“I told my wife, Sara, that I was going to be writing an article about marriage. If any of you thought you heard the sound of an eye roll the other day, it was from her. Not because she thinks I’m bad at marriage, but because what kind of advice can I give to people? Honestly, she’s right. I’m not going to tell you what you should do or that I know better than you with regards to marriage. We’ve only been married two years, but there are some lessons I’ve learned that may or may not help you. Take it or leave it.
I won’t bore you with what everyone already knows. ‘Marriage is built on trust.’ ‘Marry your best friend.’ Blah blah blaaaah. If you’ve been to a wedding in the last decade you’ve heard the bride and groom promise all of those things to each other. Don’t get me wrong, those things are incredibly important and are great foundations for marriage, but everyone already knows those things.
Something we started our marriage with, and is commonly misconstrued, is that marriage is between two people (three if you’re Christian ‘cause God). And that’s it. My Aunt Steph, one of the smartest, most blunt people I know, told me before I got married, ‘People say you marry the family too. That’s not true. Your marriage is between you two.’ I’m not saying your family isn’t important. I value my family a lot (not as much as my wife does, but still…). You need them to lean on when life gets hard and to lift you guys up, but I didn’t marry her mom and she didn’t marry my dad. We had to learn to go to each other first when life threw us curveballs, instead of instinctually going to our parents. We’re a family now, and that family comes first.
I’ve heard this talked about by a few, but I’ll reiterate, your partner and you will change and grow. You’ve been doing it for the last 20+ years, why would you stop when you get married? You have things you want to accomplish (hopefully) and you’ll grow and change on your way to do it. Our pastor told us in a pre-marital counseling session, that as a couple we’d have goals, and as individuals we would have goals. To succeed as a couple, we would both tackle those goals. Sometimes I would be the captain (like when tackling mine) and sometimes Sara would be. But we’d both be working towards that goal. That’s the beauty of marriage. You’ve got this life partner to raise you up. Like Kim and Kanye.
A big humongous monstrosity of a lesson I’ve learned that I PRAY that all of you will strongly take into consideration, is that your kids do not come first. Our kids are sooo important and are the future and all that fun jazz, but what’s best for them is a beautiful example of two people who love each other (and God). Another great thing for them to know is that they are not the center of the universe. Sorry if you’re reading this in the future, Jack and Cam and any other children we may have had, but you’re not the center of my universe. Sometimes I’ve wanted you to be really badly, but that’s not going to do you any favors, and it won’t do me any favors when you leave home (please leave home). You can’t put your spouse on the back burner for eighteen years and then say ‘Oh, hey, you can be my number one again.’
One last, admittedly vain, thing my wife and I strive to do in our marriage, is we try to look good for the other person. Sometimes that means putting on a not wrinkled shirt and the jogger sweatpants that she likes that show off my butt 30 seconds before she gets home. Other days that means a nice pair of jeans, button up shirt and cologne. Sara isn’t just my friend and we’re human, we all got needs. We’re tired and cranky (most of the time lately), but a little bit goes a long way. We try to make good choices at the grocery store and do something active every day. Some days are harder than others, but this is what we signed up for.
We fight, we laugh, we sit in the glow of each other’s lit up iPhones in silence, and we tag each other in funny memes. Sara is seriously the best. She’s not perfect, and neither am I (by a long shot), but we’re constantly working towards the same goal; making the other one happy. If you’re focused on what would make the other person happy instead of what will make you happy, your life will get a little easier and lot less selfish.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Matt Martin, 28, of Dallas, Texas. Subscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.
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