- Gender and Relationships
The Secret To A Long Happy Marriage
I’ve been married to the same man for a lot of years, never divorced and know how to keep the home fires burning. Have you noticed how many relationship columns are written by people who aren’t even married?
I could write an entire book on this subject but I’ll try to be brief and give you the condensed version.
Don’t try to change them.
Before getting married some have a misconception that they can mold the other person into the perfect spouse they have always wanted. It doesn’t work that way. Sure we all change as we get older and our ideas and goals will be different over time but going into a marriage thinking you can overhaul a defective person never works. If she is a messy housekeeper now, more than likely she’ll still be a slob ten years from now. That guy you are in love with who hates your mother probably won’t change his opinion after he puts a ring on your finger.
Think before you speak.
It’s not just what you say but how you say it. Many disagreements could be avoided if we listen to how we say things. When we are irritated, tired or having difficulties it’s easy to take it out on our spouse. We should be there for each other and listen to complaints about supervisors and jobs but try to use a kind voice and don’t redirect anger.
Pick your battles.
Most things young married couples choose to debate about aren’t even important when you really think about it. Years from now you’ll look back and wonder why you made such a big deal out of some of them.
Compromise is the key. Meet halfway and don’t think you have to be right all the time. You might be right but is putting a strain on your relationship worth it?
Some people say to never go to bed angry. I disagree. Staying up arguing all night does no one any good and sometimes a good nights sleep puts a new perspective on the situation. Tomorrow you may smoke the peace pipe, kiss and make up.
We all have faults and we have to decide what is a big deal and what isn’t. My husband leaves the toilet seat up, cupboard doors open and squeezes the toothpaste from the middle. We now have our own tubes (we like different brands anyway); I close the doors and feel in the dark for the seat during the night. Some things just aren’t that big of a deal.
If need be, both of you make a list of the things that drives each of you crazy. Believe me he has a list too. When you are calm and sitting down go over them and see what changes can be made. Take it one step at a time.
There are no sides.
When you have disagreements don’t think of it as sides of a sporting field and you are trying to win. There are no sides. You are two halves of a complete whole. What happens to one affects the other. If you win you may actually be losing. You are a part of each other working for a common goal. If you split and make it a wrestling match you are missing the point.
Everything, these days, seems to be about “me.” A marriage isn’t about me; it's about us.
Keep love alive.
No matter how busy life gets don’t forget to take time for each other. The kids, your job and your friends can wait. If you put off your significant other too often it can put a wedge between you that only gets bigger and bigger.
Sex is very important. Unless one of you has a medical condition that keeps you from making love you should keep it active. There are few conditions that warrant complete celibacy but consult your physician if you have doubts. There are many, many ways to keep things going. If you don’t know your options read a book, there are hundreds of volumes on the subject.
If your spouse doesn’t get the physical and emotional attention they need they may look elsewhere.
Clarify rules concerning children.
No two people have the same ideas about raising kids or even whether to have them. Make sure you are on the same page concerning having children before you get married. If you both want them make sure you agree on how they will be raised. Put it on paper if you have to, covering everything including religion, education, extra curricular activities, dating age, etc. The list can get very large.
As you get older your thoughts on this will change but don’t count on your wife or husband changing their mind about having kids later on. It may not happen and you may be greatly disappointed.
It’s inevitable. If we are lucky we change together in the same direction riding into the sunset with gray hair and a few laugh lines but the truth is many do not.
That Christian man you married may later on decide to be Buddhist. You may change as well. If you aren’t too unmoving in your ideas and are flexible you’ll get along much better if not there will be rough waters ahead.
Men start out sex machines with raging hormones and libidos but later on in life they start to taper off and some flat out turn off completely. Oddly enough women start out at a slow pace and end up in fourth gear by middle age juuust about the time the Mister is slowing down. Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor but what can we do?
Taking a lover is not a good idea. No matter how sneaky you think you are these things have a way of coming out eventually. Get counseling if need be but the thing that works best is “communication,” whatever is going on between the two of you the key is to talk it out and compromise. Few problems are beyond solving when you put your heads together and discuss the situation.
Don’t wait until it is too late to work out your problems. The longer you let it go the worse it gets. This is one thing you can’t sweep under the rug.
For better or worse, for richer or poorer, til death do us part.
I don’t think most young people really think about these vows when they are saying them. The bride is wondering what people think about her dress and the groom, well, I think we all know what’s on his mind.
Life is a journey with ups and downs. There will be great times and there will be very bad times. No one can promise you a happily ever after; that only happens in fairy tales.
You’ll have money problems, you’ll have health issues and you’ll have family who fight over which home you spend Christmas or whatever holidays you celebrate.
The key is to not lose your heads and work each situation out as it comes. There is no marriage manual that gives you an answer for each and every problem that comes up; you have to figure that out for yourselves.
Your marriage is important and you must work on it everyday. Don’t neglect it. Think of it as your career. Keep your skills, talents and appearance up at all times or you may be replaced. Don’t think just because you are married that it doesn’t matter what you look like. Some things can’t be helped but keep up with the ones that can like hygiene, weight, health and attitude.