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71 Comments

  1. Wonderful list – I agree with every one of them. In particular, I’d expand on #10 with my own suggestion:

    Dream together.

    I think this is the big thing that changes between dating and a couple years into marriage for most couples. Early on, they talk about what life could be like – their goals and ambitions – even the silly ones. Then marriage comes and routine and responsibility become the primary focus.

    When we stopped dreaming, our marriage really suffered. But a couple years ago we got it back and it has honestly been the most amazing change for us – once you’re dreaming together, you can act as a team. My experience is that my wife and I are near unstoppable when we’re working together 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      “When we stopped dreaming, our marriage really suffered. But a couple years ago we got it back and it has honestly been the most amazing change for us – once you’re dreaming together, you can act as a team. My experience is that my wife and I are near unstoppable when we’re working together”

      Perhaps the most profound words on marriage I have ever read. When dreams die a marriage stagnates. When dreams are alive a marriage flourishes. Very nice, Chris. I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for sharing, my friend. You made my weekend. Cheers.

      P.S. Have you ever considered marriage counseling as a side hustle?

      • Thank you Mr. Groovy. I can tell that you and Mrs. G have it figured out – it’s definitely an inspiration 🙂

        I’ve got a few side hustles in mind but I don’t know if I could handle that one – maybe counseling married couples on their finances? 🙂

  2. At this point, I don’t think I’ll ever want to get married. I don’t think marriage is for everyone. You hear about some rich guys who are on their fourth wife and it’s like “why don’t you admit that marriage isn’t for you?”

    I think some people like myself are just going to forever play the field. Everyone’s different, and as long as you’re upfront about it, that’s ok

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. I have a good friend from college who has married and is happy as a claim. It all depends on your temperament. If you know long-term relationships aren’t for you, it would be foolish to marry. Thanks for stopping by, Troy. And thanks for sharing your perspective.

  3. Excellent list!! I think marriages thrive when each member of the couple views the unit as a TEAM. It’s not entirely me, or you – it’s US, together, kicking a** and taking names.

    If one can remember that making decisions for the good of the team is a top priority, it can quell a lot of the squabbles.

    In the divorces I’ve seen, selfishness is a major root factor.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “It’s not entirely me, or you – it’s US, together, kicking a** and taking names.”

      Thank you, Laurie. In one simple declarative sentence, you summed up the meaning of marriage. Hope you have a wonderful Fourth. You and the hubbie are great Americans.

  4. Solid suggestions. We will be married 10 years in August. For me, it has been all about respect and teamwork. We share openly with each other and negotiate when we don’t agree. We have argued, but always in a constructive way. I agree that communication about money and goals are important to talk about regularly. That way both people are on the same page.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Mrs. Groovy and I sort of argue in a constructive way. I raise my voice on occasion and Mrs. Groovy curses like a sailor when she gets riled up. Thanks for stopping by, Dave. And congratulations on your upcoming anniversary.

  5. This one is it: Compromise—a lot.
    Marriage is a give and take. You have to take your partner’s feeling into consideration too. Also – talk to each other. Sometime two people get into the routine so much that they neglect to talk about important things.
    Getting married was a great wealth builder tool for us. I doubt either of us would be in this financial position if we were single. Go Team!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Go team! Nailed it, Joe. Every so often, around twice a year, I ask Mrs. Groovy if she’s happy with our marriage and if there’s anything she would like to see us do differently. This is how I recently found out she still has an immense fascination with Montana. And because I now know that Mrs. G dreams of having a vacation home in Big Sky country, I’m going to make that dream happen. See what happens when you’re not afraid to discuss important stuff? Thanks for stopping by, Joe. You shared a lot of wisdom with your comment.

