Advice for a happy marriage IIIWednesday, March 23, 2011
Finally, time for Part 3 of my marriage advice trilogy. Part 1's words of wisdom, you may recall, came from a bunch of children. Their advice was questionable at best (heavily focused on triplets and bunnies). Part 2 explored the world of the 1930s housewife (think girdles and rampant sexism - also highly questionable).
For Part 3, having exhausted everything my bookshelves have to offer, I have decided to showcase the marriage advice given to us by the very people who (should) know us best - our wedding guests. Hold on to your hats, people.
As I mentioned in Part 1, I struggled to find an idea for a wedding guest book that didn't make me weirdly uncomfortable, in a very OCD kind of way. It was one of the only wedding details that really stressed me out (I know. I need to get a life). Eventually - and I mean ev-en-tu-a-lly - I decided, given that our invitations and table plan were postcard-themed, it would make sense to carry that theme on and use individual postcards for our guest book too, thus neatly avoiding the potential empty-pages-in-the-back-of-a-book Nightmare Scenario.
It took me even longer to find postcards that fit the bill. They had to be vintage-y, preferably lots of different pictures so our guests could each choose one that tickled their fancy, plus vaguely relevant to us. Oh, and cheap. Not easy. But somewhere, somehow in my internet wanderings I stumbled across the fantastic Postcards From Penguin. 100 different vintage book covers (I'm a total book worm) in one bargainous box - perfect.
(I should add, I'm not the only one who worked these into my wedding - Clare from Any Other Wedding used them as escort cards, and Kiara from Henry Reigns used hers as a photobooth backdrop - see, they're so versatile! The same publishers have also since brought out a kids' book version, Postcards from Puffin, which are too cute. Trying to think of an excuse to buy them - all suggestions welcome.)
We put the postcards out in piles and left little cards on each of the tables inviting our guests to pick a postcard, give us their top tips for a happy marriage and then leave them in an old suitcase for us to laugh at on our honeymoon. We duly gathered them up after the wedding (well, somebody did, I was pretty much a zombie at that point), shoved them back in the box they came in and we carted them off on our honeymoon with us. When we had finally recovered from the wedding enough to think about reading anything - say, two days before we were due to come home? - we cracked them out and read through each and every postcard. It was - an experience.
The advice ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous to the clearly very drunk. There is sweet, heartfelt advice from couples whom I have known and admired my whole life, and from couples whose first drunken snog I witnessed in a dodgy club. There are daft tips involving hiding in sheds. There is even a drawing of a man crushed under a giant thumb (at least, I think that's what it's meant to be. That or a giant worm).
As we flicked through the cards, a few themes began to emerge, and some genuinely helpful advice. Also, some completely random nonsense. So, without further ado, here is the definitive guide to a happy marriage, courtesy of our wedding guests and carefully whittled down by me. You're welcome.
1. "Choose the right person in the first place." Done (hopefully).
2. "Be patient with each other and be able to laugh together."
3. "Enjoy life - travel, sail, golf, dance, sing, walk on the beach." Ok. You're joking about the golf, though, right?
4. "Take time for each other! Every day and in every way."
5. "Keep the flame burning." Or the straight-to-the-point version, "Kama sutra."
6. "Don't be quick to judge! Think first."
7. "Have a way, for when you disagree, to be able to say that 'this really matters' and respect that from the other person. It makes a big difference."
8. "Never let the sun go down upon your wrath." We had many, many variations on this theme, but none so poetic as this.
9. "Sleep on the couch as little as possible. Remember Kirsty very rarely will be wrong [true] and when she is she will not be the one spending the night on the sofa [also true]."
10. I have to quote this one in full. Pay particular attention to the numbering - I think he's been taking tip (d) a little too seriously...
"(a) She's always right.
(b) Let him watch the football.
(c) Vacation together, never apart.
(d) Have a glass of wine together.
(e) You're both on the same team and want the same thing.
(f) Visit your mum regularly.
(e) [wait, what happened to (g)?] Tell each other how important the other person is when you least want to.
(g) [oh, here it is] Visit your charming cousin in Seattle." No prizes for guessing who wrote this one.
|(L) Wedding appropriate. (M) Not even remotely wedding appropriate. (R) Blog appropriate.|
11. "Be kind to each other."
12. "Tolerance in all matters. Love each other always."
13. "Always kiss goodnight."
14. "It doesn't matter what language you speak, love conquers all." From my brother-in-law and his Chinese wife, who lead by great example.
15. "If we can make it till Oct 9th it'll be 43 years [they did]. The secret is TWO TVs!"
Some of the more random responses:
"Fuckin best wedding ever!" Thanks, little bro.
"You are today's lucky winner!"
"No advice needed, you guys are awesome just the way you are!"
|My favourite postcard. Look, Fin's even wearing a kilt! My dress is lace! She's a genius.|
And there you have it. The collective wisdom of 140 of our closest family and friends. No relationship is perfect, but if we can follow even half of this, I think we'll do ok. Who knows, in 43 years I might even feel qualified to come back and give some marriage advice of my very own.