How to Stay Happily Married in the Long Haul
Marriage is a good thing
After 24 years of a very happy marriage, I have picked up some things that people should keep in mind if they plan to marry soon. Some of these things I have told my daughter (who is 21 years old but has a boyfriend). Others, I have yet to tell her.
The things I have learned are:
- Know your negotiables and non-negotiables. Every marriage is different, and what is right for one couple is not necessarily right for another. What is most important is that your personal non negotiables are clear to you. You can then compare your potential someone to where he stands on your list. For example, my non – negotiables are infidelity, verbal and physical abuse. My negotiable is physical and mental illness. I have seen my mother with Alzheimers and she became more beautiful and gracious in my eyes up to the years before she died. That’s my list, you will have to figure out yours.
- Even if you are convinced you married the right man, the marriage itself will take some work. I was so sure of my husband that I believe he is the man God chose for me. That didn’t mean it was easy pickings for 24 years. I have faced times when I have never felt so alone in my life. He has been so hurt by me that sometimes he felt like he wanted to get out of the marriage. But we’ve learned over time to quarrel over the small things and to avoid what can lead to big things even before they happen.
- Marry a man who can change for you. You will have to test this out before you marry. By change, I don’t men anything major like will he change a personality trait. But I do mean, will he change little things he does that irritate you and sometimes makes you downright mad. Is he giving enough time to you? If he’s not willing to make time for you, write him off. Sometimes, my husband used to go overboard on religion with me. I respect and like the fact that he’s a man of faith, but am glad he stopped overdoing it when he knew I was really upset.
- Remember that marriage is not a feeling, it’s a commitment. If you are confident that you’ve chosen the right partner, when things go wrong you are okay with it because you have weighed all sides of the matter and made a conscious choice. Let me add that you won’t always be in love with your partner. But if you are committed to each other, you hang in the marriage and wait for love to come back again.
- Little things make a marriage strong. Marriage is a collection of memories. If you have spend your days sniping at your husband, putting him down, making him look foolish, etc. then you are giving him a list of bad memories that will backfire. Make each small moment together as happy as you can. Compliment him, but sincerely. Laugh at his jokes. If you’re the funnier one, make him laugh. Even silence together is good – if its peaceful silence, not angry silence. When you guys have a BIG fight (which sometimes is inevitable but hopefully, rare) all those little moments of good memories will hold you together and keep you watching each other’s backs. Make every moment count, and make it good.
- Men want acceptance. So do women. If you have sized up your potential husband and decided he is what is right for you, then always make him feel accepted. You don’t want him to change his habits or his ways. Small things, small compromises are okay but to change the things that are important to him -- don’t even think about it. If you can both be comfortable with yourselves and with each other, you are really very lucky.
- Men want to be admired. Look at his good side and make it a point to compliment something in him that you like about him every day, five times a day. Why not? It certainly is going to get your marriage a lot farther than if you diminish him five times a day.
- Forget magical thinking. Don’t think that a playboy is going to change for you and become faithful because he loves you enough to marry you. Don’t expect a guy who likes to spend more money than he has will one day become responsible with it because he has children with you. That’s magical thinking. People are who they are. Save yourself unnecessary grief.
- Love with God’s love. The truth is, when we love with human love it’s so conditional. We love IF hubby is like this or does this. When you love with God’s love, you tend to love no matter what. Put God in the middle of your marriage. That way, your husband will love you with God’s love and you love him with God’s love. You can’t imagine what a huge difference this will make in your marriage dynamics.
- Marriage is practical. Love is in the head, not the heart. If you make it to the long haul, you will have someone you can depend on through thick and thin, sickness and health.