I’ve been married 10 years today. But like I said to my wife, 10 years just means we are 5th graders – we still have a lot to learn. You laugh, but honestly, don’t get too stuck on the advice in this article. I’m just a fifth grader. Ask the folks who have been married 40, 50, 60 years. They’re the ones with a badass marriage. Lindsey and I are just getting started.
In most cases, married life looks nothing like I expected. I was 24 when we got married, and even though I was in love with Lindsey, I was clueless. I had this very Southern Evangelical Christian view of what a family looked like, and boy was I in for a shock the first time my wife asked me to do the dishes, or help with the laundry, or sweep the floor. I had never seen that modeled – not by my parents or any other family members, so I thought it was my role to go to work, pay the bills, and come home to be King of the Castle.
I laugh at all the ways Lindsey and I have grown together over the past ten years.
Here’s How to Have a Badass Marriage in 10 Easy Steps
Try to out-serve each other. Instead of expecting the other person to have specific duties that is part of their “role” in the relationship, do whatever you can to out-serve them. She usually washes the dishes? Do it without asking. He usually mows the lawn? Surprise him by doing it while he’s at work. Great relationships give more than they ever take. And badass marriages give a lot of grace.
Form a unified front. Whether you are dealing with friends, family, or your children, be united. Talk to your partner first! Make a game plan and have each other’s backs.
Own your issues but don’t feel like you have to own theirs. We celebrate each other for having boundaries. We both deal with anxiety on a semi-regular basis, but we give each other space on hard days. It isn’t our job to “fix” the other.
Honest and direct communication. This should be at the top of every list for a successful relationship of any kind. Say what you need. And say what you don’t need. No one is a freakin’ mind reader. For us, this often means speaking up when we need boundaries around rest. A badass marriage starts with solid communication.
Balance the serious with the fun. I haven’t always been good at that. I used to mask everything with humor. But Lindsey consistently encourages me to speak my truth, and to work through whatever I’m recovering from. It’s still not easy for me at times, but because I adore my wife, I am willing to be vulnerable. Kick-ass marriages have good balance.
Be trustworthy. Trust is the cornerstone of any good relationship. Brennan Manning says trust and love go hand in hand. You can’t have love without trust. If you want to be a kick-ass spouse, you’ve got to earn their trust. That means that if your partner tells you something personal or hard, it goes to the grave with you. Ride or die.
Forgive quickly. Keep the small things the small things. I’ll never forget the ridiculous fight we once had over the exhaust fan in the master bathroom our first year of marriage. Decide what matters, and work it out. But if it isn’t worth a “family meeting,” let it go.
Take some time apart. A badass marriage knows not to smother each other. Let him have a guy’s night. Or leave the kids with him and go enjoy a glass of wine with the ladies. A little absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
Know which family you belong to. Your wife and/or your kids are your family now. You can honor your parents and respect your in-laws without letting their opinions control your relationship.
Don’t neglect date night. I know life is busy and babysitters are expensive, but don’t neglect time away with one another! Lindsey and I have a standing date night every Friday night. Sometimes we go out, sometimes we order pizza and stay in. Either way, we have committed to each other that our time together matters.
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Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.