Tag Archives: marriage mantras

How Financially Compatible Are You?

Rock n Roll Bride Wedding | Lisa Devlin

Remember when you were a lovestruck teenager, you’d find the boy you liked and do compatibility tests to figure out if you were destined to run off into the sunset together? I seem to remember one in particular where you wrote down both your full names, assigned a number to each letter, added them together and then the higher your resulting score, the more likely you were to fall in love and have babies.

Obviously such highly scientific tests as these never amounted to anything, but there is something to be said for figuring out how compatible you are with a person before the relationship gets serious.

So when the peeps at Experian emailed me to let me know about their new financial compatibility guide, the money and relationship quiz, I couldn’t resist downing tools and giving it a whirl for myself.

It is still just a bit of fun, but there is a serious message behind the idea too. If you’re not on the same page with your future spouse on big issues such as money, children, or lifestyle choices, it is very likely the relationship will not last. Gareth and I actually did a pre-marriage course to make sure we spoke about and worked through any of our differences before we made such a big commitment. It felt a bit strange at first because when you’re engaged all you really want to be thinking about is dresses, flowers and cake, but it was definitely the best thing we’ve ever done for our relationship.

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What Does Marriage Mean To You?

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Working in the wedding industry means than when I meet new people, after the usual queries about “what makes a wedding alternative?” and “what’s the weirdest wedding you’ve seen?” are answered, our conversations often turn into a discussion about marriage.

I feel like I’ve had these conversations with a very broad spectrum of people, all with very differing thoughts on what makes a healthy marriage. I’ve met people who have sexually open relationships and others that didn’t go to bed together before they said I do. I’ve chatted with those who cohabited within days of meeting and others that are married but still chose to live separately.

Over the years, these conversations have quickly made me realise that while I might be all for the most unconventional of weddings, I really do have quite a traditional view of marriage. Sure, our roles might be slightly unusual as I’m the main breadwinner whereas Gareth takes on more of the household chores, but in terms of what it actually means to us to be husband and wife, we’re pretty damn vanilla.

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50 Husband and Wife Date Night Ideas

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Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean date night should go out the window. I actually think it’s more important to make sure to keep it up once you’re hitched. It’s all too easy for life to get in the way and to forget just how wonderful spending time together is.

Here are 50 fun and affordable date night ideas for all you lovebirds out there.

1. The supermarket challenge (aka set a spend limit, separate and go and buy each other fun gifts!)

2. Cook dinner for each other

3. Wine tasting

4. Go for a romantic picnic

5. Stargaze

6. Make something together

7. Go for brunch

8. Go to a museum or gallery

9. Hop on the train and see where it takes you

10. Model village!

11. Set up a scavenger hunt

12. At home movie night

13. Take a class together

14. Paint your bedroom

15. Go thrift shopping

16. Jumble sale!

17. Watch the sunrise or sunset

18. Go to the beach

19. Walk the dog together (if you don’t have one, just walk!)

20. Play video games together

21. Get up early and go to a car boot

22. Go bowling

23. Ice skating!

24. Play tourist in your own city

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Six Things I’ve Learnt in Six Years of Marriage

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Tomorrow is Gareth and my six year wedding anniversary. Instead of writing yet another “Oh I love him so much, he is my rock, without him I am nothing…” blog post (It’s true by the way but… well… you know… snoooooze) I thought I’d share six of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in these six short years.

1. Marriage does change things

For the better of course! When we were first married, nothing felt different. We lived together beforehand and, if I’m honest, I struggled to see what the big fuss was about. But after being married for a few years I did start to notice some changes… in both of us.

The safety and security you feel when you’re married is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Knowing that this person has chosen to be with you, and only you, for the rest of their life is quite a powerful feeling. The bond you have post-marriage is, for us anyway, so much stronger. The trivialities of the everyday don’t really matter as much, and any arguments don’t have the same devastating effect. We’re both ultimately in agreement and it’s us against the world – forever.

2. When in doubt, the relationship always comes first

I’ve given this advice to so many of my friends over the past few years and now I impart it to you! Whatever the issue, whatever the drama or trauma or stress, always remember that your relationship comes first. Period.

