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Mawage is what bwings us togevah, today

By Maralise Petersen

Christie loves to run, shop, take photos and write about her crazy kids and darling husband.  She’s a movie buff extraordinaire but tries really hard not to bring up Braveheart references during Relief Society.  She blogs at These are a Few of My Favorite Things.  Welcome Christie!

I was reading one of my favorite blogs today, and was very excited to hear that Nicole is getting married. She was asking her readers for marriage advice, and it got me thinking.

What would I say to this goofy-looking girl, knowing what I know now, after almost 15 years of marriage?

I’d say a lot, that’s what. Least of which would be to stop perming her hair already. Oh, and grow those bangs out a little while she’s at it. I’m pretty sure there should never be a one-inch space between your eyebrows and your bangs. Oy.

So I thought it would be fun to write a letter to myself with a few of the tidbits that have helped me along the way:
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Dear Me,

You are about to get married to a tall, skinny boy from the other side of town. He loves you all right, but he has no idea yet just how much he needs you, and you him.

You may think you want babies right away, but don’t rush yourself. Enjoy this time when it’s just the two of you. THE BABIES WILL COME. And once they do, they will never leave. And they will smell sometimes. And pee on you (and yet you will still love them). Stop wishing this time away, because in a blink, it will be gone, and you will find yourself a mother of three, with a road map of stretch marks to prove it.

In spite of what everyone will tell you, it is okay to go to bed mad at each other. Sometimes it’s better, as hurtful words are not said, and cooler heads always prevail in the morning.

You are not really that great of a cook. I’m sorry to break that to you. You can bake like nobody’s business, but cooking meat is not really your thing. And when you’re making gravy one night in your first apartment? Don’t add the paprika. Trust me on this one. The gravy will turn pink, and will be thoroughly disgusting. Your sweet husband will eat it anyway, but you will have just given him something to tease you about. Forever.

Do not be critical of your spouse, and expect the same in return from him. Never badmouth him to your friends. Instead, brag about all his good qualities. It will help you to constantly see the good in him, of which there is a lot.

Learn to pick your battles. I can promise you that after almost 15 years, he will still sling his suit over the back of a chair at the end of a long day. YOU WILL NOT FIX THIS. Stop trying. Just get over it, and be glad he is willing to work so hard for you and your family. Focus instead on ways you can make it easier for him to do his demanding job.

You must also accept that you will be ignored on Saturday afternoons from late August through November, as he will ALWAYS want to watch his favorite team play football. It is nothing personal. It is just a strange part of this man that you will never understand. Instead, get a hobby or a good book and enjoy your alone time.

Lastly, remember this: Men are like puppies; a little praise and a treat goes a long way in training them to do what you want.

With love,

You, age 34.
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What’s your best marital advice, friends? Do share.

About Maralise Petersen

(Emerita)

24 thoughts on “Mawage is what bwings us togevah, today”

  1. Thank you for the comment about not rushing into the baby thing! I got married at 19 and then waited until I was 25 to have my first child. I wanted to finish my degree, work for awhile, and get us both through college and grad school without debt. We were able to do that. When we decided to start our family, the timing was just right for my husband and I, and that's what's most important. We had to endure years of not-so-subtle hints from in-laws about when are the babies coming, but we held strong and did what worked for us. So, in that same vein, my advice is, don't listen to what everyone else says. You and your spouse will know when the time is right for you to start your family. Getting to know each other is not a cliche. You need that time. Take as much as you need.

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  2. I'm glad you said that it's ok to go to bed mad sometimes. I said that at Enrichment once and I think everyone almost died of shock– like I was saying it's ok to steal or something. I mean, am I the only one who is irrational and emotional late at night? I am always more pleasant after a good night's sleep.
    Also, I would say give your husband the benefit of the doubt. After about a year or so of marriage, I finally realized that my husband never meant to hurt my feelings. This should be obvious, right? Oh well. If he doesn't give me a compliment when I need it or if he doesn't take out the garbage right when I ask, it's not because he's trying to be mean. Ahhh, what a revelation.

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  3. Amen to getting a good night's rest before resolving a fight. I'm emotional and irrational late at night too (and when my blood sugar is low…) I have finally figured out that if I have a headache and I'm cranky at my husband and kids, I should probably take a nap or eat something! I wish I could go back and tell myself that one…

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  4. When you don't like your husband very much, remember that you love him. When you wonder whether you still love him, remember that you like him. (The feelings always come back.) Also, don't forget charity.

