Marriage is tough and a constant compromise, and rapidly evolves into frankly challenging once children come along! Here is a summary of an article written by Mark Manson (on getpocket.com, accessed 22 November 2020). I will say quite honestly that I absolutely do not get these things right all of the time! But they are all good tips to aspire to…
- Be Together for the Right Reasons
Don’t feel pressured into get married for personal or family reasons; don’t get married for “image” or to soothe your own emotional issues; and don’t get married too soon after falling hopelessly in love/lust. Take some time to ascertain that you simply love being around that person, even when the excitement and glamour fall away.
- Have realistic expectations about relationships and romance
The “being gaga about each other” stage will last for a few years at the most, then it will be down to hard reality. When the gaga stage has gone you need to know you are with a human being whom you respect and genuinely enjoy being with. True love is a constant commitment to another person regardless of present circumstances, which may be tough and frankly unglamorous at times. Conditional love- in other words loving a person as long as they make you feel better about yourself- will prevent deep-level intimacy from emerging.
- Respect each other
Communication will break down at some point….and conflicts are unavoidable. The only thing that will ultimately cushion you is respect for each other. Believe in your partner, and trust that they are doing their best . Without respect, you will doubt each other’s intentions, judge each other’s choices and start hiding things from each other for fear of criticism. Respect goes hand in hand with trust. Self -respect will also be needed so that you don’t feel you have to prove yourself worthy of love. Respect for you partner includes:
- Trying not to talk badly about them to your friends
- Not judging them if they have different hobbies, interests and perspectives from you
- Letting your partner be who they are- after all, you fell in love with that person!
- Talk openly about everything
This includes the stuff that hurts, or is uncomfortable.
It’s just not worth keeping secrets. If something bothers you in a relationship or within yourself, you must be willing to say it, even if it hurts, as vulnerability will make your relationship stronger. Speak to your partners about your insecurities so that they understand them, and you.
- Work hard at trusting your partner and earning your partner’s trust
The deeper the commitment, the more intertwined your lives become, the more you will have to trust your partner to act in your best interest. Be aware of your own insecurities, so that they do not get in the way of trust.
If you’ve made a promise then stick to it. You cannot build a good track record if you’re breaking promises, as simple as sticking to a “coming home time” after going out.
Trust is like a china plate. If you drop it and it breaks, you can put it back together with a lot of care and work. But if you break it repeatedly, you may never again be able to put it back together properly.
- Don’t rely on you partner to make you happy
Essentially real happiness comes from within. A healthy relationship requires two healthy and happy individuals, who have their own identities, and their own perspectives. Have the courage to be who you are, and let your partner be who they are. Those are, after all, the two people who fell in love with each other in the first place.
- Give each other space
Overlap time and interests where you can, but it is also important to have your own interests, friends, support network and hobbies. Being afraid to give your partner freedom and independence may well come from insecurity or a lack of trust.
- Embrace change in yourself and in your partner
As the decades roll on, individuals will mature and change, so this change will need to be accepted and embraced.
- Fight well
Fights will happen and should happen. But how you fight can affect your relationship. John Gottman, a marriage psychologist, identified some traits in fights that do not bode well for a healthy relationship, as follows:
- Criticizing your partner’s character (“you’re so stupid/helpless…”)
- Blame-shifting or defensiveness
- Contempt (making your partner feel inferior)
- Stonewalling (withdrawing from an argument and ignoring your partner)
“Good” fighting advice includes:
- Try not to insult, belittle or name-call your partner
- Do not bring previous fights or arguments into the current ones
- If things get too heated, take a breather
- Remember that being “right” is not as important as both people feeling respected and heard. Even if you are right, if your partner feels unloved, there is no real winner – in marriage, there is no such thing as “winning” an argument.”