If you’re stressing about something external (like money, your job or a family drama), make sure you’re on the same team and you tackle it together. The worst thing you can do is shut them out, or worse still, blame them for it. Even if you don’t vocalise that blame, it can be all to easy to think things like “well if she did this differently…” or “if only he wouldn’t stand in my way…”

IT CAN BE SO HARD not to do this, but as long as you know that they are your priority, no matter what, then you won’t go far wrong.

This might sound frightfully un-feminist, but if Gareth had a problem with how much travel I was doing with The Blogcademy, for example, then I wouldn’t be doing it. He comes first. I love my job, but I love my husband more.

3. Your house is both of your homes

We have a rule in our house that neither of us (ahem, it’s really aimed at me) is allowed to buy anything ‘for the house’ without the other person’s consent. As someone who loves an impulse buy, this was difficult for me to come to terms with!

But this isn’t just my house – it’s his home too. Although our tastes might be quite different, it’s important that we agree on the things that decorate and furnish the space we both live in.

As much as I might dream of painting our front door pink and covering our dining table in glitter perspex (!!) that just isn’t going to fly with him. While his excessive wiring (it really is everywhere!) might drive me crazy, he did put up bright pink wallpaper up in our kitchen for me, so I can’t really complain!

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Marriage Mantras: 50 Pieces of Advice for a Happy Marriage

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As this Marriage Mantras series comes to a close, I thought I’d conclude with 50 bite-sized pieces of advice that you can implement today, tomorrow and forever.

1. Say “I love you” multiple times a day.
2. Spend as much time together as you can…
3. … but don’t be afraid of time apart.
4. Buy small gifts for each other. A bunch of flowers or a Mars Bar can go a long way.
5. Take baths together.
6. Eat dinner together.
7. Volunteer to do the crappy jobs.
8. Sex is important but snuggling afterwards is imperative.
9. Touch often (research consistently shows that touching more creates a stronger bond by releasing oxytocin).
10. Learn how to argue productively and without hurting each other.

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11. Write love letters.
12. Say thank you.
13. Realise that romance isn’t all flowers and chocolates. Bring a take-away home now and again… take-aways can be totally romantic.
14. Accept each other 100%.
15. Realise when it’s better to just let things go.
16. You can never kiss too often.
17. Sometimes going to bed angry is better than arguing when you’re tired.
18. Be kind, gentle and patient with each other.
19. Have a regular date night.
20. Put down your mobile phone.

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Marriage Mantras: Time Apart

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I’ve been away from Gareth for three weeks today – the longest time we’ve had apart since I was at University. I’m not going to lie, it’s been really, really difficult. As a couple that spend 99% of our time together when we’re in the same country (!) I’ve missed him terribly. Although I’ve been busy working and having an awesome time with my girls, every night I’ve been going to bed wishing he was beside me.

9. Time Apart

For many couples, spending a lot of time away from each other is an unavoidable fact of life – it might be that one of you travels a lot or works away, or it could just be that you work very different shift patterns and have limited time together each week. So just how do you do it without the relationship suffering as a consequence?

I think the most important thing is that you still need to make quality time for each other. I’ve written about this before in this series but I feel that it’s even more vital when your schedules clash or you have a lot of other stuff going on.

So how do we personally make it work? Well it sounds simple but keeping that communication going is vital. While we can’t speak on the phone when I’m on the other side of the world, daily emails and scheduling in time for online chats has been really crucial (we used to do this for hours at a time while I was at Uni – on MSN Chat, remember that!?) Otherwise, it can be very easy to get into the habit of not thinking about them because they’re not there with you. Daily communication where we share what we’ve been up to, as we would if we were together in person, has made being physically apart a whole lot easier.

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Marriage Mantras: Housework, DIY & Everything in Between

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It’s not a very sexy topic (the important things rarely are!) but working out how the two of you will run your home together is crucial. Of course the likelihood is that most of you probably already live together before you get married but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t something you should still discuss before walking down the aisle.

8. Housework, DIY & Everything in Between

I hate housework… and cleaning… and tidying… and DIY. In fact I’m always joking that I’m a “terrible wife”. The roles are very much reversed in our house, with me earning the money and him, for the most part, looking after the home. Even before I started my own business I was always the main breadwinner in our house so this set up isn’t weird for us. However it could have caused problems if we didn’t sit down and discuss it before we got married.