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  5. Don't compare your marriage to any others! Each marriage is as unique as the two individuals in it. Just because the bishop and his wife waterski together every other Tuesday doesn't mean you and your hubby are incomplete if you don't.

    Amen to going to bed mad. Our worst fights were when we didn't stop the 'discussion' to cool off.

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  6. It's unanimous. I think those of us at Segullah hereby degree that "GO to bed mad" should be the new rule of thumb. Whenever I'm asked marriage advice (or have to write something down for a bridal shower or something) that's what I say. Honestly, I think there were some fights we didn't need to have early on in our marriage because I was so afraid to go to bed angry. If I would have simply shut up and gotten some shut eye, thins would have been much better in the morning.

    Another biggie in the advice arena: using physical affection as a weapon (or as manipulation) is a baaaaaaad idea on lots of levels. It will come around to bite you sooner or later.

    Last one (and this is obvious, but still): do stuff together w/o the kids, even if it's hard to get babysitting or you're tired or you don't have any money. Maintaining that friendship is key.

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  7. The ideal is not something to use as a club or even something to judge your marriage by. Embrace where you are and move forward one step at a time. Marriage really is a journey, not a destination, a process, not an event.

    As for the kids thing, my advice is not to take anyone's advice except God's. Just pray about it and be open to His will. I say this because had we waited, we very possibly would have missed having at least one, maybe two. I was mad (yes, mad) when I got pregnant with #3, but oh, wow. How grateful I am that God is smarter than I and gave her to us before I was not able to have more. So just pray about that.

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  8. Not that I want to get the discussion too off track, but I think it's interesting how Mormons (at least the ones I am around) often will give an entire lesson on marriage and how important it is, or advice for newlyweds, and never say much about sex. Lest you get me wrong, I don't mean detailed or graphic suggestions. But I think it's not out of place to say, as you give advice, this vague but very true principle: good sex in a marriage is important. And possible. And if things are not going well for you, there are some great books out there, and fine LDS therapists if need be. It is worth taking the time to figure things out.

    Oh, and amen on the it's okay to go to bed mad. I'm so grateful to my cousin for that advice. I would rather do that than stay up late and get madder and madder. (As long as we resolve things in the morning.)

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  9. You can absolutely go to bed mad. Never say things in anger that you might later regret and can't take back. If that means going to bed angry, then do so. Sometimes the issue was simply being tired, sometimes you're just both better able to talk once you aren't angry any longer.

    You don't have to have the same hobbies or spend every waking moment together either. Having some things you like to do together is great. But find some time when you can do things you like to do. Learn about something you want to learn about (not necessarily related to children) – magazines and the internet are GREAT for this. When the two of you are together it will give you more topics to talk about besides how crazy your teenagers are making the both of you.

    Always be committed to each other – even if it's the fact that there is a piece of paper that says you are together. Along the same lines as Darlene is that we always figured we always loved each other, but liking one another – NOW that was a big deal. Sometimes saying, "I like you" is the biggest compliment in our house.

    He and also figure we're doomed…. stuck forever so we might as well make the best of it 😉

    Always appreciate the fact that he's willing to try your first attempt at a new recipe – at least once – but good gracious don't tell him what's in it until he tells you if he likes it or not! (maybe not even then)

    And lastly – pray together and for each other.

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  10. Yep, I'm another one who goes to bed angry.

    I also love this "Do not be critical of your spouse, and expect the same in return from him. Never badmouth him to your friends. Instead, brag about all his good qualities. It will help you to constantly see the good in him, of which there is a lot."

    But I tend to err on the side of bragging about my gorgeous, fabulous, intelligent, loving hubby a bit too much. 😉

    Thanks for a fabulous post Christie!

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  11. I'm gonna add to Emily's comment and say that intimacy is supposed to be about both the man and the woman. I think sometimes there are still remnants of (generalizing) our grandmothers' era where it was simply a womanly duty and nothing to be enjoyed. God intended it to be something enjoyable for BOTH the husband and the wife, and it is something that is designed to bring you together. If it's not, then it's not serving its purpose and there is much potential there for growth and coming together. As Emily says, there are great books and resources out there.

