselves, it is easier to holistically show up for our partners — mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually.

Realize that sometimes, it’s okay and probably better to just agree to disagree.

You spend a lot of time with your spouse. As a result, it can become easy to zero in on small things or fall into a debate about something that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. In worst-case scenarios, these petty debates escalate into something bigger. This can especially happen during vulnerable times, such as after an especially hard week of work or shortly after having a new baby when everyone is sleep-deprived. You’ll recognize these times when they arise. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Make sure you are on the same page about kids and family planning EARLY in the marriage.

This pretty much speaks for itself. Whether to have kids, when to have them, and how many to have are probably the biggest decisions a couple will ever make together in their entire lives. Children change literally everything, from schedules to finances to the entire culture of the household. Raising little humans is hard work from conception. It is a huge responsibility. EVERYONE needs to be on board.

HAVE SEX. Mind-blowing sex. Regularly.

Did you know that sex is one of the most common things married couples argue about? I personally could not believe this statistic when I first learned of it; however, now that I give the idea more thought, I can see how this can easily become the case. Women, in particular, are not speaking up about their sexual needs enough in the bedroom, and women are significantly less likely than their male counterparts to experience regular orgasms (more on this here). This topic deserves a full article in and of itself; so, while very sad and troubling, I won’t elaborate on that any further.

While sex isn’t everything, it IS pretty important. Especially when you are monogamously married. Your spouse is supposed to be the one individual you fuck for the rest of your life. The sex HAS to be fun and amazing. We are primal beings, and there are countless benefits to reaching orgasm regularly with your partner. Learn to express yourself and communicate with your partner about your needs.

Start dinner early. Put the kids to bed at a reasonable time.

This one makes the previous point easier to prioritize. Evening chores can be a killer, especially if dragged out by procrastination. The quicker the dishes are washed, teeth are brushed, and the little ones are in bed — the faster you will be able to spend quality time with your spouse, and have some self-care time too.

Sit down and enjoy home-cooked meals together as a family as often as possible.

In today’s world of fast food, takeout, processed foods, and being overworked and chronically busy — it could be argued that making meals with REAL ingredients, from scratch, and actually sitting down to eat it together as a family is a revolutionary act. It’s becoming less and less common. We live in a culture of chaos, where staying busy is praised and working ourselves into the grave is common. But guess what? All of those evenings you miss out on time with your family — those are evenings you don’t get back in the future. Demand work/life balance, and prioritize taking time to prep and cook healthy, nutrient-dense meals to eat with your family.

Put down your phone sometimes.

Nothing else really needs to be added here. But it’s important to note that this is becoming an increasingly bigger issue for millennial couples. Instagram can wait. Work e-mails can wait.

Discuss parenting styles and preferences before you reproduce.

Parenting is also another hot button issue when it comes to the most common reasons that couples fight. Entering the parent world does not come easy to most, and it is a HUGE shift in identity and responsibilities for both partners. Understandably, people have strong opinions when it comes to making decisions for their children, and it isn’t unusual for spouses to disagree with one another at some point.

While it is impossible to be fully prepared or to know exactly what type of parent you will be ahead of time, there are some big topics that you can begin to address with each other to avoid major blows down the line. Some of these include birth place and preferences, infant and toddler nutrition, health ideologies, religion, schooling, discipline, sleeping arrangements, and family politics. I also very strongly suggest doing a lot of reading on child development and their emotional needs as babies and toddlers.

Become comfortable with change.

With life comes a lot of change. Reproducing, aging parents, advancing or changing careers, relocations, problems that arise with in-laws, and the list goes on. Embrace the fact that your marriage will go through periods of adjustment as it enters the different seasons of life. What hopefully doesn’t change, is the unconditional love.