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Hey y’all, Tiffany here.
When my second sister was married a few years ago, I wasn’t able to make it to the wedding because it was 10 days before I had my first baby several states away.
Instead, I flew out the month prior for her bridal shower. We were given a piece of paper and asked to answer several questions. The last question asked, “What piece of advice would you like to give the bride?”
I spent a lot of time thinking about that. There was so much that I wanted to tell my sister.
It’s a joke in our family that if any of the kids wants a lecture, they don’t go to our parents, but they go to me. As the oldest, I see it as my solemn responsibility to tell my younger siblings just exactly what they should do and how it should be done.
All joking aside, as I thought about what I wanted to write on that paper, I realized I wouldn’t have enough space to say everything that I wanted to.
There are so many things that I wish I would have known at the beginning of my marriage. I am absolutely certain I’ll keep learning things along the way, but there are some things that I’ve learned that I wish every new wife or fiance understood.
**Note: these are intended for healthy relationships. If you are in an abusive relationship of any kind, please realize that these do not necessarily apply to the abusive partner.**
Men are more sensitive than you think
The stereotype is that women are emotional and sensitive, and men are clueless and insensitive. While to some extent that can be true, most of the time it’s simply inadvertent and the man is just sticking his foot in his mouth.
When I was 8 months pregnant and not feeling well, Phillip offered to carry me to the shower so I wouldn’t have to actually get up. I said, “Honey, I weight 170 pounds.” After a long pause he said, “Yeah, I guess that would be tough.”
Yep, definitely putting his foot in his mouth.
He was referring to the fact that he hadn’t worked out at the gym in a couple of months, but it just came out all wrong! I just had to laugh at him. Most of the time he then realizes what he says and starts apologizing and explaining.
I’m not always able to laugh; sometimes I cry. But he never, ever would intentionally hurt me. In fact, Phillip does everything in his power to make me happy.
Even though it may seem as though he is insensitive, the opposite couldn’t be more true. Husbands are extremely vulnerable to their wives. I wish I would have known that more at the beginning of my marriage.
Some women joke about having to “train” their husbands to clean up after themselves, etc. I’ve never appreciated that sentiment.
I remember telling my dad about a month after the wedding that Phillip was a typical guy and he was learning how to be more sensitive with an emotional woman. My dad responded:
“It is not your job to teach your husband. That’s the Lord’s job, and the world will teach him plenty in some very hard ways. Your job is to support and love your husband.”
A wife’s opinion of her husband is the most important thing in the world to him. He wants to please her. Just one word or glance has the power to make him feel as though he can conquer the world or as if he is a dismal failure.
Please remember that next time he does something silly and you just want to “go off” at him. He didn’t mean it. He loves you. He only wants to make you happy.
Your husband is a son of God
Yes, I know that we all know that we’re children of God. We sing a hymn to that effect often. But your husband is an individual, beloved child of Heavenly Father. And as discussed in the last point, he is also been placed in an extremely vulnerable position by being married to you. You have so much power in his life now.
In making sacred temple covenants, your Heavenly Father is showing tremendous trust and faith in you. In essence, He is saying,
“Here is my precious child. I am putting Him in your care. His growth, his strength, his desire to succeed will be more influenced by your treatment of him than anyone or anything in the world. Please, take care of him. Love him. Treat him well.”
Your husband would be devastated to think that you have a low opinion of him.
Because I didn’t understand these concepts the first couple of months of my marriage, I had Phillip so stressed out about pleasing me and making me happy. It didn’t help that I was so sick and there was nothing he could do about it. He would worry and stress during the day at work and school if he was making me happy enough.
Once I finally got it through my thick head just how much it hurt my husband if I wasn’t happy, I spent months and months reassuring him that I love him, that I’m happy with him, and that I think he’s wonderful. I really should have been doing that all along.
When I was in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) the branch president’s wife was giving us advice on living with companions. She said, “My husband is perfect. Not because he never makes a mistake, but because I choose to see him that way.”
Choose to see the perfection, the potential, and the love from your husband.
The Lord is a third partner in your marriage
I’ve gone into this several times on this blog, and you can read more about how to do it here.
The short gist of it is that when you are feeling frustrated with your husband, turn to God before you go to your husband. Odds are, God can help you feel better about it without you having to make your husband feel bad.
Start your marriage the right way
When we were engaged, Phillip’s stake president gave him this piece of advice:
“At the end of your wedding day, when you get to the hotel, sit down and write in your journal before you go to bed. Even waiting that one night to write will cause you to lose a lot of the emotion and memory of the day.”
I am so glad that we did that. I recently read Phillip’s entry from that day, and it was extremely touching.
Another friend gave me this advice:
“Before going to bed that night, read your scriptures and say a prayer. You’ve just started a new family, and you should start it the right way.”