    But also, just like anything in marriage, that too is a process. There are ebbs and flows throughout marriage, and lots of variables that can affect this part of your relationship. Be patient and loving and open with each other along the way.

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  12. "Men are like puppies; a little praise and a treat goes a long way in training them to do what you want."

    I realize this was supposed to be cute/funny, but I have to admit it made me cringe a little. Please don't think of your husband as a puppy. You CAN'T train him, because he isn't a thing. He isn't a child. He's an adult and he deserves your honesty and respect, not your attempted manipulation. If you treat him with kindness and respect and appreciation, yes, he'll probably treat you with the same, but doing stuff in order to manipulate your husband into doing things – not a good idea. (Shades of Dr. Laura – shudder)

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  13. I'm in with the go to bed mad advice. I can't think one rational thought after 10. Much better to sleep on it.

    I would say . . . accept each other where you're at. That's kind of like an expanded version of don't try to change him. In other words, "Don't try to change him and don't be mad about it. Really accept him." His growing process likely won't meet your expectations in timing or direction, but that doesn't mean it's bad. God knows the big picture . . . trust that His ways of working with your husband are what's best.

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  14. We have a man in our ward who is a divorce lawyer, and he has given several 5th-Sunday lessons on marriage. His biggest piece of advice: Never never never never never never ever say anything negative about your spouse in public. EVER. "In public" means to anybody who isn't you or him. And, your spouse is the one who defines what "negative" is, not you. He includes not only criticism and backbiting, but also jokes and anything that might embarrass your spouse.

    I second the advice to not try to change your spouse. I have always believed that it's extremely presumptuous to think that my way is somehow better than dh's, or that my families way of doing things is better than his family's (though I actually do think my family has somewhat healthier dynamics than his does–but I try to respect the way his family does things).

    However, if I could go back and do it again, I would try harder to have the kind of open communication we had in our early years of marriage. We've gotten into the rut of not talking about certain subjects, and it's hard to change that now.

    On the subject of babies, while I wouldn't advocate rushing right into parenthood, I wouldn't advocate waiting either. My advice would be to NEVER take your fertility for granted. Babies may not come. Fertility is such a valued blessing, and I would encourage someone to never take it lightly or assume that they can mess with it and still be able to get pregnant when they want.

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  15. His growing process likely won’t meet your expectations in timing or direction, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. God knows the big picture . . . trust that His ways of working with your husband are what’s best.

    YES! This says so much better what I was trying to say in my first comment.

    And eljee's comment gets at one reason why I think it's so important to seek God's guidance about when to have children and how many and all of that. Each of our journeys — and trials — is so personal, so different.

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  16. This discussion is making me laugh! I got married last month and my mom and I had lots of discussions on the merits of sometimes going to bed angry. I think the best metaphor I heard was from my old roommate's religion teacher, who said that he found that sometimes it just helped to "let the dishes soak overnight".

    Our first month has been pretty blissful (after a long, hard, long-distance engagement) so I haven't had to test it out myself yet… but I'm keeping it in my file for when I need it!

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  17. I also have to agree with not bad-mouthing your husband in public. I have always felt that if you're having problems, DO NOT go to your mother or your friends for comfort/help/advice. They will always take your side and try to paint him as the bad guy and many times will make things worse. Nobody really needs to know the inner workings of your relationship, and you'll have a stronger relationship if you work it out between the two of you than if you go running to your mom or your friends. (Obviously, if there is abuse DEFINITELY go to someone else!) Besides, down the road, when things are worked out between you and your marriage is fine, what your mom and your friends will remember is the fight you had when you went to them for help, and even though you may have forgiven him they may have not.

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  18. Hind sight is 20/20! I loved the part about not perming your hair anymore. We all have to learn that the hard way. And the part about men are like puppies…so true!

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  19. My husband has been telling me that he is like a dog since the early days of our relationship. It used to really bug me, because I believed people were more complex than that, and that it was an insulting oversimplification for both of us. Sixteen years later I'm starting to see that at least in certain areas it is that simple. He likes affection and food, and he is loyal, protective, and trustworthy. And he isn't much for analyzing beyond that. (although he just assured me he is NOT like a puppy, because puppies are silly, unreliable, and useless).

    I would tell myself to trust his good intentions, to build him up as a leader, and to forgive readily. Oh, and PLEASE go to bed angry. That took me years to get a handle on.

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