In today’s world marriage has slowly been becoming extinct. People still like the idea of marriage and the happily ever after, but sadly the numbers of divorce only keep rising. In a time of hardships divorce always seems to be the easier option to many couples who may actually have had a chance at a great marriage with effort and work.
I believe that many marriages can be saved as long as the people getting married realize that marriage is WORK. That is right, WORK. Marriage can be a wonderful thing for a couple. It legally unites two people, separating them from their previous families, and forming them into one; a new family of their own. Marriage is formed through the promise that two individuals, who only had to care for themselves, now promise to not just care for themselves, but for another human-being until the day they die, for better and for worse, for richer and poorer.
Marriage can be a great rewarding experience for the couple; however, just like any reward there is always a lot of work behind it. And work is never, and I repeat, NEVER easy. Especially when it concerns the learning to live and co-exist with another special human-being who like oneself is full of flaws, weakness and strengths; let’s not forget pet peeves.
The list of how to make a marriage strong can be quite long; however, here I will focus on only a few simple pointers that can be of value to a couple. This list can help be the beginning of a path to a stronger marriage; however, one must keep in mind that the end results still lies with the individual itself and how they decide to handle it as a couple.
1) You are no longer two, but one.
When we chose to marry, we are choosing to become one with another human being. We go from an “I” to a “We.” A marriage cannot survive if a couple only focuses on the “I”, and sadly it is the “I” that has been dominating our society. Now I am not saying that it is not necessary to take some personal time for yourself as an individual. It is always important to treat yourself to something nice, like a bath, or massage, or just a bit of leisure time to just breathe and regenerate on your own. However, the “I” should be the minority within the marriage. The “We” should be the majority.
One of the problems that I have noticed in some of the marriages is that people still think only of their own wants and needs. They get angry or sad because their spouse does not seem to be giving them what they feel and believe they require in order to have a full happy marriage. However, while this spouse is angry and sad due to lack of their own wants and needs, many fail to realize that they themselves are failing to listen and do their own share of wants and needs for the other spouse as well.
I have never been a fan of the 50 – 50 within a marriage. I always believe that each couple should be willing to give 100% of their capability to their spouse, and the spouse needs to learn and accept that another person’s 100% may only feel like a less than or more than 50% in their own point of view. Each of us possesses strengths and weakness. That is why we go from two separated individuals to one. Where one spouse is weak, the other, hopefully has strength, and only by working together as a Whole, as one united couple, as a team can all the pieces of the puzzle truly fit and function. Otherwise, as I like to state: the right hand will attack the left, and the left will attack the right, but neither will feed the mouth and the body will starve. So will the marriage also starve and eventually die out unless the two function as one in order to reach a similar goal.
2) Love -VS- In-Love
This is a tricky one. When we get married we are in-love. I mean, we barely see any wrong in the person we chose to be with and married, but then reality sets in, and like so many other couples, we tend to quickly jump to the conclusion that we no longer feel in-love with our spouse. So what do we do if we cannot find a way to fall in-love again with our spouse? Some go to counseling, and many others head to divorce court.
Being in-love is very much equal to the person who is extremely beautiful on the outside; eventually it will fade away. It is only natural. In a marriage, although possible, it is too high of a goal to assume and try to always feel in-love with your spouse. Let’s face it; there will be times when they will do something that makes you wonder “Why did I choose to marry you again?” Sadly, it is this phase of the marriage that can get very dangerous for a spouse because many, although fall out of being in-love with their spouses, often believes themselves to have fallen in-love with another person, thus, usually resulting in affairs and/or a broken home, spirit, and marriage.
When we as a couple no longer find ourselves feeling in-love, instead of seeing it as the beginning of an end to our marriage, we can, instead, use it as a new beginning to learn to truly love our spouse. I believe that true love takes time, patience’s, and years. Yes, we have strong feelings throughout our marriage, but love, the real love, the one that can withstand all harshness that the world and reality throws at them; well that one I believe can only be attained through hard work and perseverance. When a couple find themselves truly in the graces of real love with their spouses they are capable of forgiving, and not being afraid of being completely honest with their other half of themselves (their spouse). And when something hard and cruel comes upon them, rather than be torn apart by it, they instead, remain closer and lean on each other without preconditions or resentment and help each other successfully through to the end.
Thus, in a marriage although we may from time to time be in and out of in-love with our spouses, we should not be so quick to focus on that sort of beginners love. Rather, we should focus on our fully knowing our spouses and with constant hard work learn to truly love each other the way we were always meant to; ever-increasing stronger and more stable as the years passes us by.
3) To argue or not to argue?
It is really rare for any marriage to not have an argument from time to time. Arguing, I believe can sometimes, when done properly, be very beneficial to a marriage. Now I know, saying that it is beneficial or when done properly sounds absurd, but to me it is true. Arguing is good. We all get angry, and in a marriage, well, that can tend to happen quite often, especially during hard financial. Keeping anger inside, sealing it away in order to not argue with our spouse is not good. Mainly because eventually we become bitter, our personality begins to change to a more negative tone, and we often begin to develop a sense of resentment towards our spouses. We become consumed over the anger that in the beginning probably was not so big, and has reached major proportions making it even that much harder to handle and resolved. That is why, when we argue we are able to let it go. Sometimes, I believe we all are in need of venting, yelling, and even nagging. However, with that said, it is also important to learn how to argue properly. By this, I mean, that even though we argue and maybe even yell, still one must never lose sight of one’s emotions. We must remember that what comes out of our mouth can never be taken back, even with an apology. Thus, we must be very mindful to not use hurtful or manipulative techniques that can cause our original anger to turn into a web of destructions within our marriage. Also, very importantly, we must never, ever get physical in the argument, unless, of course we reached the end of the argument and thus mutually decide that a bit of appropriate physical time is needed.
