I am engaged, many of you know that since I have written about it here a number of times already. But what many of you may not know is that I not only want to get married, I want a working marriage after that point forward when we exchange vows. Most of us do. This has made me interested in the topic of working marriages and what needs to function properly for them to work.
So today I return again to the subject of marriage, since the good weather we've been having was nothing worth writing about and I think it is time to make good marriages "fashionable." After all the marriage models that are sold to us in the news are the celebrity sort, the ones that end in broken marriages or divorces. We see these all the time but have you started thinking about how many marriages are successful? For more than those that fail. If we exclude the Hollywood sort at least. Why is that? They are successful because they are based on effort, since nothing is easy in this life, especially when it is worthwhile.
The last time I asked a friend "What do you do if your company starts selling less?" This is a straightforward question, and one that when targeted toward a business orientated person will be answered likewise. He was quick to answer, he could do many things, create promotions, save costs, hire qualified staff, change strategy, etc. Then I asked him: "would you think about closing your company?" To which he answered: "are you crazy?" In his words he would attempt the impossible before that would happen.
His company means a lot to him as you can tell.
Why don't we act like that when it comes to marriage? Many couples at first disagree or engage in the fights that exist in every marriage, but some think of throwing in the towel without first risking the fighting and learning (hint you don't have to fight in the first place). In this regard, John of the Cross said more than a millennium ago:
"In search of my Love I will go over mountains and strands; I will gather no flowers, I will fear no wild beasts; And pass by the mighty and the frontiers."
There appears to be a monopoly on stories of heartbreak which causes some of us to distrust of marriage. I saw a survey once where several hundred married couples from different countries, with a minimum of ten years of marital life, were asked if they considered their union a happy one, even if some misunderstandings and conflicts that they considered normal were present in their lives. The result was that people were happy together, and they had a number of things in common that allowed them to live happily together. We need to understand that happiness is not incompatible with conflicts and crises that can be considered normal.
Happiness isn't a given, it takes work and time to adjust and refine the loving relationship in the face of successive changes that, over time, occur in conjugal and family life. It helps to remember that getting married is for life and once that is clear that marriage is forever and there will be hurtles to overcome. Understanding this from the beginning allows you to face them together by putting forth the means required to overcome them.
I am aware that love is not a fact fulfilled at the time of the wedding: it is something that is built every day, it is a permanent development and flux. You have to restart it sometime, renew your love every morning, avoid "getting used" to living with each other and falling into simple routine. True love knows how to invent, it knows how to renew itself with creativity. This requires you to use resources to keep the relationship in good condition and prevent possible conflicts: speak openly and in time, acknowledge mistakes, know how to apologize, know how to give up on senseless disputes, reach agreements, offer acts of relief, etc. This is humble, not self-sufficient love, which is shaped and nurtured, one which knows how to learn.
For those blessed with the memory of good parents who really loved each other you have the tools to shape your marriage to be a loving one as well.
An intimate relationship: with kind personal treatment, dialog, sincerity, knowledge and mutual respect; oriented to a possible marriage allow us to see our spouse as the first priority in one's life; give you preferential attention about other people and interests. We can phrase it like this: Be happy as an effect of making the other spouse happy; live to make the two of you happy happy.
Share experiences, problems, moods. Take an interest in each other's important things. Knowing how to enter their world and giving them the means to enter yours. Count on each other when making decisions.
Be friends besides spouses.
Openly express your feelings and overcome possible false modesty and fear of trusting the other spouse completely.
Admire the other and show them that they are admired.
Accept and love the other as they are without pretending to change or adapt to one's own way of being. Living together as people allows you to love each other: sincerity, trust, understanding, respect, good manners, delicacy in treatment, knowing silence, knowing how to listen, not always saying the last word.
Find a time each day to be alone and talk. Enjoy the intimate company with your spouse. Talk about everything and have a good time together. Create pleasant situations that are meaningful and allow you to make good memories.
Take care of the small details every day that make life more pleasant for your relationship.
Resolve conflicts in the day they happen instead of sleeping on them; take the first step to talk; to know how to acknowledge mistakes, ask forgiveness, and forgive.
When clashes arise think of the good memories and resort to good humor, which helps put the situation in perspective and frame the problems clearly allowing you to see reality from a more favorable side.