Our Rules For Marriage

We're not just planning a wedding, we are also planning for a marriage. We will write vows that we share during our wedding ceremony where we make promises to each other. But, what about all of the regular ol' day-to-day stuff?! Jay and I made a plan that on one of our anniversaries (not our wedding anniversary since that should be all fun), we will have an "annual review" of our marriage. We want to discuss what we think is working well and what we think we need to improve upon. We are all about living with intention and we practice it regularly in our relationship. I mean if you hate communicating and talking about your feelings then you would hate living in our house haha. We're not sitting around singing cumbaya and playing the banjo getting all mushy all of the time. We just keep each other and ourselves in check. We have lots of personal goals and goals in our relationship and we need to stay on course. I think that once you begin to veer off course too far and don't redirect yourself back quickly enough, you create distance between you and your partner.

I feel like there are "plateau" in marriages that people reach. Once you hit a certain plateau there is no turning back. Resentments form and dynamics change. I think people pass multiple plateaus without being fully aware of it and then once they realize it is just so hard to change a dynamaic and rhythm that was created while they weren't REALLY paying attention. I want to pay attention to my marriage. I want to pay the most attention to it of anything that I do. If I dedicate myself to my marriage completely then I will get a strong return on investment. I will give a great gift to my children one day of having a very happy home and two parents who love each other raising them.

I don't mean to give off the impression that I view marriage totally as a business exchange. I'm using words like annual review and return on investment. The thing is, it is work and it is a job. The work that I put into my relationship is the easiest work though. It comes naturally and feels so good. What I get out of it is so much greater than what I put into it. I want us both to feel like we have full love tanks all the time, regardless of whatever tough things life throws at us. I know from first hand experience that love and the unconditional support of a partner during tough times is crucial. It is the one thing that I can rely on to keep my head above water when I feel like I am drowning. Therefore, it is the most precious thing that I do. Like I said...the return on investment is SO good. So...here are some of our rules for marriage that we came up with. Of course life throws curve balls and there will be times when we need to make exceptions to some of these rules. Times like when I am recovering from surgery or we have a newborn baby. However, these are part of the foundation that we are actively choosing to lay for our marriage. We have been applying the (non child related) rules to our relationship over the past 7 years and they have worked well for us. We know that what comes in the future will be so much harder than these first 7 years and that our relationship will require much more effort and energy when kids are brought into our home.

At our "annual review," we will bring out these rules and discuss how well we are following them. We also plan on reading our vows on this day to discuss how well we are sticking to them. These guidelines are personal. They are what we decided as a team for what works for us. Each relationship is different and unique and we all have different goals and dreams. These are by no means the "right" goals. They are just what we hope our marriage will look like and we are determined to make it happen! What are some of the guidelines that you follow in your relationship? Do you have any advice for us as we embark upon our marriage? If so, please leave a comment! I always love to hear input and advice! 

Jay and Carly's Rules for Marriage

  • Look each other in the eyes when the other person is sharing something that he/she feels

  • Respect the other as a coparent who has his/her own way of parenting. Hear each other out on what that person thinks is the best child rearing move and discuss it with all opinions considered

  • Have a date at least once a week...quality time together, alone

  • Hold hands

  • Speak highly of one another, especially in front of the children

  • Go away alone at least once a year (even if it's just a weekend away close to home)

  • Cuddle

  • Put our marriage on a pedestal

  • Once a year (on the specific date), have an “annual review” with what you each think is working really well in the relationship and what each of you thinks could be going better

  • Build one another up--compliment, positively reinforce...

  • Continue to try to stay in shape and look good for each other

  • Actively listen and lend an empathetic ear when the other spouse is sharing an emotional experience or feelings

  • Come to one another first with news, for opinions…be each other’s number one

  • Conduct the relationship with intention and look at the big picture..don’t just go through the motions

  • Don't take your stresses out on your partner. Treat your partner as your number one teammate and ally who is on your side.

  • BE your partner’s number one teammate and ally. Stand by what they feel, who they are and support them. Have the other person’s back

  • Do things sometimes that make your spouse happy with a smile, even if you don't really want to

  • Do things to let your spouse know that you are thinking of him/her...send a romantic text, bring home a gift...

  • Look at each other as husband and wife in ADDITION to coparents of mom and dad

  • Build and nourish friendships as a couple and maintain a fun social life

  • Kiss, hug and grope your spouse regularly...make them feel desired and cherished

  • Trust the other person completely...to be loyal, to do a good job with the kids when alone, to take care of you…

  • Make big decisions together. Don't tell the other person what you are going to do. Discuss how you each feel, what you think and come to an agreement

  • Bridge the gap in your day to day lives. Discuss things from work and ask for input. Discuss what happened in your day at home with the kids. Don't separate it into two worlds. Let your partner get a glimpse into your day so that you remain actively engaged in all aspects of each other’s lives and don't feel like an outsider

  • Discuss when something is bothering you. Don't stonewall. Don't ignore the problem.

  • Celebrate milestones and the small victories. Relish in the good times and happiness with proper acknowledgement

  • Express problems calmly and with love behind them not hatred. Fix things before they get too out of hand and resentment builds

  • Leave love notes

  • Show your partner that you care about what he/she says. If your spouse is unhappy with an aspect of your relationship and expressed it nicely, work towards changing it. Making the change will communicate to your partner that you truly care and value what he/she feels

  • Celebrate anniversaries by doing something special

  • Have regular sex. With the exception of medical situations and extenuating circumstances, have sex at least once a week. Prioritize that connection.

  • Do simple gestures to fill your spouse’s love tank--make lunch, let the other one sleep in once kids are in the picture, bring home a favorite treat, buy a present for no reason, offer to give the other person a massage...it's the little things!

  • Don't micromanage the other person’s spending and criticize it. This communicates trust. If there is an issue, bring it up in a calm, “bigger picture” way that is not accusatory

  • Hold up your portion of the household responsibilities without being asked to do so by your partner

  • Say I love you