Before you got married, a lot of family and friends probably passed along marriage advice. Everyone seems to have an opinion, good intentions or not. But what they don’t tell you is how marriage changes with children in the mix. Much of that good advice you received? You can throw it out.
Here’s what to ignore:
- Don’t Go to Bed Angry
Particularly if you’re arguing in the evening, when you “never let the sun set on an arguement”, someone will generally have to give in unwillingly. In this way, a proper compromise and mutual understanding isn’t really reached — it’s likely that the problem will just recur later.
Better marriage advice would therefore be : “never let the sun set twice on an arguement”. Agree with your partner to return to the discussion within 24 hours to try to resolve it. In the meantime, you will both have time to cool down and spend some time considering the other’s position.
- People Don’t Change
Wrong! Give your marriage the flexibility to grow with the changes, especially after having a baby. Your focus will shift and you’ll worry about things you’d never previously considered.
- Sacrifice Marriage When You Have Children
Naturally, your priorities will shift dramatically once you become parents. However the idea that your child needs to take priority over your relationship in all senses is not good marriage advice. Parents need to make time for each other to keep the relationship alive, to have some fun, and to keep themselves sane. Have a 15 minute check-in with each other every night after the children go to bed or plan a date.
- Give All of Yourself
Once you give all to your family, what’s left for you? Everyone needs “me” time to wind down and recharge their batteries. Every now and again, make it clear to your partner that you’re on a break, whether that’s for a long shower or a cup of tea. If someone interrupts, ask “Is someone bleeding from the head?” If the answer is no, they’ll have to wait. This is your time.
- Never Sleep in Separate Beds
Your pre-child self may hate the idea of sleeping in separate beds, and vow to never do it. However, especially when your children are young, spending the night apart might be the only way you get some sleep! Everyone gets along better when they’ve been properly rested.
- Say Sorry Even if You Don’t Mean it
Ending an arguement early by giving in and offering an insincere apology doesn’t resolve the issue at hand and it increases dishonesty in the relationship. Your spouse is likely to know you’re lying anyway. Try to get things resolved before bed, or see #1 and go to bed with a plan to resolve it the following day.
- Don’t Fight in Front of the Children
While it’s never a good idea to have aggressive and nasty arguements in front of your children, children will have a lot to learn from seeing you and your partner disagree and negotiate. Seeing you work through your differences and coming to a resolution teaches them how to solve their own problems. Just remember to keep things calm and civilised – particularly while the children are listening.
- You Have to Be Best Friends
While it’s a nice sentiment, one person doesn’t have to be everything to you. It’s okay to have different people in your life to fit your needs. Your partner is your partner, and your best friend is your best friend.
- Don’t Speak Badly About Your Spouse
While you shouldn’t badmouth your spouse to everyone, sometimes it is good to vent and share your feelings with someone — a problem shared is a problem halved! Remember that best friend you have? They’re probably the best person to vent to.
- Share the Chores Evenly
Instead of trying to keep score, try splitting the chores into who likes to do what. Your partner may enjoy cleaning the bathroom and you like to do laundry. When you are doing things you enjoy, the job gets done quicker!
- Your Spouse Knows What You Want
Unless your partner is a psychic or a mind reader, it’s not fair to assume that they always knows what you’re thinking. Unless you communicate your wants and needs, they may never know what’s wrong.
- You Need the Same Hobbies
As previously mentioned, setting aside some “me” time is important. You can’t have it when you and your spouse are the same person. It’s good to have things that are just yours and yours alone.
- Children Will Make You Happier
Among other marriage advice, people will try to tell you having a baby will bring you closer. It absolutely can. You see a new, loving side to your partner. But having a baby is a stressful time. If you and your partner are already having problems, adding more stress to the situation doesn’t help.
- Love Conquers All
Sure it’s a nice saying for a greeting card, but love isn’t the only currency in marriage. Instead of just counting on love, add some communication, listening and understanding to the equation.