Tips and advice to make your marriage last.
Many of us spent our teens and 20s dreaming of our perfect wedding – the flowers, our gown, the reception party, who our bridesmaids would be. All we needed was Mr. Right to throw into the equation and we’d carry on happily ever after – just like in the movies. But what happens after the honeymoon phase is over?
The divorce rate in the U.S. is over 50 percent for first marriages, 67 percent for second marriages and 74 percent for third. While none of us foresee divorce in our future as we say “I do,” marriage can evolve from newlywed bliss into monotony if you let it. There are a number of mistakes couples make, both in expectations and priorities, that can set a marriage up for disaster. Recognize the following early on and set yourself up to beat the odds:
There’s more to marriage than love. If you don’t make time to work on your marriage, seek to understand each other’s needs, discuss your feelings, and feel heard and understood, you’re setting yourselves up to drift apart.
Recognize that you’re part of a team. With today’s hectic work schedules, don’t assume that you’ll naturally spend time with one another. And when you do spend time together, don’t make it just focused on the daily grind of work, money and the weeks to-do’s. Make a conscious effort to schedule uninterrupted time to discuss the business of life and matters of the heart.
Don’t just go through the motions. Do something you both view as fun. Or switch off and honor each other’s idea of fun. Find enjoyment in your partner being happy. And remember, it doesn’t have to be date night. Steal a half-hour in the early morning, during lunch hour or after dark to invest in your marriage.
Marriage doesn’t ensure happiness. If you have problems in your relationship, marriage will not fix them. Don’t lie to yourself. Just because he sees a future with you doesn’t mean he’s the right person for you. Make sure you’re entering a life with your eyes wide open, knowing all the good, bad and ugly about each other. Then make sure you discuss how you view life together, including lifestyle, budget, money, religion, children, careers, passions, dreams, needs, et cetera. If you want to make sure you’re discussing all the potential issues, head to the bookstore for many great books to help you ask all the right questions.
Everyone argues. Everyone fights. It’s how you handle your emotions and disagreements that matter. In fact, taking the effort to discuss your arguments and work out solutions will only make you stronger. Make sure you don’t fight below the belt. Work at communicating your thoughts and seek to understand each other verses winning the argument. Make a pact with each other to always tell each other what’s heavy on your heart. Then try to be a good listener and ask what you can do. Do you just need to vent? Do you want me to help provide suggestions? Be each other’s biggest fans. Life is prickly enough – be the change your marriage needs.
Roles and responsibilities will not just fall into place. Chores and family responsibilities should be divided and discussed. Don’t assume he knows which nights are his to empty the dishwasher, or has memorized your specific organizational methods. In an era where both men and women work outside the home and are dually responsible for chores within the home, there’s room for a lot of gray area.
TV is not real life. It’s not fair to compare your husband to romantic scenes on TV and in movies. Even comparing your marriage to your best friend’s is setting yourself up for failure. All marriages go through ups and downs, no matter how physically attracted you are to one another. Enjoy your own experiences and don’t let other thoughts or comparisons creep into bed with you. Celebrate what you love about your marriage and work through what needs to be worked on.
Children won’t necessarily bring you closer together. Contrary to common belief, children do not necessarily solidify a marriage. In fact, studies show married couples were happiest before they had children. Why? You have a lot on your plate already. Add children to the equation and it’s likely that one-on-one time with your spouse will be hard to come by. Make a conscious effort to carve out time for each other at least once a week. Additionally, focus on ensuring your marriage is standing strong on its own before bringing kids into the picture. Then, when children enter the picture, make life fun with them.
Marriage is a journey. It requires dedication and realistic expectations. Communicate, don’t compare yourselves to other couples and be happy with what you have. A marriage won’t work unless you dedicate yourself and your time to making it successful.