On a beautiful September afternoon, my husband and I joined hands and vowed to love each other ’til death parts us. Our friends and family gathered to celebrate and support us, and even gave us plenty of advice to ensure a happy marriage.
To be honest, the cards on which these wise words were written were rubber-banded and tucked away for safekeeping after their initial reading. But in reviewing them nearly three years later for this article, I can see which ones I should have kept handy. There have been plenty of times when this sage advice could have helped us – not just when we lose our connection, but also to maintain that secure bond.
Because I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, my wedding was heavily attended by other psychotherapists – so much of this advice comes with professional expertise. However, the nonprofessionals also offered valuable personal guidance.
Perhaps the cutest advice came from the 11-year-old twin girls who live next door. They wrote, “Get new dogs to play with. Get children. Be happy. (Smiley face.)”
Now let’s take a look at what the adults had to say and what I wished I had paid more attention to:
• Conversation, appreciation and affection are the keys to harmony. Enjoy each other every day.
• Love and take care of each other.
• Travel extensively (with empathy and fun)!
• Eat in moderation, play in excess!
• Never miss an opportunity to say, “I love you,” especially when you’re mad at each other.
• Say “yes” as much as possible. If you disagree, say, “I can see your point, but I see it differently.”
• Love, love, love.
• Cook together, walk together, watch the stars together.
• Always remember to forgive.
• Take care of your bond – keep close, connected, loving, affectionate, sexual, appreciative and grateful.
• Talk to each other always.
• Laugh a lot.
• Never go to bed angry or without dessert.
• Be kind, understanding and forgiving. Love conquers all.
• Don’t ever forget to make time for fun together.
• Say “yes” 87 percent of the time to bids for connection.
• Quoting Ogden Nash, “To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup, whenever you’re wrong admit it, whenever you’re right, shut up.”
• And finally, the most pragmatic piece, “Make this one the last!”
For my husband and me, the hardest advice to follow has been to cook together. In the kitchen, we rarely agree on how to proceed and at this point have given up. However, if we take some of the other advice to heart, such as “I don’t agree, but I see your point,” we might be able to pick up our knives and try again.
Nancy Andersen, licensed marriage and family therapist, provides counseling for couples and individuals in her Loyola Corners office. For more information, call 833-9574 or visit nancyandersenmft.com.