5 Things Newlyweds Should Know


I’ve been married a long time. Just to give you a hint–the year I got married, Tom Petty was “Freefalling,” Cher wanted to be “Just Like Jesse James,” and Michael Bolton just wanted to know “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” I don’t know either, but my guess is that he figured it out.

The year I got married,1989, “Steel Magnolias” ruled, “Bill and Ted” had an “Excellent Adventure” and Kevin Costner made us cry in his “Field of Dreams.” Marty McFly had to go Back to the Future (and the past, and the present) yet again. They switched Jennifers (like we wouldn’t notice!) and everybody was completely in love with Robin Williams in “Dead Poet Society.” That was 25 years ago, and I still love Robin Williams.

I guess some things never change.

In 1989, could buy a Ford Probe for a little over $12,000, a gallon of gas was less than a buck, and NASA launched the Galileo spacecraft. I graduated from high school in June, turned 18 in July, and was married by August. My sweet hubby, a mullet-crowned gentleman from exotic Southern California and I  had a mini-honeymoon (one night at the Hilton with a bottle of cheap, horrible port) and had to leave the next day because I was starting classes at Arkansas State University in Russellville the next Monday. something about a clarinet scholarship and dreams of being a band director. Oy.

Everybody, I mean everybody had advice for us once they saw we were REALLY GOING THROUGH WITH IT. Some thought I MUST BE PREGGARS  or else why would we be so stupid? I still remember some of the advice. One older church-elder type took Lee aside after the ceremony and whispered these words of wisdom: “If you’re gonna fight, fight naked.”

I’ve never looked at church elders quite the same way. Anyway, here are some things I’ve learned that I believe are beneficial to newlyweds, especially the new wife.

1. They say to never go to bed angry. This is totally crap and pretty unrealistic, because if anyone is going to say/do something stupid, there’s a 75% chance it will happen right before bed when your guard is down and you’re still laughing at Jimmy Fallon. If we never went to bed angry, we’d be pretty tired. It’s really ok to go to bed a bit mad, if you can sleep. Lee never has any trouble sleeping. We could have had WWIII and ten minutes later (or when I take a breath) he’s snoring peacefully.

Sometimes, I think it’s better to just sleep on it and see how it is in the morning. Really. A little perspective is always welcome.Not that screaming and crying all night isn’t a good time or anything.

2. Be careful with credit cards. Sometimes, all it takes is to get married and BOOM your credit is better. Something about committing to another person on paper will give you some kind of legitimacy that you couldn’t beg for before. I mean, before I got married, I couldn’t have charged a can of ravioli. I’d been married five minutes and I’m getting cards in the mail. Most newlyweds (especially younguns) are broke, so it’s so tempting to just use that VISA for a movie, a bag of groceries, a Coach Bag. Just kidding about the Coach Bag. But seriously, be careful.

3. Don’t (I repeat DON’T) complain to your mama (or sister) about your husband (or wife). You will forgive him but they will never. And nobody holds a grudge like a mama or a sister. Trust me on this!

4. Don’t make friends of the opposite sex. This is so important. If you can’t be married couple friends, then let it go. Nobody is more important than your spouse. NOBODY.

How do women especially create connections and friendships? By disclosing information, concerns, details about our lives to others. When this happens with someone of the opposite gender, it’s a recipe for a disaster. Even if it’s the most innocent of friendships, your spouse is going to have difficulty seeing it that way. And if it’s not so innocent, then that’s even worse.

5. Pick your battles. I am always a joy to live with, and I roll out of bed looking like Scarlett Johansson after a refreshing day at the beach. Ok so this isn’t true at all, and I keep thinking about Dr. Phil’s advice on this: to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and remind yourself that you are NOT a gem. That most days you look like twenty miles of hard road. And that puts it all in perspective when you want to throw a hissy fit about an annoying habit that doesn’t mean anything. For example, Lee often gets out the peanut butter, takes a spoon of it, and leaves the spoon on the counter. Why does this happen? What is the thought process? I can only assume that he thinks, in a British accent, “Well, someone will be along shortly to clean this up. Oh look! Video games!” It’s a good thing I don’t do anything annoying like that. Anyway, these things are not important, and not worth me putting a bunch of over thinking behind it, like “Well he must think I’m just his maid! I swear, this is reflective of his feelings toward me. See, the spoon is our relationship and the peanut butter is neglect. IT’S NEGLECT. And the fact that he’s leaving it on the countertop for someone else to clean up is indicative that this marriage is NOT his concern.”

