Marriage makes life fun, interesting and happier, but it’s not easy. It requires work, tolerance, patience and forgiveness. After 31 years of marriage, I have learned a few things about what it takes to keep a marriage together and make it happy and successful. As I watch our young friends marry, and see my children moving into the possibility of marriage in the next few years, I wanted to share a bit of wisdom with them, and with anyone who is planning on getting married, or even trying to make their marriage a little better.
1. Never stop growing personally, and as a couple. We all come to any relationship with baggage—baggage from our childhood, friendships, and old relationships. It’s important to accept this part of the deal. When we are faced with issues/problems/obstacles in the marriage, don’t push them under the rug. Address your feelings, share them, embrace them and work through them. Of course I think writing an Imagine story about what’s happening is always helpful, but there are other ways too. A healthy conversation, seeing a counselor, and/or writing letters to each other will always help.
When you choose a counselor, don’t choose one who uses only talk therapy. Talk therapy is helpful, but it’s not healing. Find a counselor that does more, like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), hypnosis, energy healing techniques. To truly grow and heal, you have to do more than discuss your issues, you must let them go on a deeper level to move forward—this can only be accomplished through deeper work (and it tends to be faster too). There will always be issues, the longer you are married, the less there are, but you must face any obstacle that takes away the flow of love and compassion for one another.
- Honor each other’s differences and similarities. No couple matches perfectly, imagine how boring it would be if you did! Take time to do things separately, as well as together. If one of you is quiet and needs alone time to regroup, take it and honor it. If one recharges in a group, allow that too. Don’t over emphasize one’s desires and personality more than the other. Both need to be honored equally.
Finding activities to do together is also key. Something other than watching your favorite TV shows together. Get outside; exercise, go to for a walk, do yoga, hike, fish, golf, or go to the movies or a concert. At least once a week (which can be hard with kids) do one thing together than you both enjoy. This holds a marriage together with a common ground. (I’m also a big advocate of sharing your finances—no separate back accounts—what’s mine is yours and yours is mine).
- Lastly, stay positive and grateful. Research shows that feeling and speaking positivity helps keep a healthy mind and a healthy heart. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive when you really don’t like the person you are living with very much (trust me, it will happen from time to time). That is when you dig down deep and find something in them you like. It may be hard, but you can find it. See what’s good about them instead of what’s wrong (this is important for raising kids too). Don’t continually talk about what’s wrong—say what’s right. Done frequently enough, it will change your perception of life!
When you wake up every day say 3 things you are grateful for, when you go to bed at night say 3 things you are grateful for. Make a practice of this and life will brighten, your marriage will feel easier, and your life will go more smoothly—I promise.
Marriage is hard, but it’s worth it. Don’t ignore the issues until they become so big they are hard to overcome. Work at it, it won’t continue unless you do. Honor yourself and your partner, and stay positive and grateful. A life long marriage is truly something to be proud of and worth every step of the way.
Read a beautiful story of a couple who’ve been married for over 55 years and still thriving here.