- Gender and Relationships
How do you have a healthy, long-lasting married life? Some tips to avoid misunderstandings between husband and wife.
Marriage is a hugely important step which will change both your lives and you are right to think about it carefully. There are no manuals for success but I have been married for 35 years so I might be able to give you a few pointers.
1- The romantic heroes of fairy tales or Hollywood/Bollywood simply can't exist in the reality of a 9 to 5 job, domestic chores and money worries, so make sure you have realistic expectations.
2- Choose wisely. Of course love is paramount but don't think that you can ever change someone. If you have a long mental list of all the things that annoy you about him and think that you are going to make him change those when you are married. Think again. What do you love about him and If you manage to change his character, will you love this new person? Does he have a flaw that you just couldn't live with such as dishonesty, laziness, violence? Then walk away because love will not overcome those or you could end up very unhappy.
3- Learn to make decisions together. It's a huge shock to the system suddenly to have to think like a couple and to share a house/bed/car/expenses/friends... You must agree every decision before making it in order to avoid conflicts. For instance, don't accept an invitation or paint the bedroom purple before checking with your partner first and he must do the same with you.
4- The biggest bones of contention between couples is money (or the lack of it usually). Agree on a budget and discuss all financial arrangements and expenses but make one person responsible for paying the bills.
5- Respect each other's right to be an individual and show respect to each other particularly in front of other people. Making derogatory remarks about your wife/husband only shows you up but is very hurtful.
6- Give support to each other when needed. If your partner is trying something new, encourage him/her and show you care. He might want to take a new course at college or climb a mountain (I mention this because my son-in-law is climbing Kilimandjaro next month!), you might want to learn skydiving. We all need to do something different at some time. You should expect full co-operation from your partner and you should be proud of each other's achievements.
7- Have pride in your appearance and I don't just mean women. All the way through your married life your appearance will change as you age. That's natural but it doesn't mean that you have to stop caring about your skin or your hair or your body shape. Nobody wants a slob for a partner.
8- Give each other space. Women sometimes want to do girlie things like go and see a girlie film with their friends and men want to go to a football/cricket match. Just because you are married does not mean that you are joined at the hip in everything you do. In fact, that would be quite unhealthy. Enjoy separate activities by all means as long as it's evenly balanced between the two of you. The key thing is that you should trust each other.
9- Talk, talk, talk. The biggest killer of marriage is resentment because it festers. Whatever is bothering you, get it out in the open and thrash it out. Not as easy as it sounds as men really are from Mars and women from Venus. There are many times when we just don't get each other's point of view and frustration sets in. Well, that's life, it would be a dull world if we all agreed on everything all the time! When that happens, agree to disagree and have a good laugh instead.
10- Above all, enjoy each other's company. Your husband should be your best friend and you will go through the ups and downs of life together. No-one will ever be closer to you.