There are many theories, analysis and guidelines on how to keep a marriage last. Since today is my 18th wedding anniversary, I want to share what has worked for me and my husband during those years. I emphasize: these are not guidelines to a perfect marriage as there is none.
1. Work it!
This is what most people do. When you first met your spouse, it went like this; you were attracted to him, flirted a little or a lot, fell in love, started a relationship, being in love, committed to him, married him and then felt safe you have caught him. Years after you just take marriage for granted as he is always be there for you and vice versa. If you illustrate the situation in a love chart there are peaks in the beginning of your relationship. After that the line decreases and stays at the same level with some little peaks from time to time. To prevent the line strives to zero level, approach the word marriage as a verb. Marriage is something you must work on all the time. Applying this approach will cause higher peaks in your love chart. At the same time it makes the marriage stronger against the notorious seven years itch which has turned into three years glitch apparently.
2. Lust and passion
I often hear from long term couples that they are so comfortable with each other they start to feel like brother and sister. This seems very wrong to me cause that means when they have sex as if they do it with their sibling. This appears as incest for me 🙂 If this works for them, be my guest but this is definitely not my thing. I believe lust and passion are important in a marriage. You fell for him cause you were attracted to him physically among other things, right? Besides sexual lust, there is also passion to argue, defending your argument. By arguing with passion you express yourself as an individual with your own opinion.
3. Don’t lose yourself
No matter how much you love him, don’t lose yourself in him. Stay just the way you are. For the ladies: if you want to work, just do. He wants more kids, you don’t, discuss this BEFORE you get married. Stay true to yourself cause if you don’t, you don’t respect yourself.
4. He does not own you
Unlike our (grand)parents did, a couple in a marriage should be equal. Although you have said yes to him and committed to spend your life with him he does not own you. You want to do something, let him know. Ask for his advice when needed but not his permission.
5. Do not try to change him
It is useless! He might listen and change for a while but will get back to his own self. Why change someone if you also change eventually? You see, everyone evolves but not everyone is aware of it. You evolve too. The pace of evolution depends individually though. Afterall why try to change him if his now irritating habits were ok for you when you fell for him in the first place?
6. Being a parent
Couples with (young) children turn into parent to each other. This could be a turnoff in a marriage as both are sucked into daily routine. Why don’t you break this by going on a date with him, without kids? I do this regularly. First time my daughter learned me and my husband were going on a weekend getaway without her, she did not like it. I explained to her, mum and dad wanted to be in alone not because we did not love her. We just wanted to relive our romance and feel the butterflies again. This was only possible if she was not around. I told her this in a 6 years old vocabulary. She understood at the end. Now I see you thinking; I do not have time for this. Make time! Budget too tight for a weekend getaway? Go see a movie or cook dinner for two at home. Ask your family to look after the little ones. Do not forget to make some effort to look stunning for him on a date.
7. Keep your own friends and hobbies
Divorced friends told me when they got a divorce their couple friends were also torn apart. Some go with him, others stay with her. So, keep your own friends after you get married. It is nice to have a spouse who can get along with your friends. That does not mean he must accompany you whenever you see your friends. About hobbies: it is good to keep your own hobbies as this is a way to have a me time and to relax. Besides by keeping your own friends and hobbies you two have stories to share to each other, right?
8. He completes you
Your spouse should be the closest person in your life. He is the one to whom you reveal your insecurities and fears. He supports you when you are down and cheer you up when you are sad. Like Jerry McGuire says to Dorothy “You complete me”. You can survive being on yourself but his presence completes you and lift you up. I guess this is where the term ‘my second half’ comes from.
So there they are. Care to share yours too?