Sharing attitudes and behavioral patterns combine to create an enduring relationship. One out of two marriages end in divorce, but what keeps the successful marriages intact?
WHAT KEEPS MARRIAGES TOGETHER?
There are many reasons why marriages break up. The average marriage lasts 8 years today. Most troubles start by the end of two years, but it takes 7 years to see a marriage counselor.
You complain that you did not choose a suitable mate and you failed to adjust to the one you chose. You chose each other for selfish motives. You sensed something lacking in yourself, and sought the missing better qualities in your spouseYou are attracted to others with needs they cant fulfill themselves but think you can be satisfied with your prospective partner.
You got married because you were in love. Love is an emotion and tends to restrict your lovers’ breath of vision. You seldom see each other objectively but rather as you wish each other to be. Most of us rarely measure up to those ideals.
Communication at first is often vague and full of ambiguous judgmental messages. Good communication just doesn’t happen. You assume your partner understands and you certainly understand. But in fact you act on mistaken beliefs and find your partner falls short of your expectations. You based your expectations on what seemed a perfectly sensible set of rules and wonder how your partner ever failed to understand.
You complain but were quite vague in sending your message, if you sent one at all. Your partner is not a mind reader. “Tell me what you want. “ Your spouse says “You ought to know how I feel. I shouldn’t have to spell it out for you. “ You want intimacy but never ask for it.
Trouble in marriage dose not spontaneously improve with time. Time only hardens your position and attitude. Minor problems escalate into a major rift. Stress is due to a slow erosion of the marriage and is not just one critical special event. You must confront troublesome issues and share your thoughts and feelings.
MARRIAGES THAT SURVIVE
It seems no one out there is happily married. But the ones who mange to say together are overlooked. They allow nothing less than death to break them up. What makes marriages last and survive? Some people stay together no matter what. For some divorce is not an option.
The successfully married see commitment differently. It is not a chain that binds people together despite misery, but is a determination to work through difficult times. You can’t run home to mom when the first sign of trouble appears.
Commitment means a willingness to be unhappy for a while. You would not go on for years being wretched in marriage, but you cant avoid troubled times. You cant be happy with each other all the time. That’s when commitment is important.
You must agree about aims and goals in life to make marriage succeed. Laughing together is important. Agreement about sex is way down on the list of reasons for a happy marriage.
Is sex important to a happy marriage? Yes and no! It may not be the major reason you are happy, but you must at least agree and be satisfied with your sex lives.
Your sexual desires must be strong, but if it is not as frequent as you like, you still see it as a beautiful act of giving and sharing emotionally as well as physically. Even though you have a less than ideal sex life and don’t have sex as frequently as you like because you are busy and very involved in the family circumstances, you adjust to it rather than seeking relief in an affair.
Having an affair can make you feel like a traitor. This may be the one taboo in enduring relationships if you take your commitment seriously. Friendship, understanding and respect make marriage flourish even without much sex.
Intense expressed anger certainly has a damaging effect. Discuss problems in a normal voice. Don’t say things you will be sorry about later. Restraint is important. You need calmness to deal constructively with conflict.
Thinking marriage is a 50-50 proposition can also be damaging. You must give in 60% of the time, and be willing to put in more than you take out. Give in 60% of the time, and expect 40%. In the end it balances out. Thinking all marriages must be equal is ruinous to marriages. Sometimes you give far more than you get, and sometimes you get far more than you give. Be willing to do that, and your marriage will survive.
Spend as much time together and share as many activities as possible. Make your spouse your best friend. You should want to spend as much time with your spouse as with anyone else. Share everything. Even work together.
You don’t need to lose your individuality. Your relationship should be richer and fulfilled with your best friend. Sure you may enjoy time alone, but it strikes me you can enjoy it knowing soon you will be home and together again. Sharing attitudes and behavioral patterns combine to create an enduring relationship.
The above are my comments. My wife Laura and I have been married 52 years and have 22 grandchildren and 6 children. Till death do us part is not a binding clause but is gratifying reality.