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16 Ways I Blew My Marriage

dan-pearce-16-ways

You know what blows big time?

The other night I was sitting with my family, most of whom are very successfully married. We were going in a circle giving our best marriage advice to my little sister on the eve of her wedding. It’s somewhat of a family tradition.

But that’s not what blows. What really blows is that I realized I don’t have any good marriage advice to give. After all, I’ve never had a successful marriage out of the two marriages I did have.

And so, when it was my turn, I just made a joke about divorce and how you should always remember why you loved your spouse when you first met her so that when times get tough, you can find someone new that is just like she was.

There were a couple courtesy giggles, but overall my humor wasn’t welcome in such a beautifully building ring of profundity.

They finished round one, and for some reason started into another round. And that’s when I realized. Hey. I don’t have marriage advice to give, but I have plenty of “keep your marriage from ending” advice (two equivocally different things), and that might be almost as good.

It eventually came to me again, and what I said would have been such great advice if I were a tenth as good at saying things as I was at writing them.

And so, that night, I sat down and wrote out my “advice list” for my little sister. You know… things I wish I would have known or done differently so that I didn’t end up divorced (twice). After writing it, I thought maybe I’d share it with all of you, too.

I call it my “Ways I Blew My Marriage” list. Also, for the list’s sake, I am just going to refer to “her” instead of “them” even though they almost all were true in both marriages.

1. DON’T STOP HOLDING HER HAND
When I first dated the woman I ended up marrying, I always held her hand. In the car. While walking. At meals. At movies. It didn’t matter where. Over time, I stopped. I made up excuses like my hand was too hot or it made me sweat or I wasn’t comfortable with it in public. Truth was, I stopped holding hands because I stopped wanting to put in the effort to be close to my wife. No other reason.
IF I HAD IT TO DO-OVER: I’d hold her hand in the car. I’d hold her hand on a star. I’d hold her hand in a box. I’d hold her hand with a fox. And I’d hold her hand everywhere else, too, even when we didn’t particularly like each other for the moment.
BONUS! When you hold hands in the winter, they don’t get cold. True story.
2. DON’T STOP TRYING TO BE ATTRACTIVE.
Obviously when I was working to woo her, I would do myself up as attractively as I possibly could every time I saw her. I kept perfectly groomed. I always smelled good. I held in my farts until she wasn’t around. For some reason, marriage made me feel like I could stop doing all that. I would get all properly groomed, smelling good, and dressed up any time we went out somewhere or I went out by myself, but I rarely, if ever, cared about making myself attractive just for her.
IF I HAD IT TO DO-OVER: I’d try and put my best foot forward throughout our entire marriage. I’d wait to fart until I was in the bathroom whenever possible. I’d make myself desirable so that she would desire me.
BONUS! when you trim your man hair, guess what. She returns the favor.
3. DON’T ALWAYS POINT OUT HER WEAKNESSES.
For some reason, somewhere along the way, I always ended up feeling like it was my place to tell her where she was weak and where she could do better. I sure as heck didn’t do that while we were dating. No, when I dated her I only built her up, only told her how amazing she was, and easily looked past all of her flaws. After we got married though, she sometimes couldn’t even cook eggs without me telling her how she might be able to improve.
IF I HAD IT TO DO-OVER: I wouldn’t say a damned thing about anything that I thought could use improvement. I’ve learned since my marriage ended that there is more than one right way to do most things, and that the imperfections of others are too beautiful to try and change.
BONUS! when you tell her what she’s doing right, she’ll tell you what you’re doing right. And she’ll also tell her friends. And her family. And the dentist. And even strangers on the street.
4. DON’T STOP COOKING FOR HER.
I knew how to woo a girl, for sure. And the ticket was usually a night in, cooking a nice meal and having a romantic evening. So why is it then, that I didn’t do that for her after we got married? Sure, I’d throw some canned soup in the microwave or fry up some chimichangas once in a while, but I rarely if ever went out of my way to sweep her off her feet after we were married by steaming crab legs, or making fancy pasta, or setting up a candlelit table.
IF I HAD IT TO DO-OVER: I’d make it a priority to cook for her, and only her, something awesome at least every month. And I’d remember that meat in a can is never awesome.
BONUS! candlelit dinners often lead to candlelit bow chica bow-wow.
5. DON’T YELL AT YOUR SPOUSE.
I’m not talking about the angry kind of yelling. I’m talking about the lazy kind of yelling. The kind of yelling you do when you don’t want to get up from your television show or you don’t want to go ALL THE WAY UPSTAIRS to ask her if she’s seen your keys. It really doesn’t take that much effort to go find her, and yelling (by nature) sounds demanding and authoritative.
IF I HAD IT TO DO-OVER: I’d try to go find her anytime I needed something or wanted to know something, and I’d have both gratitude and manners when I did. I always hated when she would yell to me, so why did I always feel it was okay to yell to her?
BONUS! sometimes you catch her doing something cute that you would have missed otherwise.
6. DON’T CALL NAMES.
I always felt I was the king of not calling names, but I wasn’t. I may not have called her stupid, or idiot, or any of the other names she’d sometimes call me, but I would tell her she was stubborn, or that she was impossible, or that she was so hard to deal with. Names are names, and calling them will drive bigger wedges in communication than just about anything else.
IF I HAD IT TO DO-OVER: Any time it got to the point that I wanted to call names, I’d call a time-out and come back to it later. Or better yet, I’d call her names, but they’d be names like “super sexy” or “hotness.” Even in the heat of the moment.
BONUS! she’ll call you names in better places. Like the bedroom.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

5451 comments
Jen Lutz Brandow
Jen Lutz Brandow

Dan I have enjoyed many of your posts, but this one may be the best! It comes from the heart and is dead on! Thanks for writing it, we can all learn something to help our current relationship or get ready for the next one!!!