When arguing, try to keep the topic based on what it needs to be. I know it can be tempting to suddenly recollect events of 5, 10, even 20 years past to help support our stance, but remember we also have to learn to forgive in our marriage and constantly bringing up the past, does not truly show forgiveness. Not to mention that our spouses might have been working hard to make up for what they did by learning to be a better person and a better spouse, and bringing up the past can only lead that person to feel that if they are never going to be forgiven then they might as well go back to how they used to be. And what we are trying to attain here in our marriage is to move forward in a more positive, stronger way, not drag the pain, and the past.
Also remember, if when arguing, you feel as if you are losing control of your senses, then have a previous knowledge of agreement, that when things feel as if it’s getting out of control, that it is okay to stop and take a breather by walking away for a bit. Many times, a lot of information is exposed during an argument, but given our anger and emotions we are not able to truly listen and let it sink in, so when we stop and walk away we can truly give ourselves time to go over all that was said, or yelled, and try to listen to the other spouse’s point of view. Remember it is always important to remember that although one may perceive something based on their own point of view, their spouse may have a completely different outlook. So by walking away to reflect we can, within our mind, become at times more reasonable concerning the situation at hand, and are thus better able to discover a better and more positive way of reaching an agreement and/or compromise.
Note to the reader: NEVER after an argument walk away and do something else. When in anger temptation is always strong. It is best to just go for a walk in your neighborhood if possible, then return home and calmly try to finish the argument but in a more conversational manner.
4) Friends and Family
We all have friends and/or family that we can talk to. This is very important and necessary within our lives. Relationships are known to help makes us stronger and provide needed support. However, when it comes to marriage, one thing I realized is that people love to have an opinion of what they believe you should do and expect you to do. Remember my introduction? I was specific in stating that when we get married we leave our previous families and form a new one with our spouse. Having people to talk to and lean on from time to time is a wonderful thing, but we are married, we are adults, and only we know what truly is best for us as a couple. If we find ourselves faced with problems we need to learn to rely on our spouses. Yes, even when they themselves are our problems, they still need to be the one we go to. The importance of this is that we are trying to make our marriage strong, and we cannot do that when we are married to our spouse but allowing others, no matter how well intended to have a say on how we should handle our situation within our marriage. We human beings are amazing creatures. We each are born with our own personalities, capabilities, point of views, strengths and weaknesses. Thus, we are all wonderfully different in one way or another. When we are married we are learning about our spouses’ weaknesses and strengths, and are learning to co-live with them despite our own weakness and strengths, and differences from each other. But it is through this learning that our bond can be stronger and more stable. We may make mistakes but it is nicer when we learn to make them together and grow from it as a couple. However, when we add another individual to that mix, well no longer is our marriage based on a two-some, but a threesome, foursome, or more. We are highly impressionable creatures; let our impressions come from our own judgments and mistakes. In our marriage ourselves and spouses are one, thus we, together as one, should be first to face the challenges and decisions together.
5) I am a material… a material… a material spouse????
We live in a society where unfortunately we are always judge by our possessions and materials. When we do not have something, we are told, even encouraged to “keep up with the Joneses.” Many times now, even our spouses rate their success as a spouse by how much they can provide their spouses with jewelry, cars, homes, money, etc. Now I am not saying that money, car, home, even jewelry and nice clothes are not good and that it condemns a marriage to failure; of course not. These materials are quite nice to have and possess. However, they should not be the base of our marriage. Materials come and go. Money comes and goes, but our relationship, our marriage, our love, can last till the day we die and more. Materials cannot buy love. True there are some people who really need to have materials, as I stated we live in a society that makes you believe that the only way you know you are loved is if your spouse gets in debt for the rest of their lives in order to provide you with a small piece of jewelry. But the truth is that most couple truly wants to just know that they are loved, accepted, and cared for by the person they are meant to trust the most within their lives. They don’t want a spouse who spends all day at work 7 days a week all year long. They want someone who after work comes home and wants to spend time with them. Who takes the time to notice the small things that they did for them, and who is also willing to listen and understand them. Now true, times are hard, so many spouses find themselves working over-time, even double-time by the means of two or more jobs. Times are hard. But even if spouses are doing what they have to do to survive financially, they should never forget why they are working so hard to begin with. They should remember that yes they are providing financially for an apartment, or house, or car, or many other number of things, but most importantly they need to remember that they are doing it because they love their spouse and want to ensure that they are both properly being taken care of; However, within fulfilling your duties financially, one should never neglect the physical, mental, and emotional duties as well, for without balance, in the end it always tends to falls apart.
Remember — a spouse can work hard at a job and bring home tons of money, and tons of materials, but if they begin to ignore and neglect the one that they are working so hard for, the only good money and materials will do in the end is get stripped down 50-50 at divorce court. So never forget that if and when possible live within your means, learn to only want your needs not your wants, and rather than spend extra time behind a desk in order to get something that in the end you don’t really need, try spending it in the arms of the one you love and strengthening your marriage.
As can be easily pointed out, marriage is indeed hard work that never ends. But when done to the fullest of each couples capabilities, they can be wonderfully surprise on the strong foundation they both worked to build within their marriage, and find themselves with the means to survive the periods when a marriage faces trials and tribulations.
Love each other, trust each other and most of all listen and be there for one another. Don’t forget that just as you remember to nourish yourself in order to survive, you must also nourish your spouse and marriage in order to make it till the end strong, healthy, and lasting.