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Marriage Mantras: Money, Money, Money

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Money, the root of all evil. Not the most romantic thing to be discussing with your future husband or wife, but if you’re incompatible in how you view it, it can be the ruination of a relationship.

If your ideas on how money should be spent or saved are at odds with each other before you get married it can become a big problem, not only after your wedding but even throughout the planning process as you discuss how much you’re each willing to spend on every element of your wedding. You don’t necessarily have to have the same opinions, but you have to come to an agreement about it.

7. Money, Money, Money

Gareth and I view money very differently. You can probably guess that I’m a ‘spend! spend! spend!’ kinda girl. It burns a hole in my pocket and I love nothing more than shopping up a storm. I’ve never got myself into debt, had a credit card or spent money I don’t have, but I always think “I’ve worked hard for this, I deserve to have fun with it!”

Gareth is much more sensible and thinks we should be saving to pay off our mortgage (BORING!) and setting up pensions (even more boring!) But its OK that we have these differences of opinion, what matters is that we respect each other’s wishes and have an agreement in place. We have a joint account but I also have my own account for my own frivolity which he can’t complain about!

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Marriage Mantras: Letters From my Mother

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When Gareth and I got married, there was one couple we really looked up to as an amazing example, a benchmark if you will, of a successful marriage – my parents. They not only got married around the same age as I did (at 24) but they have now been married for over 30 years. Although their backgrounds were quite different (my Mum grew up in Dublin and my Dad in the UK) we admire how they always seem so happy and in love, even after all those years.

As a child, I don’t ever remember them fighting. As the oldest of three girls, I got in trouble a lot (especially as a teenager – yes, I was absolutely terrible) but they were always a team. They never allowed themselves to be played off each other. At the time this was incredibly frustrating (I honestly couldn’t get away with anything!) but looking back that’s another thing I deeply respect about them. It’s definitely something Gareth and I have learnt from them too – we are Team Williams all the way!

So as we’re just over the halfway point to this Marriage Mantras series I thought it might be kind of awesome to have a chat with my Mum and see if she had any secrets to spill. She is also a trained marriage counsellor so if anyone knows what makes for a happy and successful long term partnership, its her!

You and Dad have been married for over 30 years! What’s your secret?

We are compatible on many levels and we like and admire each other a lot, as well as loving each other. We love our family and our friends but we also enjoy being on our own. We want the same things out of life too, despite our very different backgrounds.

Yet we are not identical clones! Our gifts compliment each other so that together we are a stronger team.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt since being married?

We are both loveable, we both have significance and we can make a difference to others. We are accepted as we are – ‘warts & all’ as Dad says…

Why should people get married at all? What’s the difference from just living together?

Marriage is a public, legal, emotional and spiritual declaration of your love for and commitment to each other. Unlike just being in a long term relationship its not easy to get married – or to walk away from a marriage – so it shows your intention to love each other through thick and thin, for better for worse.

Being in a committed relationship can also make a big difference to our self esteem and our sense of being significant and loveable.

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Marriage Mantras: Making Time

Rock n Roll Bride Wedding | Lisa Devlin

It’s inevitable at this time of year. Up and down the wedding industry comes those oh too familiar rumblings through blog posts and tweets about work/life balance, wanting to spend more time with loved ones and needing some time off. As we near the end of the busy summer season, everyone is desperate for a break, a marathon of their favourite TV show and a bloody long lie in.

5. Making Time

But it shouldn’t just be when we realise we haven’t been doing it for a while that we stop and take stock. We need to constantly be setting time aside each and every day for our partner.

When you’ve been married for a while you can easily forget just how important spending quality time together is. It’s too damn easy to get into a routine and to not make the effort to step back, get away from your desk and make the time to reconnect. It can seem incredibly unromantic to have to schedule things like talking, dates and sex, but if they’re happening less and less often maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all.

And while we’re on the subject of sex, let’s not ever underestimate just how important it is. if you have differences in sexual preferences, desire or expectations it will eventually tear you apart. Make sure you’re taking about any issues around the subject before you get married. If you and your partner are unable to, or if your fiancé doesn’t see any real problem when you do, it should be a big red flag for the future of the relationship.

