Today my husband and I have been married for eighteen years. When I tell folks this, the first question is, “What’s your secret?” I answer, “Be friends first.” My husband and I spend most of our time together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I love him more every day. Yes, of course, we’ve had a few not so great moments, but for the most part, it’s been easy and whatever the next right step should be, has come naturally to us as a couple.
I like to read Op-ed pieces and essays. “How to Have A Great Marriage,” is a frequent topic, and most of these articles make me ill. What their title promises the reader, their content betrays. I read one author who suggested that it was a good idea to make new friends of the opposite sex. Not! Really bad idea. If you have friends of the opposite sex before marriage, that’s something different, and an essay in itself. Here’s a few good tips from my POV.
Pick the right partner - This really is an almost impossible task. I know, “Don’t sugar coat things on your account.” I think it’s so hard because she acts like who she is not so that she can find a he who’s acting like who he is not. They get married, move in together and the fireworks begin. Or prior to marriage, she starts to see some traits she hates, but once they’re married, she’ll love him into changing (I hate to say this, but this does seem to be more of a female habit). He’s not going to change. She’s not going to change. It’s only going to get worse - much worse.
So what do you do? The Great Commandment is Love God. The Great Commission is to love your neighbor as yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you’re not going to love your neighbor, or your spouse. The only way to find the right partner is to really know who you are. A grueling task, but so worth it. From there, you can find a person who will grow in happiness with you.
Don’t Settle - I first heard these words uttered from Susan Sarandon’s mouth in “Thelma and Louise.” Since I didn’t marry until the tender age of thirty-two, I had plenty of opportunity to settle. Mr. Wrong was around every corner and the pressure from my friends (and myself) to get married before I became a spinster was great! Only two things come from settling: divorce and misery if you don’t get divorced.
You’re enough - I dated quite a few inappropriate fellas just to say to the world, “I’m dating. I’m a valid person.” One morning it occurred to me from “no where” that I was the cause for misery in all my relationships. That to keep from hurting anyones feelings, no matter how very wrong they were for me, I chewed off my own arm, so to speak. When I decided that I was better off alone than in dumb relationships, my Knight in Shining Armor was not far behind.
Sex is Not Love - I don’t care how good the sex is, if it’s all your relationship is based upon, you won’t make it. When the hard times come, great sex flies out the window faster than a speeding train (cliche enough?). You have to have a strong foundation built on God, love and respect. Along the same lines, if your partner cheats on you while dating, he or she is going to cheat on you when you get married. Go through the heartache and find a monogamous partner to marry.
Your Partner is not Your Possession - I’m pretty sure this is self explanatory. Support each other’s endeavors, don’t be threatened by them. This goes back to knowing thyself.
Luck, Blessings, Grace, Mercy, whatever you chose to call the unexplained, help greatly, but those are the things we don’t control. Control what you can, yourself, and leave the rest to The Universe.