*Today’s post is brought to you by my friend Alli Hoff Kosik, the blogger behind Finding Plan A. Alli lives in Brooklyn and is a freelance writer for media companies such as Brit+Co., Refinery29, and Bustle (SO cool!). We both went to the same high school, and re-connected on social media after college. Her husband, Matt, also attended our high school and they were married last June!
Hi, everyone! It’s great to be spending some time with you today on Mrs K-Fit! I feel super lucky to have gotten to know Angela so well over the last few months… I only wish we’d known back at our 2,000-student high school that we should find each other and be friends 🙂
When Angela invited me to share some thoughts on a successful marriage with you, I felt a tiny bit unqualified, since my amazing husband Matt (seriously, how cute is he?) and I got married just six months ago — but then I remembered that we’ve been together for nearly eight years! In that time, we’ve definitely learned a lot about what works for us and how to keep our relationship happy and thriving. Here are my ten (newlywed) tips for marriage!
- Be silly! One of the distinguishing characteristics of our marriage is a little playful weirdness. I think my maid of honor said it perfectly in her speech at our wedding: “The three of us were sitting on the couch chatting, and then there were a few silent moments, and you just looked at each other and made a few faces and burst out laughing.” Matt and I never cease to crack each other up, and sometimes we spend weeknights just sitting around sending each other into fits of giggles with the most random jokes and comments. It’s important to keep that kind of fun and lightness in a marriage!
- Know the right time to step away from a difficult conversation. I’ll be honest — this one doesn’t come easily to me. My instinct is to talk all. the. way. through a challenging discussion. As I become more emotional, I tend to talk more, while Matt tends to get quieter. You can probably imagine that this combination can often lead us to an impasse! What’s been working well for us instead is to agree to take a break (usually at the point when one of us can sense that we’re no longer being productive) and to set a time (usually about 30 minutes later) to come back and talk more calmly. It gives each of us a chance to organize our thoughts so we can redirect in a more positive, less emotional way.
- Find passion in your personal pursuits that you can share with your spouse. Matt and I find that we are most likely to bring our best selves home to each other when we are each fulfilled in our individual jobs and activities. When I was miserable in my corporate career, I wasn’t able to be the kind of wife I wanted to be, and it was hard for me to even have a conversation with my husband after work because there was so little from my day that I actually wanted to share. Now that I’m writing full-time, I can’t wait for him to come home so I can fill him in on what I’ve been working on. Since I’m happier, I also have the emotional energy I need in order to go above and beyond and be the type of wife I want to be. Additionally, I carve out time for exercise and dates with my girl friends, too, both of which help me be the best version of myself. Matt and I both like that version better 🙂
- Be intentional with your words and your tone. While we are not perfect, Matt and I are very thoughtful about the way we talk to and about each other. Your spouse should be your biggest cheerleader! We notice that there are couples who use teasing and subtle jabs at the other’s expense as a common pattern of conversation. We firmly believe that this should not be part of our rapport. Of course, we’re only human, so sometimes we slip up, but for us, this is usually a symptom of a larger tension that needs to be worked through and not a casual, offhand comment.
- Sometimes, it’s easier to let things go. Let me tell you about something that we call “The Zone.” The Zone is an L-shaped area of our bedroom that starts on Matt’s side of the bed and extends across one wall and into his closet (the doors of which are never closed). Within one week of moving into our apartment, I realized that Matt had very efficiently covered The Zone with t-shirts, clothes hangers, scrap paper, and other random items. I am extremely clean and neat, and at first, I fought against The Zone. Fast forward a few months, and I’d decided that it really didn’t matter. Matt has given me total license to keep the rest of our apartment just the way I like it, and he happily cleans The Zone whenever we have visitors — so what’s the point in constantly arguing about something so silly? It’s important to really think about the battles you want to fight — and for me, it was OK to let The Zone go.
- Be comfortable with quiet. One of the first things I noticed about my relationship with Matt was that silences never felt awkward. Very early in our dating life, Matt offered to drive me from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC, where I went to college. A four-hour road trip is bound to include a few quiet moments, and I was worried that all of that time in the car would be uncomfortable. It actually felt very natural! Day-to-day life can be pretty low-key and uneventful, so it’s important that you and your spouse can relax into quiet time without feeling awkward. For newlyweds, it’s also important to be comfortable in the post-wedding calm, which can be a strange adjustment after months of chaotic planning!
- Find great “couple friends.” We are so lucky to have jointly befriended a few pretty incredible couples over the last few years, and I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything. Having great couples to hang out with makes for lots of fun double dates, but it has also given us a chance to learn from other relationships.
- Check in regularly about long-term plans. Matt and I try to talk about big picture topics (money, kids, where we want to live, etc.) approximately every three months (sometimes we even schedule it on the calendar!). We never want to get into a situation where those conversations feel more stressful than necessary because one of us feels like they are up against a deadline, so regular chats help keep things casual and authentic. To make it a fun date night, we splurge on our favorite take-out and buy a bottle of wine!
- No-phone time. Just like most other twenty-somethings living in 2017, Matt and I are both guilty of getting a little caught up in our phones. While we were on our honeymoon, we started implementing “no-phone time.” Any time either he or I feels that we’re both a little too distracted by our Apple-branded friends, we are allowed to invoke the no-phone rule. We also try to leave our phones at home when we go out on a date.
- Don’t forget the importance of being best friends. Naturally, marriage comes with perks (wink, wink) and responsibilities (budgeting, anyone?) that fall outside the realm of typical friendships, but Matt and I really do try to keep our best friend relationship at the core of our life together. Ultimately, there’s no one in the world that I would rather do anything with than Matt, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make him happy. When all the other stuff gets stripped away, it’s important that the integrity of those feelings stay intact so you can remember what’s really most valuable.
Photography credit: Bri Cibene