As someone who will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary on our next celebration, I can tell you that marriage is not too unlike the steps we take in childhood development. Marriages that lasts have periods of passion, angst, arguments, admiration, go through trial and error, sometimes one gives while the other takes but keeping both in perspective by both people will many times reverse itself and ultimately balance itself out.
Marriage is not all bliss and both negative and positive emotions are very much a part of marriage. No one should ever go into a marriage feeling arrogance or a need to control their partner. If either exists then failure is sure to follow. The often quoted, “If Momma isn’t happy then no one is happy” is or should be a misnomer. Just because momma sometimes feels put upon is not a reason to throw in the towel. Marriage and the commitment to marriage must run as deep as the mutual needs and wants of both partners.
Both people in the marriage that lasts will feel times when they do feel left out of the planning or treated less than their value. Marriages must allow both time and space for separate interests in both partners to grow and take root just as the commitment to share equally in a marriage needs to remain strong. None of us will ever get the balance perfectly correct, each time. The need for mutual respect and sound reasoning for the financial needs and future wants and needs of the couple needs to be weighed by both partners in a marriage. Financial turmoil is often reported as the greatest driving edge that leads to divorce.
Commitment to marriage requires becoming each others’ best friend and confidant. Mama’s boys and Daddy’s girls are often misleading relationships that can sour a marriage before it even has a chance to bond. If adults are still referring to their parents as Mommy and Daddy after they marry, then an emotional immaturity often also exists. Turning to parents and clinging to their wants and needs while confiding our marital problems in them instead of discussing our differences with our spouses often is done at the jeopardy of our spouses and is many times a ship wreck of a marriage in the making. When parents die many times these couples who have never discussed their problems or differences together, are left looking at each other wondering why they ever married each other, in the first place. Marriages need early bonding and growth that remains constant throughout the marriage.
Humans make mistakes all the time and that is why marriages go through both the highs and lows that all marriages do go through. A patient and understanding spouse will often mean the difference between a successful marriage over one of failure. Those of us who think once the passion leaves marriage then the marriage ends are not , in my estimation, giving full consideration to marriage. If lust is what drives the marriage or is the reason we marry then perhaps we were not ready to marry. If we marry because we want arm candy or we thought we could change what we didn’t like in the person we dated then the marriage already has failure written all over it.
Before we marry we must set our own standards as to what is or isn’t acceptable behavior and discuss these standards in complete and full detail and understanding of the needs of each of us, together. If our attraction to each other is intellectual and of mutual respect and consideration, even though we may both stray from time to time, eventually we will find our way back. Genuine character and intellectual enjoyment mixed with a sense of humor and respect goes a long way in the success of a marriage. When marriages develop over time we will finish each others’ sentence and settle into a comfortable routine knowing both the good and bad in each other and if we are fortunate enough to enjoy good health or have a committed spouse when our health fails that is what most marriages that last progress to.
People have different ideas of what their marriage will look like as some couples like to travel while others take comfort remaining in their communities and often die never having left it for any reason other than to attend funerals or weddings. Some wish to climb mountains and seek out adventure together while others prefer separate interests. The important thing to always remember is that at the end of the day that consideration for the needs of both remain equally strong in both participates of a marriage. When couples are allowed to develop space from each other trust also needs to develop in both.
Too much is made of the expectations of love and marriage in storybook detail just as the old “Stand by your man “song has left a sour taste in the minds of too many others, who neither understand the marriage of another or have a right to judge it. If we can each look at our child or children and see the best of both of us in those children or child and know they carry the genes of both of us, our marriages will last. If we can only see the worse of our mates in our child or children then for their sakes, our marriages should fail. In homes where there are not off spring and we still remember the reasons we married and still enjoy those moments no matter the cause for debate, our marriages will last. If we are abused or our lives threatened then we are doing the entire family a disfavor by staying.
