Marriage is a bit of a mystery when it comes to making it world for the long haul. But there are some basic things that give us the best shot at success.
I have been working with several couples getting ready for their wedding day lately. Interesting how in this COVID restricted time, weddings are smaller and in often more private locations.
Working with couples of all kinds, first time married, previously divorced, long term or shorter term relationships, with kids already or not, makes me think about marriage and how it is in my own life.
I have been married for 33 years. We have raised four children. It has been a great journey with plenty of highs and lows, but so far, always a deep respect and love for each other.
Here's what I have learnt about marriage:
It ain't Hollywood! Marriage is not based on perfect bodies, stunning looks or great sex. Marriage is based on friendship, loyalty, commitment, forgiveness and compromise. Not very 'sexy', but THE crucial elements. Marriage is actually about partnership for living life and facing challenges.
My goal as a married person is not primarily to get MY needs met by my partner, be they financial, emotional or sexual. If I constantly put that huge expectation on my partner, she will not be able to meet my needs identity, fulfilment, happiness and well-being all the time in every way. No partner is that good!
My goal in marriage is not to get MY needs met, but to stand shoulder to shoulder with my partner and face life together as I give of myself, sometimes at cost to myself. EG. Think of those vows…
The goal of marriage is not to get your identity a self-fulfillment needs met from your partner, but to give up your own needs for them and their fulfillment as you're able. Great thing is, that when you adopt this stance, you receive more than you give! You tend to enjoy closeness and partnership - the very thing we got married for!
You never stop needing to know your partner. There is no once-off course for marriage, that once complete, means you can stop listening and learning. This is because you are constantly changing and so is your partner. We are still getting to know each other after 30 years because we have changed in everyone of those years - we ourselves as individuals and we as a couple. We are older. Our outlook on lots of things has changed. We have aged. We are different to when we were 30. Life has happened - the good and the bad.
Jobs have changed, locations have changed, the kids constantly change as they have become adults, the world has changed, technology has changed and etc, etc. I need to always listen and learn my partner so I can love and give and we can truly live.
It takes effort and real intent. Funny how lots of people think that once you tie the knot, 'marriage' will l just happen - with hardly any effort or thought or giving to each other. I have often said to couples trying to get their life in order and make some money, by a house, have some kids, buy a good car, set themselves up that if they put as much effort into making sure their marriage relationship was getting a good set up, all the rest will be a whole lot better anyway. Reading a book, watching some YouTube videos, talking to friend and mentors and talking to each other about marriage and its meaning and goals and place in life is crucial.