5 Rules of Marriage

Momservation: “We are gathered here today because two people who can survive a remodel can survive anything.” Kelli Wheeler officiating the wedding of Nick & Annie Silveira

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I recently had the honor of being asked to officiate my cousin’s wedding.

It was an unbelievable experience that afterward had me giddy as kindergartener’s first trip to Disneyland where they were finally big enough to ride all the rides. That 15 minutes standing up there marrying two people who mean so much to me, with their two darling children at their feet, left a sparkly imprint on my soul. It was, without a doubt, a thrill, a privilege, and forever a cherished memory. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller: It was so choice. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend doing it.

Nick and Annie asked me to marry them because according to Annie, “Nick and I admire and respect your marriage and the way you have raised your family. We would love to have someone whom we hold in such high regard to marry us.”

*Sniff* How could someone say no to that butter up? I think the only other words that have ever moved me as much as her request was hearing my husband say, “Honey, you are right. I was wrong.”

Annie also asked me to open up the ceremony with “Your own amazing speech about love, marriage, kids and Nick and I.”

No pressure or anything.

But as a family columnist, public speaker, pretty well-liked and loved mother of a 17 year-old and 16 year-old, and happily married 21 years to the man I fell in love with 27 years ago, I felt up to the job and excited for the challenge.

I’m just going to go ahead and swallow all humility here and say…I knocked it out of the park! Annie outdid herself—the wedding and reception was magical, beautiful, and the perfect celebration of love, marriage and family. And I couldn’t be prouder or happier to have done her vision justice with my ceremony.

So many people came up to me after gushing about my speech and request for my 5 Rules of Marriage I imparted to Nick and Annie, that I’ve decided to share it here by popular demand.

I hope these words of wisdom below gained from 21 years of wedded compromise inspire more than just Nick & Annie’s future together as husband, wife, mom and dad. I hope all who read them find a confirmation of or guide for their own happily ever after.

5 Rules of Marriage

By Kelli Wheeler

Rule #1: First Respect Yourself – because if you don’t, no one else will.

Be someone trustworthy. Be someone who helps others. Be someone who forgives and doesn’t hold onto their anger and frustration like a lead balloon. Be someone loving, compassionate, and kind. Be someone you can look in the mirror and be proud of. Your spouse and your children deserve no less. They either chose you or are stuck with you so give them the best person you can be.

Rule #2: Communicate.

You can’t unring a bell so don’t say something hurtful that you can’t take back. It can never be stricken from the record so choose your words carefully. Take some time to calm down or collect your thoughts. Don’t criticize and don’t get defensive. Start with sentences that say: I’m hurt/angry/disappointed/frustrated because this is how I feel when you (eat the last Oreo and leave an empty package in the pantry.) Listen and let the other person talk without interrupting. And never sarcastically say the fighting words of: “Well welcome to my world!”

Forever tell your wife she looks beautiful and forever tell your husband he looks handsome. Don’t be stingy with “I love you’s” or even the “You know, I still really like you after all these years.”

Rule #3: Make Time for Each Other

Remember the oxygen mask rule from flying: you can’t save everyone if you don’t save yourself first. Give each other “Me Time” but also invest in “We Time.” You’ll be better parents for it.

With kids you will always be too tired. Don’t wait until you’re not too tired. You never will be. Hire a babysitter, call up G-Jay, or hit up Auntie Libby, and do a date night at least once a month. Never stop reminding yourselves why you fell in love.

Rule #4: Never Leave a Man or Woman Behind 

Don’t go sleep in the other room. In 21 years Trey and I have never escaped or been banished to the couch. Happily ever after means you suffer through snoring, stinky farts, stolen covers, and cold shoulders. Intimacy is vital in a marriage and if you’re in the other room you literally start putting walls between each other. So communicate, buy ear plugs, plug-in air-fresheners, and always kiss each other goodnight.

Rule #5: Enjoy the journey

They ups, the downs, the days when the kids sleep in and the days when you are looking for their receipts to take them back. Celebrate each other’s successes in the good times and be each other’s rock in the hard times. We only go this way once so stop and play with your kids, laugh at the chaos, cry over peed beds and barf that missed the toilet, and smile and thank God because this is your life.  And remember: Good parents have dirty cars, messy houses and happy children.



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