Before I got married, I received several pieces of advice from family and friends. You know, stuff like, "make a budget and stick to it," or "share the household duties" and "don't go to sleep mad." Although I don't agree with the "don't go to sleep mad" bit, I have to admit that some of the other advice went in one ear and out the other. The one thing that I have learned is that marriage "is hard." I say that in my best President Bush impersonation. (those of you who haven't seen the SNL skit may not get that but I know Blake will appreciate it)
Blake and I have had our share of arguments. Some big and some small. About a year ago, we were given a piece of advice that has changed our marriage.
I will dispense this information now:
Make your expectations known. Ladies, if you want chocolates, flowers and a romantic dinner for Valentine's Day, let your man know. Men, if you want your wife to be a frugal spender, you have to be vocal about it. When I first heard this I was like, "That's no fun. It won't mean as much if I have to tell Blake what I want." Here's the beauty in this though: If people that are close to you KNOW what you want and expect, then the chance of you being disappointed is slim. Also, let's be realistic. When two people get married, they come from two different families who do things two different ways; thus each person comes into the relationship with their own expectations of how things should be.
This helps with arguments. Blake and I try to remember to stop and let each other voice what we expect and/or want the outcome of the argument to be. I cannot tell you how much this helps. First, we are able to see things from each other's point of view. Then, we know what each of us expects so we can work at finding a compromise where we both feel heard.
Now, this isn't a "cure all" by any means but it has made a huge difference in our relationship. Like I said before, marriage is tough but it is sure worth it.
Disclaimer: I have no professional training in marriage and counseling.