  6. I’m not married but might as well be (dating 12 years) and this is a great list! I’m sending the ‘Be Sensitive to your Spouse’s Fears’ to my bf because he thinks my fear of spiders is hilarious…it’s not.
    We actually have semi-separate finances and that works for us. But we also have very open communication about where money is going and a detailed budget to track everything.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. Maybe it’s just a generational thing. Couples in my generation see co-joined finances as a natural byproduct of marriage. But a lot of young couples today don’t. Is that because older couples are more likely to have the male spouse as the primary breadwinner and younger couples aren’t? It’s an interesting thought. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with separate finances, as long as there’s–as you rightly pointed out–open communication of plenty of accountability (i.e., a detailed budget). Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. Your comments are a worthy contribution to our conversation.

  7. This is awesome!

    I also pick up my spouse, and the body slam to the couch or bed is usually the most fun part for me. Usually my wife’s giggle box gets turned over which means she is hysterically laughing. Good Tip!

    As far as the money situations go, honesty and openness helped us. It took a while, but sitting down and being open about our student debts, payoff terms, etc led us to be a stronger team to tackle them faster if we kept paying the minimum and feeling ashamed at talking about them. Huge moment for us.

    Also, as the new dad when you have a child no matter what just clean the bottle parts. Seriously no questions asked just do it.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I’d love to add the body slam dismount to my spouse-lifting routine but Mrs. G has chronic back problems. I got to be careful. Ah, but that’s the price of age. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. And thanks for sharing your tips on cultivating a happy marriage. “Clean the bottle parts” is money. Cheers.

  8. I wish this list was longer! #6 is amazing advice and it’s something I’m working on (patience… patience). I tease the hubby about lots of things because he’s so shy (it takes him 15 minutes to leave a blog comment so he rarely does it, he’s so shy.)

    I think Ramsey had a blow money category which should be the only expense that’s not consider financial adultery. Hubby snuck an extra mortgage payment without telling me and I’m still not letting him live it down.

    Using your wife as a weight lift isn’t weird…unless we’re both weird. I’m 100lbs and hubs picks me up all the time. I thought that’s a pretty normal thing to do…but don’t drop Mrs G.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I love it, Lily. Mrs. G only weighs a little more than you, so she’s easy to flip over my shoulder. No dropsy problems with her.

  9. This is awesome. I love this list. I learned quickly about the eye roll being a no go zone too. 🙂
    One thing that means the world to me is my wife gets up with me each day. I’m usually at work by 630 so that means she’s up at 530-6 with me and we talk and have a cup of coffee together or breakfast if we are feeling energetic. The kids are still asleep and it’s just our time together.
    She is a SAHM but works harder than me for sure. I know she could use the sleep but getting up and going to sleep together is one of the best things about our marriage for me.

    Tom @ HIP

    • Mrs. Groovy

      That’s pretty awesome, Tom. A wife who will get up early to spend time together when she doesn’t have to is one special lady.

  10. Marriage has probably been one of the best decisions we’ve made, both personally and financially. We would NEVER have been able to slash our debt if we hadn’t combined finances (we live on hubby’s salary and bank mine). Marriage isn’t for everyone, but it really has been awesome. 🙂 It’s all about finding the right match.

    • Mr. Groovy

      How true, Mrs. PP. Marriage for Mrs. G and I has been awesome as well. In fact, if we hadn’t met, our lives would surely be less fulfilling than they are now. Mrs. G would have turned into a cat lady, and I would have become a commanding officer in the Long Island militia. But happily the fickle finger of fate had a different plan for us. Thanks for stopping by, Mrs. PP. And I’m so happy that you and Mr. PP found each other.

  11. #3 has been a big one for us – Be gracious when you’re wrong. Just admitting your wrong can go a long way in solving problems. What we find is that when one of us says – “I was wrong” the other one of us quickly adds how we were wrong in some way too. We are able to move on and address the issue so much faster! One saying I’ve read is that 50-50 is for divorce and that you need to give your marriage 100%, 100% of the time. And for those with kids – putting your kids first, puts your spouse second. We love our kids more than anything and we’d do anything for them, but when we put each other first – we’re happy and our kids are too.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “50-50 is for divorce and…you need to give your marriage 100%, 100% of the time.”