Rock n Roll Bride Wedding | Lisa Devlin

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Marriage Mantras: Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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A few years ago, before Gareth and I were married, I became good friends with Hannah*. She was one of those effortlessly beautiful girls, someone who you’d do a double take at if you saw her walking down the street. She was tall, stylish, funny, confident and, quite frankly, everything I wasn’t. We had mutual friends and we hit it off immediately, quickly spending a lot of our time together. She was single and the two of us would go out most weekends, making a little mischief but most of all just having a damn good time.

It was no secret that I was quite jealous of her. I wanted to be her… badly. There was just one thing I had that she didn’t – a long term boyfriend. Girl to girl rivalry is a weird phenomenon, and although I’d never wish anything bad for her, I did feel quite smug in the fact that even though she was so darn right perfect (in my eyes) I was the one in a relationship.

4. Comparison is the Thief of Joy

That all changed when she met James*. Their relationship quickly became serious and they couldn’t get enough of each other. They were one of those couples that were very comfortable being over-affectionate in public. They were clearly obsessed with each other and it showed. Hannah even got a tattoo of his name on the top of her back within two weeks!

It sounds terrible, but I was crazy jealous. Gareth and I had a fantastic relationship, but I was completely envious of their passionate, overtly sexual affair. They would shout and scream at each other loudly in the street but then be snogging uncontrollably five minutes later. There was something so wild and dramatic about their relationship, and in my slightly warped early 20s mind, this seemed very appealing.

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Marriage Mantras: It’s Not Always Sunshine & Rainbows

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(although sometimes it is)

Unless you’re some kinds of freaks of nature, it’s unlikely that you and your spouse will agree on everything. Disagreements are a fact of life but how you handle them is vital to your continued happiness. One of the things we learnt very quickly was that throwing phrases like “You ALWAYS do this…” or “You NEVER do that…” not only never resolved anything, but only succeeded in hurting the other person much more.

We’ve since made a pact to never use those phrases with each other and, as a result, are able to have much more constructive discussions rather than ending up throwing mindless insults at each other.

3. Its not always sunshine and rainbows

It’s important to remember that although arguments are a fact of married life you must never over-inflate your frustration by bringing other issues into the conversation. You must learn to accept your partner’s flaws and not use them as petty ammunition. Once you’ve resolved any issues you need to forgive each other immediately. Look forwards to the future rather than carrying any weight from the past.

Gareth and I actually handle conflict very differently. I hate any bad feelings and I like to get things resolved as fast as possible. I’m happy to go all hell for leather and bash things out to try fix them quickly, whereas he likes to take his time to think things over before talking them through. I can see why his way of handling disagreements might be the more mature option, but in the heat of the moment I always just want to say my piece!

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Marriage Mantras: Deal Breakers

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Marriage throws up some big life questions and often a wedding is just the starting block for making a lot of major decisions in very quick succession. Wedding planning discussions also invariably lead into deeper, more long-term topics. Things like if you want kids, where you want to live and what career paths are you’re each going to take. It’s no coincidence that lots of couples seem to move house or one spouse has a career change pretty quickly after saying “I do”. Making this kind of commitment often encourages us to start thinking seriously about these other things too.

2. Deal Breakers

While you might not have ever thought about it while dating, things like if you want children, where you want to live, your feelings on fidelity, how often you like you see your family, sex, money, and vices can all come up unexpectedly during the wedding planning process.

It’s important to acknowledge these gaps in your knowledge of each other as you discover them. In the haze of infatuation it can be difficult to imagine that anything could ever drive you apart, but if you don’t both lay your cards on the table before getting married they may be the things that ultimately do.

Before Gareth and I walked down the aisle, we went on a short marriage course. Perhaps an old fashioned concept but it was a requirement of the church we wanted to be married in. We dragged our heels to the first class but quickly came to understand the only motive to the classes were to strengthen our relationship. They gave us the opportunity to talk about some of these big-life-questions. We married relatively young and at 24 I hadn’t really been thinking too hard about the future until then.

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