Discussion: Advice for the Newly Married

One of our readers (“NotOverIt”) last week suggested that perhaps we should all pitch in with as much advice as possible to come up with a guide book of sorts for newlyweds.

I think the title she suggested for the guide was,  “How to Avoid Screwing Up Thirty Years Down the Road.”

I thought it was a cool idea, and besides, it means I didn’t have to come up with a topic this week on my own, so what the heck!  Let’s give it a go.

So…

Let’s all try to pick a few nuggets of sage advice for our newly married friends based on your experiences and things you have learned over the years.

I would say that it doesn’t necessarily have to be geared towards infidelity either.  It can be about relationships in general, finances, kids, etc.

Here are a few that “NotOverIt” suggested to start things off:

  • Talk even when you don’t feel like it
  • Never pretend things are all right
  • Never do something you don’t feel comfortable doing in front of your spouse

I think we can come up with some really great stuff, and if so, I will compile it all into a nice little booklet. Let’s try to get at least 101 ideas (I think we can get more).  That seems to be a magic number for some reason.

And by-the-way, if anyone has an idea for topics they feel would make for a good discussion, feel free to email us with your idea at help[at]emotionalaffair[dot]org

Thanks!

Linda & Doug

 

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23 Responses to Discussion: Advice for the Newly Married

  1. C. October 12, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Read John Scalzi’s short blog post, “How To Know If You’re Cheating.” In fact, maybe married couples should read it once a year, just as a reminder…

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/06/08/how-to-know-if-youre-cheating/

  2. InTrouble October 12, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    In the book I just finished reading, When Affairs Happen to Good People…, she goes through an exercise where a couple each writes down 5 things that make them feel loved. They have to be very specific things/actions. I think if newlyweds did that, and then actually practiced them, it might help them.

    I’d also suggest to newlyweds that they get help at the first sign of problems. Especially sexual or affection related issues. They only get worse over time and they can be the hardest things to deal with yourself. It’s a very bad thing to let those things simmer and then suddenly find yourself insanely involved with a person who offers…

    Frankly, I can’t really see why young people are sometimes in such a rush to get married.

  3. InTrouble October 12, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    I forgot to add — and I really think this is so important – take care of yourself physically. IMO the whole “letting yourself go” thing is really inexcusable.

  4. ClearEyes October 12, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Don’t keep secrets from your spouse. Be open and honest about the relationships in your life…..co-workers, old friends, new friends, on-line FB friends… Keep it friendly and professional, and keep it in the light.

    Also – set boundaries for people. Don’t share your deep personal issues with those who are not your spouse and don’t let these other people share deep personal issues with you.

    Remember that these other people only show you the very best of themselves…..the side they want you to see. They will lead you to believe that they like all the same things that you do and that you could be the “perfect couple”. Don’t believe it – it’s fantasy. Don’t give your heart way.

    Invest your time and your energy into your marriage, not an illusion.

  5. Dee October 12, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Be yourself, not what you think the other one wants you to be..If you do that and then can’t keep it going, that’s when the problems will begin……and TALK to each other, not just about jobs, kids, sport etc…Have at least one deep chat a week about how you feel about each other, any small hurt you have and cherish each other above all. Don’t take your partner’s love for granted – I did and came unstuck – he now does and has no idea that I am struggling to stay with him every day.

  6. karen October 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Read the Love and Respect book together and do the workbook exercises also BEFORE getting married and then after marriage constantly give your spouse their performance on COUPLE and CHAIRS (acronyms in book).

  7. karen October 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Oops, forgot link to website for Love and Respect: http://loveandrespect.com/

  8. just me October 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Share all passwords to FB, email, etc. etc. Full access to iPods, iPads, cell phones, etc. No electronic secrets.

  9. Melvin October 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Be aware of TET ——– “The Electronic Trap”

    E-mail, Texting, Social Sites (FB, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs) are wonderful tools but they come without filters. Many EA’s have their beginnings from uncontrolled use of electronics. You have all the power. Use that power wisely for truly social use and NOT to cheat. Set boundaries and maintain them.

    • Melvin October 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      Meant to be Plural —- “The Electronics Trap”.

  10. Cindy October 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Inexcusable? Really?

  11. Notoverit October 12, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    NEVER do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of your spouse. If you think there might be something wrong with what you are doing then there probably is something wrong with doing it. Stop and think about what your spouse would say before you do something that doesn’t feel right. If you still don’t know then ask your spouse about it. I am sure you will get an answer.

