Sunday, June 29, 2014

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10 Things I Want My Daughters To Know About Marriage

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(Author Note: I know that views on marriage are changing. This list is based on my own experience in a straight marriage because it’s all I know. However, I have to assume that some of this advice is universal.)

Don’t let your husband pressure you into sex: Most likely your husband will want sex more than you expect. Don’t let your husband pressure you into things you are not comfortable with. Talk openly about sex with him. Discuss your expectations and try hard to understand his. Although sex is important, be sure that you both realize that sex is only one part of your marriage. It isn’t the whole marriage.

Don’t lower your expectations of your husband after marriage. Raise them: After marriage, it’s easy to get comfortable. I’ve never understood why this happens, because marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s easy to let things slide after marriage. To expect fewer dates, fewer flowers, fewer love letters. Don’t. In fact, expect more and you will get it. And do the same FOR him. Once you have children, those little trinkets of affection may be the only things that keep your marriage above water.

Tell him what you want as frankly, and plainly as possible: I know this sounds cliché, but men and women communicate differently. Most men speak plainly. They like the obvious to be spelled out. Rather than hoping that he will pick up on your hints, say things like, “Take me out more,” or “Don’t give me an answer, just listen to me for a while because I need to vent,” or “I’m really frustrated with the kids. It’s not you. Just let me be alone for a while and I will be fine.”

Sometimes the house will be a mess and it’s his fault, too: When I say sometimes, I mean most of the time. Especially after you have kids. He has as much of an obligation to clean the house as you do, so tell him to stop bitching and do the laundry.

Sometimes it will feel like he’s stomping on your feelings, when in fact he’s just wandering blindly: Your husband is going to forget to do things. A lot of things. He’s going to say stupid things, too. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Realize that most likely his actions or statements were not malicious. He didn’t intend to hurt you or not do something on purpose.

Don’t allow him to tell you your place or define your aspirations: When you get married, you may want to be a stay-at-home mom. Five years into marriage, you my decide you want to become a lawyer. Or perhaps when you get married you may be a lawyer, and five years in you might decide you want to become a stay-at-home mom. Your husband will most likely do something similar with his life goals. A successful marriage is one where both partners expect and support positive change.

Your husband is your partner, not your master: Never forget that you are equals.

Expect him to change with age (both physically and emotionally): Most likely your husband will get a little fatter over the years. He will grow more mature. He will go a little grey and a little bald. You will change, too. But at the same time, he will become different emotionally and intellectually. He will grow more mature. So much of a successful marriage is accepting and understanding change within your partner. As long as those changes are natural and positive, let them happen.

Don’t be afraid to frustrate your husband: This is a good thing. Keep him on his toes. Questioning his motivations and his sincerity will ultimately make him more self-aware of his actions.

Expect him to get up in the night with the kids: If your kids take after you, you are going to have some long nights. He will have a lot of excuses as to why he can’t get up. He works in the morning, and he doesn’t want to be tired at work because it’s going to make his job harder. You know what, you have to work, too. You might have a job outside the house, or you might be a stay at home mom. It doesn’t matter. You have shit to do, same as him, so expect him to help. Marriage is a partnership. Never forget that.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. 
Photo by Lucinda Higley


Stephanie said...

Interesting article, but I feel like it's almost the same as your son one.... Pressure her into sex? I wish you'd define that, because a lot of women think that even if their husbands are merely turned on by the sight of them, or when they get in bed together, or when they go out on a date, that all these things mean they are being "pressured." LOL I feel sorry for husbands, because honestly, its usually women who treat their husbands badly in marriage - I've seen it way more often than men, its just become part of our feminized, anti-male culture. I write a lot about marriage and sex at different ideas than yours, but from an equal perspective.

bp said...
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bp said...

It is very interesting that you say "its usually women who treat their husband badly in marriage." (By the way, the word 'its' is used incorrectly in that phrase - it should be the contraction 'it's.') I'd be interested in where that info was obtained. In my observations of friends, family and acquaintances I've seen both men and women treating their spouses poorly. It goes both ways - like many other things in life. It also makes sense to me that Cliff's advise to his son is similar to the advice given to his daughter since marriage is a partnership and each partner should extend the same courtesies and respect to the other.