Marriage Ettiquette

A few weeks ago, we learned of yet another celebrity couple whose marriage, after 7 years and two children, bit the dust.  Yes, unfortunately, Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony have decided to call it quits.  Did this come as a surprise to us?  Not really.  We don’t mean to diminish their efforts to stay together or lessen the fact that they may have tried long and hard to work on their marriage before deciding to opt out and we certainly wish them all the best.

Celebrity marriages are notorious for being the most difficult to maintain because both parties are in the spotlight constantly and the press is relentless scrutinizing their every move.  For the rest of us common folk, marriage is definitely more private, certainly more normal and perhaps slightly more exhausting (because we do not have personal handlers catering to our every need.)

I’m no marriage expert, but I do know a thing or two about manners and, with lots of advice from others (and a few blogs), have put together a list of marital etiquette tips I have found that may be helpful for not only getting through, but actually appreciating, respecting and enjoying your marriage.

1.     Be Kind to Your Spouse.  When you wake up each morning and before going to bed at night, regardless of whether you had a bad day, be present for one another, smile and exchange a kiss.  Small acts of kindness go over very big in a marriage.  My fiancé, Nick, L.O.V.E.S Twizzlers candy and Dr. Pepper pop (very healthy, I know) and as whacky as it sounds, if I keep them in my house for the occasional treat, he is over the moon and somehow I gain like a million points.  Find out what your spouse’s equivalent is and make them happy once in a while.

2.     Pick Your Battles.  In almost every modern day parenting book, experts talk about picking your battles with your children and I think the same is true with your spouse. Not everything has to be a world war and sometimes being the bigger person and rising above the fray reaps the most rewards.  So your husband refuses to ask for driving directions or your wife forgets to put the toothpaste cap back on after brushing her teeth, not everything needs to be a fight.  Most importantly, never chastise or put down your spouse in front of others, in front of your children or in public.

3.     Let it Slide. Everyone is guilty of bad habits or annoying mannerisms that can bug the bejeezus out of our significant others, but it is important to know when to turn the other cheek and let things slide.  If your husband cannot remember to put the toilet seat down or your wife chews her gum like a cow, count to ten and remove yourself from the scene. Don’t get caught up in the nitpicking, it is childish and only reflects poorly on you rather than your spouse.

4.     Deal with the Issues.  Although we’re talking about regular marriages and not those of the beautiful, rich or famous, we all suffer the occasional marital issue.   For some, the major issue is snoring. I’ve heard that Judge Judy has an official ‘snoring room’ and relegates her husband there when his sinuses get out of hand.  Others may get crazy over a spouse who is fanatical about eating only organic foods or collecting figurines.  Hopefully, these issues are not deal-breakers and both parties can learn over time to live with them.

5.     Give Each Other Space.  Reading each other’s verbal and non-verbal cues is hugely important to sustaining a marriage.  There is a lot that we say, but oftentimes so much more that is unsaid, that can lead to the real trouble.  If you catch your spouse in need of some “me time” by all means give it to them.  Allowing them these moments of privacy can do wonders.

6.     Eat Together & Sleep Together.  For a marriage to have longevity, you have to take the time to eat together and sleep together.  Sharing a meal, engaging in conversation and being intimate is the basis of any sound relationship. 

7.     Forget Renew, Just Recommit.  Apparently some couples who renew their vows may actually be revealing signs that there is trouble in paradise.  Rather than going through the ceremony and fanfare of reaffirming your love for your spouse in front of hundreds, simply recommit to them personally every day. 

If you were to put together a list of marital etiquette tips, what would be at the top of your list?