    Talk, then talk some more. Don’t fall victim to the rut of being tired and just sitting in each other’s company. It’s okay to do it sometimes but not all the time. Discuss your feelings, even if they are bad ones. Always be honest about how you feel about the relationship. Keep the lines of communication open. If you have a problem, discuss it.

    SET BOUNDARIES from the beginning. Make it very clear what your expectations are with regard to old girlfriends/boyfriends and contact. Also, sorry guys, ladies tell your new spouse that an affair is not defined by sex. Guys need to know this up front. Talking and flirting can progress into some dangerous territory that can be more harmful than a one-night-stand.

    Take time to make yourself happy. Don’t always try to make the other spouse happy. Do something for yourself at least once a week. No one wants to be around someone who isn’t happy with themselves.

    Respect your spouse. Never downgrade them because they are doing something that is annoying you. It is okay to tell them that whatever it is does annoy you but for heaven’s sake, don’t make fun of them. Don’t downgrade them for any reason. None of us like to be called stupid or ignorant. After all, you married us.

    NEVER EVER PRETEND! Never pretend that everything is fine if it’s not. Pretending that the marriage is okay, the sex is okay or whatever is okay is a straight path to dissatisfaction. Be open and honest.

    I have seen it time and time again on this site that men get approached in various ways by females or vice-versa. Thus the start of an affair. Be sure to tell your spouse to tell you about their day at work, who they talked to, who they went to lunch with, what they are doing. Show interest but don’t be like an interrogator. If you constantly hear a name keep cropping up, ask about this person in an open and loving way. Don’t accuse, just ask why this person is around your spouse so much. You should also share your day with your spouse, being as open about who you spent the day with as you expect from your spouse.

    Make sure to be a visible part of your spouse’s life. What I mean by this is that you should not just be Joe’s wife or Suzy’s husband. Make appearances at your spouse’s office or job. Being a face and a person who is known makes it a tad harder for the office barracudas to move in. I know it won’t stop affairs but at least you’ll be a face and not some nameless person who’s sitting at home.

    Take care of yourself. Don’t let those extra pounds pile on and don’t become a couch potato! Keep life interesting for you and your spouse. Kids and family can hamper the fun but make sure you still make time for your relationship. Believe me, kids grow up and, although they appreciate you, they still leave. Whatever you’ve built over the years with your spouse will still be there after graduation if you continue to work on it.

    Open access to all electronic data. There should never be any secrets with regard to texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, or any electronic communication.

    Make sure you are aware of all financial matters with regard to you and your spouse. The quickest way to an argument is to find out about money spent or lost by the other spouse. Don’t bury your head in the sand and remain ignorant about finances.

    Whew! That’s for starters! Maybe later I can think of some more. Every one on this site has had wonderful suggestions about what they would have avoided had they known the slippery slope they were on before the EA or PA. Come on guys, let’s hear some!

  12. just me October 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    When you spouse has a work/social event that spouses are invited to make every effort to attend. Go even if you don’t like what they are doing to show support for your spouse and to make it general knowledge at your spouse’s workplace that you are married.

  13. just me October 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Wear you wedding rings all the time, every day. (Unless you can’t, for ex. a surgeon. Then wear it on a chain around your neck)

  14. Patsy50 October 12, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Always be truthful,honest and respect each other. Always talk to each other about your feelings and about what each one needs from the relationship. And know what the boundaries are in your marriage early on. Show appreciation and love everyday.

  15. Paula October 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Remember these conversations, don’t just have them and forget about them when it’s convenient to do so!

  16. Notoverit October 14, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    Don’t just accept what your spouse says if you believe there is a problem. The “I’m fine” responses when your instinct tells you differently are not acceptable. In a kind way, ask what the real problem is. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and your feelings. A big mistake is accepting and ignoring when you think there is a problem.

  17. Notoverit October 14, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Okay, so I have been reading through a lot of the old blog comments. I only allow myself a few everyday so that I don’t begin to obsess and get into that cycle. Remarkably, I have gleaned a few more things that newlyweds need to know.

    First and foremost – the marriage will change over time. The reasons we get married and stay together at the beginning will change into other reasons. Be prepared for that and keep reinventing your marriage to accommodate those changes.

    It takes two to make a marriage and two to break a marriage. I found that an extremely insightful comment. The responsibility for making a marriage work is not the sole duty of one spouse. Do not become the Edith Bunker of the marriage and try to make everything special. Both spouses have to work to keep the marriage strong.

