The top of the wedding cake is in the freezer, the thank you notes are mailed. Now what? Most people spend more time planning the wedding than they do planning how they will join their lives together.
I want to give my daughter and future son-in-law some advice. I want to share the lessons I've learned in failure. Hindsight, they say, is 20/20.
Before beginning a journey together, decide together where you're going. Sit down and put into words what you value most in life. What are those core values that you are not willing to compromise on. Life gets busy and we get sidetracked and sometimes we forget. Create a mission statement for your family. Hang it up in your bedroom. Let it be your first thought in the morning and your last thought at the end of a long day.
It's important to know what compromise actually means. I've come to learn that compromise is not "giving in". It's not someone wins while the other loses. There will be many disagreements even in a healthy relationship, The key is how you handle them. Fighting isn't the problem, not knowing how to fight is the problem. Compromise means being willing to listen and consider what the other person is saying and then trying to find some common ground. It's in the common ground that the solution is always found. A guest on the Oprah show said that when you are in a relationship you gain a second set of eyes. Be open to seeing things from your partner's perspective. Recognizing that they are your second set of eyes. During a disagreement ask your partner "What are you seeing that I'm not".
Avoid, at all cost, keeping a score card. You are both working towards the same goal.
(remember the mission statement for your family) You are on the same team. If one loses, you both lose. A win for one is a win for both. Help each other be the best person you can be. Build each other up, don't tear each other down. Remember if one loses you both lose.
Communication is the key to both success and failure. Remember that words are like toothpaste, Once they're out they can never be taken back. That doesn't mean holding back your feelings to avoid a fight, that causes anger and resentment. It doesn't mean using your words like a baseball bat. They leave a ripple in the heart of your partner that can never be smoothed out. It means learning to talk openly and honestly to your partner about what you need and how you feel. For that to happen there needs to be trust.
Protect each others heart and soul as if you have been entrusted with the most precious jewels in the world. Because you have. Ask your partner what they need to be their best self and then help them achieve their best. When each partner values the other and supports the other to become their best self everyone wins. Experience your partners joys and successes are if they were your own.
At the end of the day.... Remember you are both on the same team working towards the same goals. Strengthen the each other because the strength of a family and a future depends on the strength of the foundation.