      Wow, Vicki. A lot of freakin’ wisdom in your comment. Are you sure you want to leave public education? You’re the kind of people we need in our public schools.

  12. Great list.

    On nr 5, I like the addition – a lot!
    nr 7 is a golden one!
    Nr 9 is solved by our fun money concept. It is a monthly budget for our own purpose, no questions asked.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Whoa! That fun money concept of yours is an excellent idea. I think Mrs. G and I will have to explore it. Thanks, AT.

  13. Laura

    Love this 🙂 It’s straight from the heart, and I think you nailed it with the picking -up- your- spouse gesture. I would melt every time. ❤️

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! Mrs. G is definitely past the melting stage when it comes to being lifted (15 years of marriage will do that, I suppose). But it does put a big smile on her face. Thanks for stopping by, Laura. You made a little ol’ country blogger from North Carolina very happy.

  14. Excellent guide. #10 is one I wouldn’t have thought about but it’s true. Even if your common goal or interest isn’t huge, it’s important that you have one or more. I think it helps a couple to grow in the same direction.

    As for picking up your spouse, I’m happy to do it figuratively, but literally I’m just not healthy enough. I do think a sense of play and affection really helps a marriage no matter what form it takes.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Gary. You expressed the importance of having a common goal much better than I. And I hear ya about the spouse lifting. Mrs. G and I are not too far from putting that avocation to rest. My back ain’t what it used to be. I think when my lifting days are finally over, I’ll shift to just kissing her hand.

  15. Mr. and Mrs. Groovy, you two are such a sweet couple <3
    This is a great list. I especially like #7 about doing little things for each other. We've actually implemented something along the same lines for the children. I swear they are learning to be self-centered from other kids at school – we did not teach them that. Mr. Smith is always the guy holding doors open and helping clean up after any kind of party. So, we've started asking at dinner every night, "what have you done to help someone else today?" In this world that desperately needs more kindness, I'm determined to make sure at least my kids think of others.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Amen, Harmony. You and Mr. Smith rock. Teaching kids to be kind and considerate of others seems to be a dying parental function these days. Years ago I read a book by Leo Buscaglia called Living, Loving, and Learning. And in this book, Leo shared how his father always asked the kids at the dinner table what they learned that day. I always thought that was the best dinner query parents could have for their kids–until today. Your “what have you done to help someone else today” tops that. Bravo, Harmony. You made my day.

  16. Very solid advice. My number one piece of advice is to marry the right person. Well duh! I know but I see it all the time where people dated through out college, fought constantly and he was really drunk when he cheated that one time and still get married.

    Once your married though I think you should make an effort to out give the other person be as much possible. Fun thing is the more you give the more you get back.

    I like the lift them up advice. Been awhile since the wife got a good twirl.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I love it, Grant. I tell my nieces and nephews to marry good-looking nerds. Nerds aren’t perfect, but it’s doubtful they’ll bring a lot of drama (e.g., DWIs, extra-marital affairs, huge credit card bills, etc.) into a marriage.

  17. Mrs. Groovy is a keeper!!

    Not sure if I agree with the combined finances – I think for some couples, having separate accounts they own and “reconcile” expenses make more sense. It is very frustrating sometimes trying to monitor the other person’s spending habits – no matter how nice you try to be, you always come out smelling like a cheapie, or worse, you don’t love him/her enough to spare the $$.
    I like other suggestions you have though especially the one of being sensitive to your spouse’s fear. I have the same fear of high altitude and I was put in a position to be fearful of my and my children’s safety once while driving through a trail on Rocky Mountain Estate Park – my driver was not a considerate one and the entire trip became a horrible nightmare. It’s not worth the risk.

    • We took the road (The Trail Ridge – I just looked it up) at Rocky Mountain that goes to the peak which is around 12,000 feet. I wimped out at the tundra level which I believe was just below the peak. Mr. Groovy was driving and although he is a considerate driver — we were in a rental car and he forgot his glasses which he needs for driving! I was freaking out! I don’t blame you one bit, especially with your children on board.