    Ask for what you need and want from your spouse. There is no mind-reading in marriage. Unless you tell the other person, you are likely to become frustrated in the marriage because you are not getting what you want.

    Do not fear confrontation in your marriage. A lot of times you are afraid to voice an opinion because you don’t want to rock the boat. That is not healthy for the marriage. If there is something about what your spouse is doing or not doing, then voice your opinion about it. I am not saying yell and scream, but calmly explain why this is bothering you (Linda fell asleep on the couch and that bothered Doug – remember? But he never told her why it bothered her – they just fought about it). Marriage should be secure enough for the two of you to discuss things that are not going well between you.

    At work , NEVER be the shoulder to lean on. Find a way to disengage if someone of the opposite sex is talking to you about personal problems. That is a very slippery slope which opens Pandora’s Box. Politely tell them that perhaps there is someone else who can better help them. My personal experience was the OW kept telling my husband about her problems with HER husband and HER son (who wouldn’t speak to her). That opened the door for phone calls, texts and meetings. DO NOT give another the time or energy which belongs to your spouse.

    Be appreciative of the small things that your spouse does like taking out the garbage or emptying the dishwasher (mundane I know). AND TELL THEM you appreciate what they just did. We all need validation that our acts mean something.

    • Melvin October 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      Very good words to live by – thank you. And not just for newlyweds either.

  18. Irish Kate October 18, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Sharing time with each other is vital in marriage, we tend to become consumed with our careers, raising families, outside hobbies and interests that we don’t spend enough time with our spouses, and when I talk about time I’m not referring to an evening stuck in front of the telly too wiped out to even look at each other. I’m talking about sharing time where you talk with your spouse, you do things you enjoy together and do what you can when you can to stay connected with each other lives.

    Have fun with each other, its amazing how spending some fun time together or having a laugh really does help to keep people connected. It doesn’t matter what this is as long as its your spouse you are with. My husband and I enjoy cooking together, gardening, taking long walks, playing games and antique hunting. Before our affair we hardly spent any time together and its easy to forget just who you are sharing your life with.

    Make time for physical intimacy, by that I’m not just referring to making love but all those moments where we can benefit from some physical intimacy, a chance to hold hands, squeeze a bum, touch a shoulder, a kiss, a hug or more (if we are lucky)… I now love been greeted (or greeting) at the end of a long day with a kiss, and not just a peck either but our rule is ‘it must last for at least 30 seconds’ (the kiss that is, what may follow doesn’t have a time limit) :)

    Realize that you will evolve as you grow older, the person you are on your wedding day will not be the person you will be by the time you are 30, 40, 50 and so on, neither will your wife/husband. This is where sharing time to talk and listen to each other will help to both to evolve as a couple and you journey through life.

    Listen to what your spouse is telling you. It’s easy sometimes to just nod along at what our spouses are telling us and not focus 100% on what we are been told. Listen and respond.

    You are not perfect, your spouse is not perfect and I can assure all of you out there that the pretty/handsome co-worker is also not perfect. Marriage also isn’t perfect, but with work it can be ‘pretty damn good’ which is the best anyone can strive for in my personal opinion.

  19. Irish Kate October 18, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    That should say ‘Before his affair we hardly spent any time together’ and not ‘Before our affair we hardly spent any time together’…. ‘our affair’ may have been a little more fun than ‘his affair’ was :)

  20. Anita October 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    I think before any couple gets married you take the time to build a friendship first. Watch how that person reacts in any given situtation. See how they are around the opposite sex.
    Find out their values and morals. Are their beleifs compatibale with yours. Know their history, are they givers or takers. Do they cut others down to you, to make themselves look better.
    What kind of friends do they have. Are there addictions.
    Are they a positive person.
    A absolute must, are they christian, and do they live that life style. A person who understands that if they deny Jesus,
    that Jesus denies them when the end comes. Also a person who wants to have a marriage centered around the Lord.

  21. Anita October 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I have kind of cute story that applies to this.
    One day a person was walking down the road and it was cold outside, and the person saw a little cute snake, the snake was cold and hungery, so the person felt sorry for the snake and put it in their pocket. Now the person care very good care of the snake, fed it and kept it warm, the person even began to love the snake. Then one day the snake bit the person, and the person cried and asked the snake, why did you do that after all I have done for you. The snake looked up and said “Well you knew I was a snake.”

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