Katie, the awesome chica behind NFP and Me is hosting a link-up as a way of celebrating her 2nd wedding anniversary. As I’ve now been married for 10 years, I figured that I’d toss in my $0.02 on the subject.
[+] Respect your spouse’s limitations. I’m a serious introvert (which may/may not surprise people) and I’m married to someone who is the exact opposite — an off-the-charts extrovert. Jon *likes* being around people and gets recharged that way. I, on the other hand, need to have time in a dark and quiet room after sharing the Peace at church. As it would look really wrong if people found me in the coat room reading a book during coffee hour in Montana, we used to take two cars to church. This way, I could leave when I felt “peopled-out” and Jon could stay and have all the conversations he needed. It also means that I need much more “alone” time than he does and I have to be really intentional about communicating this in a way that does not come across as “I don’t want to be around you”.
[+] It is occasionally OK to go to bed angry. There’s a point at which things have been discussed to death and no good is going to come out of talking/fighting about it any more for that night. There are also times when one person needs to decompress before they can really deal with the situation. In those occasions, it is actually better to just get some sleep and deal with things in the morning when everyone is not cranky and tired. I know that there is the verse in Ephesians 4 about not letting the sun go down on your anger but the point that Paul is making to them is not to let things fester. As long as you do plan to deal with it in the morning or at some point the next day, just go to bed. It will work out better.
[+] If you really can’t live without something being done a certain way, just do it yourself. You’re each going to come into the marriage with a specific way of doing things from folding laundry to loading the dishwasher. If something has to be done a specific way or at a specific time and asking your spouse to do it your way is going to start a fight, just do it yourself. It’s easier in the long run and spares the two of you a fight over why not matching socks while folding laundry is a crime that should be punishable by death.
[+] You need to be on the same page when it comes to starting a family. This was one of the reasons why Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert divorced her husband. The idea was that she would give up her career at age 30 to start a family and she wasn’t ready to do it. There were other things that contributed to her divorce (like her adultery) but that was the main one she listed. Is the wife going to stay home with the kids? Is there a compelling reason to avoid a pregnancy? (I’m assuming that anyone clicking over here from Katie’s blog is probably going to be Catholic and an NFP advocate.) Is a home birth an option? The only piece of advice I can give (other than to be on the same page) is to give yourselves some time to enjoy each other before you start having kids. It’s not to say that there isn’t life after kids — it just becomes a bit harder to get that weekend away once kids are in the picture.
Those are my thoughts on the subject. Happy “not-killing-Steven” anniversary, Katie!