I have been married for more than 20 years, and this month I am celebrating yet another anniversary. I was married when I was just 23, so I have been with one man almost my whole adult life. It has been quite a ride – we have grown up together. Here I am offering some tips for those women who are newly married to help you travel the path of life with the one man, out of all the others, that you chose.

I have been married for more than 20 years, and this month I am celebrating yet another anniversary. I was married when I was just 23, so I have been with one man almost my whole adult life. It has been quite a ride – we have grown up together. Pictures of us with our first child are somewhat frightening; we are so young I am surprised that those in charge let us leave the hospital with him.

I was not the marrying kind until I met my husband; my plan was to marry when I was old, at 45 or so, so I wouldn’t be lonely. A husband was not a real person, to me, but rather a device of sorts to help me navigate my golden years. Well I was wrong, as I was wrong about so much back then – marriage is the richness of my life, my prism of experience and the stability that I need to face the world and its demands. It is also the most continually surprising, fun and deeply emotional part of my life, all because of the person I married. He was tailor-made for me and sees who I really am, even when I just wake up and my hair is standing on end and I am searching for my glasses while mumbling about the need for deli meat for school lunches. He gets me – he had me at hello. So, in that spirit, I am offering some tips for those women who are newly married to help you travel the path of life with the one man, out of all the others, that you chose.

First, remember this: though you have joined together, and no man better put you asunder, you are both still individuals and need to pursue your own dreams, goals and plans. You need to give each other the space to figure out the world separately, as well as together. If your husband has hobbies of his own, let him keep and actively pursue them, as long as they are legal and take less than four hours at a time. The one exception is obsessive golf: many a young wife with little kids has been left alone over and over again on a Saturday or Sunday (or, God forbid both, when tournaments come up) because their husband has to get in 18 holes every weekend until the course is shut down for the year. Unfair! Choose an activity that takes two hours or under: bowling, tennis and chess come to mind. You have the rest of your life to golf, but your kids are little NOW. Wives, keep your activities going, the ones you were interested in prior to marriage, even though you are busy with the demands of work and/or young children. I loved to ride horses prior to marriage, and when my kids were little I worked out a deal with a local farm to ride for free in exchange for my availability should the farm owner ever want to travel and leave me in charge. Everyone was happy, particularly the horses, who were never left alone with me, as it turned out. Keep the things that make you happy as an individual after you are married. You will bring lots to the marriage by doing this – stories you can share, a happier attitude overall, and an experience that keeps you sane, which decreases resentment later when your husband has plans of his own. So go ride that horse, sail that boat or sculpt that statue.

Try not to fall into complaining about your husband when with groups of women. Never am I more uncomfortable than when I am with a large group of women that start slamming their husbands – who, in reality, are probably either at work or at home caring for the kids so that these same women can be out. Now, this isn’t to say that a good “venting” or a few jokes or comments with trusted friends isn’t sometimes in order; after all, you are human, and marriage can be hard and exhausting. But if you have a good guy at home, stay away from the husband slamming free-for-all; you always feel guilty later.

Arguing. You are gonna do it with your mate. But play fair! I do a weird thing when arguing – my vocabulary improves, and my husband needs a dictionary to participate in the fight. Sentences like, “You are derivative of everything I feared about the collaboration of two lives, and furthermore, I say, your insistence on duality while maintaining the integrity of the solitary state is affirmative of those fears.” Huh? Men and women need to choose their words carefully, and don’t beat your mate over the head with your complaints – or anything else either. And once you promise not to mention something again – don’t mention it again.

Keep your friends – especially your single friends – after marriage. Newlyweds like to nest and are exploring a whole new phase of life together, and that can be heady stuff. Newlyweds often are seen emerging on the doorstep wrapped in a bedsheet to accept a pizza from the delivery guy, and that’s all anyone sees of them for many months. Newly marrieds, stay close with your friends who are still out there without a partner, and remember to invite them to dinner and have some time with them, and let them know that they are still special to you. My girlfriends are hugely important to me, and fill roles in my life that I used to expect my husband to fill. Mistake! Friends are the spice of life.

Next week, if my husband agrees, I will bring all you newly married men tips from him on navigating life with a new wife. And if he doesn’t agree to being interviewed by me - I’ll simply hit him with some big, big words from our dictionary until he gives in!

 

You can connect with Deirdre at www.exhaustedrapunzel.com.