Thursday, August 12, 2010

Making Marriage Work

My one year anniversary is coming up on August 22nd and it has got me thinking about marriage. What makes marriage work? What are the biggest issues married couples face? Why are some marriages successful and others are not? Can you "divorce proof" your marriage?

Here are my thoughts...

 There are a variety of factors that contribute to a successful marriage. Love is obviously a key ingredient. Friendship is another important aspect of marriage. A shared faith in God. Living by similar values. Trusting one another and being trustworthy. Respect for each other as individuals as well as respect for the marital relationship. Understanding that the marriage is the primary relationship in the family. The parent-child relationship comes second to that marital relationship. (This is especially important if your spouse has children from a previous relationship. Read more here.) Spending quality time together. Being honest with one another. Physical intimacy - yes,  holding hands, kissing, cuddling, etc does count! Patience. Empathy. Communication. Working together well.

The biggest issues married couples face: Parenting. Money. Sex. Household chores. In-laws. Those are the biggies. Behind every marital "hot button" there is a hard-wired belief that is usually the root of the problem. The topics listed above often provide the battlefield for a couple to argue about their differing values and needs. Many points of conflict in marital relationships come down to each spouse wanting to feel loved and wanting to feel valued as a person. The desire to be loved is one of the strongest human needs.

Why are some marriages successful, why others fail? There are so many different ways to answer this question and I'm not sure what the "right" answer is... Sometimes two people just aren't compatible. Sometimes people fall in love and get married so quickly, they haven't really had time to get to know each other a the deepest level. Sometimes one or both partners are too immature to truly understand what it means to be married. Sometimes marriage just doesn't work out. To me, successful marriages all seem to have three basic things in common; 1) friendship, 2) love, 3) acceptance. Marriage is hard work. It takes two people to make a marriage work. You must make a conscious commitment every day to love your spouse - especially when it is hard to love them.

Can you divorce-proof  a marriage? I think it depends on the marriage. If you are on the same page with your spouse about committing to each other, loving each other, and supporting each other through thick and thin; then, yes, I think you can divorce proof your marriage. If you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship it is not healthy for you, or you children. My advice to married women is to consciously choose to put your marriage up on a pedestal - understand that whatever difficult situations are going on in your relationship, your marriage is safe and untouchable up on that pedestal.

What's your advice on how to make marriage work? I love to hear from you. Let's start a discussion.


Laura Jane said...

Having the same priorities. 1- God 2-Spouse 3-Kids That's how my home works. My husband and I have our share of problems, but God is our number one. We share our faith and trust in Him and that is what fortifies our marriage.

That and compromise. I have to fold the laundry and can't just shove it aside until it's time to wear it... and he has to clean the toilet. Non-negotiable! =)

Mama B said...

I totally agree with Laura 123- in that order.
Secondly, for my 8 year marriage, we have always 'vented' on each other WHEN something happens, not letting it build up and become a fight. Let me brag for just a moment and say we have NEVER had more than just a heated discussion (now let me admit that is more due to my husband than me). One more issue is the kids. We are both in agreement to NEVER discuss parenting disagreements in front of the kids. When something happens we don't agree on, we save it to discuss behind closed doors- we are always in agreement in front of the kids- no divide and conquer here!
Best wishes and prayers for many more years for you!

stark. raving. mad. mommy. said...

Great post! Tomorrow is our 15th anniversary, and we've still crazy about each other. For us, our sense of humor has gotten us through all kinds of stuff.

Kat said...

Choosing your battles I think is a HUGE one. Sometimes those issues will creep up no matter what, and fights WILL happen, but you can't have a fight over every single little thing. You gotta let go of things that you can let go of.

Lindsay Williams said...

It's all great advice!

Laura and Bonnie - I like your 1-2-3 concept. Getting more in touch with God is something I am always trying to do and I am not as in touch with Him as I'd like to be. We go to church every week and my kids attend sunday school. We pray at meal time and pray at bedtime. Still I feel like I am not where I need to be...

Stark Raving Mad Mommy - Humor is important. My hubby is one funny guy! Me, not so much funny, but I do have a sense of humor & can laugh at other people's jokes!

Kat - Choosing your battles is great advice. Personally, I apply that one to my kids more than my hubby ;) Keep that in mind Ms. Mommy to be!

Julie S. said...

Priorities is a HUGE one, especially for us. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in day to day things that it's hard to stop and re-evaluate. But we realize it is important so we try really hard to make that work! Definitely humor, as well!

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