But, before I wow you with ALL THE SMARTS, let me tell you a story.
Within the first year of our marriage it became apparent to us that most people sideline any hint of relationship insight offered by newlyweds. To be fair, the scope of our experience was limited to courtship, short engagements, newlywed matters, and wedding night jitters. Impressive. We were were given non-refundable tickets to "Starry-Eyed-Newlywed Camp" which just so happens to be right across the road from "Pre-Kid-Parenting-Ideals Camp." I also attended "Twenty-Somethings-Who-Are-Excited-To-Turn-30-So-They-Will-Finally-Be-Taken-Seriously Camp."
We just wanted some street cred, dangit.
|He was happy, I swear.|
And also, forgive me, Tweezers, for I did not
yet know your worth. Bless those eyebrows.
|See? A smirky-smile.|
|This is a shout out to all ladies everywhere|
who find themselves with dry lips by the
time you've cut the cake.
Then we were bused straight to "We're-PREGNANT?!? Camp" which hosted social nights with "Holy-Crap-We're-Actually-Adults Camp."
After that, it's all a blur. All I know is that I woke up to a camp bugle that sounded suspiciously like the flush of a low-flow toilet and self-sufficient children making their own breakfast after starting a load of laundry. Turns out, we're camp counselors. I didn't realize this until I caught myself thinking, "Why do these people keep asking for my advice? Isn't it obvious I'm winging it on about 97.9999% of what I do?" I guess that means we've got street cred. The funny thing about finally having a satchel filled to the gills with advice is that you realize how incredibly lacking your own bag truly is and always will be. You dump out the contents and begin shoveling in gems from weathered backpacks. You sit back and listen to stories from people who have seen decades upon decades of ALL THE CAMPS and you marvel at their wisdom.
So, my gems are mostly inherited from wise counselors, with a few originals in the mix. Here are the top marriage tips I've learned in fourteen years of marriage:
1. Everyone goes into marriage with some degree of rose-colored tinting on the lenses. That's OK. That's kinda how God made us. I'm more concerned about the engaged couple whose excitement level suggests jury duty is on the horizon rather than marriage.
2. Your way isn't always the best route. It just isn't. That person who proposed to you (or said "yes" to your proposal) is obviously smart. I mean, they chose you, right?!? Embrace their ideas. I guarantee you'll learn scads of nifty-ness along the journey. Think of your spouse as your personal life hack buddy.*
3. Know each others' love languages. It's the closest thing we get to a manual.
4. Short engagements aren't inherently bad. Sure, people will gossip about it.** If you know that you know that you know that this is right, why wait three years? Git-r-done, I say.
5. Skip the drama. This is not a reality TV show. You do not have a contract beyond the one attached to those vows. Ratings do not improve with each tantrum or shallow retort thrown down. Gentlemen, cherish. Ladies, respect.
6. Something must be at the center of your marriage. I strongly suggest Jesus.
7. Laugh often. Play.*** Learn.
*"Life hack buddy" needs to be added to wedding vows. Secretary, make a note of that. Thanks.
**It's so precious when people close to you ask if this is a shotgun situation.
***A year later, we were still finding stale marshmallows from The Marshmallow War of 2001. True story.