Unqualified Marriage Advice
We’ve taken 11 trips around the sun as husband and wife.
In these years we’ve learned a few things about how to love each other, how to fight with each other, and how to stay together. As you can see my list is a lot more … substantial than Penn’s. Welcome to my marriage.
Lessons from our marriage, From Penn:
1. Brush your teeth after coffee.
2. If you think you are doing half the cleaning, you are doing like 20% of the cleaning
3. Give your kids all the love you can, but it’s okay for her still to be your favorite.
4. Throw out underwear, like, at least every 10 years.
5. Don’t half-ass mothers day. use your entire ass for that one.
6. DVR sports games. you can get through them in like a third of the time, which makes
watching sports less annoying to her. On that note…
7. Trying to get her into sports so she’ll watch it with you will never happen.
8. Pray together right before you go to bed.
9. Make sure she has some girl time with her friends.
10. Try your best to keep it tight. You will never be as pretty as her, but she appreciates you
11. If you found the right one, “it” will just get better and better
Lessons from our marriage, from Kim
- Go to bed angry: Listen, I know this goes against everything your mom told you about a relationship. But for us, conflict is compounded by fatigue. We are much better equipped to talk through a problem after some sleep. It’s not like every time an argument arises we take a nap, but there are times the only resolution is sleep, time, then talking.
- Be nice: I always thought it odd when spouses/partners/friends saved the worst version of themselves for the people they love the most. You’d smile when greeting an acquaintance; give the same courtesy to your partner.
- Find someone who loves you even when you wear nothing but sweatpants for six months. Having kids is really hard. (But awesome) Our children were terrible babies. Neither slept, ate, or were at all pleasant for the first few months of life. Plus, postpartum depression was kicking my ass. Big time. The anxiety of walking down the stairs while holding a newborn was near paralyzing. I call my husband the “human golden retriever.” He’s generally happy, loves a crowd, and may lick your face. (Not the last part until he’s had a few cocktails) Penn didn’t immediately understand my need to just sit in my cave of a room and rock my baby. I didn’t even have the energy to explain what was happening to me. It wasn’t his fault; it’s not something we talked about at those fun ultrasound appointments. I got professional help, medication, and allowed myself to stay in leisure wear for months. Penn drove me to appointments, left me alone when I needed my “cave time.” Then, he sang me silly songs on his guitar when the clouds parted. I am forever thankful for him.
- Learn his/her brand of crazy. Penn gets overwhelmed on Sunday nights and Monday mornings. There are so many things we want to accomplish in the week ahead and it’s dizzying. He gets antsy and is not at all like his golden retriever self (see above). I know it will pass. I know he’ll come back to me by Monday afternoon at 1:30. He gets annoyed if I constantly say to him, “It will be okay, we got this!” Sometimes I just smile, turn around, and let him work through his stuff. That’s how I deal with his crazy.
- Enjoy daydreaming. Penn and I love where we are in this life. But we love playing the “In five years…” game. What will we be doing on this day in five years? Where will we be living in five years? What kind of job will we have? It’s fun. Try it.
- Spend time apart. This one was easy for us but I know is a struggle for some friends. We book nights or weekends with our friends. He gets to have a guys’ weekend where they draft imaginary football teams, drink too much beer, and probably fart a lot. I get to go shopping or late night boozy talks in a hotel room with my girls. It’s kind of the best.
- Spend time together. This is an addition to the lesson above – not a replacement. We are guilty of letting date nights slip but we aim to have some alone time outside of the house at least twice a month. We try not to talk about work (which is hard because we work together) and we try not to let the kids dominate our discussion (which is really hard).
- Sometimes “I love you” isn’t enough. It’s a habit in our house when we hang up the phone or walk out the door to say, “I love you.” And it’s true, there’s a lot of love here. But sometimes habits become… habits and the real meaning gets lost. So I find ways to get specific – “I love the way you help Lola with her homework,” “I love how Penn Charles giggles when you two play Legos.”
- Before you criticize, find three ways to compliment. We follow this rule and it’s pure comedy. Here’s an example of a conversation that just happened: “Penn, you’re so talented, I love how hard you work for our family, and thank you for setting up the DVD player. COULD YOU ALSO FIND A WAY TO PUT YOUR FREAKING UNDERWEAR IN THE FLIPPING HAMPER THAT IS LITERALLY TWO INCHES AWAY!” It’s such an obvious formula that it makes it funny. He gets the hint and puts his drawers in the hamper .. for about a day. Sigh.
- You don’t always like him, but loving him should be easy. See above. He has some annoying habits but I love him. All of him… well, most of him. The hamper thing could improve.
- Take a flying leap. Is there something in your life you feel called to do? To change? To try? For us, it was a big one. Two and a half years ago I knew Penn needed to quit his cushy job as a news anchor to join our (then small) video production and digital marketing company (Greenroom Communications). There was no way to guarantee a paycheck. We had no real savings but I knew it was the right decision. I knew, somehow, more fulfilling work was around the corner. We held hands and made the jump. It was scary as hell, and quite honestly, continues to be. But we took this chance together and our marriage is stronger for it.
No, I’m not recommending you do something as drastic as quit your job — but have you wanted to train for a marathon? Learn to tap dance? I think you should try something off the wall, outside of your comfort zone TOGETHER. There’s a magic that happens when you and your partner are the only other people on the planet that can understand each other in a situation.
You learn together, grow together, and hopefully stay together.
Happy Anniversary to my messy, creative, and handsome husband. I’m so lucky you wanted to walk this planet with me.
Oh, and it case you’re wondering. We exchange gifts according to strict rules.