      • Tiffany

        LOL…Not sure how Mr. G got away with driving without his “eyes” but I can picture your being frantic and panic, after all, I feel just the same…I am too young to die!! The worst is that when you fall from the top and DON’T die and you are left with a broken body – certainly I could never image myself to be bandaged up ugly or in a wheel chair. The quality of life is important and truthfully, I think in a long run, women tend to remember those “you-put-me-in-danger” moments very clearly, play by play…and you know how we can really pull them out as leverages sometimes:-) And our significant others basically look at us with one world confusing look with eyes glazed over with invisible pop-up question marks….

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Tiffany. I couldn’t agree more. I definitely married up with Mrs. Groovy. And I hear ya about how difficult it is to monitor your spouse’s spending habits. I think a workaround to this is to have targeted savings amounts and caps on consumer debt. As long as you have these two things in check, there’s really no need to monitor each other’s spending.

      • Tiffany

        I inherited my mother’s spending trait that most of my spending is to buy things functional, heck, I don’t even like jewelry for the reasons they serve little purpose for me. I have to cap down my own sense of disapproval when Mr. Dragonfly buys things that are not “functional” in my definition. For now, I think it is good that we have our finances separate but agree to contribute to our savings strategies by purchasing hard assets such as precious metals. This helps us to keep us in check on how much we need to put aside each month – we started by purchasing 5oz pure silver coins then progress from there. It’s a bit reverse from your suggestion but works as well. After we meet our monthly targeted savings goals, I don’t much frown upon his buying Dutch chocolate from Amazon.

  18. We do most of these, except we keep separate financial accounts. We tried to combine when we first married but it didn’t work – too different in our how we ran and accounted for things. Seems to work OK though, as long as we check in regularly with each other.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Barnaby. I know separate accounts work for a lot of couples. The key, as you said, is to “check in regularly with each other.”

  19. Sounds like groovy advice to me! All are very good, and I really like #10. While you may have plenty of your own interests and goals, it’s super important to have at least one grand shared goal/interest too. And you must work on it and communicate about it regularly!

    Show your love for your spouse every day!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Amy. I couldn’t agree more. Having one central goal between us really strengthened our marriage. It’s weird. Even thought we know it’s not the case, we love carrying on like “it’s us against the world.”

  20. Love it – especially the picking up your spouse tip! I agree (and practice) all of them (except I sometimes roll my eyes – but only when we’re having fun and joking around, never in a serious discussion). We’ve been married for almost 20 years, so they must work, right!?

    You know, we’ve been on one of those roads that caused me great anxiety – to the point I scooted to the middle, leaned toward the side without the steep drop off and closed my eyes. We turned around.

    I know that many couples keep separate finances, but I think combining them has been one of the best things we ever did. It’s made living on one income more doable, plus the shared goals are more workable. It’s all about transparency and partnership. I can’t imagine it any other way.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Yeah, from picking up the phone in your dorm to two kids and 20 years of life-building, I think it’s safe to say your marriage is working. I know a lot of young couples keep separate accounts, but Mrs. G and I never considered that. Mrs. Groovy and I like being a team. As you so eloquently put it, “[i]t’s all about transparency and partnership.” Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. I hope you get picked up this weekend.

  21. Great list! The three C,s communication, compromise, and cleaning, make our marriage work well!

    My dad’s advice to us before we got married, never go to bed angry at each other. I never asked him if there was a backstory to his advice, but it was a keeper too.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      My mom used to say that too.

      The other thing she said that I always remember was about raising children. Even though we don’t have any, I see how it applies when we’re around couples with children. She said a couple should always be united in front of the kids. If one parent disagrees with the other, talk about it privately. Never give kids an opportunity to divide and conquer. Invariably, when parents contradict each other I see it creating more problems for the father. Because when it comes to child-rearing, moms often get their way. I know this is a generalization but that’s what I’ve seen — a lot of emasculating of the fathers.

