With a large pink bonnet on my head, I looked around at what would now be my new family and thought, "Well, what a strange custom." Bridal showers were a totally foreign concept to me (I'm British) and my own shower was the first one I had ever been to. One of the games we played involved my new in-laws recounting their best marriage advice. I paid attention, to be sure, but there were other "mistakes" I'm glad I made when I got married, too. That's the thing about well meaning advice: just because it works for one couple, doesn't necessarily mean it will translate to your relationship.
For instance, my mom's best marriage rule (which I have followed successfully for the past 11 years of marriage) is to never go to sleep on an argument and to never sleep separately out of anger. My husband and I have kept this promise to each other and we find it stops arguments from getting out of hand. Instead, we start each day fresh and not carrying quarrels from a previous day. However, I have a friend who hates this particular marriage rule. In fact, she finds when she is tired she can't focus and things get more heated, so she has agreed with her husband to pause arguments and continue the discussion in the morning.
That's precisely why what might be good advice to some can simultaneously be a marriage no-no to others. It's also why I am glad I made these "mistakes" when I first got married:
I Moved Across The World
A few days after we got married, I packed up all my possessions and moved across the globe. I left all my family and friends behind and traveled to a country where I knew only a handful of people. To some that would seem like a huge mistake because, well, I only had my new husband to rely on. If things hadn't of worked out I would have been all alone.
However, as a hopeless romantic, I found it to be a great adventure. It brought us even closer and was an exciting way to start our married life.
I Let Him Choose Where We Lived
I was in the United Kingdom working and we needed to find a place to live in Canada pronto, so I allowed my soon-to-be-husband to choose our apartment without me. I only saw a few online pictures before move in day but, despite sounding like a terrible plan, it worked out pretty well. We stayed there for five years and we made a lot of good memories in our first place.
I Dumped All My Friends
Not by choice, of course, but even in our connected world it's pretty hard to maintain the same level of friendship once you move to another country. People's lives evolve, you miss out on inside-jokes, and new boyfriend saga's and things just, you know, change.
I still treasure my friends from back home but I have learned to enjoy them on visits and not to expect or demand our bond to be the same as before. This allowed me to make time and space to make new friends.
I Gave Up My Career
I had a successful teaching career in the UK and when I arrived in my new home I was only able to secure work as a nanny due to a huge teacher surplus in my new city. At first I didn't think this would be a big deal and imagined I would secure a teaching position before too long. In reality, it took two years of being under-employed before I was back in the classroom. This was a hard transition but lead me to where I am today, so I can't consider it a mistake.
Getting A Joint Bank Account
Many marriage experts warn against combining your personal finances and suggest women, in particular, maintain separate accounts. However, as the person who pays the bills and manages all the finances in our family, I just find it easier to have one account to contend with. We have combined every other area of our life, so why should banking be any different?
Having Seperate Hobbies
I have always enjoyed learning new skills and love to have a hobby. Over the years I have taken dance class, competed in dragon boat competitions, learned to knit, sew, bedazzle, and (surprisingly) my husband didn't want to accompany me to any of those activities. Weird, I know.
Likewise, his interests of fishing, computer games, and pinball don't do much for me.
Having A TV In The Bedroom
Television has been blamed for everything from declining sex lives to a lack of sleep, and many "relationship gurus" claim there's no place in the marital bedroom for a TV set. Still, my husband and I love to watch TV together in bed. It's our thing and has always been part of our nightly routine, so I did and will continue to commit this marriage mistake.
I Did All The Cooking
We quickly and without much discussion took on chores and duties around the house, which pretty much lined up with traditional gender roles. He takes out the garbage and fixes stuff and I cook all the meals and do most of the cleaning. This worked for a while because I love to cook and we had very similar work demands.
However, over the years and after we became parents, we faced lay offs and I started working from home, so things had to change. Now (although there is still room for improvement) I am happy to report the household chores are a little more evenly divided.