Before You Say I Do - Tips for building a strong marriage.
Are you Absolutely Certain They Are The One?
Before you answer this question, don't go getting all huffy with me. I am certain that if you have found yourself searching the internet on the topic of marriage you most likely have found or think you have found Mr or Mrs Right. They have most likely ticked off on all of the points that are important to you such as romantic, sense of humor, remembers my birthday, great sex, loves/hates football, has a job, etc, etc, etc. Only you know what characteristics, qualities, beliefs etc, are important in a life partner so no doubt you have one of those lists possibly written down somewhere or maybe just in your head. Right?
LETS GET REAL
Well that list is fine and is a good place to start but honestly, you are going to need a more realistic view about a life spent devoted to another human being. Let me start by saying that I believe that the commitment between two people whether in the form of marriage or not is a great thing, however what worries me is the inability or sometimes refusal of some to acknowledge that there most certainly will be problems arise throughout the course of their life with another person. My task in this hub is to enlighten you about some problem areas you might have not thought about and how to plan to deal with them before they happen rather than in the midst of them occurring. Trying to deal with any problem in the present moment when fear, frustration, doubt anger and lots of other emotions are attached to the situation is just plain stupid. With the knowledge that there is a potential for certain problems in the future means you can prepare for them or if you find in your heart that there is no way you could deal with the problem at all then be honest now and rethink your commitment.
Infidelity. Well it can be called many things and can happen for many reasons that I am sure other hubbers are more equipped to discuss. But for the sake of this hub I shall call it infidelity. What if?........you should ask yourself, what if........ I was to discover my partner having sex with someone else?
Don't say that it won't, can't, he/she never would, I never would, this is not about never, this is about the possibility that it might and if it did how you would deal with it. Take a moment to feel the range of emotions you would go through, some of the things you might say, first in anger, then maybe in quieter moments when you want to get to the reason it happened. Then see if it feels right to leave or to stay. If the love you have for this person is still present then perhaps you should stay.
Lets say you see yourself leaving, lets say you already have a couple of kids together and you see yourself as a single parent or just seeing the kids on week-ends. Ask yourself are you ok with this. Ask yourself is there something you might have done better, perhaps sought a marriage counsellor? Now lets imagine the person you have left because of their infidelity, discovers they have an incurable disease. Does this fact put the infidelity into clearer perspective for you? Does this fact cause you to remember why you love this person? Does the act of infidelity now feel less of a marriage breaker, more able to be worked out together than the illness? The most important question ever is not if you love but how much you love and is that love strong enough to overcome a problem. Anger over another persons actions can sometimes blind us more than love ever can and make us lose sight of what is really truly important to us. Anger should never be the reason for leaving a partner, only when love diminishes should the union split.
Talk About It
I am not a pessimist I am a realist, always have been. I don't dwell on the things that might go wrong I think about them for a bit and imagine how I could best handle it and then forget about it, most of the time I don't have to put what I imagined into practice but sometimes I have needed to and knowing how I was going to react was comforting, a bit like having a good friend beside me to says 'you can deal with this'. And I did. And this is all I am asking you to consider, to just be even a little bit prepared and not to expect that a marriage or partnership will be a case of together forever....but only if, for eg....she doesn't end up fat like her sister, or his mother doesn't visit every day, or if he gives up drinking at the pub and she stops maxing out the credit card.
Another huge trap couples fall into is one of thinking that the other will change. I am not saying that change is impossible all I am saying is that for someone to change it should be on their terms and not because someone else has made them. Who wants to spend the rest of their life with someone who resents you because they made you give up something or someone you enjoy, or made you fit into their idea of how a person should look, act or feel.
Don't you believe these things should be discussed before the idea of marriage is approached? Honesty and openness is needed on both sides for a truly good relationship to stand the test of marriage. Another subject often put off until too late is the one of children. Just because she is great with kids and goes clucky around other peoples kids doesn't mean she wants kids of her own...and the same goes for guys. Don't assume!!! Have a discussion about children. And not just about the children you may have together but also if for some reason this is not possible, then discuss how you both feel about other methods including adoption. And for that matter anything else you consider important issues in raising children. These things need to be discussed now and not later. it is not jumping the gun it is being realistic and prepared and should be done a lot more between those considering marriage or entering into a committed partnership.
People spend more time and money managing a business than they do their own relationships. when I believe that at the end of the day my relationship and family is far more important than any business.
