Thursday, April 14, 2011

It Takes More Than Love

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary so I decided to write about what makes a successful marriage. My marriage is far from perfect so I am not an expert. But I’ve learned a few things over the years that may be helpful to someone else.
  1. Always be who you are. This is more applicable at the beginning of the relationship but it’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned. Too many people, especially women, pretend to be something they’re not because they think it will make the other person like them more. If you hate football, say so. If you don’t like to cook or clean, don’t let your partner think that you’re the next Martha Stewart. If you’re the jealous type, don’t pretend that your partner talking to someone else didn’t bother you. Eventually, the façade will come down and your true self always emerges. If a person can’t like you the way you are, move on.
  2. It is imperative that you and your partner’s family get along. I’ve heard the saying “you’re marrying the person, not his or her family”. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The last thing you want to do is create discord and come between your partner and his or her family. This will breed resentment in your relationship. Meet the family, spend time with them, and decide whether you can get along with them for the rest of your life  
  3. Your partner should not be all things to you nor should you be all things to him or her. It’s important for a healthy marriage that each person maintains their own identity. You will be doing a great disservice to yourself if you center your life around your partner. Doing all the things they like to do while neglecting your own interests and neglecting your friends are signs that you are too wrapped up in your partner. In the same vein, a partner who resents you having your own interests and friends is a huge red flag. Successful relationships are built on finding a happy and harmonious medium where each person’s interests are respected and appreciated.  
  4. Don’t try to change your partner. This relates to lesson #1. If you observe qualities in your partner that you find annoying, they’re not going to magically disappear when you get married. And no amount of nagging or working on it is going to change the other person. When your partner does something annoying, ask yourself if you can put up with this for the rest of your life. If the answer is yes, accept it, let it go, and do not bring it up again. If the answer is no, it’s best to end the relationship.  
  5. Communicate openly and directly with your partner but do it respectfully. This is a big one for me because, like most couples, my husband and I have different communication styles. This presents a challenge in itself but yelling, using a demeaning tone, and name calling only make it worse. It’s important to learn your partner’s communication style so that you can communicate with them effectively.
  6. At the end of the day commitment is what keeps you together. The initial euphoria of relationships wears off within two years or so. That is when the real work begins. Thinking of marriage as a lifelong commitment will go a long way toward keeping you together. When the going gets tough, remind yourself that you committed to this person and put everything you have into making your marriage work.
Disclaimer: Ignore everything I posted if you are in an abusive (physical, verbal, emotional, sexual) relationship. If you are being abused, the best thing to do is leave.


    Karen B said...

    Great reminders for any couple. Happy Anniversary to you and the hubby! :-) said...

    Nice and all too true. 16 years is impressive. You haven't killed him have you? Perhaps have his body stashed somewhere? You can tell us, we won't tell... said...

    Forgot to tell ya I'm popping in from the a-z blogging challenge.

    KBalbify said...

    These are great points. I struggle with the long term commitment thing.

    Theresa Wiza said...

    You could be a marriage counselor! After having gone through two bad marriages, I can say with certainty that your message should be read by everybody contemplating marriage. Each point, from the beginning, resonated with me. I tried to be somebody I wasn't to please my second husband. Mistake. Well done! My latest A-Z Challenge blog is here:

    MiscMayzee said...

    Love your reminders. Especially those concerning changing the other person.

    It is so important to realize that this will never happen when it comes to major personality issues. You may be able to get your husband to not chew ink pen caps, but you are not going to curb his thinking and vice versa.

    You also have to notice if your partner is consciously or unconsciously trying to change you as it will get old really fast when compounded with other responsibilities.

    Again, loved the post. Great advice.

    A to Z Challenge:

    River said...

    Great points. Have a wonderful anniversary. :)