Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unsolicited Advice from a 10 Year Marriage Veteran

Ten years ago right now I was marrying Michael. Actually, I may have been hyperventilating in the car speeding to the temple because I was late due to a major hair mishap, but that's not really relevant here. All you need to know is we got married. The photographer, a really good family friend, teased Mike about his 5 o'clock shadow at 11:00 am; we weren't organized with our photos because nobody took charge; we had our reception in the gym of our church(along with all the basketball hoops and foul lines) and nobody could dim the lights, and the tablecloths were too short for the tables, and I served ice cream sundaes in February (?!), and the line was boring, exhausting, and long, and Mike's feet were blistered and bleeding, and we almost completely forgot to cut the cake and do the whole "toss the bouquet/garter thing" and when we did I was in a bad mood because of exhaustion and it showed on my face in the pictures, and then when it was time for us to leave the reception (2 hours later than planned), I hugged my sister and burst into tears because I knew I would be moving to China for a year and this was goodbye. My hair, however, remained perfect the entire day.

Were I to plan my wedding again, I would get married at 3 or 4 pm, have a nice dinner, and maybe an open house at home. I would write down exactly what I wanted out of each photo, and I would probably not serve ice cream in winter. Hair would be less of a priority. But alas, I didn't know my own taste back when I was 22. Now all I can do is hope to take complete control over my daughters' weddings, and force them to fulfill my unfulfilled dreams. (My poor mother did her best to guide me while giving me creative control, bless her heart.)

I am glad, however, that I chose to marry Mike, who is totally awesome. And I think it's a good sign that things have only gone uphill since our less-then-perfect wedding day. What if that had been the high point of our lives? I mean, a wedding is just one day, but a marriage is your whole life and then some, so it really isn't too important if you have a basketball hoop hanging over your head in your wedding pictures as long as you marry the right person. How's that for a golden nugget of advice? See? I am so seasoned! Here are some more nuggets that I have to share, roughly in the order that I learned them:

1. Bring a change of clothes and shoes on your honeymoon. You don't want to have to wear a dress and high heels the next day. It's also a good idea to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste, deoderant, and other sundries of personal grooming. Sometimes your mind is on other things!

2. Make sure to move away with your new spouse immediately, preferably to a foreign country. This may seem like a hardship, but it will teach you to really turn to each other. Moving into an apartment in the same town you grew up in may encourage you to continue relying on your mom or family members when you need something. You need to create a sense of family with your spouse in those formative months.

3. If you get called to be nursery leaders right away, try to get out of it.

4. If your husband works a twelve hour night shift and doesn't do well on inadequate sleep and has a penchant for sleep walking/talking, try to make him switch to the day shift.

5. Never sneak up on your spouse while they are in the shower and throw a small dog in there with them. It scares them and they won't let you forget it.

6. Plan on not having a baby for 2+ years, but then accidentally have one within the first year of your marriage. There's no better way to get to know each other than during an emotionally draining pregnancy and a horrifying labor/delivery!

7. This will seem like parenting advice, but actually it is marriage advice: sleep train your baby. Never think that he or she will magically start sleeping through the night at 6 months. Use a book (I recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child). If you do this, you won't be resentful towards your spouse when you are the only one getting up with the baby at night. Also, give a bottle to your newborn asap so your husband can feed the baby sometimes when you can't be there to nurse. This will greatly increase peace, harmony, and equality in your marriage, and one bottle now and then isn't going to kill your baby (take that, La Leche League!)

8. Don't try to get your spouse to quit school and become a mailman. Sometimes it's tempting because mailmen have good benefits and a steady income. But graduate school pays off in the end. And education is something you take with you forever. The mail, well, it just gets shredded and thrown away.

9. Don't get everything you want the minute you want it. Work towards something, save for it. Make goals and try to reach them. You will hate struggling in the moment, but you will look back at it with tremendous fondness and it will make you a better person and make your marriage better.

10. Try to live in a foreign country again once you have two kids. It will suck and be hard, but it will bring you all closer and give you collective memories ( as in "Remember the stinky tofu!?" "OH MAN! That stuff was sick." "How about that chicken and rice plate!?" etc.)

10. Go on dates often, but please don't refer to every Friday as "date night." That is SO college.

11. Don't use your blog to validate your happy marriage. There's just something fishy about it. Some things should be kept private.

12. Make it a rule not to "friend" ex boyfriends/girlfriends on Facebook. Again, this is just fishy.

13. Cook authentic Italian food with really good ingredients. Because even dinner should be a work of art.

14. Never compare your marriage with anybody else's. What worked for Paul and Linda McCartney may not work for you.

15. Make fun of people together.

Don't you think I should write a book? I wonder what nuggets I'll have in another ten years? Stay tuned to find out. Happy anniversay, Mike!


  1. Very funny, and congratulations. I myself forgot my HAIRBRUSH on my honeymoon.

  2. Happy Anniversary! One of my favorite memories of your wedding is when I met Mike and your mom said, "The big moment! Well.....what do you two think of each other?" Almost as awkward as when Mike busted in on our Wedding Eve slumber party. The additional advice I would add (as a 5 year veteran) is: On your honeymoon, don't take two giant bites out of the side of a piece of pizza leftover from the day before while your new husb is in the bathroom. You will never live it down.

  3. Your wedding was beautiful and tasteful. Mine was done in jewel tones. I don't go in for this "bridezilla" business. I like Mike a lot.

  4. Oh, Missy! How could I forget? Thanks for the pizza advice. It would be hard to hide bites out of the side of a pizza.

  5. Great advice and happy anniversary! I laughed out loud about the dog being thrown in the shower. Did you really do that?

  6. Happy Anniversary! Wonderful wise advice from a ten year veteran. You sound happy and in love, and what a full/interesting life you've had together. Always enjoy you're tidbits, thanks for bloging.

  7. Anniversaries are one of the special days that couples celebrate every year. This is an important occasion where couples bond out of town in resort hotels or country clubs.

  8. I love your marriage advice! Especially number 2, Aaron and I moved far away after we were married too and it was the best thing we ever did. I think I'm going to make my kids do the same when they get married.

  9. 2. Agree
    5. Love it. Laughed out load in my open air cubicle. Cold water makes for some excitement.
    9. Totally agree. patience
    12. We're all grown up now.

  10. I concur on the sleep training advice, as well as the bottle advice. I couldn't breast feed but in the two weeks I spent trying, I have never hated Ben more.

    As a side note, I always tell Ben that I wish you lived in Utah so we could be friends.

  11. Sheryl (mom-in-law)February 21, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    How well I remember your wedding. I was sick as a dog and spent all my time in bed besides standing in the line. I don't remember the ice cream but do remember the "fortune cookies". I'm glad you are happy at 10 years and counting. We love having you in the family

  12. I actually think those fortune cookies were the cutest part of my wedding. Thanks for your kind words, Sheryl (mom-in-law)! The feeling is mutual!

  13. Laughing out loud at number 5. I've never wanted a little dog before, but now I do!

  14. Love this post Carly. It's been sitting in my browser window for days until I had time to read the whole thing. It was totally worth it. Great advice. Happy anniversary!! :)

  15. I loved your list. The part about forgetting things on your honeymoon made me laugh. Tyler's bag for our honeymoon was SO big that when we got on the elevator in our hotel, the man sharing the elevator asked, "Planning to stay awhile?" We both turned beet red.