Money Makes The World Go Around
But it can make a marriage stop in its tracks if not discussed. Money matters need to be talked about before a commitment is made to one another. Will there be joint accounts, will each partner need to account for every dollar spent, or does one partner expect to have control of the money and dish a meagre amount out to the other for spending. Do each of you have goals? Identify them, talk about them. Are they realistic goals, are they short or long term? Do you both want a saving plan for a house, car, holidays etc.
DARE TO GO THERE
If either of you are reluctant to discuss any of these important issues then perhaps you should think twice about your commitment. It can be fun, and should be fun to talk about this with your partner. Give it a go, you might just be surprised how much you learn about yourselves and each other.
Won't Happen Overnight But It Will Happen
As you get older so too do the people around you, including your parents and if they are fortunate enough to have good health then they may live to be in their 80's, 90's or beyond. I found myself contemplating this myself not long ago and wondered what would happen when my mother needed to be cared for. I, personally wanted to have her live with us but mum, bless her said she did not want to burden anyone and had organised her own nursing home.
However before I discovered this news I realised I had not discussed aged care for our parents with my husband. We had never discussed what might happen with my parents or his and now seemed to be a good time, before we were faced with making a rushed decision. Fortunately for me my husband would walk on broken glass to the front door of his enemy if I asked him but I didn't want him to do it out of love for me so much as I wanted him to be realistic about how it would effect both of us if we were to have one of our parents live with us. We talked about it for days and covered lots of thing and realised this was much much bigger than we imagined.
GET REAL ABOUT IT
In the beginning it seemed so noble and nice and rewarding to be able to have a parent live with us and for us to give back something to them for all they had done for us, but realistically (yeah there's that word again) we were not equipped to deal with it. It would mean rearranging so much of our house, perhaps getting a ramp put in instead of stairs, widening interior doors to allow a walker through (when we rent...I don't think so!!) Mum is quite deaf so her television would be up very loud most of the time and often late at night because she was a bad sleeper. One of us would need to make ourselves available to take her to appointments, meal times would have to be more regimented and orderly instead of eating what we felt like and at odd times. In short our entire life would have been turned upside down. Luckily for me my husband and I were on the same page with regard to this, and not just for my mum but his parents as well. My mum told me she would actually be happier in a nursing home where the staff are better equipped to deal with the aged and that she didn't really want me seeing her in her cottontails...god bless her.
NO GAIN WITHOUT SOME PAIN
This is just another example of the need to discuss important topics before they occur. What if you don't even like his parents and what if he assumes that for whatever reason, the door to your house would be open for an extended stay to them. Talk about it in a non threatening way and with empathy for each other.
I asked my husband after we had discussed all the ins and outs of my mum, to imagine I had insisted on mum moving in...and I asked him to think hard about it and to answer me seriously. He said..."well you know I love you more than life itself and you know I would do for you what ever I could if you were to become seriously ill and indeed when you are old and perhaps need aged care (I am 10 years older than him) I would insist on looking after you until I couldn't. The same applies to your mother. We would look after her until we couldn't."
IT GETS LESS SCARY
Our relationship is sound and we talk a lot about lots of things and we are not afraid to talk about possibilities of things coming at us out of the blue, we often talk hypothetically and it gets less scary the more you do it. I remember so well the day not too long after we started dating when I asked him how he felt about children. He looked about to faint, but not having any children of his own I thought it only fair to tell him I did not want to have a baby at forty six. I wanted to discuss it because it was important to our future, we liked each other a lot and we could see a future, however if he felt strongly about wanting children of his own...it would not be with me. Well I guess you know what his answer was and never once has he regarded his stepdaughter as anyone other than his real daughter.
Building A Strong Marriage - Daring Greatly
Think of your relationship in terms of it being a house. We all know the need for a house to have strong foundations, security and windows to let the light and sunshine in. Well so too does a relationship or marriage. If you can see where the possibility for weakness lies you can do something to avoid it or fix it if you can see the cracks forming. A house needs cleaning, dirty windows can't let the light in so maintain your relationship in the same way by polishing the parts you hold close to your heart and taking out the trash.
Talk to each other a lot, discuss all subjects and don't be afraid to show you weaknesses.
Never forget the first moment you knew you loved your partner and
Always remember in a disagreement to put things in perspective, you need to be calm, level headed, confident and above all prepared.
When there is hate in your heart, there is no room for even a memory of love.
Love does conquer all but only for those willing to allow it.