Ah, February. The month of valentines, tacky jewelry, and a gag-worthy amount of pink.
Despite loving none of those things, I love February – because it’s the month of my wedding anniversary. Every February I become sappy and reminiscent, reflecting on all the lessons I’ve learned so far and how much we’ve grown as a couple.
One of those lessons I’d like to pass along to you. It’s short and (sickeningly) sweet, but in my marriage… it’s everything.
The Best Relationship Advice You Haven’t Heard Before
Surely you’ve heard the marriage advice of “never go to bed angry.” Younger Me loved that advice. It was clear. It was simple. And I was the type of partner who had to resolve fights IMMEDIATELY anyway; I couldn’t sleep in the middle of a disagreement if my life depended on it.
So I was thrilled that someone, somewhere, had once advised couples to “never go to bed angry” and I fought tooth and nail to make it a cornerstone of our marriage. But after a few late-night arguments that escalated into 4AM insults and delirium, I came to realize what you probably have as well – that “never go to bed angry” is actually pretty garbage advice.
You need sleep to be compassionate, you need compassion to fight fair, and you need to fight fair to maintain a healthy marriage.
I gave up on the rule, much to my husband’s relief, and learned to be okay with going to bed angry. I reflected on how dumb it all was in the first place, to think that “never” anything was a good idea. There’s an exception to everything, right? Surely any advice that starts with “never” is unrealistic.
But as I sat resenting the “never go to bed angry” rule and all the exhausted words I could never take back, I remembered that we did have one “never” rule that was working – and it’s one that I still refuse to give up on today.
Never leave without a kiss goodbye.
That’s it. Most of the resilience my marriage has grown, I can attribute to this one simple rule. Whether leaving the room to turn in for the night, or heading off to the office in the morning, we never leave without a kiss goodbye. Ever. It’s almost pathetic. Neither my husband nor myself can remember the last time (if ever) that we went our separate ways without a kiss goodbye.
I actually learned this lesson as a teenager when two dear friends of mine lost their mother unexpectedly. At her memorial service, her husband spoke of how he always made a habit of kissing her goodbye before leaving on business trips. He happened to forget once, and told her on the phone as he rushed off to the airport, “I’ll kiss you as soon as I get home!” But she passed away while he was gone. Teary-eyed, he urged all of us to always kiss our loved ones goodbye, and I never forgot.
It’s a small concept, but with big application. Never leaving without a kiss goodbye means running back inside to kiss your wife so she starts her day knowing you didn’t forget her. It sometimes means arguing all the way to the door about finances or laundry, only to punctuate the argument with an awkward kiss goodbye, to ensure your husband spends his day knowing that even though there is an issue to work out when he gets back, you’ll be on the same team when you deal with it.
I’m not a “touchy” person. I don’t need hugs, and physical touch is the very last of my Love Languages. This is not about the physical affection for me. (My husband may have a different opinion!) But that’s okay, because it’s not about the kisses. It’s about what they mean to our marriage.
It’s about the days where that kiss means “I may not like you today, but I always love you, even when I’m too mad to say so,” or the days it means, “I know we’re struggling, but this marriage is still my number one priority.”
The meaning it has for us every single day, good or bad, is this: “Nothing is worth missing a possible last chance to remind you that I love you.” Not running late, not a bad argument or a tense morning, not even being two blocks away already.
More than once, I have turned my car around to run back and give my husband a quick kiss goodbye. You know how many of those times I regret? Exactly zero. If I die in a car accident on my way to work one morning, I want to die knowing I kissed my husband goodbye, and that he knows I love him.
Yes, that is absolutely dramatic and silly. But it’s only dramatic and silly until it happens to someone close to you, or you have a close call yourself.
You have nothing to lose by instilling this rule in your marriage. Nothing but good (and a bit of silly, and maybe sometimes a little awkward) can come from making a point of kissing your husband every time he leaves.
Challenge yourself. See what lengths you are willing to go to, how much pride you’re willing to swallow, how many blocks you’re willing to drive to show him you put him first. Never leave without a kiss goodbye, and you’ll never regret it.
P.S. You’ve probably heard these marriage tips before, but they’re still gold!