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How to Stay Happily Married in the Long Haul

Updated on December 3, 2013
grand old lady profile image

Mona writes a column for Enrich Magazine which is distributed in five countries. She is interested in learning as she writes.

At Balay Indang, Cavite
At Balay Indang, Cavite | Source

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Laughter helps
Laughter helps | Source

Older married couple and their story. Inspirational!

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    • grand old lady profile image
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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Jamie Brock. It may be kind of old fashioned, but it has worked for may marriage so far.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      This is a wonderful hub and so true! Thank you for sharing :)

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Suzette Naples. Yes, marriage is about being honest, but veering more to the positive honest things you love about someone than getting stuck on one bad thing you hate. Acceptance has a lot to do with it.

      Yes, Olog, a marriage gets a slim chance if God isn't in the middle. Marriage is a commitment, not a feeling, Just as God was committed to us when we behaved badly. He was so committed that he died for our sins. Marriage calls for that quality of commitment, and we can't do it alone.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Such wisdom from your experience in marriage. It is good to hear about a successful marriage and you don't sugarcoat a thing. I have to agree with all your tips and suggestions. Well done!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      We don't hear about putting God in the middle of your marriage, but He can certainly make all the difference. Voted up and shared.

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you very much, Janshares:). Thank you for reading and for the visit. Have a wonderful day:)

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Great tips for staying in the marriage for the long haul, grand old lady. The one about marriage being a commitment and not a feeling (#4) is so important for young couples to realize. And the second most important is loving with God's love (#9). Nicely done, voted up and useful.

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      Alexadry, congrats on having 16 years of a happy marriage. It's true, there are too many divorces, and maybe it's because people forget that commitment has to be considered from the very start of a marriage. When a couple views themselves as a team, it helps a lot because they remember that even when they are married, they should have each other's back and not attack each other all the time. My sister who is also happily married often tells me that mutual respect is also very important.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      This is so important. Nowadays, divorces seem so common and people divorce over the smallest things! Hubby and I have been married 16 years and many of the things listed play a role in our commitment.

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      It's very nice to hear this from a man! Thanks, Kabayan, and good luck on your search for true and lasting love. Everyone deserves someone they can grow old with who will truly have each other's interest in mind, rather than some young opportunist who will take advantage of an old husband and get what they can out of them.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Now, I know how I will please my future wife.

      I have had two failed relationships and sired an offspring (as my first claimed-and I will never deny it.:)

      Thanks for this hub on marriage. It clearly interprets episodes of learning, yearning and motivation earned from a successful and thriving relationship.

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      All true for sure! And thank you so much! :)

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 4 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for your comment, Beth. I'm sorry for what you and your husband are going through now. It's true, we may enter marriage with our negotiables and non-negotiables and then something unforeseen happens, and we feel so betrayed by it. But I know of marriages that have survived infidelity. One marriage I know of went through years of pain because of infidelity but you would never believe it if you see them now. They are so much in love, and the husband is so thankful and grateful to have his family back. If it's hard sometimes to trust in people, we can put our trust in God and know that he wants what's best for us and our families. I will be praying for you regularly, that you will experience God's peace which surpasses understanding. God bless, and keep the faith.

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this gol. Thank you. You have a very pleasant face. Nice to look at. :) I have been married 27 yrs this May. In 2007, after 21 years of marriage, my husband cheated. He didn't tell me till 2010, although our marriage began falling apart. He got a LOT of help and changed, but it took me 2.5 years to actually consider staying married. Infidelity was always a non negotiable for me too... I never imagined that I could stay in a marriage where my spouse had been unfaithful. I began praying that God would help me forgive him. We are not the same. We are both damaged now, but God is healing us and our marriage one day at a time. A work in progress... life is hard, but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger they say.

      Thanks again for the hub. I like reading other ppl's stories and advice. :)

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 4 years ago from Philippines

      I agree. Every marriage has its own culture and chemistry, even if both marriages are the same race and nation. Sort of like Dharma and Greg. Congratulations on your wonderful marriage. Advice is not to be followed by the letter, but to be adjusted to how you do things. No such thing as a blueprint to marriage:)

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 4 years ago from Philippines

      Kathleen, you're right, there are people who are experts in deception. I know how much it must hurt you to see your daughter in pain. What you can do for her is to have her back, support her, make her realize how special and wonderful she is, and be there on her journey as she learns to move on, hopefully wiser this time around.

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 4 years ago from Philippines

      CrisSp, thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the piece, and than you for sharing:)

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 4 years ago from Philippines

      Mhatteroo, I'm sorry for your loss. Good memories are a gift but they never compare to the real thing. I hope that you are going through your grief process with strength and moments of happiness and the energy your spouse would want for you to move on. God bless!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing this insight. My first partner is gone. I agree with most what you said and suspect if we talked I would agree 100%. Perfect... all I know is I have remarkable memories.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Oh wow! Congratulations! I See happy faces out there. What a delightful write with 10 easy to understand tips to navigate through marriage. What's not to understand here? And for you two, lovey-dovey, happiness always!

      Up, beautiful and sharing!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      An old man gave me some good advice when I was engaged. He said only expect your spouse to be 98% perfect. Write any flaws off to the 2%.

      When my daughter's marriage was unraveling I asked her what I consider to be the basic question: Do you still admire your husband? When she said it was getting more and more difficult, I knew the marriage would end.

      You've given some very good advice here. I hope your daughter considers all of it. Unfortunately sometimes, in spite of everyone's best efforts, you can be fooled. I'd give anything if my daughter had gotten the good guy instead of me. But she got the guy who fooled all of us.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      THis is interesting hub. I am married for 22 years and still in love with my wife. Advices are good but I think each person and each couple have their own way and own attitude to marriage. No matter how many kind and wise advices people have they will finally do it in their own way. Thank you!

    • grand old lady profile image
      Author

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 4 years ago from Philippines

      Than you Ms Dora, I hope your own family journey is rewarding, all ways, in the best of ways:)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing from your own marriage experience. I like that you challenge the reader to consider what's best for them. Very well done. Congratulations on your very happy marriage, and more of the best going forward!

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