Though most romantic comedies would tell us otherwise, saying I do doesn’t automatically mean a marriage full of exclusively sunshine and daffodils (and honestly, that sounds a little boring!). Bringing your vows to life day after day is an ongoing task, and there’s zero shame in needing expert marriage advice to keep your love story thriving for the long haul.
To learn about navigating love stories that don’t come with a script, we reached out to licensed marriage and family therapist Rachel Facio. Specializing in relationships, she's sharing all her best (and juiciest) tips on how to keep growing together as a couple.
Meet the Expert
Rachel Facio, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist has a private practice in Glendale, CA specializing in supporting couples in reconnecting & enjoying one another... whether at the dinner table or between the sheets.
Whether you’re thinking about getting engaged, recently married, or celebrating another sweet anniversary, this timeless advice is bound to resonate.
1. The Quality (Not Quantity) of Your Sex Life Is What Counts
For anyone who’s ever Googled how much sex they should be having in their relationship, it’s time to release yourself from arbitrary math equations! “Long gone are the days [of thinking] if you are having sex with your partner X amount of times a week, your marriage is solid or on the rocks,” says Facio. “Completely false.” She goes on to add, “If healthy intimacy is happening half the time in your relationship, i.e. cuddling, flirting, playing, sharing, supporting, challenging, exploring and [you’re having] sex—then you are better off than half the couples on the planet.”
2. Boundaries Are Your Friend
Turns out, self-care isn’t just a trendy Instagram fad, it’s a necessary component of any well-balanced relationship. As Facio explains, “Solid boundaries around taking care of yourself, spending time [together] as a couple, [and] spending time with family and friends [are] crucial to the marathon that is marriage.” If you find yourself regularly depleted, it’s a good time to evaluate if you have “unhealthy boundaries around work, obligations to others, etc [because they] can not only take a toll on [you as an] individual, [but] the couple as well.”
3. Arguing Really Is Healthy (When Done Fairly)
We’ve likely all heard that arguments can be a good thing in a relationship, but how do you ensure they stay productive? “Healthy disagreements are part of a growing and evolving marriage as long as you do so fairly,” agrees Facio. Lucky for us, she breaks down exactly how: “Nothing gets an argument heated like a partner who feels unseen/unheard. [Constructively arguing] means sticking to ‘I’ statements [i.e. starting a conversation with ‘I feel this’ instead of ‘you did this’], acknowledging and reflecting what [your partner says] before you share your views/opinions, and slowing your roll on the interrupting.”
Healthy disagreements are part of a growing and evolving marriage.
4. Before You Have Kids...Get a Pet
“[If you’re] curious about your parenting styles, gender role expectations, [and] projections from your childhood... go adopt a pet” advises Facio. “[Then,] be open and honest about what it’s like raising your fur baby with your beau—it will give you some good insight and dialogue about future things to consider when raising a family.”
5. Their Family Is Your Family
When you marry someone, you’re also committing yourself to their entire family. Conflicts around navigating these dynamics often come up in Facio’s practice, and she’s got her advice down to a fine science: “Keep the trash talk to a minimum,” she says, “[because] nothing separates a partnership faster than feeling like your spouse hates your family.” You should, however, keep a healthy distance as necessary. Facio elaborates, “[This] doesn’t mean you [can’t] have limited hang time with them and strong boundaries, but remember—they are still family, they made your partner, and they aren’t going anywhere.”
6. Work Through Your Money Feelings
“Can I scream this one from the rooftops?” she says. If seeing the “M-word” makes you nervous, too, you’re 100% not alone. “Everyone has money issues, money baggage, weird/shamey/strong feelings around money,” explains Facio. Her best tip? “Talk. About. It. With. Your. Partner. A LOT.” Gulp. She digs even deeper on this point, adding, “Sit down [and] talk about how much you two make, [and] where it all goes each month. Who’s a spender and who’s a saver? How [do] you feel about big purchases, vacations, savings, [and] future planning? Talk about it a lot—and early on in the relationship/marriage.”