If we determine a mate who strays has destroyed the marriage vows and he or she do not wish to return, they not us, have made any decision by us irrevocable. None of us can determine 100% the character of another and when their character fails to meet the standards that the couple has agreed upon, or they or we enter into marriage under a set of half-truths or lies and the trust issues soon follow, then none of us should ever blame ourselves for the fact that our spouse failed to be less than honest with us.
We can sometime live a lifetime with another person and not know the full value or fault of the person we married. Lies and half-truths make it impossible for any of us to build a foundation of trust on. When only one person or in some cases neither, are willing to take the bad with the good or to commit for life then it is never the fault of the marriage but the lack of honor in the person or persons who refuses to commit to their spouse, that ends the marriage.
Marriage is always and without exception the commitment of two people working together to make their own marriage work in partnership. There should never be such a gap in a marriage between two people so that the opinion of a third person’s advice over-rules or carries more weight than the opinions held by our spouse in our own marriage, unless their opinion is destructive to us as a person. In some cases both members of the couple can be so stubborn as to not hear what the other is saying and in these cases a good friend or parent can sometimes guide us to a more objective point of view as long as they show our marriage the respect it deserves. Just as we cannot build a house with only one wall we cannot build a marriage with another person when only one person is willing to commit to the marriage.
On the other hand if we think that our mates will never lie to us to cover up for a weakness in them or to spare themselves nagging or harassment then we are not being realistic either. A wife will often hide a pair of shoes just as a husband will fudge on what he lost playing poker. Both people’s ideas and opinions most certainly do either change for the worse or grow and become stronger once we learn what commitment truly is over the years. Many times people with good intentions will find that marriage is much better, just as parenthood is in theory, before we actually put both to practice. We never want to lose sight of the fact that marriages, just like shoes, comes in all sizes, fits the needs and wants of both the people involved and lasts as long as the desire to forgive and to forget lasts.
When marriages are as phony as the false images some couples like to project onto their admiring friends then couples can remain together out of a need to maintain an image. There are couples who have a greater commitment to making sure they get even with each other even if it means a daily life of unhappiness together. Not all marriages that last do so for the right reasons. People stay in unhappy marriages while living separate lives due to Religious convictions or out of convenience. Many times those marriages that appear to be a life of storybook romance are actually a marriage of abject failure behind closed doors. Other times marriages will last because neither have the gumption to get up and leave while others stay for the fortune they have amassed. Longevity in marriage does not always spell a successful marriage.
In short then, marriages are as happy or unhappy as the behavior, expectations, and personality of the people in them. When we reach the age of maturity and real commitment, we have no room to doubt or question our choices, and the harder both people involved work towards our commitments the greater our rewards in marriage usually become. True love grows over the years and has very little to do with the act of sex that often predates the final years of our marriage, but more to do with our compassion and understanding of the needs and the make-up of ourselves and our spouse.
When we can honestly say and believe the happiness of our marriage partner is equal or as great as our own, then we have reached the epitome of a successful marriage. Sadly, we do find couples who do not know the full value of their mates, until after they die. As people we often fall into the rut of taking our lives and each other for granted, and some do fail to realize what is important about their spouse’s happiness, until after they are gone. Along life’s way many of us will stumble but it is always the getting up and brushing ourselves off, and starting all over again, that matters as much in the final analysis of both marriage and life. Much is said against marriage but if the majority of us did not believe marriage was the best thing that ever happened in our lives, then so many people would not continue to get married.
Just because, some things may be too great for some of us to forgive and we are very much justified in believing and accepting that knowledge about ourselves, it may not be for the next person, and to continually to degrade or judge another person’s marriage, as if we are a mean-spirited mother-in-law, is both a waste of our own time and character. As parents, siblings, and close friends we all do well in remembering just one thing when it comes to the marriage of another, so long as their or their children’s safety is not at stake; MYOB or more rudely put, mind your own business will help the couple more than any other suggestion that we will ever make, even when they cry on our shoulders about their marriages and often over trivial matters. If the complaints prolong to true exhaustion on their or our part then suggesting they get counseling will usually heal or cure the problem. Have a great day all!