      • We do our best not to play good cop, bad cop in our house. My wife and I have often delayed giving one of the kids a decision until we can confer with each other.

  22. All very good suggestions, financial and non-financial. I too have had to work on not rolling my eyes or pursing my lips. Unfortunately, she can still read through my body language.

    Compromise and actively listening are two secrets of success for me and my wife.

    I like rule #9. All our finances are merged, but, we each have a small personal account where we both buy stuff for $25 or less.

    • After you purse your lips do you have a huge intake of breath? I hate that too. I’d rather Mr. Groovy say he’s busy than do either. The behavior is dismissive.

      I talk to Mr. Groovy more than he would like sometimes and I’m trying to get better at giving him his quiet space. It’s easier for me to improve my behavior now that he’s not tethered to a TV. When he was tethered to a TV there was no good time for me to talk to him.

      • Now that you mention I probably do the breath. My wife knows not to try and have a conversation with me at certain times too. Basically, if work is on my mind or if the local football team is on tv (it’s really the only time I watch tv as a married person).

        Admittedly, I am working on “being here now” more again during these times. Like when we were twitterpated as boyfriend/girlfriend and newleyweds. It’s a real bad habit to break I’m finding out.

        • Mr. Groovy

          Agreed, Josh. Tough problem. When I’m locked in a project or a television show, I can get extremely petulant when interrupted.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Josh. The only downside I’ve seen with unified finances is that it’s impossible to surprise your spouse with a gift. Since Mrs. Groovy and I aren’t big gift givers–to ourselves, that is–this isn’t too much of a problem. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. And good luck with the body language. Dealing with frustration isn’t easy.

  23. Wow thank you for the great guide! Mr. FAF and I have been married for 3.5 years, and we have had our fair share of frustration and disappointment.

    I roll my eyes at Mr. FAF a lot. Maybe I should stop. I never asked him and he never told me how he felt about that. But based on your observation, it’s definitely not pleasant.

    I like it when Mr. FAF lifts me up. But he’s been having some hip pain problems, so it’s been impossible lately. He’s also too heavy, so I don’t think I can lift him either. But maybe we can lift each other up emotionally hehe.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I once read that aside from money, the biggest problem in a marriage is when one spouse resents the other. If the eye-rolling is in fun (like Amanda mentions, below) that’s one thing. But if it’s a silent way of putting him down — then that’s something to think about.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Ms. FAF. Good luck with the eye rolling. It took me a while to break my habit–perhaps six months or so. But once I conquered it, it never came back. Now I just grit my teeth every now and then. And that doesn’t bother Mrs. Groovy nearly as much. Thanks for stopping by, Ms. FAF. It’s always a pleasure hearing from you.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Picked Mrs. Groovy up today. She was laughing hysterically. And I let her down with aplomb. Usually returning her to earth is pretty awkward. Thanks for stopping by, K.P. Hope the spouse-lifting comes in handy.

  24. Good advice, Mr. G, although the picking up thing is pretty dependent on good back health. Just saying, it won’t work for Jon and me.

    When we got married, Jon’s dad said: “If you feel like you’re giving in to your spouse about 75% of the time, you’re probably right on target.”

    He’s right. Mostly we underestimate how much taking we’re doing relative to giving, so if you feel like you do 3/4 of the compromising, you’re probably only doing half.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Wow! Very sage advice from your father-in-law. It’s much easier to remember our giving than our taking. Why is the human race so self-centered? Thanks for stopping by, Emily. And although you and Jon are past the picking-up stage of your marriage, you’re still a groovy couple.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Lance. Rolling your eyes is a giant red flag. You wouldn’t think something so minute would wreak such havoc in a relationship, but it does. Conversely, you also wouldn’t think something as innocuous as picking up your spouse or girlfriend would do so much to solidify your relationship. We’re definitely a strange species. Thanks for stopping by, Lance. I really appreciate it.