We did that, after I had showered and gotten ready for bed, and it brought the Spirit into that first night, our honeymoon, and our marriage. It set the tone of having the Lord as the third partner in our marriage, and helped make our wedding night beautiful.
Sitting and reading and praying together for the first time in that romantic bed and breakfast is probably what I remember most about our honeymoon. Each time I think back on it, I feel the Spirit all over again.
Pee after sex
You don’t want a urinary tract infection, especially on your honeymoon. Even if it’s only a few drops, you should always go to the bathroom after sex. For the rest of your married life.
Prepare for children, even if they’re a long way off
Along with building good habits like scripture study and Family Home Evening, you should also begin to plan temporally for children.
Begin saving: babies are expensive! The average baby birth costs around $10,000 – and the baby’s care after they’re born is another deductible because they are their own person, even in the hospital. If you have high deductibles, start planning on that financially.
Also start stocking up – a pack of diapers a month won’t break the bank for you now, but it will help when that darling poop machine comes along and you go through a giant pack a week. If you don’t have the space to store
Also buy shirts and dresses that are conducive to nursing or you’ll spend a year wearing t-shirts or breaking the bank finding new cute clothes.
In case you hadn’t realized it yet, your husband can’t read your mind!
This may come as a shock to you if you haven’t learned it already: if you want him to do something, you need to tell him.
You don’t come with a manual – if you’re sad or upset, he has no idea what to do to help. You need to tell him that you need a hug, that you want him to surprise you with flowers sometime, that he really needs to give you some space. It still comes from the heart when he does it, and he’ll eventually start to be able to predict a little bit about what to do in any given situation.
Ladies, half the time we don’t know what’s wrong or what we want, so how can he be expected to?
Don’t be afraid to talk about the hard things. Or to talk about anything, for that matter. If you aren’t sure about something, ask him!
My brother recently got into a relationship that was long-distance for a short amount of time. He called me to ask what the proper protocol was for long-distance: who calls whom, when to call, how often, etc. I told him what had worked for Phillip and me, and then I said, “But why didn’t you just ask her?”
Talking about things, no matter how trivial or embarrassing, will take out most of the drama in a relationship.
Don’t put up walls. As women, when our feelings are hurt, we tend to withdraw so that we don’t become hurt again. I can’t say it enough: do not do that with your husband. He won’t understand why, he’ll be hurt, and in the long run it can lead to infidelity.
As hard and painful as it is, keep talking. Keep trusting. Keep confiding. It’s okay if you have a fight, but go make up afterwards. Talk about it and learn from it. But stay open with one another.
Have a budget
Don’t just make a budget, but talk about it and work on it together.
For the first several months of our marriage, I would keep track of the budget and Phillip would just spend money. Not that he spent a ton, but he just wasn’t aware of how much was left in the budget. That would occasionally cause contention when he went over and our finances were so tight. We had medical bills, student loans, and a new baby on the way.
When we started sitting down once every couple of weeks so I could show it to him and ask what he thought, then things became much more smooth. Most divorces are in part caused by disagreements over finances.
Even if you have a steady income that exceeds what you spend, still build good habits by budgeting and putting money into savings. You’ll be glad that you did.
Agree on a friend
Lastly, there will be times when you’re going to need to go out and vent to your girlfriend or your mom or somebody other than your husband. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s difficult for husbands to understand because they don’t have that same need.
When they hear or find out you’ve been talking about them, especially in a negative way, it’s extremely painful (it goes back to the whole vulnerable-to-his-wife thing at the beginning of this post).
At the same time, however, if you keep all of those emotions in when you need to vent, you’ll explode. You don’t want to necessarily vent to him or you’ll hurt his feelings. But you don’t want to violate his trust by talking about your personal problems with everyone and anyone.
In order to find a balance with this, Phillip and I sat down and agreed on two friends that he felt comfortable with me talking to about personal things. He respected that I needed to have someone to talk to when I needed to vent or needed advice (even if he didn’t fully understand it).
In turn, I knew that he needed to feel safe in our relationship. He asked that these two people not be members of my family, so we agreed on two of my friends that he had met and trusted to be discrete and to give good advice.
Speak kindly about your husband
I touched on this earlier, but I can’t say it enough: please don’t ever belittle your husband in public, whether he’s there or not.
Sometimes as women in groups we “joke” about how messy our husbands are, or how inept they seem when they have to watch the kids or make dinner.
Please don’t do that.
One time my mom was at a church retreat when the women began making those kinds of comments. She felt a little uncomfortable because she never participated when that would happen. Another woman in the group had just lost her husband to cancer, leaving her with three very young children to raise alone. She said,
“I would give anything to be able to pick up my husband’s dirty laundry again if it meant he was here with me.
It silenced the women as they realized just how blessed they were to still have their partners with them.
I hope that this advice helps you and strengthens your marriage. These are things that I wish I would have understood at the beginning.Now that I do, it makes my relationship with my husband that much stronger.