Sometimes, it’s just a spoon.

What is your favorite piece of advice? Post it here.

After the Honeymoon: 6 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Marriage


Yesterday my husband and I celebrated 25 years together. I was 18 (by merely DAYS) and he was 19. Since we were married in 1989, (notice the big hair and mullet, respectively) we’ve moved about 20 times, had three kids, went back to school, dropped out of school, went back to school and finished. We’ve lost people we loved. We made friends and lost friends. We’ve fought and made up more times than I can count. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and by no means am I proclaiming myself some kind of marriage guru. I’m not. But I can share with you these 5 survival tips I’ve learned the past 25 years–I’ve been around long enough to have made many of these mistakes myself or to have seen them played out to their eventual disaster.
1. Make time to laugh together. I’ve read over and over that parents should make time for a weekly date night. I’m sorry but are you a parent? Do you have jobs, games, grocery shopping, bill paying and other life activities that take up your time? Me too! A weekly date night might be a bit of a stretch but you do have at least an hour to reconnect with the one you love, even if it’s just to talk for a moment before bed. That last hour after the kids are in bed and the dog is chewing something out of sight, talk to each other! Share funny parts of your day. If you don’t have funny parts to share, talk about the not-so-funny parts. Tip: don’t bring up stressful decisions right now. You’re trying to unwind.
2. Don’t take your kid’s side in an argument when they disagree with your spouse. Behind closed doors, you can hold your stand until the cows come home. Just really try to present yourselves as a team to the family. It’s so important. Disclaimer: I’m assuming that your marriage is abuse free here. If you or your kids are being abused, all bets are off. I don’t believe that Jesus wants that for us, and can’t ever be on board to see abuse continue.
3. Never let anyone disrespect your spouse. This goes for family members (your own teens!) as well as friends. Just don’t let them go there. Take it personally. It’s the same as if they disrespected you. In the same vein, be careful to not disrespect your spouse–in private or public. Sometimes in the day-to-day grind of mortgage paying, lawn mowing, tax filing reality, it’s easy to take out your frustrations on those we love. Try not to do this, but if you do–
4. Never be too  right to apologize. Woman up and do it. Your spouse, your family, is worth it.
5. When (not if!) your marriage is struggling, don’t isolate yourselves. Don’t be too proud to talk to someone. We have had marriage counseling in the past, sometimes through a pastor and sometimes not. That’s not always went so well, because sometimes when we are already hurting, the opinion of one person can be biased or judgemental. I’ll never forget the time we went to our pastor and the very first question he asked was about our tithing. The implication being that if we weren’t tithing our ten percent, we were asking for God’s wrath. We were giving as much as we could–and still struggling.
I think it’s better–at least it was for us–to choose a married couple you trust to talk to. Do not discuss your marital issues with someone of the opposite gender: to do so is a recipe for disaster. You are creating intimacy with someone other than your spouse and it’s not ok. But a couple you trust can be a salve for the wounded. It’s good to open up and hear good, solid advice from those who love you–and to hear that maybe it’s not as bad as you think, and that you can make it through this.
6. Stop trying to fix each other and give your irritations to God. Trust Him to address it. Little irritations sometimes turn into big problems, so be aware of your own bad habits. Is God at the center of your marriage? Ask yourself that every single day. The times I’ve felt the most alone have been when we’ve allowed God to be crowded out by other things. There have been times when our marriage has lasted only by the thinnest hair–and by the promise we made to God. When it’s 3:00 in the morning and you’ve sobbed yourself to sleep–sometimes He’s the only one who has whispered: “I’m here. You’re ok. Perservere. Don’t give up.”

Marriage is worth it, but it’s one of the hardest endeavors you’ll ever take on. Don’t go into it blind, dear one. Take nothing for granted.

It’s been through God and the help of others that we’ve made it through this 25 years and look forward to the next.