First, I still appreciate and value the advice two friends I consider my marriage mentors gave us before our wedding. They married when they were barely 20 years old and were still together nearly 10 years, and three children, later. With all that experience at such a young age, I figured they would have some wise words for us. The advice: “When you start to have problems, and you will, don’t be afraid to get counselling.” Not what I expected, but still very insightful. When that time came, I reached out to the same friends who still gave the same advice. Even though my husband and I did not get counselling together, I still got it for myself and it helped.
The next bit of wisdom I only truly understood when things fell apart. During that time, my friends and colleagues shared their wisdom from their own marriages. All the conversations started with: “Marriage is hard work.” I had likely heard that before, but it didn’t really hit home until that time. Marriage is hard work. It is hard to constantly be mindful about our own actions and behaviours, make compromises but not sacrifice our needs, and show each other love, respect and appreciation, even when we don’t always feel like it. These are only a few examples. Marriage is even more work than that! Now that I understand that, I am putting in a more conscious effort to work on the right things to keep our relationship going.
Finally, this last bit of advice is definitely directed at my younger self: remember to take time for myself. During my first years of marriage, I tried so hard to do all the things I thought I should do. Between running the household, running errands, and running my career (which involved a lot of business travel for awhile), I was allowing myself to be run into the ground. I was exhausted. Since moving to Montreal and the year of separation that came with it, I re-learned how to take take time for myself to do things that are just for me. As a result, I have a bit more balance in my life and my husband he has more time for himself, making him happier.
What marriage advice would you give your younger self?