“What advice would you give to a future young wife?” -Alyson, on Facebook
I’ve written it the way I have because Alyson asked for advice specifically within the context of her being a young bride, but this advice applies to young and not-so-young women (and men!). No need to tune out if you’re not a young bride 😉
Here are 3 things I wish I’d done before marrying young.
1. Get your finances in order
Save as much money as you can, and learn how to budget. Seriously. Don’t assume your husband will take care of it. Even if he does end up being the one who handles finances, there’s no reason for you to be left in the dark!
2. Learn how to disagree healthily
For a long time, when Josh and I would argue, I’d feel so uneasy and guilty. I felt like it was my responsibility to make sure we were “okay” and I’d repress my feelings in the pursuit of “making us okay.” That didn’t work though, because those feelings would resurface, sometimes more intensely than before. Now, during disagreements, I focus on A) being completely honest (even if I can tell it’s hurting Josh’s feelings), B) striving to understand where Josh is coming from (even if it hurts my feelings), and C) (this is important!) working all the way through the issue, respectfully & honestly, together. So here’s my advice: don’t be codependent. It’s okay to ask for some time to process your feelings, but don’t ignore your problems. And finally, learn to recognize switchtracking. So many unnecessary miscommunications could easily be avoided if we would just take a step back, identify the differences in perspective, and talk all the way through both perspectives.
3. Sit down and talk about your expectations
You two ARE going to have different ideas of what marriage will look like. There’s no way to anticipate every difference in expectation, but y’all can minimize the frustrations if you take the time beforehand to share your ideas with each other. Maybe each of you can write a letter detailing what you imagine the everyday realities of your life together will be. Maybe answer a bunch of questions separately about what you think your marriage will look like, and then come together and discuss your answers. A pre-marital counselor can help you with this, too. Suggested topics:
- the division of chores
- how you’ll split time and holidays between your families
- how you’ll spend birthdays
- if/when you want kids
- list the most-to-least important things to spend your money on after the bills are paid (vacation, home decor, video games, date nights, giving to others, fun foods, etc). You’ll probably have different priorities, and that’s ok – but it’s good to know.
- make sure you’re on the same page about what happens when one of you wants sex but the other isn’t feeling it
- how often you’ll each need time to yourself (with or without your friends)
- is one of you an introvert and the other an extrovert? How will y’all handle when one of you needs space and the other needs company?
Honestly, the biggest and most important piece of advice I can give to young wives (and husbands!) is to keep your communication lines open. Every marriage faces its own unique difficulties, but if both of you are committed to honest & thorough communication, you’ll be equipped to face anything that comes your way 🙂