Cristy Edwards
Cristy Edwards

I have just read both of these and WOW!!! I even noticed things that I did in my marriage that I shouldnt have. 1st marriage gone but I believe that your printout will have to become a bible for the next one (hopefully) Amazing

Sheri Andrews
Sheri Andrews

This was so sincere and well written. I'm glad it cycled back as I never read it before. I'm on marriage number two right now and I'm definitely going to follow your advice. Thank you!!

Niamh Mc Dermott
Niamh Mc Dermott

Good advice , we are all guilty of at least a few of these things

Lisa le Fae
Lisa le Fae

I like this...lots to learn from. Thanks for sharing xx

Tina M Spence
Tina M Spence

<---never married, don't need to complicate me anymore than I already am~

Karina J Mercer
Karina J Mercer

Yup. Never stop appreciating her...or she'll find someone who will.

Kristel Walker
Kristel Walker

This was the first post I ever read of yours when you posted it and I've followed you ever since! Love it!

Cara Smith
Cara Smith

My dad has been married 8 times and tries to offer me dating/relationship advice. Ya no thanks. Lol

Sunny Petrakis
Sunny Petrakis

Oh and also add "if you've been married before, don't compare your current to your ex." That's a huge one in our household. Makes me wanna punch him in the throat EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Sunny Petrakis
Sunny Petrakis

In part two you should add "if it's important to her, it's important to you and vice versa" ...I needed to read this, ps.

Connie Murphy
Connie Murphy

I read these a while before I liked your page... Did not put two and two together at all!

Tracy J. Oomen
Tracy J. Oomen

Me too! AND a broken engagement. I'm starting to think it's me and not them!

manat11
manat11

This is all fabulous. I love all of your insight. Something I've also learned from my marriage almost ending was that you have to chose to actively love your spouse every day. You cannot be lazy with your love. You can't assume that the other knows you love them, you can't assume that they will always come back when you've done something unforgivable, and that love is not only an emotion, it's a decision every day. My husband put me through the ringer,but in the end I chose my love for him over the hurt he caused me.

Kimberly Wright
Kimberly Wright

I hope ALL of my friends read this, married or not. This is fantastic. Thank you so much.

Alex Welch
Alex Welch

Jamie Lissfelt I love this blog good relationship advice

NoelleSmith
NoelleSmith

All great advice... for both people in the marriage.  The best marriage advice I ever heard was something like this:
"During the course of your marriage, you fall in and out of love with each other several times.  Life happens.  Shit happens.  Keep your vows."
I have found that to be true.  You will get through it and be stronger for it.  You can't expect to spend your life with the same person and keep that same "magical" feeling everyday, forever.  It takes work.  And at some point you will want out, and other points, so will they.  That is the whole purpose of saying your vows.  You stick it out and work on it.  And your relationship grows every time.  It gets stronger.  You get a new appreciation of each other and a deeper love and understanding. IT'S NOT EASY!!!  It gets hard.  But it so worth it.  Trust me.  (celebrating a 16 yr relationship and 15 years of marriage this year)  That is the point of the vows, to stick it out.  Even when it rough, ugly, and hard as hell.  If you can do that, you will reap the rewards of an amazing relationship who's intimacy just grows.


Krista MacLean
Krista MacLean

All reasons for past break ups. Great advise. Also Legally Blond!! Best movie ever!!!

Jill
Jill

Great post!
I am a young widow.   And the same thing applies in my case.  I if I could do it again.... I would be a WAY better wife.   So many things we don't realize until it's too late.

Clyde Campbell
Clyde Campbell

I think that I could have made this list myself,almost everything would have been the same.

Michele Membrila Zlatunich
Michele Membrila Zlatunich

I am wife no.3. Proof that men CAN learn from past mistakes and make good choices. Keep the faith.

Tandy Corbin McCardle
Tandy Corbin McCardle

This was the blog that introduced me to you. Sadly, my husband makes these mistakes every day. I am the the idiot who hangs around to be treated like I'm worthless. I don't know what I'm trying to prove.

Heather Hartley Boettcher
Heather Hartley Boettcher

I read this for the first time shortly after my divorce. It was good to be reminded of them as I find a few of them creeping into my current relationship.

Robin Holmlund
Robin Holmlund

question: Can anyone explain why some women now days seem to think they should get a fairy tale marriage instead of a reality based partnership relationship? I've noticed this many times lately...

Amy Berke
Amy Berke

You hit it in the head, as I am on my second marriage I agree with you (and am trying so very hard to do without mucking this one up) 100%

Tracy Stevens
Tracy Stevens

I've never made a list of reasons why my ex is an ex but if I did all those things would be on it...along with cheating.

Mariel Monteagudo
Mariel Monteagudo

I'll be your 3rd failed marriage but it's cool. It'll be my fault ;)