If you ever got the chance to talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Maybe you’d say some encouraging words, or maybe you’d give them some advice on what to do (or not to do).
Well, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I wish I would have known before getting married and it’s got me thinking about what I would have told my newly-married self if I had the chance.
And I’m not talking about the mushy, interpersonal stuff, like how to respect your spouse or speak their love language. I’m talking about the practicals of managing a household (with another very different human being in tow).
Before I got married, I thought I had a pretty good handle on everything I needed to know for marriage. I read all the books (from “What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You” and “Love and Respect” to “The Meaning of Marriage”), did pre-marital counseling with our pastor, and talked about everything we thought we needed to talk about (ya know, like our expectations, how many kids we wanted, how to manage money, how we were raised, our values, etc.)
Because we did that, I never expected marriage to be a fairy tale. In fact, I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on expectations and I was as prepared as I could have been for conflict resolution and all the interpersonal aspects of marriage.
But, looking back, one area I wasn’t as prepared for was the functional aspect of cultivating a home, with another very different human in the same house.
Yes, I knew how to do laundry and make food to feed myself (because that’s definitely important), but I was used to doing those things on my own time and on my own terms.
But when there’s another person involved, it becomes about more than just getting tasks done, it’s about coordination and community in those daily tasks. So I thought – what the heck – I’ll do a whole podcast episode on the topic and dive into what I wish I knew before I got hitched.
Now, I know you’re probably on the edge of your seat wondering what’s on my list, so here’s the tea.
I wish I had known how to…
1. Schedule well as a team
Since Matt and I both have our own small businesses, creating structure and getting on the same page for our schedule is something we had to learn.
One of the biggest things that’s helped us in this area is creating a shared household calendar (we made one through Google).
That way, we can both see each other’s work schedules and what they have on their plate for the day and can know what to expect, how to support each other, and how to be mindful of each other since we both work from home.
2. Have positive (and fun) conversations about money
For a while after we got married, money was only talked about in stressful situations, where we would ask the other why they spent money on something. It took some time (and some help from another couple who mentored us) to have money conversations in a fruitful, healthy, and dare I say FUN, way.
What we learned is that we had to get on the sample page with what we want.
And to do that, we needed to dream together. We needed to dream about what we wanted our lifestyle, vacations, finances, work, giving, and family to look like.
Now we like to have regular “dream dates” where we can be proactive about these conversations and figure out how to reach our goals as a team.
3. Get organized without expecting the other person to change
Matt and I are organized in very different ways. I like to reduce clutter and have a place for everything while Matt is more laid back and likes to just throw his stuff in one place.
But Matt is organized in other ways. When it comes to timeliness, for example, I’m always running late, but Matt is always on time.
When we first got married, I often expected Matt to do what I do and put stuff on hooks, in drawers, and in labeled folders. Then I would get frustrated when it didn’t happen.
But instead of trying to force yourself or your spouse to change their rhythm, we’ve learned to find solutions that work for each person. For example, we got some nice baskets inside our garage door where Matt can throw his stuff, and still not have clutter in the house.
Some other ways we’ve stayed organized include having landing zones, a spot for our mail, and files for important documents.
4. Handle regular tasks and leisure time
If I could go back in time, I think I would want to spend time talking through our expectations for chores – and for leisure time.
Many couples grow up with different expectations of tasks and chores. Some may believe that if you cook, you should also do the dishes. Others might think that if you cook, the other person should clean the dishes.
If I could go back, I’d love to have some conversations to talk through the specifics. Who should handle the personal accounting and bill pay? What tasks does she like to do? What tasks does he like to do? If we both loath a task, how can we take turns or do it together? Answering those questions can really help avoid resentment or frustration over tasks.
Another question I would’ve asked before we got married is: how do you prefer to unwind or relax? Some people might relax by playing video games or watching online videos while others may relax by reading or fishing.
It can be helpful to understand what your spouse’s “me-time” looks like so you can respect it. Then have a conversation about how much time is appropriate to spend on that leisure activity.
This can be really important because we often have different ideas of what’s appropriate. By talking through these expectations, you can establish rhythms that meet the needs of both people.
5. Practice hospitality
Now that I’m married and we like to host friends and family at our house, I recognize the value of hospitality. I wish I had been more interested in learning about hospitality and cooking when I was younger.
My mom was always offering to teach me her tips and tricks, but young Jordan just wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until after I got married, I really started paying attention to her advice.
(BTW, if you’re interested, you can go way back to one of the first SHE podcast episodes I recorded and learn all about hospitality from my mom!)
6. Give yourself grace
This is a big one. There seems to be a lot of pressure from social media to make your marriage look perfect, or to be an example of the perfect couple.
But the perfect couple doesn’t exist.
Being a power couple has never been our goal. We just care about being good stewards, unified in our mission, and glorifying God in the best way we know how.
And sometimes (okay, A LOT of the time) the refinement you need to make that happen comes through failure.
Through doing it wrong, getting upset at each other, failing to get chores done, and well, being imperfect.
Managing a house and learning to do so with another individual can be complicated! I’m still learning myself and learning how to show grace in the messy middle.
What I Wish I Knew Before Getting Married
Well, there ya have it – six things I wish I knew before getting married!
For all of the tips and I’ve learned since getting married, take a listen to the full podcast episode.
- Strategies for keeping a household schedule
- How to make money conversations fun
- Ways to keep your home, files, and lives organized
- How to have conversations about household tasks and leisure time
- Why being a power couple isn’t our goal
Once you’ve listened to the episode, try out some of the suggestions, or have some of these conversations with your spouse, and let me know in the comments how it goes!
And if you want a jump start on scheduling and organizing your calendar, planning meals, and all the logistical parts of running a home, check out my free mini-course. Happy home building!