The Character Movement

Marriage Advice from a Rookie

I am relatively new to marriage. Jane and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary. Many of my friends have been married for over 25 years and many of my mentors have been married for over 50 years. Thus, in some ways, I am a rookie. Today is Valentine’s Day — a day when it is nearly impossible not to reflect on your own love relationship. I am acutely aware that my marriage to Jane is Tess’ most significant model for love and relationship.

In honor of this Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a few bits of relationship advice I’ve been given over the years.

Don’t answer the phone during dinner. I am amazed by how many people think nothing of jumping up to grab the phone to see who is interrupting a meal with those closest to them. One of the greatest gifts we can give a loved one is being present for them. One way to renew that sense of presence is to get control of the influence and interruption of our phone. Don’t answer your phone during dinner… or during a date… or during a conversation… or on a walk… or anytime you should be giving your full attention to your loved ones.

It is better to be loved than to be right. I rarely have bad nights at home, but when I do, it is usually because I forgot this piece of sage advice. As I drive home with a budding rationale over some issue in our house, I fortunately often catch myself with the question, “Do I want to try to win an argument or do I want to have a nice evening?” The quality of my evening (and my family’s evening) is usually dependent on how I answer that question.

The only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world. There are always things that Jane, Tess or I can get upset, uptight or worried about. Remembering our blessings and remembering not to sweat the small stuff is often the cure for much of what weighs on us. Remembering to play and laugh when things might be difficult is not only helpful, but is often crucial for our marriage and family. Watching Tess learn to play and laugh is joyful music to our ears.

Always say thank you. Always. It’s been said that if all one ever says is ‘thank you,” that is enough. Jane and I have a relationship ‘practice’ that each night before we fall asleep, we share five things we were grateful for during our day. It ends our day with a tone of gratitude that — even on tough days — helps us sleep well. I learned very early in our marriage that one of my five things needs to be Jane.

Helping Tess get an “A” in life includes passing on lessons of what relationships are and can be. No relationship is perfect, but they can be healthy and happy. I hope that you are enjoying the relationships in your life on this Valentine’s Day.

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